Thursday, July 28, 2016

For SE and CM.

This post has a soundtrack. It's the song 'Landslide' by Oh Wonder.
No, it's not the 'landslide' song that everyone knows and painfully covers.

Having your heart ripped to shreds is one thing that you forget how horrible it is until you see someone close to you go through it. Right now I have two people going through it, so I tapped into my painful, bleeding memories of 2012 and I wrote these sappy words for them. I’ll try my best to sum it up for those of you that have forgotten it or never experienced it (you lucky bastards).

There’s a moment of pure disbelief when someone is standing in front of you, saying they don’t want to be with you. It’s almost as if you’re staring at a white, blank wall. Unfortunately this slips into denial, because you’ve spent years together and have planned out your lives and you’ve gotten through fights before, and surely they’re going to come around and say this is a mistake and they’re so sorry and they panicked and it’ll never happen again, and in the end, this will make the two of you stronger. But your texts go unanswered and in that silence there is a sense of finality*. You’ll walk in to a half-empty living room and only one toothbrush in the bathroom, and grief eventually floods in.
*This is a quote from my older, wiser sister in 2012 that I’m passing on to you.

And oh, my, how that is the worst. You won’t sleep because in your dreams you’re back together and you wake up and the pain is worse than when you first closed your eyes. You don’t eat, and it’s not because food doesn’t look delicious, it’s because you’re consistently half-nauseated and you look like you’re strung-out from a three day bender but really your eyes are red and half-open because you can’t sleep and you can’t stop crying.

I’m really sorry that you have to go through that stage, but sometime after that things begin to get better. You’ll realize you can’t bury yourself in your pillow and you get dragged to the bar by a friend or two or seven, and surrounding yourself with friends feels good. It’s a taboo subject for a short bit, but after a few drinks your laughter is genuine and smile wide, and everyone will start to bash him because you’re way better off and who needs a significant other, anyway? But, my dear, between the 6th and 7th double vodka soda your fake glass pedestal of self-assurance will start to crack and eventually shatter, and then you’re left with one friend at the after-party around 3a.m. crying on the balcony because you can’t be happy, it’s too hard and you’re not good at it and you’re going to be emotionally fucked forever. Have a panic attack about how you won’t ever be able to get to know another person the way you knew your ex-lover. It takes too much energy, it takes too long, it seems far too hard. What is the point of getting to know anyone, anyway?
In that moment of desperation you can call me and I’ll answer and I’ll quote my own mother and tell you that “You have to fake it until you make it. And that’s a cliché, but clichés are clichés for a reason – they’re true.” My heart will be aching with yours, and I’ll quote my mother again, and tell you that “This is making you a better person” because I swear to God, it really is, and if I got through 2012, you can get through this, too.

Then you rebound. It sounds shitty, but it helps. Drink more, dance more, accidentally have sex with someone that you’re not really interested in. Maybe cry about it. Realize that you should be laughing about it. Laugh about it. Laugh the most ingenuine laugh you can possibly spurt out, but laugh about it.

And as you go through the motions of building your life all by yourself, you heal. You have a good day. And then you have a great day. And then you have a bad day. And then you have a few okay days in a row. And then you should absolutely cheers yourself to that with a drink at 11 in the morning.

Sometimes there’s this back-and-forth dance with your memories because for some reason villainizing someone that you loved so deeply is hard, even when they’ve wrecked you. You should know that it is normal to miss them, and to feel like you still love them and want them to love you back. You’ll be prepared to see pictures of you two together but when you stumble across a forgotten memento it is absolutely okay to cry for what feels like a little too long. But eventually all you’ll have are faded memories and Facebook TimeHop reminders (lucky you!), and they’ll either be looked upon with a simple smile or a stone-cold face and heart. I chose the latter, but you’re a better person than me, so I’m sure it’ll be the former.


Someday, months or (and) years later, you’ll realize that you now know how to deal with heartbreak. You'll see why the relationship wasn’t right in the first place, and you’ll have a more definitive idea of what you want in a partner. And I think you should spend some time being selfish. Only do things that you want to do, and that make you happy. If someone is boring, don’t bother. If you’re annoyed, walk away. Spend some time not wasting your time and focusing on a sort of relentless forward motion. I promise that this will be an important time in your life, and that you’ll love and known yourself much more. And someday you’ll be standing with your hand on your hip while sipping a cocktail and realize that you can’t remember the last time you felt hurt, because life had happened and you weren't looking.
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Friday, July 8, 2016

A sunburn's what I needed


For the first time in a long time I’m on a plane right now headed back to the West and I won’t have a two-hour-10-minute drive up to Flagstaff. I’ll have a 30 minute drive to the basement that I sleep in.
I can’t bring myself to call anywhere but Michigan ‘home’, and that’s rightfully so. This was a last-minute trip, and I went back to try to find a piece of myself that I thought I had maybe lost. I’m not sure if I found it, or if it was lost in the first place, or what that piece really was or is but I left feeling smarter, more loved, and that I love more. This is, undoubtedly, due to the people I was able to see – the people that I will always make the effort to see.

On this trip I met Ian. Ian Matthew Wittenberg is a perfect six-and-a-half-month old human that has spawned from two of the most incredible people I’ve met in my life. Katie Wittenberg was my first running partner. She taught me how to cure a side-stitch, she gave me my first gel to eat, her rambling stories are what have gotten me through several painful long runs, and a way of talking that I have fully adopted over the years. She was the first person to believe in any athletic ability I had in the sport, ran my first race with me, and has continually helped remind me that the root of the footsteps must come from the love for the sport – otherwise it is empty. She has heard my relationship problems and baked me an oversized lemonade cake when I graduated and I remember when she made her final car payment.
Matt Wittenberg is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, and we’ve exchanged several glances in social situations which we perceive awkward (read: all social situations). As I grew as a runner I watched Matt push through injuries and mental battles that, to this day, still help me through my own. I still don’t know anyone with as many pairs of running shoes as him or lists on their iPhone Notes. Branching off of that, he’s the only other person I know who writes their grocery lists on their phone and gets satisfaction from erasing the items. Matt taught me there is only one way to car dance to Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and that is with your whole heart. I feel like I was at Matt and Katie’s wedding because I know the day through Katie’s words. I will also never forget their anniversary, because it is 6 September.
Ian was born the day after I left Michigan this past Christmas. And as I listened to all of the details of him being born I got goosebumps and my eyes filled with tears of love, because these two beautiful humans now have Ian. And Ian has no idea how rad his parents are.

And there’s Nick Chard. Until this trip home I haven’t been able to catch up with him while he’s not working. Nick taught me to laugh at customers that pissed me off as a server. This has transferred effortlessly into a significant way I live my life. He taught me (and Emily) to tornado kick, to be patient while building a gingerbread house, to tactfully leave behind friends that aren’t really friends, and that making people laugh is truly the best gift one human can give another. I have countless, vivid memories of Nick over my four years at Bravo and they all involve the most genuine kind of laughter. He’s now a husband and a father of three, and as I become a more critical beer drinker after working in breweries, he continues to impress me as a brewer. 

And there is Amanda, who has beautiful blonde hair and an even more beautiful soul, complete with the most infectious laugh. Amanda planted the love for stouts and porters in me years ago, and for that I am forever grateful. She is one of the most driven people I’ve ever met, and I am inspired truly inspired with my own career after hearing her speak about hers. After every conversation I have with Amanda, I’m left missing her more but with a certain kind of excitement about life. Amanda is one of those (very few) people that makes my life significantly better.

And I remember the day I met Gayle Gracia. It was a Monday and the previous day was the day that Joe had left me for the last time. I met her and immediately purged all of my events of the day before to her (indirectly – I was talking to Val, who was with Gayle at the time, standing at the host stand at Bravo). I remember Gayle nodding and shaking her head along with my story, and as I walked away Val said “You’re better off, baby.” And without turning my head I shouted “Yeah, fuck him,” into an empty dining room. This was the beginning of Gayle being my relationship counselor for the next five(+) years. Rightfully so, because this fall Gayle is starting her PhD in Counseling at OSU. I stand by my offering of her to use my atrocious lack of patience and effort in relationships in her classes or with fellow patients. Gayle also has the coolest fucking glasses ever, and no one besides her could ever pull them off. Her husband, Nate, is the perfect compliment. He also once cooked me a breakfast to die for.

No matter which version of me you or I have known in the past 27 years, all know that my mom lives on a lake, and I think it’s the best place in the world. It is my home, and it is always where I’m most comfortable. I sat on the deck looking through the trees and as the forever familiar breeze brushed my sunburned legs I thought about all of the people I’ve been on that deck. I’ve been a child, an angsty teenager, a smoker, a drug experimenter, a Graduate student, a runner, an ultrarunner, a climber, drunk, sober, high, a writer, a server, a bartender, broken-hearted, commited and a heartbreaker. And they all matter. I cannot tell if one is more important than the other, but some are forgotten, whether that’s due to time brushing away the edges or choosing to leave parts of life behind I can’t ever really be sure.  

I woke up in Colorado finding myself confused as to why I was waking up in Colorado. A part of me can’t even remember how I got there or why, or what the hell I’m doing. So I freaked out. And I came home. And I spent time with people that I find inspiring and that I miss so much. And I went tubing with my brother and may have damaged my vocal chords because at age 27 skipping across water towards manmade waves is absolutely terrifying. And as I screamed to my brother “Mom is trying to kill me! Mom is seriously trying to kill me!” He shouted back through laughter “You climb the fucking Rocky Mountains! What are you scared of?!”

And Giselle said it best right before I went back to Michigan.
“We don’t travel and move places to ‘find ourselves’. We do it to create ourselves and become the people we always wanted to be. At least that’s how I see it. So who do you want to be, Kels?”
(-Giselle Fernandez)

Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of Frontier Airlines we’d like to welcome you to Denver, Colorado. The local time is 5:27p.m. and 80 degrees. Whether this is your final destination or just your connection, we hope you enjoy your time here.


I’m trying to enjoy my time here. And I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m struggling.
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