And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t always promises and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes ahead with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers
And you learn that you really can endure, that you really are strong and you really do have worth and you learn and you learn
with every good-bye you learn.
“Houston, in the blind…Houston, in the blind…”
Sandra Bullock – or her character I should say – desperately looks for a signal back to earth in the middle of nowhere in space. Gravity. She’s looking for gravity.
I’ve been looking for gravity. Floating out in space like a lost satellite. No signal. I got on a bus and forgot to get off on the last stop. I’m roaming, constantly moving somewhere but don’t know where to.
Gravity. I lost my gravity. Houston, in the blind.
A message comes through and I sit, for days at a time analyzing every word, every letter. And nothing makes sense. I make a list of all possible reasons why this message arrived. But I never answer. I dissect it into small segments. Read it. Read it again. No answer.
Houston, in the blind.
If we are all bound to be attracted to something, the way gravity pulls us to earth, why are we still so lost? Floating, roaming, spacing out and not getting any signal. Sending messages out in the blind? Receiving them. Not answering. Not listening.
Houston, in the blind. This is the Ugly Duckling.
I keep moving. Constantly moving, going somewhere. I don’t know when and if I’ll make it there. But the bus never stop. The satellite continuously transmits a signal that nobody receives.
Houston, in the blind. This is the Ugly Duckling. Houston, in the blind, searching for gravity.
- not acknowledging or expressing regret.“he remained unapologetic about his decision”
A few weeks ago, in the midst of one of the toughest heartbreaks of my life – not that I’ve had many, although one is enough – I decided to tattoo the word “unapologetic” on my right arm. As it is customary for me, I simmer on the idea of a tattoo for a long time before I actually decide to mark my skin permanently with something that could potentially be a temporary emotion.
Therefore, I must clarify – although I don’t need to offer explanations to anyone but myself – that even though this tattoo occurred in the midst of emotional turmoil, I had actually given plenty of thought to this one single 12 letter word for a long time, before branding it on my skin.
Unapologetic is a harsh word. It’s often misunderstood and thought of as that person who point blank does not care about the damage or pain that his/her actions may cause to others. I do what I want and I will not apologize for it.
Far from it.
In this journey called life, more often than not, we become this mixture of who we want to be with what we think others want us to be. We abide by society rules, follow the teachings of our families and we end up being very, very…unhappy. I was an unhappy human. I still am. I struggle daily with the choices that will either make me or break me. But I have a strong desire, above all, to be ME. I want to look back in life at 87 – if I make it there – and say: I became the human I wanted to be.
At some point in the past two years, I began changing the human I was for the human I long to be. I stopped caring about others’ opinions of me. No, I did not turn into a rebel, I just don’t allow myself to make decisions based on the opinions of others. I put me and my own first. I prioritize my life and my needs not only in the order where it makes sense, but in the order where it makes ME HAPPY. I started what I called the project All-About-Me.
Oftentimes I found myself apologizing for my feelings, as if, my feelings were germs. I’m sorry if I’m asking you to give me what I deserve. I’m sorry I feel frustrated. I’m sorry I feel insecure. I’m sorry I’m disappointed.
I am not sorry at all. Feelings are a consequence of an action, and yes, although they occur on a very cellular and personal level, feelings are also an external responsibility. Some feelings, are inevitably provoqued. And no one, and I mean NO ONE, can make you apologize for something they caused. As you are responsible for the way you feel, you are also responsible for what you have made others feel. Let’s start wearing our big girls and boys pants, and realize, you are responsible for the way you treat others. Period. No excuses.
When you start putting yourself first, you also realize that there is a level of freedom out there that you have not fully reached, but you are well on your way. The freedom of not letting anyone dictate your life. I won’t say the process has been easy. I’ve found myself questioning everything I do, and asking people for their opinion, more than I care to ask. But there is an immense field of potential when you realize that no matter what you do, the world will continue turning.
So I gave myself this set of rules/questions to live by and those I use everytime I find the inevitable fork in the road:
- Does it add positively to your life?
- Does it harm you or anyone in the process?
- Is it legal, moral or ethical? (Note, morals are purely a personal concept. Use yours, not your neighbors’)
- Is your child, or family, fed, cared for and in a comfortable position?
- Does it make you feel happy?
If the answer is Yes, by all means, DO THE THING! Whether is a tattoo, a new car, a piece of clothing, food, ending a relationship, letting go of a friend. Whatever it is. If it’s not adding constructively and positively to your life, DON’T DO IT or LET IT GO.
I have made myself the promise to live unapologetically. What does that mean to me? Easy. If I lived a truthful, loyal and caring life for me and mine, I’m simply not sorry about anything.
I am and will be Unapologetically Me.
You’ll never see my daughter grow up. I’ll never see your son grow up. They will never be a family. And one day, the universe will put them together in the same room, and they won’t know how much their parents loved each other. How much future was in our eyes at one point. They’ll never experience coming home to a happy family, to a pair of tired adults from working all day, but with full hearts of happiness and warmth to give them both.
We will never know what it takes to build a home together, cook together, fix the kids room together. The joy of building their beds and painting the walls to their favorite colors, and decorating the rooms for a girl and a boy who, despite being born in different worlds, would have grown up in one whole, loving family.
I will never know the feel of your kiss at the end of a long day at work, when you would get home and wrap your hands around my waist and whisper in my ear while I prepare dinner: I love you so much. You will never feel the breeze of the night, as we would sit out in the balcony, sharing that so desired glass of wine, while you’d tell me how your day was at work.
I will never hear your lips call me bonita one more time, or feel the weight of your arms crushing my ribs while you sleep, deeply, snoring away. We will never feel the sunshine peeking through the window in a Sunday morning, poking our lazy bodies, tired from a night of love making, laugh inducing silliness and deep long stares.
We will never.
You should have opened your eyes. I was crazy about you. And that, you will never find again.
I used to ask myself if it was better to be someone’s impossible love or to be someone’s “let-me-settle-with-this-girl” love. The latter seems to lack passion. The unmistakable definition of it is what it is and I take what I can get.
I was good. So I decided to be bad. And bad I’ve been.
Many people have loved me because I was good to them. Because I go out of my way to please them. Because there isn’t an action in this world full of good intentions, that would amount to being the greatest person they’ve ever met. So I was good to them.
I was good to them because I don’t know how to say no. Because I rather deprive myself of something than to fail their expectations of my “good” self.
And in turn, they’ve paid me with bad. I’ve kept them company, so they leave me alone. I’ve supported them, they pay me with neglect. And it has never failed, as that of a bible excerpt, that they will deny me three times before the rooster crows.
Last year a friend sent me a book called: Men love bitches.
I laughed as I read it because I find it ridiculous to fathom the idea that evil can be repaid with kindness. But it does. My upbringing has brought me many a disappointment. Lead a life of servitude they taught me. Find pleasure in serving others. And pleasure I find.
But as hard as it is to realize, I am alone, sitting at the end of the strip of street that runs behind my house, right at the dead end that looks upon a highway. I am sitting here alone, looking at and endless stream of cars traveling God knows where to. I am entirely alone. A life of service for a destiny of loneliness.
We are forever responsible for the monsters we create. And those monsters will never understand how much I needed them. No amount of bad will ever fill my emptiness.
Inside my closet, on the first shelf of the door to the left, there’s a black box. It’s a cardboard box with black and brown stripes and a solid black top. I bought it at Ikea, for no particular purpose, but it ended up being your box. When I speak to people about your box I call it the black box, like the ones on the airplanes. It serves the same purpose. It contains memories.
Every time I open my closet door, and that is several times a day, I look at it. It’s there, sitting on the shelf, not saying much. Not saying anything at all. It’s just a box. But to me, it’s always whispering. It wants to be noticed. It sits there looking at me, and saying: Look at me, I’m that big pink elephant in the middle of the room. I’m here!
But I tell myself that it’s just a black box.
Every so often, I take it out, and I climb onto my bed with it. I caress the top, and slowly whisper to it, like taming a wild animal that it’s about to burst open. I tame it. I speak to it, and we have a long silent dialog for a while. And then I open it. And so does my heart.
I make a careful inventory of its contents. It’s a ritual. The box knows it and so do I. We take everything out. It lets me. We take every single item out. Every memory. And every tear. There’s an order to everything inside the box. There’s an order to every emotion that comes with it. First comes the envelope with your graduation picture. It’s a CVS photo envelope with two copies of your cap and gown picture. The one that post office bent, although the envelope clearly said “Do Not Bend”. That one. The one I got to keep. Then comes a small notebook, a diary, where I wrote a note the day you left the office when you got the job in IT. It ends like this: “…and half my life is walking out the door with him.”
Then comes the t-shirt and the bib for the 5K we ran together. I don’t know why I placed it inside the box, but I guess it reminds me of so many times we’ve wanted to do races together, and only this time we did. Then come the sunglasses. The ones you gave me because you thought I would like them. I never told you I hated them. They’re ugly, they look ugly on me. But I wouldn’t tell you, because I wouldn’t want to hurt your feelings. But now you know, they’re ugly as funk.
The second layer of the contents becomes harder to take out. Is a thick mess of memories, each tangled up with the other, so deeply connected. Here is when I start crying. Here is why I never want to open the black box. There’s another tiny black box, containing the glass picture of yourself you gave me for Christmas last year. It’s so vivid I want to break it every time I see it, because maybe if I do, you will come out of your cage. You’re frozen inside the glass. Breaking it won’t free you. Breaking it only breaks me.
The heels. Those heels have never set foot on the ground. There isn’t a single scratch on their soles, not a spec of dust. But those heels have traveled many miles with us. Many beds. Many…
Your boxers and briefs. The tie. The silver tie and the silk scarf are together. They belong together. There’s no way on earth they can ever be apart. They have a mind of their own, even if I place them neatly next to each other, the next time I open the box they have manage to tangle themselves together. Like we did, at some point.
Then there’s a towel that you left in my car. Or in yours and I took it. Or at my old apartment. I can’t remember. It’s a towel, thick and soft. I keep it because it creates a nice soft mattress for the rest of the items in the box. As if it’d protect them from any damage.
The last three items I keep in a bundle. They also belong together like the tie and the scarf. But on a level so deep that nothing could tear them apart. Nothing. It’s the shirt you wore the night we went to Blue Martini. The night I told you I loved you. The night before the morning when, having realized I hadn’t said that out of being drunk, you told me you loved me. Wrapped inside it are two of the most valuable things I keep in this box. Your dog tags. And a necklace you gave me of dark purple beads and a feather.
Your dog tags say that you are A+. Just like me. Blood of my blood.
After I’ve ripped my soul open, the ritual ends. I put everything back in the box, in the exact same order that it came out. I carefully fold every piece of clothing. Set the shoes in place. Your picture. Everything in a way that it doesn’t get disturbed by anything else. Every item in this box coexists with the others. They purposely belong to each other. In harmony.
Tonight I have done my black box ritual one more time. I have taken careful account of my inventory. I have recalled every memory. Shed every tear. But tonight there’s a new item inside.
I left my heart in the black box. Because my heart doesn’t want to be anywhere else, but where it one day, was very happy.