Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tonight, not unlike any other night, my mind races. I'm so fragile, especially through these next few hours. It's so easy for me to get scared and want to throw in the towel. Evaluating my life turns into evaluating the challenges, the losses, the disabilities. I usually turn to having a good cry and writing my feelings down to get them out. Well, obviously none of that is working because every night without fail, I'm bombarded with a wave of anxiety. So tonight I tried to find some source of inspiration to lift me up rather than dwelling on the things which bring me down. In my endeavor, I found some great photos that made me feel like there is hope and that everything will be okay. This was a much better alternative to being sad about my life, which I cannot change. The messages I got from each of these photos vary, but regardless, they were all things I needed to hear.

breathe in.
you can do this.
breathe out.
you are strong.
wipe the tears.
you can't give up.
stand up.
you are worth it.

Familiar Feelings, Old Habits

Monday, July 23, 2012

Three days ago, my whole family (cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents, siblings) made a shopping trip to the Grapevine mall here in Texas. I was so excited, there's a huge Forever 21 in that mall and I was ready to shop 'til I dropped. My cousins and I went into the store and grabbed basically everything in our sizes and rushed to the dressing rooms. The girl working in the dressing rooms was a short, skinny African American girl. She had SO much spunk, and she was so sweet to my cousins and me. She showed us to rooms and there was a cricket in one of them. She grimaced, apologized and led us to different rooms. I laughed, as I was reminded that Texas is infested with bugs everywhere- even in the malls.

I tried on a few things that were really cute. I went out to the store again and got some pants and shirts that I could possibly buy for my upcoming audition on Saturday. This audition is really important to me, I've been dreaming of this since I can remember. I've always imagined me auditioning looking absolutely beautiful with the cutest clothes, perfect hair, top notch make up. But as I tried on those clothes, I looked in the mirror and I didn't see that. I didn't see any of it.

I didn't panic quite yet. I went out to the store, yet again, and got the dress my mom wanted me to try on. It was something I would wear all the time. Knee length in the front and floor length in the back. It was yellow, red, orange, and brown tones which usually make my skin stand out really well. I was optimistic. I was going to look beautiful. That's what I'd always imagined and I wasn't going to settle for anything less than absolutely stunning.

I put the dress on and walked out into the dressing room. I looked to the right of me. Down the runway-like hall was a big mirror. I didn't like it. I realized that I didn't want to see any part of me at that moment. So I looked to my left. Down that side of the hallway was of course another mirror. I looked back at my dressing room, hesitating to go back in and face that mirror for even one second as I undressed. The short African American girl working the dressing rooms looked at me for a moment, we made eye contact. Tears welled up in my dark brown eyes. As soon as it registered that we were making direct eye contact, I moved my eyes as quickly as I could- to the ground of course. I like my feet, and they're really the only things I have complete confidence in. They're not fat or stubby or weird. They're just feet, and I can honestly say my feet do not bother me. So I watched my two little feet walk themselves back into my dressing room. I looked into the mirror I was standing 2 feet from, and again I turned my eyes back to my feet. My vision started to blur, but cleared up again as I watched tears fall to my toes.

At this moment, I was becoming what I used to be. The want to perform old habits was coming back. I wanted so badly to get rid of this feeling of vulnerability and worthlessness. I felt like that cricket in the dressing room down the hall. Nobody wanted that cricket around- it was just a big, brown bug that didn't have any purpose at all. There was no sense of beauty in that cricket. It was bland, nothing special. In fact, it was far from special. It meant nothing to anybody. If anything, people wanted it dead.

I took the dress off and put my normal clothes on. I didn't like looking at the Aly in her own clothes, either. I turned away from the mirror, put my head in my hands and rested them on the door. It took every fiber in my being not to make any noise as I sobbed in that dressing room. A loud knock on the other side of the door made me jump. "Hey girly, you let me know if you need me to grab you anything!" It was the girl working the dressing rooms. "Thanks." I said, forcing bubbly happiness through my voice. After what seemed like the longest 10 minutes of my life, I finally managed to hold in my tears. I circled the small dressing room a number of times, talking myself through how I was going to stop crying. I felt my tears on the wood floor beneath my feet. I wiped the mascara from under my eyes and smacked my face a couple of times. I walked out of the dressing room pretending to yawn, just so there would be an obvious reason that my eyes were still a little bit watery.

I set my items on the table for the girl to fold and put back out in stock. That short, little Forever 21 employee said, "None of those worked for ya?" "Nope," I said forcing a smile, trying to be as perky as possible. She must have seen my jaw quivering. I blinked just in time to save a tear from welling up in my right eye. I looked down at my feet, then at her, and she winked at me. "You're beautiful, honey, and don't let anything make you think different." she said. Then she walked away and left me standing there, in the middle of a Forever 21 in Dallas, Texas, emotions running wild.

I've always been the girl that younger girls go to for advice. I've always been the one telling girls that beauty is inside, beauty is imperfection, beauty cannot be bottled or captured in a still photo. So why am I always the one avoiding looking at mirrors, but grabbing at every inch of fat every time I do? I'm so good at helping other girls, but for some reason I cannot take my own advice.

Maybe this is just aimless bogging. There's really no point to anyone reading this, no one can go back and change that moment or how I ]feel. But I do think it's important to share how thankful I am for people who have the remarkable ability to see through plastered emotions of complete strangers. That girl who I have never associated with in my life, and most likely never again will, had the confidence and kindness to tell me that I was beautiful. She had the ability to make me feel like someone cared for that split second. I'm so grateful for people who see beauty in the way I blog about, the way I think it should be seen, and not for the way I can't help but see it in myself.

I guess it's a lot easier to advise others than to take your own advice. That's something I should start working on, because that feeling of vulnerability I felt in that dressing room was painful. And even though my tears only lasted 10 minutes, it felt like decades that I hid in that unfamiliar room on my own.

Girls, I am going to take this stranger's act as an example, and so should all of you. You never know what people are enduring behind closed doors. Encourage people, tell them they are beautiful, tell them they are worth it. Because they are, and YOU are.

Reality is the Villain

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The sun went down quite some time ago.
It's closer now to the upcoming sunrise than it is to the previous sunset.
1:13... 1:14... 1:15
The wheels in my head are turning.
Time keeps passing.
My eyelids keep dropping, then opening fast.
Flashbacks, questions, yearning for answers; they're keeping my brain alert.
Like a mouse tiptoeing around a trap, I'm on edge.
1:23... 1:24... 1:25
Time is passing so fast but so slow.
God only knows what number the clock will show when I finally give up.
These late nights are lonely.
It's nothing but me and my thoughts.
Sometimes my thoughts are great company.
But most times, like this time, they aren't.
Reality is the villain.
The villain doesn't sleep.
And when the villain really hits me, neither do I.
1:29... 1:30... 1:31
The villain gets worse as the clock ticks on.
It does not stop.
It hits me like a load of bricks.
From one thought to another, to another, to another.
It's like going from a beautiful trail full of lush green and glossy pebbles, slowly turning into one of dead trees and leaves crunching on cracked, stone rubble.
The time only worsens where I stand.

Hey Y'all, I'm Home!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Today has been one of the greatest days I can think of to date. It all started when my mom opened the door to my dark bedroom, letting the light from the hallway seep in and cover my eyes. 5 a.m. Kill me. I got up and stumbled around for what was probably 5 minutes, AT LEAST, trying to figure out what I needed to do to be ready to go to the airport. I got my swimsuits, toothbrush, carry on bag, all the last minute things I needed. I kissed my pillow pet goodbye, I couldn't fit him in any of my bags and it ripped me apart to leave Lionel behind for such an amazing trip. But somewhere, between singing along to country music on the way to the airport and landing in Dallas, I became okay with leaving Lionel home alone for two weeks.

Texas is probably one of the happiest places on earth... Well, to me. The earliest memory I have in life is eating too many cheetos and throwing up on the tile floor in our ghetto little appartment in Austin, Texas. Austin, about 3 hours from Dallas, is where my favorite memories originate. They're so vivid, like it all happened just yesterday. Those memories in the lone star state are the earliest ones I have. My mom, dad, and I would climb into our Rodeo and drive 3 hours to Dallas to visit Grammy and Pop Pop. Everything about their house gives me the most distinct feelings of naustalgia. The anticipation of being on Stacy Road; just OH so close to Grammy's, but at the same time so far, the sound of the different bugs in the trees, the feel of the pebbled ground beneath my little feet, the smell of chlorine and spaghetti Pop Pop always made for dinner, the wind chimes "ding"ing and the beautiful birds chirping. This place was home to me, and I don't think that's ever really changed.

When I stepped foot out of the airport in Fort Worth, I KNEW this was the place I called home. The humidity hit me like a ton of bricks; I could practically feel my hair curling itself. It was like someone shrunk me and threw me into a humidifier. My Pop Pop hugged me and I smelled the fruity Extra gum in his breath. His New Jersey accent kept me company on our car ride back to the house. Pulling up to the driveway was like a dream. I stuck my head out the window and screamed, "Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness!" We pulled into the garage to see my Grammy standing by the door waiting, holding a sign that said, "Welcome back! We missed y'all!" Her embrace was so warm, or maybe it was the humid heat, but NO DOUBT something about that hug felt special. The house still smelled and felt the same. I walked around and noticed that they had taken the awful wallpaper down, thank heavens, and replaced it with a beige paint. The pool still looked and smelled the same, the pebbles still felt the same on my (still very litle) feet, the hot tub was still just as cold as the pool. I took my things to my room, layed on the bed, appreciating the low temperature of the bed sheets, and took it all in. That feeling I had was... well, it was home.

In my dreams, yes, I grew up riding horses and wearing torn up blue jeans and cowgirl boots all my life. But I haven't. I grew up in Alpine, Utah, where if you don't have a flat screen, you're basically Amish. Texas is not where my house is, but the feeling I have here isn't a feeling I've had anywhere else. You see, to me, home isn't just a physical place. It's a mental state; a feeling. It's the feeling when I'm on the hammock reading a good book, it's eating crepes in the morning on the diving board, it's finding lizards in your bed in the middle of the night.

No, I haven't grown up here in Texas. But this flat terrained country town is MY town. It's where I call home. Not because it's what's on my license plate, but because it's the first place that ever stole my heart.

It's A Beautiful Thing

Monday, July 9, 2012

I've had a really big change in perspective in the past couple of weeks. Do y'all wanna know something?

Life is absolutely beautiful.

I'm not exactly sure what it is that's given me this crazy epiphany. I didn't really have a life changing experience or anything absolutely crazy. I just stepped back and looked on my life and where I was headed. I didn't like who I could potentially become down the road, so I've made some changes.  I've found joy in the simplest things lately. The things that have been around me this whole time, but I never really cared to appreciate.

My sister's toothless smile.
My mom's crazy, spunky, teenage girl attitude.
My dad's ridiculously funny comments and jokes.
My brother and I's basketball conversations.
The way the sun sets by the lake.
Random phone calls from my best friend/cousin.
The smell and sound of the rain we finally got last week.
Those special stars that shine brighter than the others.
Staying up late writing poetry.
Sitting at the piano and losing track of time.
The little boy at church who smiles at me.
Kissing in the sprinklers.
A boy that makes me happy.

The list could go on and on forever. The past couple of months were difficult and definitely were a testing time for me, but I know that it's time for me to turn the page and move on. I'll never forget the lessons I learned throughout this year so far, but I need to stop dwelling in the things, the people I lost and look at the things I still have; even things I've gained.

Because I know with all my heart and soul that God would never take something away from me without giving me something even better.

Memories Fade

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Funny how people forget things.
Things they used to care about.
Events that used to happen daily.
People they used to love.
Funny how such a big part of someone's life can just fade.
Like it never meant anything.
Like it was all just a waste.
Something that won't be looked back on ever again.

Was it a waste?
Tell me, did you forget?
Or is it something you choose not to look back on?
In a way, that would be worse.
Knowing that you remember everything.
But you CHOSE to let it go.

It's time for me to let go.
Not just for a couple of weeks while I try to move on.
No. No. No. No. NO.
I'm putting you at the bottom of my priority list.
I'm really doing it this time.
For once in my life.
Because despite the fun times, the good talks.
You just don't deserve me right now.
And I don't deserve this right now.

So please don't pretend to care once I let go.
Because you don't.
And honestly, I don't.
It's you that makes me think I do.
Because you make me think YOU do.
It's a game.
Such a hopeless game.
A hopeless game that, frankly, I'm done playing. 

Now I hope you enjoyed having me on a leash for so long.
Cause I'm free now.
I am free of your grip.
I am free of your spell.
I am done.
The memories are being shoved aside.
Not by chance, but by choice.
My choice.