14 Things Independent Women in Their Early 20s Shouldn’t be Ashamed of

All the ladies, who are independent, throw your hands up at me! (I know, it’s most likely in frustration.) But really, it’s getting ridiculous, right? Ladies, we are ALLOWED to be headstrong, audacious, and unapologetic when it comes to what we want. Having control over our lives is essential to our sanity and well-being. As is Nutella and late night wine rants.

And if you’re reading this, you have most likely said ‘I’m sorry’ to placate Those That Judge after asserting some form of independence or have bitten your tongue when someone made a horrendous remark regarding bitchy women. It’s usually along the lines of ‘she just doesn’t get how to be a lady’ or ‘why can’t she just wear a nice dress and make-up to my parent’s house?’

I’m here to tell you, that if ever there was a time to salute your middle finger, it’s now, because it’s okay to bend society’s standards and shatter the pressures on the young women of our generation. It’s OKAY to abandon the paradox of being approachable, yet flawless; a guy’s girl, yet the epitome of classy; a shameless beer guzzler, yet devoted drunk babysitter. (We can’t all be JLaw.)

And we can’t win, so we’ve stopped playing the game. And that’s something to be ashamed of. So pick up your pawn, and starting knocking over the opponents. Embrace your inner fire of intimidation and keep burning through life. Ignore your haters; bear hug those who are smart enough to love and support you.

And whatever you do, never cower in shame when practicing the following:

  1. Not Owning Enough Bras- We are never going to own enough bras because ONE SINGLE BRAZZIERE costs more than our entire coffee allowance for the month. So, go on with your bad self, and wear that bra a third (or fourth) day in a row. And spend your hard earned cash on a good delicates bag to throw in the wash. Oh, and always a cup o’ Joe. “I’ll have a quad venti latte, please!”
  2. Going Out With Friends Instead of Doing Laundry- I can’t tell you how many bonding experiences I almost missed because ‘I needed to do a quick load of laundry and fiddle around in my house pretending to get chores done.’ You can clean the coffee maker when you’re dead and stuck haunting your roommate for leaving your dirty dishes in front of your bedroom door. Go have that drink, shake your bum, and throw a few skirts and tops in the wash on your way out!
  3. Doing Laundry Instead of Going out with Friends- If you’re an independent woman with a streak of OCD, OWN THAT FLAWLESSNESS. Secretly, we all wish we were as neat as you. If you know the only thing you’ll see at the bottom of your empty beer mug is the pile of laundry waiting for you at home, sit this one out. Sometimes there really are no clean clothes left. And sometimes, it’s Sunday and that has been your laundry day since middle school. We understand. And we love you for it. I’ll bring a bag of chocolates by and we’ll catch up on your day off.
  4. Spending Time Alone Watching TV- Sometimes, we find ourselves alone on the couch with zero missed calls or unanswered texts, and we’re left to entertain ourselves. Or, sometimes, we’re the ONLY PERSON in our friend group watching Grey’s Anatomy and no one will binge watch it with us. And that’s okay. Being comfortable with yourself in your froggie bathrobe and a midnight treat is important. Plus, no one will talk through your favorite parts or judge you for eating that entire jar of pickles.
  5. Not Saving Money- Let’s face it: between the ages of 20 and 25, saving money is next to impossible. Living is expensive. It doesn’t have to be a permanent arrangement, but neglecting your savings account for a few years will not end you or make you a bad person. It makes you human. Besides, who has enough income for a savings account when we owe on student loans (or hospital bills, or credit card accounts) AND we work entry level jobs?
  6. Bouncing Between Friend Groups- This week, Bethany is my girl. We’ll go the latest art exhibit, argue about politics, and sip on pretentious wine at a downtown bistro. Next week, I’ll be engrossed in some television show with Shannon and we won’t leave her bedroom unless it’s to go to work or refill the cheez-its bowl. Why choose? Why set limits? True, your life could naturally settle down around a few choice friends, but it’s okay to not be there yet (or ever). It’s okay to explore your options just a little longer (or forever).
  7. Experimentation- So you’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to smoke a cigarette, or ride on the back of a motorcycle, or to have sex with a girl and if you like it (trust me, it’s stupendous). SO WHAT? Eighty years ago, women wanted to know what it was like to not wear a bra. Own your choices, and whether or not you liked what you tried on, know that you at least gave it a shot. Now you know how much a cigarette can choke you.
  8. Cutting People out of Your Life- It’s not bitchy to say, ‘We just can’t be friends because your attitude and behavior bring me down.’ It’s not even bitchy to stop answering someone’s phone calls because they can’t seem to keep up with you. That’s life. Not everyone can be around us. Not everyone has something to offer us. If they get in the way of your life, ask them to move. If they don’t, cut them out.
  9. Having More Than One Job- Independent women like nothing more than to be able to take care of themselves. And if it takes two jobs to do that, we will. We’re told it’s okay to accept help, but no one ever tells us that it’s also okay to try doing things on our own. I work two jobs so I can pay the electricity bill AND afford beer on Friday nights. It isn’t a crime, and I like it better than having to call Mom for a spare 100 bucks every month. If that’s you, too, it’s more than okay. Hard work and persistence teach us things calling home for money won’t.
  10. Living at Home- Sometimes, living is too expensive. Sometimes there are circumstances preventing us from being our full, independent selves. Sharing a bathroom with Grams again might teach you a thing or two about patience. Helping your siblings with high school homework might keep your brain in tip top shape. Fighting with your mom about the amount of coffee mugs in your room at any given time will force you to realize what a slob you are. Also, think of all that cash your saving!
  11. Living with Friends- When I moved out, I was scared shitless. But I came to a realization over the summer: I’m completely okay with what a slob I am. I also want to be able to shower in the morning without three people banging on the door, yelling at me to hurry up. So, I moved out. I grumble about bills every month, but I have people over whenever I want, I decide when to clean my room, and I always have a built-in wingman (thanks, roomie!).
  12. Being in a Serious Relationship- “But, can you even drink at your wedding?” The answer is yes, bitch, yes I can. And there will probably be a pre-game champagne drink-off in the bride’s dressing room. Independent women are catches. Sometimes guys or gals catch us before adulthood does. And honestly, if I found my true love right now I’d rejoice knowing I’d have someone to face the next few years of young twenty-hood with.
  13. Being Single- On the flip side, it’s also okay to fly solo and figure out life for yourself. I have learned more about insane asylums (late night insomnia), stage managing, and cooking than I probably would have had I a significant other. And if I wasn’t a catch before, I’m certainly one now, one who makes a mean chicken parmesan.
  14. Not Being in College- I saved this for last, because it’s the easiest thing for me to be ashamed of. Yes, it’s hard watching my friends graduate, and yes it’s hard to deal with the family judgment I often get, but it’s not nearly as hard as moving through the motions of getting a degree I don’t want. It’s more than okay to carve out a different life path than your peers. If college isn’t for you right now, that doesn’t mean it won’t be there when you’re ready for it again. Some people take more than six years to get their degree. Some of us women decide a degree isn’t for us at all. Some of us go to beauty school and live for doing hair and make-up. Some of us will join the Peace Corps and save third world countries. Follow your passions, the rest shall follow. It might be hard at times, going against the grain, but if you’re truly an independent woman, you’ll persevere. AND WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE, THAT’S OKAY.


There are not enough people telling the truth these days, so here I am. I want people to read this and take something away from my life. I want a sexual assault survivor to read this and find comfort. I want my generation to read this and realize how mean we are to each other. I want straight white men to read this and actually take my thoughts into consideration. Mostly, I want to come back and read this, ten years from now, and acknowledge the naked truth of my college aged years, and smile because I am changed.

This is going to be shameless, this is going to offend people, and if you know me and read this, you might not like what I have to say about you. But my middle finger is poised and I’m not backing down.

Let’s lay out some facts: I am a sexual assault survivor, an incest survivor, an emotional abuse survivor, a lesbian, and a woman. Given America’s track record with all of the aforementioned identities, my life should completely blow. After all, America, you keep telling me to ‘get over it’ or ‘just take pills until your eyes glaze over with apathy’ or ‘it was your fault for being slutty’ or ‘you’re an abomination for loving another woman’ or ‘get back to your desk and sort my mail, W-O-M-A-N.’

I haven’t had my eyebrows waxed in months; I quit shaving my armpits for two weeks because I liked the feel of hair better than I liked the feel of razor burn. I shaved them Sunday because I wanted to wear a sleeveless dress to church and I like the way I look when they’re shaved sometimes. I change my mind at least 784,651 times a day. I will always drink coffee and red wine. And I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE ANYMORE FOR NOT BEING BEAUTIFUL ENOUGH, NICE ENOUGH, SANE ENOUGH OR SMART ENOUGH FOR YOU.

If you don’t like who I am, that I wear a size 8 in blazers but a 10 in pants, that I would almost always prefer a dog’s company than yours, and that my teeth will always be crooked, then don’t associate with me. I’m fine with that. I’m fine with me, just the way I was born, just the way I’ll stay.

So, to shut your pondering up, my life does not blow.

I have severe PTSD and it gets worse with each step I take into denial and suppression. BUT, I have friends and family who don’t let me take too many steps before pulling me back out and shoving me into the direction of therapy and action plans.

I lost half of my family because they can’t believe that a father would rape his daughter. I lost them to fear and guilt and denial so opaque that it completely covered up what really happened, and that it’s become their truth, their reality. BUT I have gained about 15 beautiful people and like pounds around my waist, they latch on and hold me near.

I cannot trust humankind the way I once used to. A part of me will always question the authority of the word ‘NO.’ After all, what good did that word do when my father pressed himself into my temple, the body and soul he promised to protect and love unconditionally? BUT time has been on my side and the longer people stay in my life, the easier it gets to trust them fully. I have been blessed with angels who are patient when I have lunatic freak outs and who have a deep, endless understanding of me.

There are days I wish I was strong-willed enough to just end it. But dying scares me more than living does, and it may not seem like it, but sometimes that’s enough of a reason to smile, a triumph in and of itself. There are moments when I wish for some sort of physical pain to distract me from the weeping emotional wounds of being ripped apart and neglected. And it’s enough, sometimes, to throw a Band-Aid over the gushing slit and say, ‘I will stitch it up tomorrow because today it hurts too badly.’

Sometimes, I look in the mirror and see a goddess. I’m wearing loyalty and love like a choker and I adore the way I look when I smile like I mean it. Other days, I see a blob of uncertainty and sadness, a goop of unmalleable material slumped in a frumpy coat with too much lint on it. But every day, I make the decision to face the world.

I called in sick once in the six months I’ve been at this job to take a mental health day.

I took a half morning off to get my ears drained after a nasty bout of sinusitis.

I have been more than five minutes late twice, less than five minutes, seven times.

That is not the model for a superb employee, but given the many days, afternoons, and mornings my coworkers have taken off, I’m doing pretty well. And if I’m being honest (which started this whole project), I have wanted to call in sick every day, after the novelty of having a ‘big girl job’ wore off by week two.

In high school, I was fairly meek and weak. I switched schools to sing and act, and when I got to college, I took my performance abilities to the Stage of Life. I befriended a bunch of gays (God bless every single one of them), and threw shade to get back at everyone who had covered me with their own leafy twigs of gossip. I developed a habit of passive aggressive, competitive tendencies and lashed out at the people I loved the most. Bad habits have a way of sticking around.

Two weeks ago, one of the strongest women I have ever met (and since we’re still being honest, the love of my life) sat me down, told me my words were cruel, sobbed her way even further into my heart, and begged me with her mouth and eyes not to say things like “you abandoned me and somebody else thinks so, too” especially when it’s not true.

She is most definitely in the right.

I have had my come to Jesus moment. I sat on her bed, stared at stinging words in the heavy air, words I couldn’t take back, words that had only intensified in cruelness. I was face to face with a terrible defense mechanism I developed to keep people at a safe distance, and for the first time I really saw what words to do people.

What ‘no’ should have meant to my father.

What ‘you’re fat and ugly and crazy’ did to me the first 18 years of my life.

I had a realization that day: I was a self-pitying, raging hypocrite. Here I am, plodding through life, yelling things at people like, ‘don’t hurt me!’ and ‘love me unconditionally!’ and ‘I love you back!’

But my actions did not match my words. I wasn’t holding people accountable for their actions, but more importantly, I wasn’t holding myself accountable, either. I was, as I take a sharp breath, being pathetic.

I got all of my dirty tricks from the culture of modern society. It comes from a place of growing insolence and total apathy toward the human race. We tell each other to get lost two days after proclaiming undying love, we jokingly say ‘I’m so fat’ to our girlfriends while secretly hoping they’re the ones who will gain five pounds this year, not us. We get jealous over stupid things like financial success and who has better hair. We focus so much on what we don’t have, what we want to have one day, what we had in the past. What about right now?

I should get off my pedestal now and say, that I am guilty of every single one of these things. I stopped answering a friend’s calls completely because I ‘couldn’t deal with her anymore.’ Truth? I hated being friends with someone who was better at being human than me. It scared me how solid our relationship was, how whole and uncomplicated our time was together. And I self-sabotaged, because some sick part of me feeds on drama and complicated relationships. Yes, you heard that right. I stopped answering her calls because I was bored and unwilling to admit how screwed up I can be.

Playing the victim card helped me feel less guilty for a while. How can I possibly repair a relationship while I was dealing with the aftermath of rape and grief? It became my mantra: “I can’t because I was raped.” I wore my tragedy like lipstick, kissed everyone with it, and got offended if other people didn’t want to be coated in red, too.

I blamed everyone but myself, and never learned my lesson.

Until two weeks ago.

And it’s been nagging at me because I have made so many poor decisions in the year following my rape. I slept with people just to say I had or because they felt safe, or because settling is better than having nothing at all. I crushed people with showering affection one day and complete silence the next. I led people on because I liked the attention, and the desperation of fear, fear of not finding love, fear of finding it and losing it, fear of living in general, became the fuel for my addiction. I craved a warm body to hold me, a flattering mouth to quiet my demons, and a hand to make circles on my back when I cried.

In keeping with my pledge of honesty, I can’t say I’m a completely different person than I was two weeks ago.

But I’m more aware, and more willing than ever to turn things around. I have this new hope coated in light and simple purity, bathing my skin with love, egging on my newfound purpose.

I want to let go of the negativity, the endless worrying, the psychoanalyzing, the obsession with getting love in all the wrong places.

I want to lounge around with my friends and watch copious amounts of television without feeling any anxiety.

I want to get up and notice first how beautiful the sunrise is and second how much I miss my family.

I hope, more than anything that my words affect someone. I hope my words challenge another young woman to take a closer look at her interpersonal relationships and self-treatment.

If I’m being honest, though, I mostly just hope that writing this provides a sense of relief and clarity for my muddled mind.

Sarah’s Falling: Part 3 of 4

I’m packed. The emergency bag is equipped with my favorite cardigan, my biggest nightgown, and my knitting needles. I decide to use the hospital’s toothpaste and toothbrush. And there’s no need to pack a comb. I am going to look like shit, and unknotted hair won’t change that. Mom disagrees with me entirely.

The stars are hiding tonight. Overcast clouds threaten to spill over. Gussy is taking a quick leak on the bed of pine straw that’s been there since we moved in. My legs reject the offer to climb the ladder, refuse to lift my feet off the spongy grass. The tea I’m making will put me into a deep sleep.

Everything, thanks to Mom, now has a resting place in my house. If I were to die tomorrow, the police would think a perfectly functioning working-class woman lived here quietly and simply.

In the dining room hangs a gaudy mirror she purchased at the one and only decent thrift store downtown. My reflection looks like a ghost with a balloon attached to its body. I’m a shade away from being a skin-shed version of myself with frizzy hair and hormonal pimples.

I’m sorry, I whisper, I’m sorry I can’t do this one thing for you, fulfill your most important wish. But doing it without you is heartbreaking. I deserve a second chance at life with someone who doesn’t dare lie to me and then die on me.

“It’s pretty, isn’t it? The man who sold it to me was telling me that the old lady who dropped it off also sold him a print of one of Monet’s earliest works. But I didn’t think it was quite your style.”

“Style evolves, Mom. I could have an obsession with Impressionism that you don’t know about because you live three states away. I could have fallen in love with Monet’s work in my sophomore Art History class. But you wouldn’t know that, either, because you would rather bake a cake for strangers, or repaint the dining room, or pick out the colors for your door wreath than listen to anything anyone who actually cares about you says.”

I am being difficult, crazy even. I’m feeling things I don’t want to think about. I need to close Pandora’s Box for the night. I’m not the kind of person who cries into a box of Girl Scout cookies for three days watching infomercials and then picks her chin up off the floor. I’m stubborn. I will cheer up when he is returned to his side of the loveseat and she is nonexistent. The gods be damned.

“Goodnight Mom. Thank you for the mirror. I actually do hate Impressionism. Monet sucked.”


When I met her for the first time, I was still glowing. The blood in my husband’s hand was lukewarm, or at least I believed he had a fighting chance. The shock of sudden tragedy covered my head like a veil, emitting a false cheerfulness fueled by naïve hope.

I rearranged the magazines on every side table three times. I was the only one in the waiting room. Even the nurse disappeared from her station.

When she walked up to the counter, I could tell she was exasperated, tired from something, and ticked that no one was at the counter to help her immediately. I hated people like that, but she looked distraught and this was a hospital waiting room where people were told whether or not their loved ones made it, so I forgave her impatience.

She wandered around the stiff chairs and generic, square end tables, disheveling one of my magazine stacks, and pretended to be interested in a local wall mural, probably done by kid cancer patients.

When the nurse returned, she scurried up to the counter, her squat legs and permed hair sticking out of her frumpy frame, uninviting. “I need to see my husband and quite frankly, I’m unimpressed with the running of this hospital. Especially in this waiting room. I mean there should be a nurse sitting at this desk every-“

“What’s his name, ma’am?”


“Last name?”

“Jesus, how many Timothys come through this podunk town anyways?”

“I need a last name, please.”


I dropped the three Better Homes and Gardens I had in my hand. The pages splashed to the floor and both of them looked at me. Not my Tim. Not the man who rescued me from a bus stop long after the bus stopped making rounds. The gentle soul who treated me to a latte, swooned at the sight of me in my underwear, blushed when I said ‘I love you’ for the first time. The man who liked nothing more than to be seduced and reduced to sexual matter, though the slightest hint of it at dinner brought on a bout of red cheeks and fidgeting.

“I’m sorry, you must be mistaken. Timothy was accompanied here by his wife.” And the nurse’s finger was pointing at me, an uncomfortable accusation judging by Squat Woman’s facial expression.

Our first eye contact was menacing, and although I was no stranger to a stare down, I broke the gaze, counted the ceiling tiles between us: 17.

She rolled her eyes with exasperation, dismissed the validity of my existence in Tim’s life.

And I backed away from her, looking at the woman Tim left years ago to be with me and felt a tinge of incompetency. I was pretty, I was healthy, I was sane. But she was strong, filled with fierce dedication to Tim and loathing for me.

Everything he ever said about his wife came back to me.

“She’s delusional. I can’t get through to her that the divorce was final two years ago.”

“She won’t stop crying. Our dog we bought together passed away this morning.”

“Her car got a flat, and she didn’t know who else to call.”

“She’s having a fit again, asking when I’m going to come home.”

We collectively agreed that he should take pity on her. I loved him enough to deal with a crazy ex almost every day. And that was that.

Hours passed with no sound other than light jazz and the tick of the clock hanging above the nurses’ station. The wily haired ex sat slumped in a chair near the entrance, her tired old body threatening to fall into deep sleep.

And then I saw a flash of him behind the swinging doors, watched as he emerged, glided over to me with swift surgeon movements. The blue suited doctor who wheeled him to the operating room, the man who I was going to name my savior, the bearer of miracles.

“Mrs. Kidd-”

“That would be me.” It came from a few paces back, her short legs trying to waddle their way into our conversation.

Blue Suit looked back to me. “She’s his ex-wife. But she can listen if she-”

“So that’s what he told you?” I felt the sharp jolt of venom. I found the missing puzzle piece, the patch for our gaping hole.

In that one breath, the universe hovered over my life and defecated on every moment I clung to so tightly. Timothy was pronounced dead. The other Mrs. Kidd was pronounced beneficiary of his estate I didn’t know about. And me, as my knees buckled and I felt my weight shift to the cold tiles, was pronounced pregnant, widowed, and duped.

10 Things I Love About You

trending thoughts: #itried #onedayillfigureitout #goodbyemylove

It’s so easy to write someone off and convince yourself that they’re terrible, nasty people just because they don’t fall in love with you. But she’s not awful or mean to me. She’s wonderful. And I am choosing to let go of these emotions with a list of things I loved and cherished about her.

10. Beauty. I put this at number 10, not because your physical beauty is (in my opinion) unparalleled, but because aesthetics was such a small part of what drew me to you. There are so many other things I cherish that come from within.

9. TV commentary. There is nothing better than listening to your thoughts about whatever show we were watching. You are so observant and intuitive. You let people’s words and actions, even fictional, affect you. Even at 34, you let yourself experience vulnerability. It’s refreshing.

8. Your hands. They are always busy doing something. You aren’t one to stay idle for long, even in slumber. Your ability to do and keep doing is astounding. You are an extremely efficient person.

7. Your laugh. You sound like you mean it, like you don’t give a fuck who hears it. It’s so full and genuine. You let yourself experience things like comedy without over analyzing it. It’s incredible how in the moment you are sometimes.

6. Your spontaneity. One night you want to watch TV and eat unimaginable amounts of food, and the next, you want to wear my push up bra and catch a show at NBT. I loved it. I love that you know what you want and you do it, or do everything you can to get to it.

5. Your love for the girls. Those pups grabbed ahold of a fairly large part of my heart. And my favorite moments with you involved your heavenly bed and the dogs. You watch over them, love them, spoil them. I never saw a more gentle look in your eye than when you look at Sookie and Chloe.

4. Your altruism. You gave me things even when I had nothing to give back in return. You still give me things. I’m truly blown away at how well you’ve treated me. I love you so much for that. And I love you even more for not resenting me. I was so afraid of that. But you just keep on giving. And you just keep on sharing the love.

3. Your openness. I could have had twelve toes and two articles of clothing to my name and you would have still talked to me. You look at someone and see a human being. You give everyone a chance. You never once judged me for being too emotional, too lazy, to messy.

2. Your honesty. If you think I’m being bitchy, you tell me. If I’m depressed, you call me on it. If I hurt your feelings, you tell me. If I look pretty, you tell me. If I do well in show, you congratulate me.

1. Your intelligence. Hands down, this is what drew me to you in the first place. I could listen, for days, to you. Everything you know, everything you choose to talk about is relevant and interesting. I simply adore it. I simply adore you.

You mean a lot to me. And we shall always be friends. But it’s time for me to say good bye to my daydreams. I need to open myself up to other people, now. Other people who have the ability to fall in love with me back.


Sarah’s Falling: Part 2 of 4

“When do you come home this time?”

“I have to go, Sarah. For business.”

“Why can’t I come with you? Why do you go every fucking weekend? Why doesn’t your paycheck have an extra zero from all this overtime? Nothing adds up, Tim.”

“Well, math never was your thing, if I’m remembering your college algebra grade correctly.” His hands were shimmying their way up my torso.

“Stop flirting with me.” And the anger evaporated, turned to steam from our hot and sweaty passion. Neatness eluded us. We would come to after a fit of dizzy love and realize our clothes trailed the hallway, a lampshade sat askew, the milk in the kitchen left out. I loved him enough to waste dairy and overlook his weekend absence, the one gaping hole in our life: ignored and hanging in the corner.


“Have you finally bought a mattress? You know that flimsy air one you sleep on isn’t good for your back, especially now.”

“I sent you a package with those candle warmer nuggets you used to go on about. Did you like the scents? I tried to pick out the softer ones. I didn’t want you to get nauseated.”

“Arthur’s graduation went okay. It rained all day, but it was a nice vacation for us. Your father really does need to get out of the office more often. We missed you at the party, but Arthur said he would bring by a piece of cookie cake and the rest of the chicken casserole. Do you think I put too much pepper in this one?”

“Sarah, I read an article about grief and how constant communication with family members is crucial. Please call if you need to talk about anything, alright? I’m… I’m just worried about you is all.”

“Gosh Sarah, I really, just, don’t know what else to do. I mean if it weren’t for your boss sending me updates, I wouldn’t even know you’re alive. You don’t go on Facebook, you don’t call, don’t text. Are you eating? Well, anyway, Dad really wants us to come up there. We want to be there for you during the transition. It’s bound to be hard on you, dear.”

“I just wanted to let you know our flight is coming in August first. You don’t need to worry about picking us up, Dad’s renting a car. He wants to take a day trip to see his cousin at the beach. But anyways, we’ll be there around seven thirty. Will you be home? Should we look for a key? Just let us know what you want us to do, okay? We don’t want to be a bother. See you soon.”
And always, without fail,

“I love you sweetheart. Praying for both of you.”

I fucking hate my family. Not because they ever did anything bad. Mom always made the right foods, cleaned the right way, decorated the house with the right designs, said the right things to guests at executive dinner parties, treated Dad right, treated me right, treated Arthur right. Right, right, right, right. WRONG.

I crave off-the-rocker parents. The ones who collect albums that always play after dinner and read Aesop fables before lights out. The ones who drag children to peaceful protests, watch cultural documentaries, who support all extracurricular activities, no matter how controversial. I want a home where everything is a little bit of right and a little bit of wrong all rolled into one piecemeal childhood. Maybe five year olds shouldn’t listen to The Beatles every night, but it would have been fun.

My legs feel like Jell-O after climbing up and down the ladder. I shouldn’t be exerting so much energy at this stage, but looking for him is a ritual.

I sit on my side of the loveseat, lay my hand on his side, and concentrate on how his palm felt when it pressed against my own. Our fingers always got sweaty, his first then mine. And the heat would swell our fingers, clasp them even tighter together. There’s still nothing more enjoyable than holding his sweaty, slippery hand.


When the phone rings, I feel bile slink up my throat all the way to my tonsils. Especially when the caller ID is a familiar name.

“Hi Anne… No, everything’s fine… probably next week… no, my parents are here, I’m fine… no I haven’t decided yet… thanks, I know, I know… okay, I told you I’d call so I will… you, too. Bye.”

You should really be nicer to her, says Mom

You should really be nicer to your daughter, says me.


I have two days to accomplish the following:

1. Buy a mattress
2. Unpack the dishes mom bought me as a wedding gift
3. Buy groceries that aren’t frozen
4. Lug all of the other gifts to the basement

When the woman who has always done everything so right comes here, all she will see is wrong and all she will say is how wrong I am.

I am not keeping it. I will not keep it. I am not going to keep it. She needs to hear how right it sounds to me. How final the decision is.

Sarah’s Falling: part 1 of 4

I do not change. That’s everyone else’s job: I am lazy, sloppy, sometimes whorish, sometimes a prude. Just last night, I was caught between the decision to unwrap all of the wedding gifts from my late husband’s few friends or flick through a few Indie films that popped up on my “Because you watched 500 Days of Summer” list. I chose the latter. Maybe because emotional hurt is the worst of all, but my slovenly work ethic had more to do with it. My emotions are about as frozen as our anniversary cake shoved behind ice cream pints and cheap Indian microwave dinners. I won’t feel the pain of making coffee-for-one with our Hamilton Beach BrewStation for another year. He’s just gone. And I’m just not.

At the end of sunset every night, I sit on top of our home after climbing up the ladder that doesn’t settle on the ground. My legs are shaking on the rough shingles because the danger of stumbling up clumsy metal scares the shit out of me. And I slum it up on the roof, wrapped in a blanket, letting my eyes flit from East to West, star gazing. I try to pick out the same star every night, the one shining like his teeth when he smiled, the one that mirrors his unique glimmer when he was being coy. I tell my heart that I’m picking the right one out, that I can tell his radiance apart from all the other starry souls. But my angry, grieving head knows otherwise. This whole yucky, what-you’d-see-in-a-movie romance is bullshit. Sometimes the fog of industry prevents me from seeing any stars at all.

Three weeks ago I sat up here and threw my phone across the street in a fit of hatred toward communication. It catapulted into a bed of puny daisies, trampled by ADHD toddler feet and the loveable mutt who pooped in my yard (I let him because the neighbor would feel bad and mow my lawn). When it landed, there was an audible disruption in the otherwise quiet night. Gussy barked, losing his damn mind on the porch and the shithead pre-tween clambered out of the house, snapping at Gussy to ‘shut the hell up’ and ogling the iPhone wrapped in fresh daisy paper. A gift.

We settled into a stare-a-thon, so I took pity.

“Finders keepers, kid.”

“Do you have Verizon?”

I gave her the thumbs up. “Happy Birthday.”

“My birthday’s in November. Weirdo.”

“You’re welcome.”

The door slamming as if to say ‘fuck your rooftop, gift giving, lonely nights’ was the best thank you I’d received in quite some time. Her honesty struck a chord.

Tonight, the ambulance sirens are ablaze with agitation and exhaustion. There’s a pile-up on the highway according to the chipper news anchor, and I can smell the urgency from 3 miles away. We used to go ambulance chasing late at night when Netflix had only movies we’d seen and the ten cups of coffee we guzzled while talking through our whole lives (we both believed we had one thousand years of stories worth telling) kept sleep timidly pressed against the wall of our bedroom, evading our tired tugs. And we would drive, my bare feet pressed against the dashboard, my hand sometimes unzipping his pants, always resting on some part of him.

“I triple dog dare ya to put your tongue on the pole!”

Then the laughs. Though he would always choke up, like he was catching himself from having the maximum amount of fun. And he’d gasp for some air, cough a little bit, and clear his throat, falling into silence, untouchable. His own form of punishment. I always knew when this mood struck him. I would let my fingers slide down his arm and fall awkwardly onto the armrest.

Gussy’s shit stinks. I can smell it from here, or if I open the window in the bathroom facing the side yard he favors, if it rains and the dense air lingers low about my front door. It’s ruining the nuance of melancholy memories.

Inside, the living room looks spotless. The light from the TV I didn’t even want casts shadows on the gray blue walls I fought him to have. It hits me how much work we put into this one space. It presents itself as the perfect beginning of a happy, young household. There are trinkets from our three week venture through South America. A collage of pictures from our first night to our wedding creates a faint timeline around the walls of our favorite room. My diploma looms over the loveseat: the only thing left I have to be proud of. No one ever sits in the over-sized chair the afghan we took turns knitting is draped over. Our story bombards my mind from the first blink in the morning to the last flutter at bedtime. My own story lies somewhere between my tidy hometown and that first night in college: unattended and starving.


“Honey, did you ever call Arthur about coming to have dinner with us? He really needs to be here for…”

I can hear it already, the anxiety of a woman with a stick up every orifice. The car doors slamming, the groan and shuffle of baggage.

“No dear, let’s just concentrate on Sarah right now. She’s…” And his voice drops. He does this every so often with was he deems “sensitive” information.

Whenever they visit, we plow through the same routine. No one attempts to deviate. I lead them through the house, to my room where they neatly place their suitcase underneath the window sill. Mom knit picks every decorative detail, monitors what’s changed, and what I need to do. We always go to Cracker Barrel because they don’t have one in my home state. And then after biscuits, they settle into the meat of tough conversation, biting off a huge chunk of my life, trying to digest how different I am from them. On the drive home, everyone is silent, unwilling to admit that I should have been born to parents who spent their early 20s protesting a war and smoking pot.

When they finally start to snore, I sneak up to the roof full of quick hope and an adrenaline rush from the rickety ladder.

I will let myself observe twenty stars only. If I keep going, Mom will likely realize I’m not on the couch during one of her frequent nighttime bathroom breaks. I find only nineteen. Every other reach of sky is covered with clouds, human ignorance, and apathy.