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.

 

Why You Can’t Ever Go Back to Undergrad

They say undergrad will be one of the best times in your life, and in almost all ways it is. They also say that it goes by way too fast, and it does. But what they don’t tell you, is that you can’t ever go back.

Because here’s the thing:

Your undergrad experience isn’t just a place. It’s not a bar or a restaurant, or your apartment. It’s a time. It’s a four-year period when almost all the people you loved, liked, or just wanted to be around (in my case other Western students) were in the same place, not just geographically, but in their lives.

It was a moment where any and every bar were filled with faces that were at least familiar to you. When you couldn’t be on campus, like anywhere on campus, without running into at least 5 people you knew, and this familiarity, this feeling of community felt so solid that it didn’t feel like it could ever end, like it would never not exist, but you come back and you realize that it has. There’s been a diaspora of your graduating class, and it means that even if the places never change, even if they stay there forever, the moment you lived in for four years isn’t something you’re ever going to get back. It’s a moment —a feeling really— that you’re never going to have again.

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A moment of pure undergrad joy captured by the lovely Nicole De Khors

This is the big secret our alumni events committee don’t want us to know. It’s the thing that’s swept under rugs and disguised by promises that alumni events will let you “relive your ‘insert university here’ experience!” It’s the elephant in the room. Because despite the yearly homecomings, the friends you make and manage to keep, and the places staying (relatively) the same. Once your time is up, you can’t go back, not to undergrad and certainly not to the moment you felt the opposite of loneliness, not even for one night. I learned this for myself the hard way recently.

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I came up to visit friends (who are still doing their undergrad), drink, go to ceeps (aka my favourite bar, aka London’s best bar), and honestly, to feel a little like myself again. To for one night be the girl who drinks pornstars, never waits in lines and knows everyone in the room,  a kind of Cinderella night.

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However, it turns out that even though that girl still lives inside me, even though she’ll always live inside me.There are no Cinderella nights for post-grads. Our moment has just simply passed, our clock has struck midnight, our magic nights are over and done and once they’re gone, we can’t get them back.

Now, that isn’t to say I don’t still bleed purple, and happily dance through the pain in four inch heels to Fetty Wap, because on occasion, I do. (Though not for as long or as well as I used to). It’s to say that, for the first time, I’m realizing post-grad is hard, not just because it’s a change, but because in many ways it’s also a huge loss, and I think that without even realizing it, a lot of us grieve for it as such.

So all that being said, I think it’s time. It’s time to shatter this myth, that our undergrad is something we can go back to, can re-visit on for a night or a weekend, or at a homecoming event. And it’s time to stop propagating this myth that we can go back, because believing this doesn’t prepare us for how it feels when our undergrad bubble bursts (and how to cope with that), and it also doesn’t help us enjoy what we have while we still have it.

 

Growing Up is Never “Graceful”

There’s this saying that’s been floating around in my head: “Growing up gracefully,” and I hate it. Like I really fucking hate it. There is no way to grow up gracefully. No way. It’s impossible, implausible it’s impatient, it’s a million other words that start with im but it’s NOT graceful.

As a person who at 21 is still growing up I can attest to this, and I feel like I need to attest to this.

Here’s why:

I graduated in June, looked for jobs over the summer, and was offered a job (at my dream company) literally on the first day of September (it was a Thursday) ((idk why that matters)). For those looking in, that means my life is literally right on track. My t’s are crossed, my eyes are dotted. I’m basically a perfect example of a successful transition from student to fully-functioning young adult professional.

I guess this is all partially accurate. I have done things the way you’re “supposed to”. I have been lucky enough to move on to the next stage of my life quickly and relatively easily.

Check and check and check and check.

But despite all these perfectly crossed t’s and beautifully dotted i’s, I have certainly not as they say “grown up gracefully”.

Exhibit A:

-immediately following graduation in June, I decided not to begin looking for a job as I should have and as I, a shiny new graduate, was “supposed to.” No. I instead decided to have what I called my “Neverland summer” as in I am never growing up. As in I was going to-for-four-months be Peter Pan.

Exhibit B:

-As part of this, I went back to my summer job as a student. I worked at a strawberry farm selling wine, with people I thought were my best friends. Except it wasn’t fun anymore. I didn’t have anything in common with my much younger co-workers. Friendships that had once been my most solid foundation, my summer-job-bragging-right, quickly deteriorated, and with them, so did the only thing that made working a tedious, menial job tolerable.

And Honestly? That was brutal. I lost my friends. I lost my lifestyle and I lost the summer I’d been planning and wishing for the entire school year. I didn’t take any of that very well.

Not very graceful eh?

    Exhibit C:

-After this summer demise, I spent the rest of the summer looking for jobs, not hearing back and getting extremely discouraged. This is turn led to sleeping all day, Netflix binges and all around misery.

                NOT SO GRACEFUL EH?

Luckily before things were too far gone, I got that call. The one that told me I had an interview in a few days. The one that had the potential (not to be dramatic) but the potential to change my life, and it has.

I now work 9-5 five days a week. I commute with what seems to be everyone else on the freaking planet, and spend my down time doing errands, prepping meals for the week or doing other boring things that adults do, or should do, or whatever. Still, I wouldn’t say I’ve entered this new part of my life gracefully.

For one thing, I’m tired all the freaking time, like more tired than I ever thought possible. For another, I honked at a lady today for putting on lipstick at a red light (and almost gave her the finger too). I was once a very polite friendly driver. For another another, I haven’t been to a bar in two weeks (that’s a long time okay?). And in fact, I’m not really sure how to have an adult social life at all. Like what do adults even do for fun? Laundry???

Now, in case you’re reading this and still thinking I sound like I’m not adjusting too badly, I’d like to take a moment to tell you that I am and I’m not. I’d like to tell you that I finished my fourth day of work today and I came home excited to see my boyfriend and my rabbit, but also that my head was fucking killing me after being at work all day.

I’d like to tell you that I’m on the verge of a meltdown because I have to go to bed in like ten minutes and haven’t finished watching my show (which I will now have to pause and finish watching tomorrow after work which is basically like 500 years from now), but also that I’m kind of really excited to see what I get to work on tomorrow at the office.

Finally, I’d like to tell you that I’m not putting into words everything I’m feeling because there’s a chance my boss is reading this. However, I’d also like to tell you that despite all the doubt, the bitter-sweetness and whatever else I’m feeling about beginning this new (and seemingly never-ending) phase of life, I’m really really really grateful to have the opportunity to be where I am, to work where I do, to have the co-workers I do, and that I’m so excited for what’s next as a media production assistant at my new company.

Still though, growing up is hard, change is hard, and transition is really really fucking hard.

I know these things, you know these things, but as a seemingly functioning adult, I feel like it’s my duty to reiterate them, to tell you that no matter how graceful it looks on the outside, there’s nothing graceful about growing up, not at 5,6,7,8,9, not at 12, and definitely not at 21.

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Attached in Your 20s: Being Single vs Being Serious

Remember when we were in middle school and it suddenly felt like everyone was coupling up? When suddenly recess became a receptacle for the holding of sweaty 12 year old hands and illicit makeouts on the pavement.

Well, post-grad feels kinda like that. (At least I think so).

It’s like all of a sudden we all went from making out in bars with people whose names we would never know (or care to know) and taking home strangers, to declaring our love on the internet and making things #FacebookOfficial.

Maybe this is our attempt to adult?

(Step One: Find life partner)
(Step Two: Tell everyone???)

Now before anyone gets offended I too have joined the love-zombie army. (His name is Jordy and he takes up most of my instagram lately). However, being the wildly independent-unattached-don’t-need-no-man kind of girl that I am (was?) my membership to the love club is kind of freaking me out.

Here’s why:

  1. Because my boyfriend is dutch and his immigration paperwork is a nightmare and I love him and want to marry him one day but not yet because I’m only 21 and the idea of that is scary as fuck and also I don’t want a green card marriage and neither does he.(I’m guessing that’s just a me problem though)

    SO ANYWAYS

  2. Because I see a future with him, and suddenly what I want in life, and what I picture for myself and my life is starting to include him.

    Now, that’s not saying my plans are beginning to revolve around him, or even my life, but I’m seeing how easily they could start to, and the ease with which I see this terrifies me. Which leads me to….

  3. I am terrified of compromising on what I want/or wanted because I want him (forever).

    I always prided myself on never letting myself revolve around a guy. Ever. Period. The end. I always made my own choices, my own decisions, and if they happened to be amenable for/to him then LUCKY HIM! If not….then Bye Felicia.

    But I’m starting to think more and more that maybe it’s okay to compromise on some things in the name of being happy, because what you want can change. That what you want in life is allowed to change, maybe even supposed to change as you get older/grow/whatever. Because while you do change, as long as you still are a person you like and that your past self would also like and be proud of, don’t beat yourself up for the change (I think?).

    BUT

  4. Isn’t this is the time when you are supposed to get to know you? Like the solo you? Or are those just articles and lists to make the single girls (aka me 8 months ago) feel better?

    I don’t know. A friend told me a little while ago that in the end you just have to do what makes you happy. (Which is a cliche but still true). And truthfully, I don’t think I’ll ever find someone that makes me this happy (even with the constant immigration headaches).

    My boyfriend is patient, kind, tolerant of my uniqueness (read: weirdness). He doesn’t mind tickling my feet for a whole movie, puts up with me loving my rabbit more than him (sorry babe), and works harder than anyone I know. He’s gentle, sweet, and sometimes he’s even funny. I could go on and go, but I’ll stop there because you probably get the point.

Honestly, despite these things (these GREAT things about being in a serious relationship) I’ll probably always worry a little that I didn’t sleep with enough people, or sow enough wild oats. I’ll worry that I settled down too soon or met the one to early (assuming things work out, knock on wood) (((I really really really hope they do))).

I know a lot of my friends with seriously-gonna-marry-him SO’s feel the same.I guess the grass is always greener right?

Though, in these moments when I have these doubts about it being “too-soon” “too-limiting” “too-much” for 21, I try to remember what it was before him. Sometimes, it was great. I had a lot of fun. A lot.I kissed a few boys (and a few I shouldn’t have). I did some things I’m not proud of and some I still really am  😉 . I spent time alone. I was selfish and could leave my phone off without someone worrying I was mad at them (my friends know I am not a fan of charging my phone). I focused on my rabbit, and travelled alone.

Honestly, sometimes I miss it all. Sometimes I can tell my friends miss single Hannah too. (Though they definitely don’t miss sad-lonely-broken hearted Hannah, the Hannah that often accompanied fun single Hannah.) However, I wouldn’t trade fun-singledom for my serious relationship. I wouldn’t trade what I have with Jordy for anything in the world.

So all that said, what’s better? Single or Serious?

Idk.

See, both single and serious are scary, and though I wouldn’t trade Jordy for anything, I can’t honestly say that one kind of scary is better or worse than the other. Nor can I say that one status is better  (or worse). I guess all I am saying is that just being 21 is scary.

Being 21 and in a serious relationship is scary because you worry that having an SO prevents you from being the 21 that you are “supposed to be”. However, that isn’t to say being 21 and single is any easier. Like I said before, 21 any which way is hard.

For me personally, it’s scary and it’s hard because I’m terrified I’m missing out. I am fearful that being attached means I will not only miss the growth of my 20s, but also that I will lose the best things about single Hannah. Her ambition, her candour, her creativity, her drive, her wit. Though as far as losing these things goes, I don’t think I have. I think I’ve remained the person I am. I think I’ve finally found someone who lets me be those things, the ones I am most proud of. I think maybe seriously-attached isn’t the personality catalyst  I thought it was.

That isn’t to say it hasn’t and won’t be a struggle to remain a whole person outside of my relationship. Not losing yourself in someone you love that much? I think that’s tough, especially for people our age. But then, maybe your 20s are for getting lost?

No, maybe not in that sense. Regardless, I don’t have any plans to lose myself. I like her too much. I think I’ll keep her, or at least the best parts of her around. After all, isn’t that what your 20s are really for? Finding the best parts of yourself, for discovering those things inside you and learning how not to let them go, single or taken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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