Tears in the writer

September 22, 2016 Writing  No comments

I’ve said before that this book will probably be the most emotional, autobiographical book I will ever write.

These are the scenes I cried through as I wrote them:


What are you running away from?
Chapter 32

She looked down at me, and I asked the question that’d been burning a hole in me since I met her, “Why does staying here scare you so much?”
        She closed her eyes, her face pulling together toward the center. Then she turned her head away from me.
        I held on to her arm, moving my grasp from her elbow to her hand.
        “What are you running away from?”
        I felt a shudder work through her body.
        “Everything,” she whispered.
        She looked back at me, a hollowness in her eyes that wasn’t there before. “There’s this voice inside my head telling me to go. Telling me I can’t stay here,” she paused for a moment, “I’m trying to find my way out.”
        “Out of where?”
        She shrugged like she wasn’t sure, but she said, “This place where I’m constantly losing my footing. Where I’m constantly being pushed and pulled by all the chaos around me.”
        There was something in the way she carried herself that hinted at something deeply buried beneath the surface, something more sinister and pervasive.
        “I don’t want this to be who I am anymore.”

Even now I can’t read that without feeling like all the air is being squeezed out of my chest. Because even though I’ve left that place that made me feel like I was constantly losing my footing, I struggled against that feeling for so many years, I’ll never forget how that panic feels—like waking up to realize you’re in a coffin buried six feet under and you can’t breathe and no matter how much you scratch you can’t dig your way out.

The Dream
Chapter 36

“That’s when I look back at the water one last time. At first, all I see is this tidal wave, impossibly tall, rising fast, approaching the shore. And I’m about to look away, run to safety, when I see someone at the edge of the water. So I stop and squint, trying to see who it is.”    
         Resignation lined her voice as she continued, “My body always registers it before my mind does. This complete dismantling of my bones, unhinging from each other. A painful burst in my chest like a heart attack. The cry that gets caught in my throat.
        “It’s Nate. It’s always Nate, standing there by the edge of the water.”
         My heart contracted in my chest.
       “And somehow, I always manage to pull my shit together and start running toward him. I try to go faster, fly toward him, but the sand always slows me down. No matter how hard I try, I never make it there in time. I can never save him.
       “And then everything goes black.”

This book is dedicated to my brother. And I’ve had this dream about him more times than I care to count. It never stops gutting me every time I dream it.


I feel like I’m living a life I never signed up for.
Chapter 46

“Jamie,” I asked, touching her upper arm and turning her to face me. “What the hell are you talking about?” 
         She stared at me hard. Her eyes all flint and fire. Consuming me alive.
        “I feel like I’m living a life I never signed up for.” Her words came out hot, then sizzled to a cool. “And now, I’m just trying to figure out the best way to go from here.”

I got engaged at 19 while I was living in New York City. When we came back home for the holidays, I got caught up in the longing for familiarity, so Andrew and I decided to move back to Michigan. We bought a house only thirty minutes from where we grew up, but it felt like a world (and several tax brackets) away from what we knew. Even though I loved our new house and where we lived, it wasn’t what I knew. So here I was: married at 19, living in a house bigger and nicer than any I’d ever lived in before, attending a university I’d never in a million years even considered going to, learning how to fertilize the lawn while all my friends were across the border in Canada boozing it up. And for a good two or three years, all I could think was, “How in the fuck did I get here? I feel like I’m living a life I never signed up for.” And more essentially, all I could wonder was, who am I? How did I get here? How did I become this person?
(It wasn’t the being married part that was hard for me, it was the sudden shift into being an ‘adult’ and homeowner.) 

This is something I think a lot, if not all, twentysomethings struggle with. This feeling of being adrift is a theme I was intentional about putting into the book because sometimes it’s nice to know that we’re not alone.


Until next time, farewell & may your life never cease to be filled with wonder and curiosity.

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