For Bill, A Year Later

bill

When the preacher says he’s with god, you try your best to hide your lemon face. You don’t look anyone in the eyes, opting to instead make friends with your feet.
When the bagpipes play the closing hymn and his cousins carry out his casket, you tell yourself to bite the bullet instead of crying. You picture your teeth turning to dust. You picture him, a man you saw alive less than three days prior, turn to dust.

Your own heart becomes ashen. Rebel gray was his favorite color, but you don’t feel exalted. You crave the ocean, the place you met him. You crave that day six years ago. You replay everything he said to you since, trying hard to sustain his candor and not forget his voice.

You read the articles about his accident and how they portrayed him as a drunken fool.
You wonder if those people ever got news like that or had to make the call. You know the call where you pick up the phone and feel nothing only to take a deep breath when you speak.
“Are you sitting down? You should be sitting down for this.”
The line goes silent, followed by denial.  You hang up before you hear blood shot eyes and the wave of panic that follows. You hold the phone like it were a baby, but you reason with it like it were a child.

You can’t reason with death or the people that report it.

A year after my one of my best friends died, all I can muster in response to sympathy is a frail and weak hearted “It is what it is.”

But what it is is far more than that. His accident slammed the brakes on me learning to love Christmas music through James Brown. It shut out the secret ingredient for his quesso recipe and future hours spent in his kitchen listening to Jerry Reed and talking about the Civil War. It cut the texts and phone calls but failed to sever the chord. Our connection is still there even though he’s gone. It’s the skipped beat in my heart, my dragging feet on my way to work. It’s the deep understanding that no one other than the two who created me could ever love me as selflessly and as unconditionally as he did.

It’s a heartache that sings in a slow loop in layered between the white noise of my city. Amazing Grace and a high shrill of bagpipes. When my friend Bill died, I started hearing it and I haven’t stopped since. The lines lingering like the empty air at his funeral,

“I once was lost, but now am found;

was blind, but now I see.”

Was blind, but now I see.

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New Year’s Resolution

I recognize that a personal resolution can start anytime, any day and that often people put way to much into New Year’s resolutions. 

That aside, I noticed something recently that I wasn’t aware of before-

I’m actually quite mean to myself. In fact, I’m so mean that if Internal Jess were a separate person, External Jess wouldn’t even want to be in the same room with her, never mind be her friend.

For example, last night I got home from work and  felt so exhausted so I cooked dinner and promptly went to bed.I was literally asleep by 9:30. When I woke up, I felt comfortable and well rested.

Now most people would say, “Good for you-getting the sleep you obviously needed!” Not me. My first thought waking up this morning was, “You lazy ass! You didn’t write last night. If you want to be a writer, you need to write EVERY DAY, even if you’re tired!”

That’s a small example. Lately I’ve been overcome with this internal anxiety about who I am and how to be. I hate to say it, but I’m very easily affected about what people say about me personally. From, “You’re hard to love because you’re independent” to  “You’re kind of needy,” I’ve heard so many opposing opinions of me from other people, none of which fit anything close to how I see myself. The worst part of it all is I’m starting to listen.

I ask myself,
“What if I am too needy, independent, hard, soft, difficult to love?”

What I should be asking is, 
“WHY DO YOU TALK TO PEOPLE THAT THINK IT’S OK TO SAY THINGS LIKE THAT TO YOU?!?” 

So my resolution (that just so happens to be around New Years) is to be nicer, gentler, and kinder to myself. That’s the big one. Maybe I won’t celebrate myself every single each step I take, but I will do my damnedest to make that negative mental voice pipe the fuck down. If I need rest, I will take it, even if it means sacrificing a night of writing. If the external negative is too overwhelming, I’ll cut as much of it out as I possibly can.

I will remind myself on the regular that I am enough, and while I am consistently working to improve myself, in this moment, I am good just as I am-independence, neediness, softness, hardness, and all.

Is There Such a Thing as “Too Much Space?”

My tried and true way of dealing is by vanishing. I cut people off completely, hide in my shell, keep only a very small amount of friends in the loop of what’s going on with me. If you’ve hurt me even in a small amount, odds are I’ve shut you out without you even realizing it. 

The problem is, is there too much space? Do I alienate people too much? 

I couldn’t help but think about that when I was on the phone with my dad and he was talking about his holiday plans, most of which I used to skip out on without really an excuse. Now I suddenly want to go to them, being 1000+ miles away-go figure.

Do I have a good relationship with my dad? I think so? Could it have been better if I wasn’t so over my upbringing, that I actually let my family in? 

The impending questions going back to Boston- did I leave for the right reasons? Am I still really all that close with the people I left behind? How much of this is me? Am I really as selfish as I feel right now?

How much responsibility should I take over the way I feel about things?

Do I feel too much or not at all, and if the levels vary, are they at the appropriate times?

I am definitely probably thinking too much.

When you try to kill yourself by the bottle, you are no martyr. 

When I got to the bar, I order a water with lemon. The bartender happily refills my glass and smiles at me. I try to defend myself but he says, “It’s ok, sweetheart. We’ve all needed the break.”

But how few of us have taken it?

It’s so easy to get drunk and stay drunk in this city-where so many places offer you a cheap beer and a cheaper shot for $4 on the regular, never mind craft brews on Tuesdays for $2 drafts. I’ve been to lucid from alcohol on more than one occasion when I shouldn’t have been. This isn’t college. When I need the adult, I am it.

When my problems exceeded what I thought I could handle, I put the bottle down. Eyes on the road. Stay focused. Stay present.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s been two days and I’ve already felt I’ve “needed” a drink more than once.

I don’t sleep better, but I wake softer. Things like the mental list of things to do become more fluid. My mind is easier to adjust with the shift in gears. The panic, when it happens, calms quicker.

The voice in my head is sweeter and far less impulsive. 

I’d like to think that when Boston comes around, I’ll pick it up again without issues but I might have to stay sober in Chicago, least until things quiet down.

No One in the Dark

Take that ring off your finger and remember what it feels like for your hands to belong to you.
We got brie melting in the oven, and the tea kettle on.
Nadia is draped in a black frock from head to toe and with her index finger swirling in the air
she swivels her hips and says, “Ho’s day are over!”

We once embraced our sexuality through bedfellows, now we are taking it back in order to love ourselves harder.

We are
Our own sweet nothings in terms of lavender oils in long bubble baths.
Our legs move like jellyfish even when we’re dancing sober and alone.
In rising up from the pre-dug graves of our battered hearts
We dust off our dignity and wear it like our favorite leather jackets.

 

You sir, are temporary-

And we glow so wide without you.

So be Frida without Diego.
Be the bright radiant splotches on canvas that sing together your pain and your ideas.
Place a pin on a map and move yourself to go there, for a day, a week or forever. 
We are not messages that go unanswered. We call out to no one in the dark-
Except the night and day. Those things are ours and these days belong to us.

Dear Readers,

I recognize I write a lot about my static upbringing, and I almost feel bad about it considering silent for long. To me it comes off like bitching, like I’m looking for some type of reward or I want people to feel bad for me.

Let me be the first to tell you, I don’t. Seriously, I don’t. Considering my mother is dead, I’m not trying to point the finger at this invisible person telling her she screwed up without being there to defend herself, and in all honesty I’ve tried to portray her in the most unbiased way possible.

I’m also not the type of person that allows death to glorify a person either. Did they mean a lot to you? Absolutely but they were human and being human you do a lot of messy things, and not matter the intention, sometimes the hurt they cause surpasses the grief caused by them dying. Hell, maybe the death even emphasizes it.

With all that said, this is really helping me heal. An entry I published here was featured on Thought Catalog recently. Since writing it, I haven’t thought about that day I referenced, whereas I used to think about it every time I even heard the word “divorce.” It’s helping me heal in a way that talking about it with my mom never did. I stop being that scared little girl every time I take my fingers to the keys and force those rough years out of me-like how your body sometimes regurgitates the a virus when you’re sick.. sort of.

What I want people to walk away from when they read my writing is that, we are not invincible. We are all scared little people on the inside and many of us have been through some pretty terrifying things. It is not what we are given, but what we do with it.

I was given a choice a while ago- to let my past conquer me, or be brave and let it fuel me. I chose to be brave, and as a result was rewarded with strength. Yeah, maybe that strength has made me a little rough around the edges, but only initially I promise. I can assure you, I’ve kept my sweetness. My proof of this is that I am by no means bitter. I recognize the world doesn’t owe me anything, but I want to give it something it couldn’t give me when I was younger-peace of mind with a deep understanding that somehow, someway it will all be fine.

We are all catalysts in our own goodness, despite the hand we were dealt. Remember that.

My Best,

-Jess Krista Merighi

Snow Angels

When I was really small, before the divorce, when it snowed outside my dad would go into the back yard with me to make snow angels. Just to make snow angels. They were my favorite thing about winter-especially the part where we would lay there on the ground for a while, catching snowflakes on our tongues. I would sit there and let my mind drift before moving on to the next plot of untouched snow.

My dad and I once filled the entire back yard with snow angels. I wish he took a picture of it.

Last year just after I moved to Boston, I drove back home to pick up a few things from my dad’s place. He still lives in the house I grew up in and upon my way out, I stopped in the back yard to look at the fresh 5 inch layer of untouched snow. I jumped over the wood planks dividing the driveway from the yard, and plopped down in the fresh powder to make an angel.

A minute later, I hear the back door open and the heavy foot steps of my father. He plopped down next to me, albeit slowly, to make a snow angel.

“I always wanted to know what you thought about when you made these things.” he said to me.
“Nothing at all.” I replied.
“Really?”
“Yeah. It’s the only time where I don’t think about anything. I just look up and get lost in the sky.”
He got quiet for a second.

“I’m happy you still make them. I hope you never stop. Not even when you’re an old lady.”

****

Coming back from a beer run, I put my bag down in my back yard and made a snow angel. When I looked up at the sky, I thought about my dad for a second, and then I thought about nothing at all.

In those few moments, looking up at the endless gray of clouds, everything was perfect.