where i've been

It wasn't a hard year but it's been a hard couple of months and sometimes when it's hard you forget all the times that came before, when all the world was light and love and everyone around you was the people you wanted, arms open.

I found out a few days ago an old friend I haven't talked to in years is dying and I could say all the things you are supposed to say about it: remember to be grateful, remember how lucky you are, remember what it is to be alive and healthy on the corner of sixty-fifth and second thinking about the grocery store on the way home from your new temp job and whether you will go there for dinner or take the train an extra stop on the way home and walk the three blocks back to your apartment from the grocery store you know best. But I don't actually know what to say. I don't want my friend to die and she shouldn't and nobody should, that I love, nobody should that anybody loves, until it's their time. Whatever that means. Until they had all the chances they needed to live the life that they wanted. Just writing that feels stupid.

I've been lucky; death has not been around much, in my living, and so all of this is new to me. Facebook posts saying goodbye to her sandwiched between buzzfeed kitten listicles. It's been a long time since someone I love has left me behind. The last two days I've gone to work at my new temp job, a job I am hoping half-heartedly will become a real job, because it's been ten years since I went to the doctor, since I knew for sure I'd have the rent this month and next month and the month after that, and I'm tired, and I'm not as young as I used to be, but also: the overhead lights in those places, the way they suck the life from your skin, the way you put on clothes you wouldn't wear every morning, to pretend you are someone you're not, fooling no one. I couldn't tell anyone at my temp job that my friend was dying so I went into the bathroom at fifteen-minute intervals and locked myself in a stall and cried instead, and hoped no one noticed that the wacky temp was disintegrating visibly at her post, despite liberal applications of the forty-dollar concealer she drunk-dialed off Sephora a couple of weeks previous. We just keep going, I guess. It's easier when everyone else pretends you're okay.

Usually in December I try to be virtuous, try to practice all the good choices I am planning for the year ahead, but this month I am letting myself get through it. In the little windows of free time I have it's all whiskey and binge-watched episodes of the Vampire Diaries and I'm just gonna keep my head above water and remind myself that sometimes surviving is enough. Sometimes that's all you can manage; being human is messy and not everyone is good at doing yoga all the time. You are stronger than this is hard is a thing I learned to say this year, to other people, and this month I am going to say it to myself. We get through it because it's the best choice to make, and because we remember that some months the light is clear and cold and lovely and the corner of sixty-fifth and second reminds us of the glory of being home in the world, in our bodies, surrounded by love; because sometimes tomorrow is as hard as today but sometimes tomorrow is a gift, and we never know until we get there which one it's going to be.