All I remember thinking was that my sheets looked like a watercolor painting.
Mascara bleeding into a blank white canvas. Tears making the color run in streaks almost as if planned by Picasso. My blush, eyeshadow… everything falling off my face and my entire body feeling raw.
There were tears, although no audible evidence of pain. An ache in my stomach, doubts creeping in at every corner, and minutes that felt like hours.
And I could tell you two things about that moment.
Two things that I look back on now with a little sadness, a whole lot of longing, and a desire to know just how deeply that moment moved me. Moved me in ways I wasn’t expecting. In ways I definitely wasn’t prepared for. Because as cathartic as it is to have a good cry, it all too often reminds you just how much you lack control of your own emotion.
It wasn’t just one thing that made be break down that night. It was everything. Crashing to a head.
The fact that I missed family (potentially) more than I ever had in my entire life. The realization that this was life, and that I wasn’t on summer vacation. And that summer vacation wasn’t a thing anymore. The fact that I had bills, loans, a budget that pushed and stretched me to my limit every month. The fact that it felt like I had to pretend it was all ok. That I wasn’t scared out of my mind that everything could fall apart at a moment’s notice.
And that this time in my life was just as beautiful and put together as my Instagram feed made it seem like it was. Because it wasn’t. And at that moment, it felt hard. And messy. And I don’t think I had an easy time admitting it.
I think I missed how easy it was to hop in the car and go to Target. I think I realized how challenging it was to live in a city where people would walk all over you to get what they want, to prove just how special they are. In a city where if you don’t advocate for yourself, you get left behind. A city where community takes active effort and intense upkeep. A city where everything is just more difficult, where hours disappear and become minutes, where everyone seems to be chasing something, but often have no idea what that really is. A city where money is often more important than character. And a city where people don’t always have time to call you back, much less meet for a cup of coffee. A city that’s brokenly beautiful in so many ways.
I think I missed the suburbs. In fact, I know I missed the suburbs. And living in a place where you run into friends from high school at the grocery store. Where you can park your car in front of a lake and just be. Where the minutes last longer, moments seem a little sweeter. Where you can actually fit more than one person in the kitchen. Enjoy a cup of coffee on your patio. Take a walk around the cul-de-sac at night. I think I missed the suburbs so much, I even started researching where I could live and still commute to work every day. Where I could move and start my own little life, with my own little space, my own little room to breathe.
And then I remembered something.
I remembered that I chose this. And that I’m choosing this every day. So there’s got to be a reason. Despite the fact that it’s hard and exhausting and expensive and lonely and suffocating and quick. Because I do really love this city. I love the excitement. I love the energy. (Most of the time) I love the people. I love the fact that it’s teaching me things about life and love and happiness and gratitude and living on what I really need. About staying true to myself when the reality is that it’s so easy to not to.
I’m not saying I want to move. I’m not saying I’m ready for the suburbs (although goodness knows I probably wouldn’t complain).
But I am saying that I needed that night. A night that broke down a wall in my heart telling me that I had to pretend it was easy. That I made it home and through each day without breaking a sweat.
A night to remind me just how strong I was. To remind me that if I could make it here, survive here, live here, really learn to be here… Then I could do that anywhere.
So here’s to being strong a while longer.
Because I’m not done with this city just yet. Not even close.
I’m just done pretending it’s easy. Because that’s the last thing it is.
But so, so beautiful.