“Do you think we should move in together?” the words feel foreign now that they’ve left my mouth. I can’t possibly be old enough to live with a guy. But what other choice do we have? James’ job is in Rhode Island and it’s this or long distance and at 22 years old, I don’t see the point.
My 22nd year was the blind one, the one in which I saw nothing, not because it wasn’t there, but because I was always looking down.
The day we moved into the first floor of a white house on a long street, I drove in a U-Haul and smiled the whole way. It was June and it was warm and there was so much potential. James met us in the driveway with a pickup full of ugly furniture and that feeling I was anticipating – that one of excitement and newness – was nowhere to be found. He busied himself with couches and chairs, a mattress, a dresser, a desk and one table. I placed forks and knives in the only drawer in our kitchen, stacked bowls next to plates and plates next to cups. After everyone left, I cried in the shower because what have I done? We’re not ready for this. I’m not ready for this.
On the first day of fall, I tried to be hopeful. The first day of winter, I felt more lost than before. By spring, I was happy, but for all the wrong reasons. By summer, I was ready, one foot out the door.
In July, I moved home for four months, and I slept by myself and I asked for help from a God I don’t name. I was sad all the time and I blamed everyone else. It was a selfish year – that 23rd year, and I refused to consider the impact it made. He never blamed me though, he simply understood.
In November, I came down to Providence to visit him and the house felt empty, unloved, and forgotten. Is that what I had done to James, too? I looked at him, as he cut out gingerbread men with a gingerbread shaped cookie cutter and I felt like an asshole. We didn’t say much about it, but I moved back in that week. I lost my job a few months later, lost my mind right after that. I tried not to feel sorry for myself, but it felt like the only thing to do.
My 24th year was a forgiving one, in which I learned to forgive myself and forgive James for not being exactly what I dreamed up, and thanking him for being so much more than that. I forgave him for working odd hours and leaving me alone all the time. I forgave myself for being young and confused. It was a year where I felt firm in my beliefs, where I voiced my opinions, where I picked myself back up. It was the year we sat cross-legged on the bed and drew our dreams on yellow lined paper and nodded our head and decided that yes, we are different, and no, we aren’t perfect, but look at all of these things that we want, look at your dreams: they look the same as mine.
To be continued…