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1. I hope you are happy.

2. People are still living their lives even when you can’t see them.

3. You are beautiful, you know that. Tell me why you need to keep posting poorly-lit pictures of yourself to prove it.

4. Our planet is both the largest and smallest thing that exists; the largest hunk of rock you’ll ever live on, a tiny speck in the universe. You can be thousands of miles (kilometers?) away from someone, and yet they’re just at your fingertips, on your computer screen, in your pocket. Big and small, near and far, finite and infinite.

5. Yes, Frozen is amazing. But think of all the other great Disney songs young kids are missing out on! Someone dig out the Lion King/Aladdin/Little Mermaid VHS!!

6. If you appear to other people to be what you dream of yet becoming, what are you? Who are we all trying to be, anyway? Are we even trying to be anything?

7. For the love of all that exists, please can we stop saying “literally“?!! Even if you actually truly really mean literally. Just don’t. Get a thesaurus. Stop. Stop. Stop.

8. Someone save me from my apparently über-Canadian fate. Irish? Italians? French? Is anyone out there?! It’s me, Margaret. Wait, what?

9. It makes me sad that when someone asks a child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, the only socially acceptable examples are, “A doctor? A lawyer? Scientist?” No one says artist, philosopher, barkeeper — whatever. It’s 2014 and we still can’t speak the truth.

10. You’re not alone. Even when it feels like it. Even when you physically are. You’re just not.

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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.

I thought I learned my lesson a year ago. I thought I was done expecting things from people who never promised me anything. I thought I already learned that life lesson – had it down pat. I guess not – for now I’ve had an unwanted refresher course: teaching me things I thought I already knew, and just as painfully as the first time. Do I understand now? Do I get it? Will this life lesson stay with me, or will I go on learning it time and time again throughout my life?

Today was a strange day.

I got up early to do some laundry. I ate a grapefruit for breakfast. All very exciting.

It was raining. No, it was lightly drizzling. It was the kind of weather that nobody likes – not even ducks. This went on all day long.

I had a class today that started at 12:30. I got to school at 10:00 (early enough to get a good parking spot). I sat in the library for two hours, waiting for class time to come around.

It was rainy, and I was too warm in that library. Bored, waiting for two hours with nothing to do, I went online to see what I had gotten on a Psychology exam I took last week. An 85%. Not so great.

Then I checked my school email account. In it, an email from the school about my upcoming graduation (in May). With it, a realization that this is almost all over. Something else is coming.

Another email, asking me if I wanted to pre-purchase tickets for an event in early August 2013. With it, a realization that I might not be in the US next summer. I can’t make plans. Something else is coming.

12:00 came around. Suddenly, I didn’t want to go to class. I wanted to leave. I wanted to go home – no, not home. Just elsewhere.

I walked out to my truck. 12:05. Should I go to class? Students walked past as I sat in my vehicle, staring at the clock on the dashboard. What do I do?

I turned the key. A lady walked by carrying an umbrella over her shoulder. I put the truck in reverse and pulled out of my parking spot.

Where to go? To Target. Once there (not very far from my school), I sat in my truck for a moment. I fiddled with my phone. I put my ipod into my glovebox (to prevent theft). I sat longer. I fiddled around on Twitter: “I don’t know where I’m going; I’m just running away.”

Target. I could just go wander around in there. I could see if they have any cute underwear on sale. I don’t really need anything. I don’t really have any money.

I put my seatbelt back on, and took my ipod back out of the glovebox. I didn’t want to go to Target. I pulled back onto the road, onto the expressway, again, heading towards home.

Gas prices are down a lot. $3.33 a gallon today. I could get gas. I’ve only got a half tank.

I pulled into the Meijer gas station. A lady was walking out from the gas station store when I pulled in. She walked awfully close to my truck as I zoomed past her on my way to a pump. I didn’t slow down like I normally would have. I got too close.

I pull in, check my mirror to see if the tank is close enough to the gas pump (I never pull up far enough and have to stretch the hose too far over).

“Ma’am?” The lady is walking over. My first thought: Is she angry that I got too close?

“The gas station has no power. The pumps aren’t working.”

“Oh, Thank you.”

I think: Do I really look like a ‘Ma’am’? Why do people say that to me?

The engine is still on, so I put my truck back into drive and pull away – back onto the road. Towards home.

I don’t have to work today. Just school. Only, I didn’t have school, did I? I’ve got to study tonight. Lots to study.

I still need gas. I drive closer towards home, through the city, into the country. I go North. I stop at another gas station. I wonder if I’m feeling cranky today. I wonder if I’m just hormonal. I wonder if it’s because the sun has gone farther away.

This was the first time I’ve skipped class this semester. I was doing so well. I feel guilty. Class starts in 6 minutes, and I know I’m not going back.

I pump gas into my truck. I wasted gas going to school for nothing. I knew I just should have stayed home in the first place. I felt it. But I don’t skip class.

I stop the counter at exactly $30.00. There’s one small accomplishment for the day. I take it. I print out a receipt. I never print out receipts. I shove it into my little brown purse along with my credit card. Other people are buying gas, too. I feel so tired of this. We all do the same things.

I drive towards home. My gas tank is full. This make me happier. The weather is still gray. I listen to my Paolo Nutini CD. I think about how his voice matches the weather.

I pull into my driveway. My parent’s driveway. My dad is home. Of course he is. I go to my room. I feel better. Maybe because my bedroom walls are painted bright yellow – much too bright for the color scheme of the rest of our house. My parents’ house. I put down my backpack. In it, the books I didn’t use today. A reminder. Something else is coming. But today, you were not the person you are supposed to be.

Today was a strange day.

When I was very small, about 4 years old, my grandmother died. She had cancer. I don’t remember her very well, but I still love her to this day. My grandfather, her ex-husband, died almost a year later. They were buried side-by-side in a cemetery in their hometown. These were my dad’s parents. After my grandma died, we moved into her house, and lived there for about 6 years until we moved again. I spent a lot of my crucial growing-up time in that house, in that neighborhood, in that city. I still feel very close to that area, and so does my family.

Before we moved away from my grandmothers’ house, we used to visit the cemetery (which is right across the road from our old neighborhood) about once a month. After our move, though, we stopped visiting so frequently. Before today, in fact, we hadn’t been to that cemetery since 2008. (I know this because that is when my great-grandmother died. She was 99 years old! My grandmother was her daughter.)

Today, though, my family and I found ourselves driving through our old stomping grounds. As the familiar sights filled my eyes, I said, “Let’s go to the cemetery!” So we did.

I may have written this here before, but I am fascinated by cemeteries. I love to wander through them and examine the gravestones, reading names and dates and the quotes that loved ones chose to represent their family members. It’s the recorded-in-marble history of our people, and the people that loved them. Anyway, graveyards are interesting places all ’round.

I know I just said that the last time we visited the cemetery was back in ’08, but I think it must’ve been many more years than that since we visited my grandparents’ graves. I think I must have been 10 or 12 the last time we went together as a family, so at least 10 years had passed.

The reason I think this must be so is because today I read my grandmother’s headstone, and what it  said seemed like new information to me. Like today was the first time I had ever really seen it. I hadn’t remembered it saying anything other than her name.

It read the following: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” 21:4

Of course I realized this was a bible verse, which surprised me since I hadn’t thought she had believed in god.

Me: “Was she religious?”

Dad: “No, your uncle was.”

Then, I stepped to the right and read my grandfather’s stone.

“The most generous and loving father that ever walked on this Earth.”

Yep, that one got me.

I remember my grandpa just enough to know he was that. I’ve heard the stories from my dad and my two uncles, and I remember him bringing us kids grapes and cinnamon gum and reese’s peanut butter cups all the time.

I blinked away the tears that wanted to run free and knelt down at his stone to tear up the grass that had begun to grow over the corners. When the job was done I got up and brushed the dirt and grass from my knees and wandered over to read the headstones that belonged to my grandparents’ “neighbors”. As I walked, I noticed many of the stones were covered by grass as my grandpa’s had been. These dead had been left here. These expensive marble sheets were being retaken by the earth.

Before we left, I suggested we visit my great-grandmothers’ stone, as we had never been to visit her since her funeral. Her site was across the cemetery, in a much older section.

We found her headstone easily even though we hadn’t been to see it before. Both she and her first husband are buried together. He died in 1965, and their headstone has since turned the nice green color that bronze tends to turn when it is left out in the weather.

Again, I wandered nearby and examined the names and dates carved in stone. These dates were much older. One nearby read 1880 – 1955. Another, 1905 – 1989. Another: June, 1908 – February, 1991. My birth year.

Then, I spotted another bronze stone, just like my great-grandmas’. However, this one was almost entirely covered by grass. Only the first half of the last name could be seen. Again, I went to my knees and began uncovering. Who were these people? Why hadn’t anyone kept their stone clean? Were they forgotten?

The sod wasn’t easy to tear, but I managed it. Chunk by chunk, I tore it off and uncovered more of the abandoned stone. The woman had died in 1965. Perhaps this grass had grown over their stone since that day. It sure seemed like 50 years of growth to me as I ripped at those roots with my bare hands.

I wish I had had my camera. They had very unusual names, as it turned out, that pair – husband and wife. I believe the woman’s name was Aluna – her husband’s was much longer, and their last name was a gem. It must have been French. I suppose I could go back and find out.

My dad joined in on my digging as I worked on the other half of the stone – the man. When we had uncovered most of it, I pointed out how the original color of the bronze could still be seen where it had been covered in dirt and grass. Their history must have been covered for a long time.

My mom and younger brother stood nearby watching us. I don’t think they understood why we were doing what we were doing. I don’t think I knew why I was doing it, either. It just felt right.

As I headed across the cemetery to wash the dirt from my hands, I spotted another one. Another almost entirely buried plot. I stopped, again, fell to my knees, and began uncovering it. The only thing that could be seen at first was the date of death. It was a baby’s stone. It was small, and round. As I dug, I discovered the stone was actually in the shape of a heart. It belonged to a baby girl who had died after 7 days of life. 1961 was the year. Fifty years had passed, and the grass had grown. No one knew this story. No one visited this stone.

Cemeteries are our history. Our people are there. Our quotes of love and remembrance. Those dashes between the birth years and the death years that signify lives that were lived.

I don’t know why I tore at that grass with my bare hands. I just had to. It was just wrong. All of those people, all of those stories, all of those lives. There were many hundreds more gravestones that were overgrown with weeds and grass. I can’t imagine how many people have been forgotten. How many wonderful lives that are now lost to memory. How many names and dates and quotes that have faded away with time.