“Abigail doesn’t do anything in halves” I remember being very young at a parent teacher conference and hearing those words. I was a passionate one, doing most things whole heartedly or not at all. At the time, not at all included eating vegetables and letting my Mom brush my hair. She eventually got me to eat broccoli by convincing me they were tree stars (Land Before Time) and brushed my hair because I was ‘Ariel’ about to walk for the first time on land. Anything for the things I loved.
As I grew older my heart transfixed onto things like Titanic. I was the original Titanic hipster and read everything I could about the actual ship before Leo was ever involved…although he did eventually send it over the edge (my entire 4th grade class had a moment of silence on April 14th at my request).
In middle school I was voted ‘ Most Fanatic Fan’, a category my peers created based on my undying love for Blink 182.
In high school I was fired up about Measure D, which asked the town of Los Gatos to fund a skate park in a deserted lot. I wrote a particularly saucy response to a woman who claimed the noise from the park would interrupt her pruning her roses and cause her to inhale marijuana fumes that got a lot of attention after it appeared in the paper. My best friends (brothers to this day) were/are skateboarders and god dammit I was tired of them getting $200 tickets for skating behind NC. My Mom had it pinned to our fridge when I got home.
I spent years trying to convince my parents to allow me to get a dog until I eventually showed up with one when my Dad was on a backpacking trip.
In short: I knew few 50%’s.
One of the last whole hearted things I did was move to Oregon, sight unseen, when I was 19. A lot has happened in-between, but somewhere in there I started doing things in halves. When I was 21 I had my heart broken. The big one. The one we all have to go through but never see coming. Needless to say, that was tough. When you’re in love, the world seems small for a time. It also seems huge. Infinite. I can remember the sound of the front door closing when he came home. I remember making something on the stove and having two arms find my hips, chin on my shoulder like clockwork at the end of a long day. I remember dancing in the kitchen, as goofy as we could, most nights before we went to bed. I remember going to sleep and waking up feeling like there couldn’t be anything better outside of that room. I was immeasurably in love. For awhile.
There is no sense in trying to explain a broken heart. If you’ve had one, you know. It’s almost as if half of you goes to sleep; for a long time I was convinced you never really wake up. It has been 5 years and there are still some days where I catch myself right back in that room in Eugene, Oregon. The halves came in. I was no longer wagering in wholes. That is the thing about a broken heart, you can never remember how you felt before.
When I was younger, my tendency to go all in never hurt me. It enhanced me, motivated me. It brought me beautiful friendships and unbreakable bonds that I treasure and maintain to this day. There is beauty in a whole heart, but now there were also holes. The success I’ve enjoyed in the past 5 years has been all but muted by the sense of one foot out. To cut to the chase (and the point I hope most people can relate to) Dating has been….tough.
When you’re half mast you’re not really aiming to impress. It becomes so easy to wade through regardless, never really connecting with someone else. I am going to take this to another level and quote a recent episode of GIRLS in which Adam spelled it out quite nicely.
“Just because I tasted her spit or could tell you her middle name or knew a record she liked, that doesn’t mean anything. That’s not a connection. Anyone can have that. Really knowing someone is something else. It’s a completely different thing and when it happens you won’t be able to miss it.”
You’re still here? Good. I think a lot of us can admit that often times we have no idea what the fuck we are doing when we enter into any kind of relationship. This translates into no idea what the fuck kind of messages were sending out. Which in turn makes for a no idea what the fuck kind of situation we find ourselves in months down the road. The past few years I’ve felt like I’ve mastered the art of the ‘its nothing serious’ while simultaneously searching for the next distraction when the inevitable end comes. It was not until recently that I stopped. All of a sudden, my heart was pumping blood again. My cheeks were warm. I could be myself. I could make weird jokes. I wanted him to meet my friends. I didn’t want him to leave when the movie ended! After years of doing things in halves, I was feeling 60/40.
It could go one way or the other. Each time we hung out I pictured a stop watch being pressed. For the next ___ hours things would be great. A smile would be stuck to my face inside and out and the 60% climbed towards 70. Then the time was up. I’d make up excuses, rationalize in my head. Ignore the looming lump in my throat. Yet slowly, I realized, as lovely as it is to feel something again, there is no guarantee there are two of you.
We all have scars on our hearts. Some will mend; some won’t. When we’re laid into the ground, our hearts shouldn’t be in tact. Like the palm of your hands they should be worn out, a road map to a long life lived. To the naked eye they may appear unsightly, but the magical thing about love is that you can’t simply see it. Underneath the most bruised heart there may be the most beautiful love story. Like the chicken or the egg it may be impossible to tell what came first, but in the end, a heart laid to rest with either is a heart who ‘done good tryin.
We’re not all going to be lucky in love. We’ve all got a long way to go from here. But that is why we keep our eyes open. Why we look twice. Why we risk giving our heart only to end up with none. We have a shot. Albeit one in hell, but still a clear shot. I’m reminding myself to no longer settle for halves. Refill my cup as to make it always remain full. There are so many reasons to put one foot in front of the other one. One foot in, Two feet in: now look at us, were still standing!
“Far too many people are looking for the right person, instead of trying to be the right person.” ― Gloria Steinem