Alexander Hamilton and the #RESIST movement

Hamilton is so hot right now. I’m talking Hansel-level hotness.

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In fact, thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway production and hip hop masterpiece, Alexander Hamilton is easily the sexiest figure in American history. And while Miranda and his genius approach can (and should) be credited for the revival of cultural interest in Hamilton’s largely overshadowed role in our nation’s formative years, the real Alexander Hamilton still remains, to most, lesser known than his battle-rapping namesake. Like many of its fans, I jumped on the Hamilton bandwagon with very  little knowledge of the true story it’s based on. I knew that the titular character was the face on our ten dollar bill, that he had been involved in a dual at one point, and that was about it. I honestly can’t recall any history lessons or exams that went beyond a brief mentioning of his name; and if I did at one point learn that the infamous dual resulted in Hamilton’s death, it had long since been forgotten by the time I first listened to the musical’s cast-recording album.

As a writer I can only imagine the depth of research that went into Hamilton‘s story production, the first of many steps in that long journey to opening night on stage, and can appreciate the bravery required by an artist for such an undertaking. From what parts I have read of the biography that first inspired Miranda’s vision (reading the massive book from cover to cover is quite the undertaking in itself; it’s a working progress for me), I am utterly amazed at the amount of historical accuracy Miranda managed to include in the play. The iconic story of Hamilton’s journey from immigrant to American hero is told in two acts, spanning years that highlight events of struggle and victory, political achievements, personal loss, national scandal, and endless opposition throughout Hamilton’s adult life. Of course, there is only so much that could be told with a run time of 2.5 hours. Miranda was forced to leave out many events and details for the sake of time, but also for the sake of creating and maintaining a sympathetic character from source material, one that would connect with his intended audience while remaining as true as possible to a notoriously disliked figure in American political history.

The play’s widespread coverage of factual details, already criticized by some as being overloaded and too long, could not have very well included Hamilton’s general distrust of American citizens, or his warnings against governing authority giving too much power to the people. It’s doubtful that even Miranda’s level of creative talent could have achieved a way of cleverly explaining Hamilton’s defense of an electoral college, grounded in his ardent belief that people generally did not know what was best for them, and were too easily influenced by every exchange of opinion and ideals.

Or perhaps Miranda simply recognized that the majority of his intended audience would fail to understand the ideals professed in Hamilton’s Federalist Papers, which offer reasonable conclusions and a sound defense of the United States Constitution, while extending less-than flattering faith in the citizens that the Constitution protects.

This Hamilton would not have been as entertaining to the masses. This Hamilton was never a favorite of the masses, in his lifetime or any.

But it is this Alexander Hamilton that we all have to thank for the institutions we all take for granted every day – the first Treasury Secretary, the author of the Federalist Papers, the decorated military officer, the founder of the National Bank, and most trusted adviser to George Washington. Hamilton implemented financial systems still in use today; he stressed the need for a separation of powers in government; he outlined Federal and State jurisdictions; he laid the path for continuing functionality of the government while it was still in its infancy.

Without any precedence or examples to draw upon, Alexander Hamilton and the rest of our founding fathers built this nation from the ground up – an experiment that no other country in the world has been as successful in exactly replicating, though many have tried. But as with the nature of any experiment, its ultimate success or failure is yet to be concluded so long as it is on-going.

The American experiment  may still yet fail. And that is why now, more than ever, it is imperative that this generation heeds the wisdom and warnings put forth by those first in possession of the unified American spirit.

We need to accept the fact that the men responsible for pages and pages of documents, and bills, and declarations were a lot smarter than we claim to be. And that the author of these words in particular understood current issues beyond the limits of his own generation:

 

So I’m talking to you now.

That’s right – you. Ye legions in pursuit of social justice, ye “resisters” of imagined oppression – you are the very disease warned against by our founding fathers, corrupting the principles and truths upon which the American experiment was founded. But you’re ignorant of the problem you represent, and have become blinded by a false sense of morality in your community dwelling of media-fed ideals. You can’t see beyond your self-seeking aims to consider their consequences. If each “trending” outrage is answered with shifting policy, then the governing body – and our nation as a whole – is in effect no more stable than the moods of a hormonal preteen. And will be regarded as such by our global peers, who may choose to wait for the air to settle again, or take advantage of our divisive state in the gusts of “fashionable outcry.” The result – this new America fashioned by popular demand, where prejudice and self-indulgence are confused with patriotism and equality; and where the greatest threat to its liberty isn’t faced against a tyrannical force, but found in the entitled voices of its own disillusioned citizens.

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Translation: Get over yourself. Be chill. Carry on.

Coming at ya from the “ten dollar, founding father without a father who got a lot farther, by working a lot harder, by being a lot smarter…” you know the rest.

His name is Alexander Hamilton, and there’s a million things he did see done. So let’s not ruin it for him or the rest of us.

 

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When my Muse won’t shut up about Star Trek Beyond

Later Post.

I mean late, late. As in the why-the-heck-am-I-still-thinking-about-this type of late. Oh well. She wouldn’t take no for an answer. Deep breath, and GO….

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I am a fan of science fiction. I love stories of space and/or time travel, of bending the rules of “acceptable realism” and credibility for the sake of a great tale of human, or nonhuman, adventure. I count myself a fangirl of many such franchises in this genre: Stargate (the movie) and its spin-off series, SG-1 and Atlantis, The X files, Terminator (yes, all of them), Firefly and Serenity, Farscape, Star Wars, and Star Trek., to name a brief few. I’ve had an on-going love affair with them all. So of couse, like most other self-proclaimed geeks, I was very excited to learn that Simon Pegg – another well-known and much loved geek – had taken the helm in penning Star Trek’s latest entry,  Star Trek Beyond.

The film, which is the third installment in the “Kelvin Universe” introduced in 2009 by JJ Abrams, was set to stand apart from its predecessors, however, as it is the first of this reimagined brand without Abrams in the director’s seat. (He was kind of busy with another Star-based franchise at the time.) No matter, because like most fans, I thought the Enterprise and her crew in the capable hands of Pegg and Justin Lin, the director credited with reviving the Fast and Furious franchise to unimagined success. And for the most part, Star Trek Beyond meets expectations. Unless you are one of those haughty critics who finds fault in every creative choice. Or unless you’re one of those die-hard purists who detested the new Kelvin timeline from its onset, in which case I have to wonder why they keep watching at all. Or unless you’re just not a fan of fun in general. If you fall into any one of these categories, then Star Trek Beyond is not the film for you.

Because above anything else, Beyond is fun. One would have to be brain dead to not agree. Simon Pegg’s script manages to capture more of the original spirit that fans grew to love back in Gene Rodenberry’s day, while its release near the 50th anniversary of the maiden voyage provides one of many nods and easter eggs to the original series. The crew of the Enterprise, now in year three of their five year voyage, have found their niche and work together like a well-oiled machine. Sometimes even too well for Captain Kirk’s liking, as he is beginning to find life on the final frontier monotonous.

Which is where we find him in the film’s opener – contemplating his life choices that now seem pale in comparison the legacy left behind by his father; and contemplating life in general. We learn that Kirk is nearing his birthday, significant for it would make him one year older than his father had been at the time of his death which occurred on the same day of Kirk’s birth. The state of mind is a bold choice for the writers since the James T. Kirk beloved by Trekkies across the galaxy had never, and would never, be seen considering a desk job outside of space travel. The notion was risky, and for many it failed to pay off, as even supporters of the Kelvin timeline found it hard to believe and out of character for Kirk.

The character arc didn’t bother me, however, for I found such questions of life and purpose an understandable and even relatable concept which would eventually meld nicely with revelations on the villain in the third act. The brilliance of altering the timeline on the day of Kirk’s birth breathed limitless opportunities for the story itself while also changing the core dynamics of James T. drastically. This timeline’s Kirk was not groomed for Federation service like the original; this version was not born into Starfleet, he was born on the ship that would claim his father’s life. To assume he would face the same challenges with the same relentless spirit after such a huge alteration would be absurd.

So, no, Captain Kirk’s characterization was not the problem I had with Star Trek Beyond. Nor is Justin Lin’s imagining of the Star Trek universe. True to Fast and Furious form, Beyond is a thrill ride from start to finish. Viewers feel like they are in a space race against the film’s resident ‘baddie,’ whose ambiguous origin and motives are saved for the final act. Which was fine for the most part, as we are too engrossed with the ship-eating mechanical bees wreaking havoc on the Enterprise and the vestige of problems facing the marooned crew members on an uncharted planet.

The division of the crew enabled the plot to finally shed light on its supporting cast members, which to date had left them unforgivably flat. Mr. Sulu shines in his position with Uhura and the remaining captured crew. And Chekov finally gets his moments of screen time which, though often upstaged by Kirk’s presence, allows for fans to enjoy Anton Yelchin’s final performance before his real life tragic death. I like to think the talented actor would be proud of the film; I know his friends and fans were.

Elsewhere in the movie, marooned apart from the others on the same planet, Spock and Bones get to flesh out their tense working relationship that never quite meets friendship, providing moments of levity and comic relief from the dire circumstances. I enjoy Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban both, but their banter at times feels contrived and lack-luster, neither finding the same on-screen chemistry that each shares with Chris Pine’s Kirk.

I’ll share one other delight before delving into the ‘problems’ I retained from my viewing of Beyond. That being the space cowboy sequence accentuated by the Beastie Boys “Sabotage,” which brought us back to our first introduction to young Kirk’s troubled youth in 2009’s Star Trek. I have no idea the so-called science necessitating the blasting of the song through the air waves, seemingly instrumental (pun intended) to the disruption and defeat of the villainous tech bees targeting York Town – the newest Federation colony / space station. But it sure as hell looked and sounded cool, so who cares? As Kirk remarks upon hearing the song, “good choice.”

Star Trek Beyond is filled with similar examples of good yet (arguably) unnecessary plot choices, culminating into an enjoyable and entertaining as hell movie overall. And I would have left it at that had it not been for the two instances in the film that stood out as something else entirely. I can understand why it might have been done, or what the filmmakers thought they were trying to achieve, but the inclusion of both moments respectively were strange enough to give me pause. Which should NEVER happen during a movie where the audience is expected to practice their ‘suspension of disbelief.’

Only a few minutes into the film, Kirk’s Captain log is the voiceover during a montage-like sequence highlighting various crew members on the ship, providing visual examples of the personal sacrifice he refers to. When the camera pans over Mr. Sulu’s station, we see a wedding band on his finger which is next to a small photograph of a young girl. Viewers are meant to think, ‘aw, Sulu has a family,’ driving Kirk’s meaning home, so to speak. Later, when the Enterprise docks for respite on Yorktown, Sulu races to his awaiting daughter’s arms while another man looks on affectionately at them both.

Sulu is a happy father in a domestic partnership. His daughter and husband greet him tenderly. The audience gets it immediately; we acknowledge it immediately and prepare to move on with the narrative. But that doesn’t happen like it should have.

Now before anyone gets the wrong idea about my “problem” with this part, just wait. I have ZERO issues with Mr. Sulu being gay. I am not anti-gay nor do I harbor any ill-will or feeling toward the entire LGBT community. Seriously, be gay, be open about it, be whatever you want – if it makes you happy then why should I care? The problem I had with this addition to the plot, however, is its addition to the plot. The filmmakers hanging a lantern on its inclusion of gay characters was done so in a way insulting to my intelligence. And in a way that should have been offensive to homosexuals.

Let me explain. When, after Sulu gathers up his daughter and walks off into the crowds of the space station with his husband by his side, the camera zooms in on the couple’s arms around each other. This close up was completely unnecessary and upsetting to the fluidity of the storyline. Because of this, every person in the theatre sort of stopped and glanced around the room, as if to say, “Did I just see that?”

With such an egregious use of camera angle, I am left to assume that this was the director’s intent all along. For him to deliberately suspend the film’s narrative playing out of events so that audiences are forced to form opinion on the spot is not only disrespectful AND irresponsible filmmaking, it is unashamedly trying to piss someone off.

And it succeeded with a lot of movie-goers, which I’m sure the culprits loved. For me, however, I am not pissed off by their writing of Sulu has gay. I am disappointed by how ridiculously it was handled. There is a time and a place to shovel agendas down someone’s throat (a democratic convention for instance); in the middle of a movie is not that place.

Had they handled it any differently, had they not zoomed in, literally, on the gayness, I would have nothing critical to say. Show Sulu with his family, show is partner standing next to him in the final scene, reveal their relationship organically and not as a shock-and-awe presentation – it still would have pissed the right people off, but it would’ve left me with a better feeling about it. It wouldn’t have felt so forced and awkward.

I know, I know. I’m not gay so I just don’t get it. And maybe you’d be right to say this; right to argue that LGBT have come a long way in their right to screen time in film and television; maybe they feel as if they are finally being represented. But are you really? Are you really only your sexual orientation, as was the take away from this scene? Sulu is gay. The hanging of a lantern on this fact should not be heralded or admired, nor should it be something to inspire future filmmakers (Please, I beg you… do better!), for he was made to be gay only for the sake of being gay. The zoom to close up camera undermined whatever agenda the film had by acknowledging said agenda openly. It screamed, look what we just did!, instead of just progressing naturally. Helpful hint for directors: attaching flashing neon lights on your ‘forward-thinking’ plot choices only comes off as a desperate and contrived antic to appease a percentage of your audience. For the larger percent of moderate viewers who, like myself, go to a movie like this expecting to have a break from the daily political circus we see on the news, it only succeeds in leaving a bitter taste in their mouth.

I am not gay, but if I were I think that the scene still wouldn’t sit well with me. All I could take away from Sulu’s character was that he was gay; the filmmakers missed a great opportunity to make him so much more than that, so much more than his orientation. Where I should’ve been please with Mr. Sulu’s happy ending, I instead only felt manipulated.

Do better.

Another quite obvious political motif was presented in the villain himself. In the final act, we learn that Krall is not just any angry, slighted alien but in fact a former Starfleet captain and Federation soldier. In another of the film’s revelations (not as awkwardly timed as the aforementioned, but still pretty bad), Uhura conveniently happens upon a ship video log in which she recognizes Krall in his human form as Captain Edison. From his Federation history, they learn that Edison was an accomplished soldier in the wars against the Klingons and Romulans before peace was reached and the Federation formed. Subsequently, Edison was reassigned to Starfleet Command as a Captain, where it’s inferred that he wasn’t quite content with.

When Edison’s ship – the Franklin – became lost in uncharted space, and his crew forced to land on the nearest planet, Starfleet never found them; Starfleet never came for them. In his final log as Captain, Edison tells the camera and, by extension, Starfleet that “you’ll probably never see me again. But if you do – be ready.”

In ways that I’m still not quite sure of, Edison is able to prolong his life by sucking the life force (for lack of a better word) from others. If this reminds you too of Stargate Atlantis and those creepy Wraiths, we’re a kindred spirit. Anyway, the process alters Edison’s genetic makeup considerably, eventually turning him into the unrecognizable villain the crew of the Enterprise first meets. And staying true to bad guy form, Krall reveals his plan to attack the Federation at its heart, namely Yorktown where interplanetary species live freely and peacefully together. As one of his followers tells Kirk, “he means to save you from yourselves.” While Uhura defends her fellow crew members’ loyalty, Krall argues that their unity is a weakness; to him, it’s the most reprehensible aspect of the Federation.

So, okay, he’s crazy. He’s a terrorist. It’s a common factor with Star Trek villains. But his final show down with Kirk left me puzzled, once again causing a disrupt in the film’s progression.

“But you won,” Kirk argues, trying to make sense of Krall’s dastardly ways. “There is peace now. Because of you.”

“We are stronger when we struggle,” Krall counters. These words, uttered breathlessly but with effortless conviction, pulled me out of the movie and into my own thoughts. My spidey-senses were tingling; something was being said, something separate from the plot.

“Then we risk fighting the same battle over and over again.” Kirk’s exact words escape me now, as I was too distracted by the underlying message at the time. Krall didn’t want a solution; he wanted a struggle with no end.

So what then is the film actually saying? In the midst of constant chaos and terror – rioting in the streets, news channels repeating each night more tales of police shootings, of peace officers being demonized and attacked – we are forced to acknowledge that the struggle is all we know. All we have ever known. Another injustice to rally against, another cause – the same battle over and over, only with different players and new, sometimes old, motivations. Peace, unity, then seems an unachievable goal now, both globally and in the so-called United States.

Then is the message more of a question: can we ever achieve peace when so many thrive on the struggle? More and more today it seems that humanity has become complacent in our animosity. We love the fight. And if we don’t have a cause, we find or create one. Without realizing it, we have become warmongers, cultivating the hate we publicly admonish.

This film itself is guilty of being a perpetrator of this conflict, for weren’t they intending on angering a targeted audience in directing our gaze to Sulu’s arm around his husband? We don’t want the struggle to end, to live in harmony. Like Krall, we wouldn’t know how.

The thing that really defines Star Trek’s science fiction is not its advanced technology, or space exploration, or alien species, but its themes of unity – the idea, the fantasy, that differing peoples can set aside their differences and work toward common goals, for the good of all. It’s a beautiful idea, one that I think most people would hope for, even if it’s difficult to fully imagine. Which is likely one of the reasons Star Trek, in all its versions, is so universally loved. We’d like to believe that we’ll get there someday.

However, in reality we are a world full of Kralls intent on fighting the same battles over and over and over again. What lies beyond the struggle, beyond the strife, the hate? We may never know.

 

There, I said it. I’ll move on now. kthanksbye

 

Coincidence??

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It’s kind of funny…scrolling through Facebook has become, almost a bit of a luxury here recently. Before, in NYC, it was just another time killer when I was bored or waiting for the subway. But here in Ohio, it’s an extravagance if I have a free 3 minutes to scroll through my FB timeline. There’s just no time.

But yesterday, I was lavished with a few minutes to luxuriate on my phone.

Actually, it was the entire day. I have never received such a thoughtful gift in my life. My brother and sister-in-law surprised me yesterday with an incredibly beautiful day: a trip to the spa and beautiful 5-course dinner at a restaurant that caters to people with stomach issues, cocktails at a fun bowling bar, and sleep over at their place downtown. It was so wonderful.

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But while I was sitting in the spa chair, I flipped through…

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Out of the Grave

As much as I wanted to in the beginning – as much as my heart cried out for retribution and my soul for understanding – still, I could not hate him. And I could not hate him because I couldn’t blame him. Not even when it seemed that breaking my heart had become a thoughtless exercise which he mastered completely; not even when his silence tore open my barely healed wounds, and his indifference rubbed like salt into each and every one of them. In the end, neither one of us was to blame.

I came to understand that he couldn’t will himself to love me anymore than I could will myself to stop loving him. Though we both tried; God knows how much we tried.

But it was a wasted effort, each one of us warring against the rival parts of ourselves that knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what needed to be done. I knew his toxicity would inevitably destroy me just as he knew that I was the one with whom he might finally find peace.

We were like soulless creatures buried in graves of our own making, clawing our way through the crushing weight of dirt piled on top of us in desperate attempt to become alive again, but stopping just beneath the surface. For though the dirt was suffocating, it was familiar, and we’d grown accustomed to not breathing. And though breaching the surface would have meant a fresh start and a new life, we were both addicted to misery and death.

He was the vice I could never surrender, and I the redemption he could never accept. In the end – though he was the one to walk away – the decision was ultimately out of either our hands. The closure I received was not in retribution or even in understanding, but from the Author of our respective fates whose hands closed that door forever. Strong yet gentle hands that dug themselves into the dirt, grasped my outstretched arms, and lifted me out of the grave.

It was there that I breathed in for the first time in years, letting the fresh air fill my lungs and restore my soul.

We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as a way in which they should break, so be it.”                                      The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis

Concerning Old Maids

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Mamaw was afraid I would die an old maid.

Her words, not mine. And she expressed this fear quite frequently. At least once during each of my visits or phone calls, and never in an unkind or rude way, but in a gentle, I-am-genuinely-concerned-about-your-well-being kind of way. When I graduated college in December of 2013, she told me how proud she was of me first, followed by expressing her greatest wish of seeing me married before she died.

I had laughed and promised to do my best, though she in turn would have to promise to stick around for at least another decade as it would no doubt take that long to find a suitor.

She died four weeks later.

Granted I wasn’t left with a whole lot of time to fulfill her dying wish (I hadn’t known at the time it was a dying one, but if I had I don’t know that that would’ve made a difference anyway), but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d disappointed her. Of all her grandchildren I was the only one unattached, so to speak. At 23 years old I had a college degree, a good job, and no boyfriend, and since I was her only granddaughter, that truly concerned her. The amount of failed marriages among other members of our family did not. I’m not trying to offend any of my family here. None of us is perfect, least of all me; I’m just trying to be real.  I’m also sensible enough to accept Mamaw’s concerns for what they were – a desire to see her only granddaughter happy. To her, that meant being married.

The idea that marriage and happiness go hand in hand is common for folks in her generation. Back then you got married; it’s just what you did. I find it harder to excuse the generations after that though for posing the same questions about my singleness. The generation of my parents who boasted free love and used that as a permissible reason to have sex with anyone willing; the generation of baby-boomers who, according to shared statistics, have at least one failed marriage under their belt; the generation of women who publicly burned their bras and declared to the world that they didn’t need a man.

Or my own generation which is perhaps even worse. The generation that believes every detail of your daily life should be public domain and posted on the internet; the generation that doesn’t consider a relationship official until it’s “Facebook” official; the generation that has reduced our lives to a social media popularity contest by posting for all to see reasons why their husband is better than yours, or wife more thoughtful, or kids more successful. Look, here’s a picture of my perfect family being better than yours. It’s a game of disingenuous fluff that more often than not leaves me questioning what society has come to as it’s no longer enough to simply experience something, we must document it for likes and comments.

There’s a good chance I’m overthinking all of this. Maybe people are just genuinely curious about personal aspects of their Facebook friends’ lives; and maybe others just want me to find the kind of contentment they found with their 2nd or 3rd spouse. It’s entirely possible that the problem is just with me.

I don’t consider myself a feminist. I believe in marriage and someday, God willing, would like to find a husband to be my partner and best friend for the rest of my life. And most days, I’m okay with the waiting game. Most days I go to work where I’m blessed to have tolerable colleagues, come home to the best roommates in the world (you can’t beat the rent rate at my parents’), and spend a few hours outside drafting my novel. I like this routine. It may seem awfully boring to most, but it suits me. So most days, I’m okay. Content.

But not always. There are other days, of course, where the nagging notion that something is wrong with me sneaks back into my mind. Days when work is so dull that I can actually feel myself getting stupider, and evenings when my Muse is silent, replaced by the voice of Mamaw and her ever present concerns. Or other voices from equally well-wishing friends and family members saying more or less the same things. You’ve probably heard them yourself: Are you seeing anyone? But why not, you’re so pretty? When are you going to give your folks some grandkids? You’re not getting any younger. Or my personal favorite: You’re just too picky.

The funny thing is, I’m not picky in the slightest. Girls will normally start off with a list of qualities they want in a husband, but all those things are usually forgotten with their first crush. I’m not sure if it’s the same for boys, but for some reason I’m hoping not. So yeah, at 15 I had a pretty long list of criteria for my future mate. Ten years and countless first dates later, that list is nonexistent. I really only have two deal breakers: if a man isn’t a Christian, I won’t waste my time; and if I’m taller than him, I won’t waste his time.

If that’s picky then I guess I really am hopelessly screwed.

I think a lot of people assume that I have this grandiose idea of love in my head because I’ve never been in a relationship. Which is true, I haven’t really. But I have been in love. I lived at the mercy of this creature of love for most of my high school and college careers. And a not-so-small part of me sometimes worries that this is where the crux of my problem lies. I see people switching out their relationship status on social media as often as their profile picture. I hear of unexpected divorces between people I’m acquainted with, only to discover them three, four, five months later happily in love with someone new. And not just trading out one placeholder for the next, but genuinely in love with that new person.

And I cannot understand this, try as I might.

Sometimes I’m worried that the love I felt was so wrong that it damaged what was left of my heart beyond repair. I know this sounds hyperbolic and silly, trust me. I also know how I feel, better than any reader of this page. I honestly don’t know if I have it in me to feel like that again. I’m not discounting anyone else’s experience of heartbreak; I’m sure we’ve all been there before – that point where you just don’t see how you could ever be unbroken again.

It’s a horrible feeling, maybe even the worst. Just when you’re sure that the rest of your days will always begin with the heartbreak as your first waking thought, it suddenly becomes the second. Then the third. And so on and so forth until without even realizing it was happening, you’ve healed. At least that’s how it was for me.

I did heal, and though I’m thankful every day that the pain is long gone, I don’t know that I could ever consider myself entirely whole again. My friends think I’m joking when I say that I just don’t have those feelings anymore, that my heart is frozen. And for the most part I am joking, but to quote the great Stephen King, “most humor is anger with its make up on.”

You see, I am angry. Angry that I can’t answer why I’m still single; angry that there doesn’t seem to be any tall men left in the world; angry that most assume that I’m unhappy because I don’t have a boyfriend; even angrier when I do feel sorry  for myself for not having one! Angry that I can’t figure out why it seems so easy for others to fall in and out love.

I’m angry for being angry, confusing as that may sound.

But mostly my anger is directed at the 15 year old version of myself who was stupid enough to fall hard for the one guy who would never love her back, who could never love her back (I don’t even blame him for this anymore, I’ve come a long way in that respect). I’m angry because she stayed in that state for seven years, feeling too much for far too long. Because when it was all over and she was forced to come out on the other side alone (but really she’d been alone all along), she was changed.

I was 23 years old when I realized that I may never have anything of my heart to offer again. Next month I will be 27, and the thought is still with me.

I hope that this isn’t true. I pray that love finds me unexpectedly again, however far in the future that may be. I don’t intend on rushing anything.

But for those of you out there who think it means nothing to voice your curiosity about anyone’s relationship status, please stop and think before you do. I know that most of you, like Mamaw, honestly mean well. That nothing hurtful should be taken from your words. I’m just telling you that it might be hurtful to someone. Because you should never assume that the questions you have don’t hold weight; that they aren’t the same ones we’ve heard over and over again since we were old enough to date; or that we aren’t sometimes unable to sleep at night because of these very same, politely intended questions.

So I’ll go ahead and offer up a few answers while we’re here:

Why aren’t you married?  -No one’s asked.

When are you going to have kids?  –Since I am not married, not engaged, and not currently dating anyone, I can’t say that that is something I’m actively planning.

Why are you so picky?  -Because it’s my effing right to be picky! And, really, I just want to be able to wear high heels to dinner without towering over my date.

Demolition

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How structurally sound could the foundation have been if, in a single moment of entertaining the thought that you might lose him, the resulting crack compromises its fundamental integrity?

You can choose to ignore it – this nagging damage inflicted by either self-doubt, justified fear, or some combination of both – and continue building on this same foundation. It is, after all, such a tiny crack, barely enough to label a defect in the otherwise fully in tact base. It’s a calculated gamble that sometimes pays off. Sometimes not. Because in ignoring the damage, you risk this small crack gradually morphing into irreparable gaps that grow unchecked, spreading into the building blocks resting above.  This unseen threat chips away at the structure from the inside out, making itself known only in time for you both to witness the effecting crumble of all that had been laid.

The mound of ruins left in the wake of the destruction is yours to face alone; the littered debris piled at your feet all that remains as proof of the love you built. Like most surviving victims of natural disasters will tell you, the hardest part is often faced in living with the aftermath. In order to move on and start again, the ground must first be cleared, and it can’t be cleared until you find strength to work through that which you’ll find in the process. Permanently ingrained into the unsalvageable rubble are the memories of romance: fractured images of every moment you shared, muted sounds of every laugh, lingering scents in the air, echoes of sweet nothings and empty promises that you can still hear. Each and every piece compiling the ruins holds a memory too sweet to throw away, yet its jagged and filthy edges too dangerous to hold on to.

The process is grueling, and its completion won’t happen overnight. But if you can persevere, beneath the piled debris you’ll eventually find the foundation that was your death knell, and in seeing how deep and wide spread the crack from that very first doubt really is, you might wonder how it was able to stand for as long as it did. You might also wish to have condemned it yourself long ago. But hopefully, more than anything, you will feel relief – strengthened by retrospect on surviving the disaster and living through the aftermath; and then, at last, a sense of healing as you face the freshly cleared ground ahead and all its possibilities. Equipped with a toolbox full of life lessons, you know it might be years before they’re put to use, before you feel secure enough in yourself to break ground again. But you hope for that someday nonetheless, both burdened with and prepared by the knowledge in a thought that you’ll forever carry with you:

How weak a foundation must be if [even a passing moment in fear of] losing him is possible at all.