It Took Almost


Eleven years.

But holy shit.

It happened.

I finally felt comfortable in the room.

There’s a room I found myself in about eleven years and 10 days ago.

I was profoundly uncomfortable.

I am not sure how the hell I stayed the whole hour.

I did, though.

And I kept coming back.

Even when my ass was falling off.

Even when I looked like hell.

Even when my best friend was dying in a hospital just down the road.

I laughed there.

I smoked a lot of cigarettes there, at least for a few months, the smoking ceased, the going there did not.

I felt not enough too often to recount.

I felt less then just about as often.

I was never a cool kid, I was never going to be a cool kid.

I don’t know that I was a cool kid tonight.

I’m too old to be a cool kid, but I tell you what, I felt fine.

I felt good.

I felt even and at peace and nothing was lacking or wrong in my life.

I was finally comfortable in that folding chair, underneath those ceiling fans.

I saw men I had crushes on.

Men who I had asked out on dates and was told no, thanks, or worse.

No response at all.

I saw a man  I had made out with the night the Giants won the last world series.

I saw women I hadn’t seen in years.

I got hugs and gave hugs.

I felt good to be the exact person I am today, strong, happy, secure, loved.

I laughed with a friend on the way home.

And marveled at my life.

I mean, I truly marveled.

I have come so far, so fucking far, it constantly blows my mind and when I think, “think,” things are not going my way or it could, should, or ought to be better, when I think, “I’ll be happy when…”

I know I am on the wrong track, off on the wrong foot, going in the wrong direction on the one way street.

I was riding my bicycle earlier today, heading into work, swooping along the paths on the Pan Handle and I was thinking about New York.

I was thinking about Paris.

I was thinking about what I want.

I was thinking about me.

I was telling God how it should be.

I was telling God how I wanted it to go down next.

Then I laughed the fuck out loud.

Who the hell was I to tell God what to do?

Who was I to complain that I wasn’t being loved the way that I thought I should be?

Hahahahaha.

Oh my God.

What a fool I am.

I made the decision right then and there to love and not be loved, as it says in this nice little prayer I read every morning, that I say, that I try to carry out the door with me into the wide world.

Although.

As it can be seen as evidenced above, I only made it a few miles down the road before I was telling God specifically what kind of love I deserved.

“Carmen, I love you, will you marry me,” my little five year old charge said to me tonight.

“You’re a little young for me,” I said and smiled.

“What if I was 51?” He said, dipping his buttered toast into a bowl of warm broccoli soup I had made.

“Can I have another bowl of soup?” He asked, mopping up the last of the bowl with the crust of bread.

“Of course,” I said and swooped in, picking up his bowl, kissing his head, ruffling the hair there.

“Well?  What if I was 51?” He asked me again as I set a fresh bowl of soup in front of him.

I already had the next piece of bread toasting in the oven.

“51 might be a little too old,” I said with a smile, and sipped my tea.

“What if I was your age!” He said, bright eyed, then, he smiled, “and a little taller?”

I laughed out loud.

“Why then of course! Yes, love, I would marry you.”

“Will we have kids?”

Oh my.

Ha.

I am loved.

Over and above and beyond what I deserve.

Love.

Everywhere.

A friend texting me to give me a lift home.

A friend texting to ask me out to a movie.

A hug.

A kiss.

A three year old, “Carmen, CARMEN, CARMEN!”

“Yes?”

“I love you!” Sotto voce.

Oh, my darling, I love you too.

I have so much love.

I prayed from my knees the other night.

(every night, every morning)

By my bedside and thanked my God for knowing the depth of love that I have gotten to know.

To find beauty and grace and above, gratitude, for a difficult situation and to realize that the experience has lead me to a greater depth of love, to know more love, to have a bigger bandwidth for love, that it does not matter that it was hard to go through, look at the amount of love I got to know by going through it.

Astounding.

And I don’t know if I loved as hard as I could today.

(I love pretty hard)

And I don’t know if I could have done it better or differently.

I feel like I did a pretty good job.

And I don’t know if I would have done any of it any other way but the way that I did it today.

I do know this.

I feel good.

I feel centered.

I feel enough.

I am loved.

I am lovable.

I am worthy of love.

The hubris of having humility is that I cannot say I have humility, I don’t, let’s be real, but I can recognize that I did not feel less than tonight.

I felt equal.

I felt apart of.

I felt like I belonged and.

Best of all.

I didn’t feel like I needed to change to make anyone happy.

I was.

I am.

Perfectly content.

To be the exact version of Carmen I am today.

I rock.

Let’s be frank.

Haha.

Nah.

I am not a rock star.

But I am a star in my own little way, a bit of old light from a source so far outside myself that I cannot fathom the power of it, a reflection of a love so big and grand and in-exhaustive that I know, without a doubt, that I am just exactly where I am supposed to be.

Raw.

Vulnerable.

Open.

And when I think I need it some other way, I just get to remind myself.

“Love, rather than be loved.”

Love.

Love.

Just.

Love.

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