Today would have been my grandmother’s birthday. Each and every year, we have celebrated her just before my favorite turn of the seasons. When the sun gets bright yellow like egg yolk and the pavement is hot enough to fry.
For those of you who don’t remember, my grandmother passed away last summer. It felt unexpected, but truthfully, she had been mentally gone in that nursing home for a long while.
I suppose I just thought she would be there forever. I wanted her to always be around.
But, you know, I am grateful to have known someone I felt that way about.
She hated having her picture taken, so a lot of the images I have of her look something like this. I like my people with a little personality. It’s so strange to think I wasn’t even alive when this one was taken.
But this was her.
And so, with the fresh waning of the moon and the shift of spring to summer, here we are. Playlist in hand.
(Her favorite song is toward the end of the list, and I know like I know she is waltzing to it somewhere.)
An Open Letter to the Woman I Was, Leaving Nashville:
You will find yourself omitting coffee early this morning to beat traffic. You will think it is a smart idea to wait until you are outside the city. It is not.
Five hours later, you will finally pass a Starbucks. You will go in, and you will order Blonde Roast, and they will give you Pike. You will never forget the guilty look on the barista’s face when you say before paying that you want your employee discount. You will also never forget that first taste of…fucking Pike.
You will eat yogurt covered raisins when you are hungry. You will be forced to listen to the same few songs, over and over, because your phone is acting funny. You will miss the mountains, years later, and you will always wonder how everyone there learned they needed to put up signs indicating random, tumbling rocks. You will feel the change when the weather becomes just a little bit chillier.
You will keep waiting on the drive for the tears you wanted to cry but did not have time for because you were tired and you just needed to keep going. They do not come. Instead, over the next few years, they will squeak out just a little every day before there comes a time that you realize they have not visited lately. Spoiler alert: this is the moment that they return, because grief is not linear, but rather, it is a button whose pressing changes and becomes perhaps less trigger-able, though nonetheless responsive, over time.
The tears will make their first appearance when you meet the only person who knows in Chicago on the way. You will be standing in front of a Monet, and the soft pink-kissed-yellow makes you long for the time that has now passed. When you headed in this direction, you were not quite certain that you would ever find that space again. The one where you are loved like the softest place on earth. You are right to wonder.
It will hit you the second you sit down in the passenger seat of your own car. The depression. It is not the first time you have felt it, but it is the first time you have recognized it. Old friend.
For this leg of the trip, you will have company to finish the drive home again. It helps, I guess, in some ways. But the depression never goes. It will not leave you for the next few years, as you haul ass to rebuild your life again in Minneapolis without telling anyone what you experienced, what you have carried.
It will be hard. And nobody is guaranteed a damn thing. But there will come a time when you realize that you need to see that you deserve it, even-and, perhaps, especially-if there is nobody else to tell you so.
You do not need to be perfect to receive it. Just decide. Decide right now. Like you did back then, driving away. Because even though there was a tough road ahead you knew that you had to count on there being something better. And I appreciate that. I am looking back and feeling for you, because I know how that was and how hard it has been.
I want to be more like you, back then. Back then, you knew what it should be like, and that you deserved it, and you did all that you could to make it happen, even if it meant braving the void. And back then, you never would have listened to anyone who made that voice a little quieter. You would have breathed through it, because you did, because you knew there had to be something greater. Greater than anything that wanted to silence your voice.
And maybe it doesn’t look the way everybody says love should. It’s just that some things don’t match up with what we have come to know = pink chocolate, cake like a brownie, and where is the fucking frosting, but
I want you to take a second and enjoy the weird and unlike-any-other and pretty wonderful thing you made out of what you had.