Happy 70th Birthday Daddy

I’ve been avoiding writing this post for a few days now. I think it’s why my heart has been hurting so much today, because I’m avoiding facing the truth that my dad has been dead for 10 years. It’s something I’ve been avoiding admitting for some time. I shoved it as far deep in my belly as I could so I wouldn’t have to face the truth. After he died, I remained strong for my family, I went to work to keep my mind off of things, I kept living my life to avoid the fact that he was gone. Maybe when he died that’s when all this avoidant behavior began, avoiding people that hurt me so that I couldn’t be left ever again, always leaving first and making sure I wasn’t left. A false sense of control in a world that took mine away.

I’d love to share a beautiful story about my dad though: his final wish.

IMG_2605

I arrived early at the hospital because my math class got out earlier than usual. They were in the middle of decorating his hospital room when I came in. They dressed my dad in normal clothes and he sat in the chair waiting patiently. I asked what was going on. They told me to pick out a song on the CD’s and they would explain. The main woman that had been working with my dad through his kemo treatments asked him what his last wishes were since all of his organs started failing him. First he said a turkey sandwich. She laughed and said he was easy to please. Then he said, “The last time I danced with my daughter was at my niece’s wedding. I won’t be able to dance with her at her own wedding, so I’d like to dance with her one last time.”

IMG_2608

They informed me that the room was being set up for our daddy daughter dance. They hung Christmas lights around the whole room. A woman went out to buy me roses and came back to hold them like a bouquet in my hands. Then I chose our song that we would dance to, “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music. It wasn’t my top song choice, but of the music selection they had, it would have to do. I wanted that one country music song that Becca Gass said she wanted to dance to at her wedding because it was such a perfect song.

IMG_2606

The music started and my daddy took my hand and we slowly cascaded across the linoleum ballroom floor, with twinkly lights overhead. We hugged each other close and bawled our eyes out knowing it would be the last time.

IMG_2607

To one of my best friends, my daddy, Raymond A. Olbrantz, October 6, 1947 – May 26, 2007.

Advertisements

Your Own Story

Sometimes we are so busy distracting ourselves with other people’s stories, thinking about how amazing they are, we forget about our own unique story. I didn’t realize how interesting my own personal story is until I moved here and started telling people it.

I think there is something important in adoring your own story. It is a form of love for oneself to say, “I have lived and I have lived well.” It’s important to love your story because it makes it easier to love and appreciate others.

Life is, after all, one giant journey of experiences.

There is a Cat Next Door

There is a cat next door that keeps meowing at my window. She stares at me as tho she knows me. There is a cat next door with olive green eyes. The same eyes I’ve only seen in Egypt. There is a cat next door which I’m pretty sure knows me. A friend from Egypt told me, “It is custom to our culture, that if a cat or dog hangs around you, it is because they know you from a previous life.” I could say the same about people. There is a cat next door that comes and goes as she pleases, but always returns to that which she belongs. She reminds me that everything I do and everywhere I am is exactly where I belong.

Moving On

I write a lot about letting go, but what about moving on? Some might say they’re one and the same, but I beg to differ. One to me symbolizes dropping things and the other, to me, symbolizes the act of finally walking away.

A new cycle has started in my life. Something inside me finally felt ready and called to move on from all the heaviness of my past, to let it all go, to quit floating and get to work. An old friend helped me get my resume together, wrote a cover letter for me and applied to three jobs to get me started on my new path. The rest was up to me.

I got a call back from the Art museum in the city I was born and raised in. I was so ecstatic. My mama took me shopping for interview clothes and she told me, “I can tell you’re serious about it this time because you’re buying new clothes just for the job.”

Then I went in for my interview. I was so nervous and when it was over they told me I was great. A week later they told me I got the job and that they loved me. A couple days later I was looking for places to live. Another friend put me through her program that gave me a whole new working wardrobe of all clothes from second hand stores.

I found a place to live and started my job in the same week. It was nerve wracking, it was exciting and it kept me on my toes because finally I am moving on in the direction of my dreams.

This experience has taught me that your friends, the ones who really care about you, they’re not always who you think it’ll be, but they want to see you succeed as much as you want to. They are going to help you and they are going to push you, but when you finally make the decision to move on, the whole universe is going to create a net when you decide to take that leap of faith.

Subjective Reality

There comes a time at the end of each journey where I realize, much of what I was experiencing was a narrative I played out in my head. A narrative that quickly dies once I realize nothing that I’m thinking is even reflecting what’s happening. I know I’m not the only one that does this, I watch plenty of my friends lie to themselves about what is actually going on in their lives too, whether we use it as a coping mechanism, some sort of denial, a way to make our lives seem more grandiose than they are, I don’t know, you can choose your flavour of the week depending on which pill you prefer to swallow.

I have dated men that didn’t want to admit the relationship was over when it was and men have dated me when I didn’t want to admit the relationship was over when it was. I have moved and traveled to places and loved it, I have moved and traveled to places and hated it. I have worked jobs that pay me $5.25/hour, I have worked jobs that pay me $25,000/year. I have paid $50 for plane tickets, I have paid $700 for plane tickets. I have traveled rich, I have traveled poor. There are two sides to every coin and if you’re lucky enough in this life you get to experience both sides so you have a more well-rounded perspective of all lives and all that life offers.

In the end life becomes whatever you take away from it, whether you see the good or the bad in any given situation, that’s exactly what you get. Personally, I am trying to get to a place where duality no longer exists, so that subjectivity can die along with it and all that exists is the objective, all encompassing dot.

Girls and the Boys that Like Them

A strange occurrence happened on my way back home. I passed a house that said Private Property. The front door was open and through the screen I could see the floor plan, the man inside. Then I stopped and gazed in awe and amazement because this was the house. A house I’d never been sure where it existed, a house I sat and explored with a neighbour boy I locked lips with.

Then I flashed back to where it all began, the middle of the street, a tempestuous flirtation, “she bit me!” How he liked it, how we walked hand in hand down that stretch of railroad track land.

I thought about all the boys I kissed with girlfriends who did the same. I felt bad for a brief second and let it go, because I realized we’re all just trying to figure it out.

The Celtic Knot

On my way home I passed these bushes, a well-groomed front yard; excavation supreme for this business front on 5th Street. A thought suddenly popped into my head, “throw the ring.” I kept going, unable to let go of my past. I kept walking, thinking about how this ring has been on every single journey since its discovery on the back lawns of the UO campus, that summer 2012. I kept walking, thinking about how I had a free reiki session last summer and the woman asked me if something was going on with my left hand, how the only thing going on with my left hand was that ring. I kept walking, thinking about how this sparked the idea inside of me that I have to return the ring on this trip, that maybe the ring is the cause of all these trips, that maybe I’m carrying someone else’s karma around with me and it’s time to let it go.

Suddenly it surged up from inside of me, I turned back and threw the fucking ring. I don’t know where the thought came from, I don’t know where women’s intuition sparks from either, and maybe I don’t want to carry anyone else’s karma around with me anymore, but the Celtic knot ring is gone.

Relationships

I spoke to two of my oldest friends for hours on the phone last night. Both conversations revolved around relationships and men from our past.

What I’ve learned over the past couple of years, is that relationships are often impacted by other people surrounding a couple. It’s the people that are talking in your ear about what you should do, how you should act in the relationship, always giving their personal opinion on whether or not it’ll work out, that debilitates the relationship to a point that it no longer feels natural because both parties are now only acting in a way that other people are coaching them to. There is no more intrigue or curiosity, no innocent wonder because the relationship is now a strategic chess match, each player now planning their next move.

It seems the only way for a relationship to last is for two people to be strong enough in their love for each other that they rise above all the noise. To add to my running stint of quotes, I was watching The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel the other night. There was a perfect quote in the finale that made me cry straight away because of it’s depth, it’s purity and it’s truth, that, “In the end, it’s all very simple: to look into someone’s eyes and to say ‘yes, it’s what I want’ and for them to say ‘it’s what I want too and there’s nothing to fear.’”

This is exactly what I want.

Ophelia by The Lumineers

I’m gonna sound like I’m on a quote binge, but seriously, I heard the smartest quote yesterday, “It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs.” There’s this feeling that I don’t know how to fully describe, but if you’re a woman, you might understand me.

I was driving home, windows open, breeze blowing in, my dog, Smooch, hanging his head out the back, drooling down the window. I started changing the radio channels and this song came on. I listened to it a lot a few months after things ended with my ex, so for awhile I could no longer hear the song without being sad about this period of my life. Well, today I heard it and it didn’t hurt anymore, I didn’t feel anything extreme, almost like a void where there used to be intensity, but it came through as though it was just another song on the radio. I enjoyed reminiscing for a brief moment about how much the song used to mean to me and old memories, but felt strange that it didn’t cause any reactions within me anymore. It’s such a deep feeling when you express it, when you’re feeling it, as though it’s the literal feeling of passage of time, but it feels like nothing at all.

Do you understand what I’m feeling? Is there a word for this feeling even?

Then another song came on the alternative radio station from my childhood and I felt just like my dad. If it was possible to channel and embody someone, and I think it’s quite likely seeing I’m his daughter, I felt like I was him for a brief instant, like I finally understood him. That was a completely new feeling for me too. It came with a sense of pride, like my own inner power was shining through and I finally understood for a brief moment why I always become calm when everything around me is chaotic. I saw exactly why my dad married my mom, she’s fucking crazy (a good type of crazy, but she’s neurotic as hell, I love her to pieces, absolutely adore her), honestly she started screaming at me when I came home and I just felt this sense of calm, like everything was fine and I started laughing. It made her more mad, it gave me real perspective of why my dad chose her and how their energies were completely different but perfectly complementary and I understood him from his own perspective. I could feel the depth of their energetic relationship.

These are both very unique feelings, but I know I’m not the only one who’s ever felt them. I don’t know if there’s exactly one word that describes these feelings even. I’m not sure that words accurately depict any feeling with extreme depth, like ‘I love you’, it’s honestly the most profound thing you can say to another living creature, but not backed by genuine feeling it means nothing, it’s a feeling that’s best shown, not told. Maybe that’s all true emotions.

Sweet Spots

I heard this cool quote the other day, “Slow down, if you live long enough, eventually life teaches you how to live it.”

Now that I’ve almost spent 30 years on this planet, I finally feel like I’m in a good place in my life where I can grasp things more steadily. It’s been a constant ebb and flow on a monstrous emotional roller coaster, but for the first time in years I finally feel like I’m starting to get a hold of things. I’ve spent the last ten years caught in the turbulent aftermath of my dad’s death right as my 20’s came roaring in. The truth is, that even though I spent a good portion of the time feeling like I was trudging black sludge, lost in a subconscious haze of a carousel of characters from Alice’s Wonderland, regrets feel moot. Yes, I was on a high speed train of universal experiences, but through various time frames, various lives lived out in various places and stories shared a long the way, I’ve learned a few of my own sweet spots.

If you don’t know what a sweet spot is, it’s like this perfect amount of time exposed to something where you really enjoy the thing thoroughly that you want more, but you also don’t get so much of it that you are just bored to tears or angry that it still exists in your life. According to the dictionary, a sweet spot is defined as “an optimum point or combination of factors or qualities.” I love this definition though, because it’s so simple and perfectly to the point.

Well, along this period of time bouncing from one thing to the other, life has surely started to teach me how to live it, by revealing to me my very own sweet spots. I’ve learned that I can only take two hits of weed to get that perfect serene high without spiraling into a paranoia hole. I’ve learned that 3-4 beers creates a perfect buzz where everything is funny and things start to flow more fluidly. I’ve learned that any time liquor enters my body, I don’t know why, but the chemical reaction causes me to disappear.

When I got back from South America this time, I realized two weeks is enough time for me now. I don’t need these grand journey’s abroad, they don’t make me happy anymore. I just get irritated that I’m still somewhere else that isn’t home and that I can’t be productive. When I move to a new city it takes me 1-2 months to build a beginner network of friends and colleagues before I start to actually enjoy my new home and it takes a full year to build a real life there.

I’ve realized that all of my best friends came to be that way because of one massive blow out fight. That arguments are natural and healthy in all relationships, it’s just how we respond to these moments that direct the nature of every relationship. We either rise above together and grow closer, or we say fuck this shit, it ain’t worth it, and sometimes it isn’t and we move on.

I like this idea that life teaches us how to live it, a natural pace, natural rhythm, magical numbers that create various moments of perfection. I’m excited to see what life further reveals to me in my 30’s 🙂