I have this super gnarly scar on my knee that makes people physically recoil when they see it. It's horrifying. But I'm kind of glad it's there.
I'd just moved to Richmond a month prior; it was September, the sun was setting noticeably earlier and the evenings were cooling off. I decided to go for a run, which, if you know me, you know is not a thing I do. I don't "go for a run." Anyway, new life, new me and all that. So I set out, running through the Fan's gorgeous, tree-lined sidewalks. Trees whose old roots have made those very sidewalks a totally unacceptable place for a novice running at dusk.
It couldn't have been more perfectly timed, honestly: Kanye's "Stronger" had just come on and I picked up my pace with the beat - feeling myself, hard. Until I tripped, hard. Scratch that. Until I caught my toe on an upturned section of a sidewalk and went flying before skidding along the pavement for a few feet. It hurt. A lot. There was blood. A lot.
So I limped back to my third floor apartment to inspect the damage. I sat on the edge of my clawfoot tub, feeling dizzy at the sight of so much blood dripping down my leg and not really knowing what to do. It was the first time in my month-and-some-change of living alone that I actually felt alone. There was no one to gather me up, to clean my wound without me having to look, to drive me to the ER for stitches. I cleaned it up and dealt with it at home, on my own, even though I absolutely should have gone to the doctor.
But, ah— that's not the moral of this particular story. Sometimes you don't get out of a situation without at least one scar (literally or metaphorically), right? And after dismantling a ten-years-long life, I was bound to be left with a few scars. Honestly, I appreciate those rude little reminders - whether it's the scar on my knee or a song on the radio - because that life is a life I never want to forget, even though I'm so proud of this new one I've been creating since. I'm proud of that first one, too.
There have been so many times in the intervening 365 days since I've moved to Richmond when I've felt that helpless, hopeless loneliness again that had nothing to do with falling down on the street. It had to do with a profound sense of loss, of feeling directionless, of feeling abandoned, uncertain and insecure. Plus, it was winter and, well, you know.
Ugh, some of last year really sucked! Here's the thing about it: you know that cliche "you never know what you're capable of until you go through it"? (or, to bring it back - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Ok, Kanye). It's so true. I remember one night in January I sobbed into the phone to Laura, Allison and my mom - all three separately! and ended the night feeling like, literally, my heart cannot feel anymore broken than it does right now.
I also remember talking to a friend around the same time who was going through a similarly shit time and commiserating about how we just wished we could get outside of our bodies for ten minutes. Just get me OUT of here for a second so I can breathe for a minute. And feeling that trapped was actually such a relief because man, when you feel like you can't get any lower...where else is there to go? (up, is the answer)(phew).
And now? I'm hesitant to say it (my superstitious gene has grown three sizes this year) but: I feel...great. Time does actually heal, y'all. Somehow you're feeling so shitty - can't get out of bed, eyes leaking tears shitty - and yet you go to work, and you pay your bills and you see your friends and you live your life and - at least for me, this time - the sun literally starts shining and the flowers start blooming and I started feeling like myself again. Obviously, there was some work put in and obviously everything isn't always sunshine and blooming flowers but.
But. Now, I feel content (and independent!) in my apartment, proud of my professional accomplishments, grateful for steadfast old friends and family and excited about fascinating new friends.