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This has nothing to do with the price of tea in China.

This has everything to do with things we’re too afraid to say. The memories we’re not supposed to miss, or at least as much as we do. The loves we’ve lost. The regrets we’ve learned from. The dreams that were misplaced somewhere along the way. The lies we tell ourselves and everyone around us. The facade we create to feel better, to feel something.

Everything happens for a reason. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Actions speak louder than words. Ignorance is bliss. Better safe than sorry. It’s not about the number of breaths we take, but the number of moments that take our breath away. Live every day like it’s your last. Laughter is the best medicine. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Life goes on.

Bullshit.

Sometimes, life fucking hurts. It’s not fair. There is no reason to explain why.

Just because you felt something doesn’t mean it was enough.

There is a life size doll sitting in the corner of my room at my parents house, wearing a dress I used to wear when I was little. Most people that see it for the first time think it’s creepy. All I see is Big Doll downstairs at my Aunt Karen’s house. Standing in the corner by the bed I used to sleep on for sleepovers when I was older. The quilt. The space heater. The green and blue coffee trays older than me. All I see is a photo of me dancing in that dress in my Grandmother’s living room. The broken straw hat. The girl with barely any hair. The safety of having two homes beside my own.

This has nothing to do with the price of tea in China.

This has everything to do with what it feels like to lose someone before you should have. Because every day it happens — to mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, grandmothers, grandfathers, cousins, wives, husbands, friends, and lovers. But don’t worry… life goes on. Or some other incredulous bullshit like that.

Life is just a role that we play.

My God, may we play it well.

Stop worrying about the election, the price of gas, how many likes you have on Instagram, the latest fashions, the weekend, how much money you make, whether or not you have pimples, the latest celebrity gossip, the top of the charts, what people think, what things you have, what you didn’t do, who you should have been.

What if all you had was today?

What role would you play?

Who would you spend it with?

What memories would you make?

There is no guarantee.

Stop acting as if you’re entitled to one.

This has nothing to do with the price of tea in China.

This has everything to do with making an effort to be the best version of yourself, day in and day out. To commit yourself to making the people you love a priority. To stop selfishly waiting for someone else to make the first move. To act as if you give a damn. To not allow your fears to control your life. To wake up every morning with a purpose. To believe in God. Or something. Yourself, for starters. To stop feeling entitled to second chances and treating people as though it’s the only shot you got. To tell the truth. To love like crazy. To travel. To stop waiting for tomorrow. To stop planning so god damn much. To put pride aside and be there.

Be present.

It’s all we’ll ever have.

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Over 100 people lost their lives today in Paris, France. Over 100 people that were just out trying to live life, enjoy things they love. A stadium. A restaurant. A concert hall. Regular activities for regular people who didn’t know tonight would be their last. My heart goes out to them. Their families. Their friends. Their co-workers. My heart goes out to the entire nation in this treacherous act of terrorism. How many times has this happened in our world’s history? And how many times do we begin to understand why? The answer is none. And it is in these unfathomable circumstances, that you realize life is a lot less complicated than you make it out to be. We are all just people. One human to the next. Trying to live our lives the best way we see fit. And yet, in these moments of injustice, we realize the world is not our own.

Still, we create it out to be. As a twenty-something growing up in modern day America I will admit that we are a selfish generation. We are a generation that thrives out of get it now satisfaction. The tabloids scream that you can have it your way… be as pretty as you want, as rich as you want, as skinny as you want, as tech savvy as you want. Get it now. Feel something. And, if you don’t like it, there will probably be another option on the marketplace shortly. You don’t have to live with your choices for long. We have become a generation capable of buying things because we want them, not because we need them. In turn, we have shaped who we are and how we encounter life.

We feel so entitled to the privilege of choice, we too often forget those choices can be taken away from us.

And, now, for a moment, we remember. Over 100 people lost their lives today in Paris, France. It was not their choice. Somebody else’s, maybe. But the life we so often take for granted can be gone in a blink of an eye.

Then you realize it is not about the get it now lifestyle. Maybe then our lives can become more than a moment of temporary gratification. If we stop for a second, we could see that our problems are often so small in comparison. We have the ability to choose life each and every day. To appreciate the world around us, and everyone in it. There will always be other opportunities out there, other adventures. There will always be another thing to spark your interest, another fad to try. But it is the simplest things that take up the most room in your heart. The people that love us. The people that have gone out of their way to show us we are not alone. The roof over our heads. The food on our plates. The gift of today.

May we live today for all those people who no longer have a tomorrow. May we stop for a moment to think about all the people who have impacted our lives, all the ones near and dear to our hearts. Thank them. Hold onto them. Fight for them. Life is too short to give up on those we love. We think we have all the time in the world, but sometimes, we don’t. These moments remind us time is a gift. One we so often take for granted.

I may only be twenty-six years old, but if I could do a few things over I would. Give more time to the people who have proven they care, and less time to the people who don’t. I would try to remind myself every day that there are no guarantees. I would try to remind myself to embrace every chance I’ve been given. To make life less complicated. To enjoy the simplicity of treasured friends and family, and the moments shared that will never be forgotten. The memories that shape us and carry us through when times are hard.

It is a privilege to be alive. May we make the most of the days we have, so that we leave no regrets for tomorrow.

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I know I’ve written to everyone but you. I know you’ve had to endure too many stories of guys that came before you. I know that it’s not fair. I have strung you along like a yo-yo, up one day and down the next. I don’t deserve you, and I probably never will. For you are the opposite of everything I used to love. You are kind, even when I’ve hurt you. You are comfort, those arms I already miss, the afternoons spent curled up in them lying on your couch. You are laughter, a sure excuse to let go of any bad day and just breath. You are considerate, the desire to make me feel valued. Which you did, always. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like I really mattered. My opinions. My hurts. My struggles. My weaknesses. My dreams. You listen with an attention I know is real. You look into my eyes and I know you care. Thank you. For doing that, for being there when I least deserve it. For wading through all the bullshit of my past, to give me hope for a future. Even if it’s without you. You have given me more than you will ever know. Beautiful memories that actually are beautiful, instead of just a imaginative version of what was. I don’t remember the last time I felt so safe. A place to be myself, instead of who I think you might want me to be.

All of this makes letting go of you so very hard. I jokingly said you’d move on before I did. I wish I hadn’t been right. I wish it hadn’t been her. And the hurt and anger I feel stems back to everything that happened before you. The reality of being just an option, instead of the only one. I guess I’ve always loved with my whole heart. It is this flaw that keeps me from moving on. It’s hard to understand when people don’t do the same. I sit at breakfast with another man, and all I can think of is you. I wonder if I’ve just made the biggest mistake. And, I think about all the reasons why. The missing feelings. The uncomfortable nights spent trying to understand what went wrong. The disconnect I wish I never felt. I have to hope I made the right choice, even now as I write this in tears. Is it jealousy? Am I selfishly trying to hold onto you? Is it real? Is it now just making sense?

The reality is, you deserve more than what I gave you. I’ve taken the person I can’t stand, and become him. Someone who can’t commit. Someone who can’t deal with their demons to love the way you should be loved. Someone who wants you, but not enough. And, I’m sorry for that. I wish I could figure things out, give you the answer you deserve instead of this back and forth game we play. I wake up in your bed, and it feels right. I leave your apartment, and it feels like the last time.

I don’t deserve you, not now and maybe not ever. I just hope that she does. I hope she looks in your eyes and feels the same way you do. That she wants to be with you as much as you want to be with her. I hope she appreciates your tender touch, the way you never made it just about you. I hope she does things for you, because she wants to. I hope she meets you half way. I hope she gives you what you deserve. The relationship I never could. And, I promise I’ll try to be supportive. I promise I’ll try not to show you how much it hurts. To see you get everything I always wanted, everything I never gave you.

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I Know It Well.

There is a place that still belongs to you, a reminder for my still fractured heart.

A friend recently told me she still cries, sometimes, when she thinks of her first fiancé. A love that was but wasn’t: enough, whole, right. A happy marriage and two beautiful kids will never erase what once was. For memories are merely wrinkles etched upon your soul. Pieces of a past that will forever influence your present and your future.

There is a place that still belongs to you, at 3 AM when nothing make sense.

A dream for the nights I miss you. That soft voice and steady laugh. Mornings wrapped up in your arms. The way I feel you touch me there. Again. Again. Again. The best I’ve ever had. The worst I’ve ever had. A nightmare for the nights I hate you. The lies you whispered like sweet nothings to disguise the other women in your head, in your bed. I fall back asleep praying to forget you.

There is a place that still belongs to you, a lesson I’m still learning.

A never ending supply of writing material. The book I have yet to write. Someday I’ll plaster you across chapters. Someday I’ll categorize our failures into lovely phrases more constructive than our conversations. I’ll make love to you in words, and in the same breath, I’ll tear you apart syllable by syllable. There are no promises to be made for treating our story with grace. The same way you broke every promise you ever made.

There is a place that will always belong to you, a reminder of what love isn’t.

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This town is full of too many loves that never were
Familiar faces are only fragments of what I’ve tried to forget
Close enough to want inside of everything but my heart
But hearts are givers without choice
I believed I deserved better before I met you
Now I hardly believe in myself
And the ability to love again

Giving works until there’s nothing left
Just the memory of what I wished had always been
The fairy tale I grew up believing in
The one with the Prince who saved her
The knight who said she was the only one
I’m Cinderella without a fairy godmother
My hand of cards is missing a chance

I listen to Dixie Chicks radio when I’m sad
You’ve ruined everything for everyone
Who has tried to steal my heart away
And sometimes I wake up crying at night
The hurting is always all mine
I pray to be set free so
Goodbye Earl or whatever your name is

I thought mistakes were just moments
Not the prologue to the rest of my life
I wish I could love him the way I loved you
Twice the man and an even better friend
I can’t imagine the heartache if you had cared
I’m still picking up the pieces
Of a love we never had

This town is full of too many loves that never were.

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Explosions in the sky sounds like you —that easy silence, every breath telling me you felt it too. I hear tears next to memories of all the things we used to do. And, still it calms me. The soft ebb and flow of the chords singing syllables only known to me. And, once to you. Music isn’t the same without you. It’s been years and last week was the first Bon Iver has once again come through my speakers. It doesn’t hurt the way it used to. Just lost, like having a home you no longer know the way back to. Your favorite highway, divided, widened, made public. Nothing is sacred once it’s shared. Never the same the second time, the last time. 
The first time I fell in love I was young, naïve. I’m not sure I even knew what it meant. Different is frightening at 17. Easier to run 700 miles away, pretend reality was only make believe. Love is just a a fairytale until you’re ready.
The last time I fell in love was messy. The way your room feels after a trip. Dirty laundry and unpacked memorabilia strewn across the floor. It’s home, just not clean. You can’t live this way for long, even though you want to. Even though it’s easier to ignore. But love should never be lazy, never feel like a chore.  
Sometimes I think about you, when I’m with him. His tongue moves differently than yours did. He doesn’t know how I like it in bed. Like the time, with the scarf, on the chair. Maybe that’s why you’re meant to be with one person that way. Intimacy is hard to erase. You miss this. Compare that. Start thinking I’m not over it all over again.  
Again, and again. You’re expected to play the game but nobody tells you how many losses you’re going to take when you start. The more I try the less I know. The more I see the less I want to be anything but alone. I’m honest. Too honest. And I’m scared the one person who gets that about me will be the only one who ever will. 10 years and I still want to look to him for advice, for approval, for relief. The pause when nothing else makes sense. He is my late night conversation and my phone call home. The one I think about when I can’t think anymore. Something to hang onto, that song you’ll always remember because of the memories you’ll never forget. Never regret.

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Sometimes, I sleep with the ghost of you. With the memories that are still warm and easy to curl up in. You hold me tight with all the words I’ll never forget. The ones I wanted to believe you meant. The ones I held onto too long. I lay next to the handful of nights I thought you’d stay. When love was something I felt instead of just another line you played.

Sometimes, I sleep with the ghost of you. I lose hours wrapped up in your arms. You kiss me over and over again. My toes curl; I lose control. We have sex like it’s the last time every time. I cuddle up with what’s been lost and what will never be again. You were the love I thought I wanted. I was the girl you never did. This bed is now as empty as your promises.

Sometimes, I sleep with the ghost of you. I lay next to the images I wish I could forget. The ones of you with her and her and her. The empty look in your eyes as I cried. The ones where you genuinely stole my heart. Holding me tight in your arms as you told me everything would be alright. I lay next to the memories of sadness and regret. You were my biggest mistake, my hardest heartbreak, my fucked up love.

I sleep with the ghost of you, sometimes. And, I pray I never meet anyone like you again.

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