“Unwept tears, like milk kept too long, turn rancid and need to be flung out before they curdle too thickly.” –my friend Chris
I went to a small woman’s college in the South that no one in Oregon had heard of. Through the magic of the Internet, I stay connected to the sisterhood from my West Coast outpost. Lately there have been some beautiful prose posts on Facebook that I got permission to share with you. You, who have been so loyal and loving, and deserve a little intermission.
From our dear, strong Raine whose heart is a music box, on standing up and moving on:
Ten years ago, I accepted that I’d hit rock bottom. I lay down with my (then) fiancé-to-be, and while he was napping, I was shaking in my skin, preparing to tell him that, instead of moving with him to California, I was leaving him and moving back to Virginia.
I still don’t remember much of the two weeks that followed, including packing, wrapping, addressing, and shipping about nine medium- to large-sized boxes that somehow arrived at my parents’ house before me.
I spent the next six months doing intense introspective work, to figure out how I’d come to let myself end up in a bad situation, and what needed to change (inside and out). And I set about changing it. (Which I still work on today!)
So if you’ll allow me this heresy… it’s my own sort of “Good Friday”—a feast to celebrate terrible experiences giving way to growth and positive change. A day to acknowledge that sometimes we mess up really big time, and/or things get out of control… and it’s okay.
Forgive and recover.
Secondly, but not unimportantly… If I post this every year, it is because I understand how hard and even terrifying it can be to get away from a bad situation, and that often “what’s really going on” is hidden from view.
There is help; there is support. And you can talk to me about it. I’ll be your friend.
And now an amuse-bouche. From Chris, again, who, in the face of often-devastating circumstances, hugs us. And you should know, her hugs are as life-affirming as you are imagining.
You would think that, if you were in a relationship that consisted of two women, you wouldn’t have to worry about things like your partner drawing on your cat’s face with green ink. You, my friend, would be so, so wrong.
And last, from Clare, who is probably crafting a beautiful garment right now as her heart pumps stories through her veins:
If I tell you stories you probably know some version of this one. I was 23, had moved back to Chicago a few months earlier, after college and a bad breakup and a summer job and a month in London sleeping on Stacia’s floor.
I’d just started dating a girl named Nadine. She was German, a few years older than me with infinitely more style. I’m still not sure what she was drawn to in me.
We had a posse, a girl posse, which would eventually, just before its dissolution, be dubbed G4, after the G8 summit taking place in Georgia at the time.
Me and Ami and Nadine and Sasha.
Ami I’d known first, back in high school, boarding school, when I was a student and she was a live-in counselor. Now we were both grown-ups, reconnected, city life. All three of them had real jobs and I have to admit I was a little bit of a brat: younger, the only one with a car, living off dog-walking wages and the money I’d saved from the summer before, because when you live in park housing twenty-five minutes from the nearest town and an hour from anything like a city you don’t spend much.
Plus even in Chicago my rent was three-fifty a month. So if I fell in love with a little grey bunny at the pet store after Sunday brunch with my posse, and I wanted to buy it, I would.
I could tell Ami thought I was crazy, couldn’t tolerate my irrational spending when she had student loans to think about. Nadine found it charming. Sasha wasn’t much concerned. We went to Target for errands and I pushed the bunny in a cardboard box in the child’s seat of our shopping cart. Nadine held the box in her lap when I drove them all home.
At my apartment I took a minute to set up the cage but really I just wanted to play with her, this bunny, new friend. If I gave her a name I don’t remember what it was. When my roommate came home she said no, we can’t keep her, I’m allergic.
I called Nadine.
Nadine said she would take her. Nadine had rabbits in Germany when she was a child. They were large and lived in a hut in the backyard.
Nadine bought the rabbit a better cage and named her Greta. Nadine loved her, bought her presents, gave her the run of the house until she started chewing up the cables. Greta wasn’t mine anymore. It’s not clear when Nadine and I broke up. Gradually, then suddenly.
We stayed friends, then she stopped talking to me. I think it had to do with she was dating her ex-girlfriend. They were the ones who really loved each other, even though the ex-girlfriend kicked a hole in her closet once. We were only ever just a fling.
I tried to friend Nadine on Facebook once or twice over the years. She lives in New York now. I don’t think she uses Facebook much, but I also think she is choosing not to be my friend. My “friend.” Maybe I did something worse than I realize. Maybe she’s just not like me, and doesn’t want to hang on.
Her profile picture, from the time I first looked her up, probably eight years ago, until now, is of Greta. I have stolen it. I think I deserve this much.