So I have this friend…

So I have this friend and honestly, what I have with him is nothing short of a miracle.

It’s this weird twilight zone between a brother, a best friend, and my Meredith-Christina-type-“Person” that all these articles keep talking about. He’s the one that rarely understands me, but loves me enough to try, (or at least to send me and inspirational youtube video to get through it) and is definitely absolutely the only man on this earth my boyfriend never worries about me being alone with.

He’s beautiful and flawed, and also this almost unprecedented combination of kindness and tough that leaves you in awe and just a little breathless. Unfortunately though, he’s also chosen to move to Australia (aka literally the other side of the world) to pursue his law degree.

Now, I’m not one for sap (jk I totally am). However, a week before putting him, yet another person I love on a plane, I’m feeling just a little sappy. So I thought I’d tell you about him, the person who has been there for me since I met him, who has literally the best taste in music, and who helped me find the love of my life (aka Jordy).

Specifically though, I’d like to tell you one of my favourite memories of him, one that I don’t have a picture of, but is nonetheless burned in my brain, so here it is:

We’re in the car. We’re driving from London to somewhere in the GTA where he’ll meet a buddy for a night in the city with all the guys. His data-less phone is bluetooth connected to the car radio and Spanish music is bouncing around the car. He’s bobbing his head in the passenger seat, and I’m glancing over at him about to ask him to translate the Spanish lyrics, and it hits me, just like that, this feeling of contentedness with the moment, with a world that is so fucked up and twisted and full of broken people and stories that rarely have happy endings, but that somehow helped my best friend find his way to me once again.

I thank God for a world where the boy who wasn’t supposed to be back for another 2 years is sitting in my passenger seat with a box of donuts at his feet, his Spanish music blasting over my speakers. I thank God for a friend that helped me see what I almost missed out on, an incredible hearted Dutch kid with hair that was too long, and scuffed cowboy boots.

I thank God. I thank the universe. I thank his mother. I thank fate and all the powers that be. I thank myself. I thank him, and I thank us.

I thank us for managing to stay close across a 14 hour time difference and 9000 miles, so that for exactly an exactly 2 hour car ride, I could have the privilege of his quasi-lectures, his insights, his lyric translations and explanations, his bad jokes, his frustration over lack of a phone, and of course, his excellent road trip playlist.

I thank us. We did it kid. Here’s to surviving two more years of long distance friendship, and actually remembering to skype as well as facebook chat.

Why a Turkey Wishbone Taunted Me

So randomly last night, my family had a turkey. A thirty pound turkey for dinner.

(Needless to say we will all be eating turkey for the next week or so, but that’s beside the point of this post).

The real point of this post is that this morning I woke up to find the wishbone sitting on the kitchen window sill, and that damn wishbone, it was taunting me.wishbones It was mocking me with all the wishes I need granted right now, and the great unfairness that IF (and that’s a big if), I get the bigger piece when it’s pulled apart, then only one measly little wish will come true.

But that still got me thinking. If I had to choose one wish? What would I wish for?

If I had to pick one wrong in my life to make right. If I had to pick one hole in my heart to fill, what would I choose? What is at the very top of my list of current heartbreaks.

(You probably see what I mean about how this wishbone was taunting me now. See said wishbone to your right).

But honestly, at first I didn’t know. What would I wish for? What would I choose?

Would I wish for my situation to improve?
Would I wish for my best friend not to live so far away?
Would I wish that Toronto and everyone in it wasn’t a 1.5 train ride away, and that traffic didn’t turn a 40 minute drive downtown into a nightmare of stop and go.
Would I wish for more money? (God knows I could use more money).
Would I wish for my Dad’s chronic pain to go away?
Would I wish for my the happiness of my friends who SO deserve it.
Would I wish away my mother’s migraines to suddenly cease?
Would I wish for my little brother to get more sleep?
Would I wish therapy was free?
Would I wish for my Grandfather to make better choices?
Would I wish for my panic attacks to stop?
Would I wish for justice?
Would I wish for the world, for humanity and right some of the wrongs that aren’t so personal to me?

Unfortunately not.
Unfortunately not with only one wish.

No that one wish, I knew almost immediately what it would be. I knew what I would choose if I only had one wish, because that wish while not righting all the wrongs, while it wouldn’t fill all the holes in my heart, while it certainly wouldn’t solve everything, it was still the one thing I wanted more than any of those other things. It was still the one thing that might just make all the other things a little easier. That would make my battles a fairer fight. That would me a little bit stronger, and a whole lot happier.

So you’re probably wondering, what would it be?
What would I wish for if I only had one wish?
What would I dedicate that semi-dried wishbone to?

Well, it’d be for Jordy. My star-crossed lover from Holland, who’s working in Germany and trying to make his way back to Canada to see me.

It’d be for the person who believes in me, fights for me, and loves my rabbit like his own child. It’d be for the face that makes me set an earlier alarm just so I can spend a little extra time looking at him.

It’d be for love.
For the one I love.
For the kind of love that’s once in a lifetime.
It’d be to have that love in bed next to me in the mornings.
It’d be for the thing, the only thing really, that makes anything and everything else worth anything.
It’d be for love.
That would be my wishbone wish.

Xx,

Hannah

Tonight I Wanna Cry

For the past couple of months my relationship has defined me. It has been everything to me. It was the lifeboat I clung too after the last few months nearly drowned me, but I just took that lifeboat, the heart that’s been keeping the blood pumping through my body, and I put it on a plane to Holland.

Now, know that as I am writing this, he’s just taking off, so of course you’re getting me more than a little raw, but you’re also getting me in the most honest way possible, because right now I feel these feelings so absolutely they’re consuming me, they really are. They’re drowning me, and yet I also feel them lifting me up.

See, the time I’ve had, no matter how rough, (or how bitter recent events made it), it was love, pure and simple. It was waking up to someone everyday who adored me, and looked at me in a way I never thought anyone even could. It was the way he advocated for me, believed in me, and reminded me that no matter what happens I should never become someone else. It was love. Love for me, and for life, our life, in it’s simplest purest form.

Yet, these few months have also been a ticking clock. Slowly moving, slowly pushing towards today, towards this moment where I’m shaky and vulnerable and just so damn sad and scared and also kind of ready.

I’m ready to pump my own blood again, or I need to be. I’m ready to stop living on a timer, stop putting pressure on minutes and hours as they run through my hands. I’m ready to rejoin the world again, and learn how to live in it without just him. I’m ready to take on the kind of life I wanted post-grad, I’m ready to fight for it, and fight is what I’ll have to do.

After all, this isn’t going to be easy. There’s nothing normal about my situation with him, or with the things that have happened to me in recent months (outside of our relationship), and with all of that combined it’s going to be a real struggle—a fight even- to even get out of bed some days. I mean it certainly has been even with him to help pull me out.

However, I need to be take on this fight. I need to relearn how to be my own gladiator, my own savior, even my own person again, because I used to be so proud of being those things, of being self sufficient and it kills me that right now I’m not.

But the truth is, I’m not.

I’m not self-sufficient, or whole, or even happy. I’m not any of the things I should be, or want to be for him, or with him.

I’m just lost.

But I’m also not.

I’m also right here, and alive and in love, and still holding the heart of a man on a plane who’s gone right now, but hopefully not for always, and I also have a unique chance to get found, to get myself back. To turn pages in a book that I’ve shelved for so long, and find the words that he fell in love with in the first place, to find the character and heart of the girl that he’s holding now as his plane moves farther away.

Because I if didn’t want this for me, Jordy didn’t want it more. He didn’t want the circumstances to put our lives on hold like this. He didn’t want to have to squeeze months into hours, and spend hours dreading months apart. He wanted normal. He wanted our own rooms and jobs and lives, that of course would coincide but never be so convergent, but also never so divergent at the same time. But that’s what we’ve got. That’s our reality. That’s our story, and even as I sit here crying my eyes out, I know I’ll make the best of it.

I know I’ll fight. I’ll fight to pull myself up out of bed, and force myself to reengage in life. I know I’ll hit the ground running and land that post-grad job. I know I’ll figure out this long distance thing. I know I’ll find my friends again, and thank them for their patience and for their support. I know I’ll get back into my old routines and I know I’ll relearn how to be on my own again. But I won’t do any of that right now, and I won’t do any of it tonight.

Because tonight, I just put the love of my life on a plane to Amsterdam. Tonight my heart is breaking a little bit, (okay a lot), and so tonight, I’m just going to cry.

 

Open Letter To Gayle Forman

Dear Gayle,

I am writing to thank you. I needed to thank you for your words, your books, your stories, and to do this I needed to tell you my own Dutch love story.

I first read Just One Day when I was 18 and travelling through Europe. I had to stop. In comparison to the novel my trip felt restrictive, adventure-less (even though that’s how the majority of Allyson’s trip was too).

I didn’t ever get my one day, not in the three weeks of Europe, and I probably won’t ever. But that’s good, at 18, I wasn’t ready yet. Three years later, I still wasn’t ready. I was a mess after a mess after another mess. I was bruised, and defeated; ready to graduate from university and move on. (For good). So of course, that’s when I met him.

Jordy (prounounced Yordy), was shy and tall. He didn’t look the way he did in pictures. He was wearing cowboy boots and an ugly black sweater with his name printed on it. I couldn’t believe it was him. I started thinking of ways to leave the date early as I led him into Starbucks and sat down. He spoke loudly and with a heavy dutch accent. A farmer, he practically shouted about cows and milking (most of which I began to tune out).

“Sometimes though, when I’m milking I start to wonder what it all means…what the point of it all is, what I’m even working towards or for.”

I looked up. This simple man had caught my attention with his philosophical question. There was something there, something that wasn’t easily seen. I took him back to my place where I forced 20 minutes of High School Musical on him, tested to see how he got along with my beloved pet rabbit, and then booted him out the door with a conciliatory hug.

He texted me the next day, and the day after that, and after that. I was leaving in four months, but I was lonely. I gave him another shot, and another, and another and another. A month later, I introduced him to my family. A week after that he asked me to be his girlfriend,and without hesitation, I said yes.

Fast Forward to Now.

He’s working on immigrating to Canada, and I’m spending hours a day helping with the never-ending paperwork. It’s stressful, and terrible. It’s got us at each other’s throats almost constantly. I’ve wanted to walk away so many times. I wanted to walk away from the paperwork, from the stress, from the process and sometimes even from him. Two days ago, he yelled on the phone out of sheer frustration, and I almost did.

But see, he’s home. He’s my home.

Even though, through his immigration situation, he’s become the source of my frustrations, my stress, and my sleepless nights, he’s also the only person who’s broken my heart wide open.

He’s kind. He’s consistent. He’s extremely patient with me. He’s gentle. He’s caring, and when he walked in the door last night, I could see the how pale he was. How rundown. How red-eyed and dog tired. How terrified. How devastated he was by the situation we were in, and by the real possibility of losing me.

I couldn’t look at him. Not without crying, not really at all. I didn’t know you could actually feel a heart break. I didn’t know you could feel it crack as the cracks were happening. I didn’t realize just how physical, mental and spiritual that kind of pain could be.For a moment, I thought these were pains were sympathy, empathy. But I don’t believe those feelings could ever be born of pure sympathy.

I am sure that what I was feeling wasn’t his heartbreak. It was mine. It was realizing how gutted I would be losing him. It was feeling the pre-loss of knowing in a few months, I might be putting him on a plane to Holland while the paperwork gets figured out. It was the guilt of letting myself fall in love while knowing full-well that love might be the one thing out of and above our control.

Gayle, I didn’t get my one day. I fell into this slowly, and by accident. I fell into it despite an existing plan, despite the risks, despite not wanting this or him, or any of it really.

 Unfortunately though Gayle, I might get my one year. Depending on how this all goes, we might be apart a few weeks, a few months, or much longer. That’s the reality of it. That’s my reality.

And you know, “maybe time has nothing to do with it”.
Gayle Forman, Just One Year

I always told myself the reason I hadn’t fallen in love at 15,16,17,18,19,20, was because I was the type of person who could only have one great love. That maybe, the reason all the heartbreak, and close-calls in the past, were only close calls was because mine was a heart that could only love once. That that’s all I was capable, was to love once, but to love hard and love well.

“Doubt is part of searching. Same as faith.”
Gayle Forman, Just One Year

Or maybe that’s bullshit. Maybe he’s not the one. Maybe I was wrong and this is just part of a longer story that ends with someone else. Between you and me though, I hope not.

See Gayle, I’m ready now. That’s why I’m writing this very long letter to you. I am writing because I am almost finished reading Just One Year, for what’s probably the 5th or 6th time, but the first in this new context. And in this new context, I’ve learned a new lesson.

Loving someone is such an inherently dangerous act. And yet, love, that’s where safety lives.”
Gayle Forman, Just One Year

In this mess, I have tried many times to escape this immigration prison. And in doing so, I’ve built myself many different ones. In an attempt to deal with, understand and manage my stress, pain and anxiety, I have locked out the one person, locked out the love I am putting myself through all this for.

Sometimes you escape one prison only to find you’ve built yourself a different one”
Gayle Forman, Just One Year

Worse than this, I have justified the building of these prison walls, rationalized them time and again. Convinced myself they were a refuge. I have held onto them for dear life, built them up strong with my resentment towards him for putting me in this immigration prison, for making me love him and in doing so, putting me here.

Yesterday, I tore them down.

I sobbed into him as the reality hit. I took refuge in him and let him wrap himself around me. I accepted he will probably have to leave, probably for at least a few months. I cried and cried, letting him harbor my fears for the months ahead, the pure loss of being an ocean away.

Gayle, loving someone is already such an inherently dangerous act. However, loving him, loving a foreigner, makes something already dangerous, also wildly and uniquely precarious.

When I first went to read Just One Day and Just One Year again, I was initially angry that this wasn’t something you captured, but as I once again reach the ending, I am realizing that isn’t the important lesson. It is the necessary sentiment the book needed to capture. That quote is. That’s the applicable piece.

Because, love isn’t a prison. It isn’t something you protect. It isn’t something you should protect yourself from, nor is it something you can protect from external factors. It’s a risk. It’s something you have to risk. And it’s always a risk, no matter the situation, no matter the circumstances.

That is to say, love is necessarily a risk. The nature of it is such that you must risk. That you cannot protect, because in protecting love, even with purest intentions, you lose it.

For in protecting love, you are protecting yourself from the loss of that love, and in doing this, you inadvertently protect yourself from love, from having love and from being able to love. And so, there can be no protection. There can only be risk.

To most, I think this seems scarier, but your book helped me to understand it better. I understand now, that in protection there is no risk, but there is also no love. In love, there is risk, there is loss, but even if it is only for a moment, there can be love. This is what matters, this is why we must risk.

This is why I tore my walls down, because if I didn’t risk loving Jordy. If I didn’t risk it with him, I’d lose him anyway, probably prematurely.

Thank you so for helping me understand this, for helping me realize this. For helping me love.

Hannah

 

The In-Between Bits

When I first met my now-boyfriend, what was involved with him staying in Canada was both distant and abstract to me. It was something to be worried about if we stayed together, and that if I was around for, I planned on being a passive bystander to.

I’m pretty sure someone famous said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” Though cliché, this is where I found myself a few months into dating him: in the middle of my horribly gone-awry plan to be unattached and ready to independently take on post-grad life. Instead of these things, I was not only attached, but also very much in love, and caught up in the messy reality of him having to go back to Holland.

I was sobbing into the phone and then off the phone. Ugly, raw, primal sounds, the sounds a heart makes when it’s breaking. All this made worse by my sudden and painful realization that without my knowing it, I’d fallen in love with him.

Realizing this just as he having to leave was a stupid and bitter kind of irony. It was the kind better left for indie-rom-coms without happy endings. I couldn’t believe my love story was about to be reduced to this. I had flashes of 2011’s “Like Crazy”.

I didn’t want to spend years caught up in immigration paperwork and applications for Visas. I didn’t want to have a relationship spread across continents and time zones.

I mean yes, there is a kind of romance in that, but when faced with the bitter reality of it, the romance all but disappears.

I didn’t want a life that was on hold, that was waiting for him to be back in it again. I didn’t want to be “halved by the halves that halve you halve,” and even a few moments into the reality of it, I knew the bleakness of “Like Crazy” was a reflection of such a situation’s reality. I knew I didn’t want that, but I also knew I loved him more than I’d ever loved anyone.

I’d dated. A lot.

I knew what was out there and it wasn’t a hell of a lot. There almost certainly wasn’t someone as patient, as kind, as gentle, as shy, as anything in the combination, in the way, that he was. I won’t be so dramatic as to say moving on wasn’t an option. It was something we’d talked about very early on.

Late one night over text, he told me that if he had to go back, and go back for a long time, he didn’t want me to wait for him, or to feel like I should. He said, “If you find someone that makes you happy, don’t worry about me or how I’ll feel. Just go be happy.”

We’d barely been dating at this point. We hadn’t said “I love you,” but in that moment I knew. I’d never met anyone that selfless. I’d never met anyone who would so easily put my happiness before their own.

As I sat staring at my phone with bleary eyes, I suddenly knew  that I was  so screwed. I knew that while he might be good to enough to let me go, there was no way I could do the same. I knew then that six months or so later, I’d be fighting like hell to keep him here because I couldn’t imagine being without him.

Today, like the last few days has been a hard one. I’ve cried a lot more than usual. I’ve been testy and on edge, taking my stress out on the people I love most. I’ve also, in a lot of ways, been the best version of myself. A fighter, a negotiator, a caretaker, a clown, a partner, a sympathizer, a girl in love.

Truthfully, I still don’t know what’s going to happen with him or with us, and honestly that’s the worst part. I know what I hope for. I know what I want to happen, but I don’t know what will.

I also know I love him. I know that even with all the stress I wouldn’t trade him for anyone, and I truly honesty absolutely wouldn’t trade what we have for anything.

My Grandma told me the other day that the Lord has a plan, and I should just trust in him. Neither of us are religious, not my boyfriend nor I, but right now that’s exactly what we’re going to have to do. It might suck right now, it might be really hard, but we can only trust that what’s supposed to happen will. We have to believe we have a chance.

Love,

Hannah