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Once upon a time — wait, no. This is real life. Let’s start again.

The one that got away. What a great catch. These sentences are fishing metaphors. They also, when girls I know tell me love stories that have these as the plot lines, seem to be magical, romantic, mysterious, beautiful. What could have been. If these phrases were movies we’d see soft sunny filtered images of smiling beautiful people in fields of flowers. But no story is one sentence long. Only distorted memories begin with Once upon a time

The one that got away is a complicated tale. Maybe “one” is actually many. Maybe this isn’t even a Rom-Com. Maybe the one is someone’s father. Maybe it’s someone’s dream.

I love people because they are so complicated. If you dig deep enough everyone has a story; everyone is still writing it as they go along, just like me. Just like you. Good stories are always complicated. Good stories are hard to tell. Good stories get sliced into tiny pieces and boiled down to What could have been so we can try to share our stories with other people. We use words and we use pictures. We have Instagram (that comes with the soft sunny filter), and we have Polaroids of our grandmothers when they were young.

Our stories will always be incomplete. Memories fade or change so that every morning we are remembering and living a slightly different life. The people we love die or fade out of our lives in different ways, and the houses and cities we grew up in get torn down or repainted, or they stay exactly the same and our memories of them change so they end up feeling different just the same.

I have a Polaroid picture of my grandmother. She is not young in the picture, but I am. We are sitting together on the steps of her back porch some sunny Spring day in the early ’90s, a bright green apple in my hand and a grin on my face. I do not remember this story. My grandmother died when I was four. But luckily there are more pictures, more sentences from the story of her life.

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Loving people and their stories is dangerous, of course. It’s not romantic or mysterious, though sometimes it seems magical, and often it is beautiful, at least for some of the time. People are like our memories, in a way. They change unexpectedly, they surprise you, they make you cry. The worst thing of all is when someone abruptly leaves your life when you were still writing your life stories together — cliffhanger forever. And if you don’t fully understand that person’s story, and your own story is still uncertain, how do you tell someone else about it, even if they care to listen?

The (other) one that got away. 

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1. Last week someone accused me of being “deep into the art scene”, and I wasn’t so sure that was accurate. This week I hammered a pencil onto a wall as part of an art project. So there’s that.

2. It’s the people you’re with, not the place you’re in. I heard some lady in a store say something similar a few days after I realized this to be true. You’re onto something, lady.

3. You don’t always have to go to school to learn. A lot of times, the world can be your classroom. At least that’s what I’m telling myself as a college graduate.

4. Tip of the day: don’t talk/laugh/grin to yourself when other people can see you. At any other time, go for it.

5. My favorite thing to do is travel, but oftentimes it leaves me sad, knowing more street names and parks and lovely people, knowing them and leaving them behind.

6. When does a song stop belonging to someone else? “Your song”, “his song”, “our song”. When does ownership end, with the memory?

7. After spending 8 hours on a megabus traveling across two states, an 8 or 12 hour flight to the other side of the globe seems less daunting. (Also megabus is freaking cheap/awesome BTW!)

8. Remember disposable cameras?

9. Sure you’re busy driving your car through heavy traffic trying not to crash into that guy who just pulled in front of you, and sure you’re busy trying to pass your accounting exam that seems super important to your life right now, and sure you’re creating a cure for cancer — just remember to look up at the stars at night.

10. Overrated or Underrated? Skype. Pickles. Blue eyes. You.

1. Everyone needs that one friend who has excellent taste in movies/music. If you don’t know that person yet, go find them! They won’t come to you, they have too many movies to watch!

2. Kindles/other electronic readers are so not as handy as people claim. “Now I can read without carrying a book around!” Yeah, right. If you say that, you definitely never carry a book around anyway.

3. Sometimes it just seems like it’s always too late.

4. Don’t give yourself away so easily. Stick up for who you are. After all, that’s all this place is is people and other people who follow them around.

5. That awkward moment when someone introduces themselves and then you immediately forget their name.

6. Why are all the cool/successful people 32 or 35?! Does it take that long to become cool/successful?!

7. Words of the week: clarity. grandiose. honky. tragedy. expectations. tetanus.

8. Let him/her go, but not completely. Just enough.

9. Let’s be honest here, food pics are great. Don’t be ashamed! How are selfies ok but not food pics? No way. Let’s start a revolution.

10. I still think you’re beautiful.

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1. Sometimes people don’t want to talk about themselves – and instead will do so while talking about other things.

2. Stop talking about how unintelligent other people are. It makes you sound stupid.

3. Always remind yourself to love other people’s love.

4. Listen to your favorite music right before that job interview/first date/other really exciting/scary event in your life! It will calm you down and remind you of the person that you actually are – not the person who’s really fucking nervous!

5. If you find that the people who you love/care about most have nothing left in common with you, it might be time to find new people to love/care about. Not that you have to drop those old relationships – it’s just time for some new ones.

6.I love you but your spelling is terrible.

7. Sometimes you just need a little reminder that there is so much more out there than what you can see.

8. Endings are sad/hard/can be the end of something good. However, endings are also the beginning. Of what, who knows – but something!

9. A baby dog crying is way worse than a baby human crying!

10. Sure, that thing you’re supposed to do later takes the effort of getting out of your chair/bed/house – and sometimes all you want to do is not do anything. But, it’s always better to experience new things – even if you have to force yourself into it, even if you really would rather lay on that nice, comfy couch… The couch will wait for you! The experience, not so much.

1. If you want to talk on the phone with someone, you must like them more than an average amount –   because who talks on the phone?

2. “Before I know myself, seek not to know me.” Did I just quote Shakespeare?! Oh god! Who am I?

3. Money is useless. However, it just so happens that people are willing to trade you good things for it – like books, education, flowers, and plane tickets.

4. Sometimes I have to translate words in my head – like when British people use the word “football”.

5. How accomplished I feel in a day depends heavily on how many emails I send out. You too?

6. It’s easy to regret the things you’ve done, but what you really should be focusing on is all of the things you didn’t do! You’re welcome.

7. Say what you mean or say nothing at all.

8. Don’t be afraid to go it alone. Sometimes your friends/family aren’t into the same music as you are/don’t want to road trip to New York/hate shopping. Don’t miss out on that opportunity just because no one would go with you – no matter what it is. (see #6)

9. Meeting a new person is pretty much the same as traveling to another country/planet/universe in your head. You can never know too many people – they expand your understanding of the world and your place in it.

10. Have you seen the movie Everything is Illuminated? No? Well, you should!