One Day

We are trying to find a way to break up.

At 7, I wake up and drive alongside the ocean for 12 wide miles, a route I’ve done more times than I can count. I used to do it on my way to high school, to pick up my best friend, even though it was completely out of the way. I used to watch the sunrise, peaking over the dunes, over the mansions, empty in the winter and bustling in the summer.

Along Ocean Avenue, women run in pink and men are not there, already in the city for work by the time I depart at 7am. Jogging strollers smack the smoothed pavement, replaced over the winter after Superstorm Sandy.

The debris is less now; the summer is approaching its’ end at breakneck speed. It has been an odd summer, a bit crippled. We cheer when our favorite bars and restaurants and beaches reopen; we reconcile the fact that some may never open again.

I head over the bridge into Atlantic Highlands, the ocean behind me and the river on my left and right, Twin Lights lighthouse straight ahead. I’ve tried to take pictures of this view, but it simply cannot be captured. The blue water around me, stretching for miles.

I stop to get coffee and then I am at my sister’s front door, my niece clapping because she’s excited to see me.

The morning is hot, hotter than it’s been, a welcome August tradition of sticky seats. I believe in the weather, the moods, the feelings. The way the sun shines when you need it most, and rain for the days you need to stop and rest

Last night I didn’t sleep because of the sores in my mouth and the anxiety bouncing in my stomach, turning the walls of my gut raw and aching.

The baby and I visit my friend, my writing mentor. She asks about writing. She tells me I will finish the book when I’m ready. I’m not ready.

I drive in circles for an hour to let Sadie sleep in the backseat. I drive past Bruce Springteen’s house and remember the time I almost ran over his wife. When I pull back into my sister’s driveway, the baby’s face is red and angry from the sun streaming through her window. Fuck, I think. Sunscreen.

I’m shaking from the pain as I lift Sadie into her crib. I pray she will sleep. I take a painkiller. I rest on the couch.

We go to the park, me pulling Sadie in her wagon, her laughing as I imitate a train. She is so easy, this one. So full of light.

The young boys at the park on their skateboards make me so nostalgic for my youth I stop and take a breath. They are sweaty and throwing empty soda cans at each other. The girls on their bikes look at them as they pass the park, already deciding on which boys are cute, taller since June. I remember this feeling so strongly, how we loved the boys before they knew how to love us.

When I get home, I talk again to B. I say I think we are making the right decision, that for me, a weight has lifted. He says he will always be my biggest fan. We are not breaking up because of lack of feeling, and so perhaps this is the saddest end of all. I dangerously let allow myself a sliver of hope to cushion these sharp edges. But I feel lucky to have him  as my friend, the first man that I’ve dated that I know I will be friends with forever.

I know now what they mean when they say that timing is everything. It really is. I got a niece just as I got sicker than I’ve ever been, and her love buoys me through all the shit. I got BJ when we both weren’t in a place to love each other properly, but I get to keep him, albeit in a different space.

I confirm my reservation for my hotel in Big Sur next weekend, the long weekend a perfect time to give us a breather. The holiday, the bookend to the summer, always makes me a little sad. But I’m already a little sad, so I shall bid summer adieu in my favorite place on earth with my best friend and his daughter.

The night stretches into the early morning and I sleep in hour intervals. I miss him, even though I’ll see him before I go to LA. I enroll in a Shakespeare class to fill the fall. The autumn will be full of traveling and my sister’s wedding and time, constantly unfurling, bringing us to where we are, whether we like it or not.

And on and on we march.



My friend is dead. She has been dead since Thanksgiving. 

I am terrified of the monsters that roar inside of me, waiting for the right moment to strike. I hate the parallels in our stories. I hate the word cancer. I fucking hate seeing it everywhere. I get sweaty and nauseous. I fucking hate that word. Why does it have to be everywhere? Can't it be like You Know Who? Why do we have to say the word so much? Voldemort, cancer, Voldemort. It's put a trace on me, that word. It's everywhere.

I visited Lauren's mom with my old coworkers yesterday and at times the silence was thick with our own memories and recollections. The copier in the blue room where she told me she had melanoma. The ninth floor of 16 W 22nd Street, New York, NY. A place I'll never be again.

We talked about it, a lot. I was her "cancer mentor," we joked. We hated the word, we hated the smell of hospitals, we hated the shitty food and the steroids and the ways our bodies were carved and shaped into something we didn't recognize.

I miss my friend. I miss our little community. The two of us and a tie that would bond us forever.

Sometimes I see a really cheesy "beat cancer" ad and I want to laugh maliciously at it with her. We made fun of those things. 

We wanted to believe we were as real as we could be about cancer, but we were both terrified and sometimes we could not speak of it.

Some days I can't believe she's gone. I worry about the monsters. I feel guilty telling her mom I'm doing well because her daughter is dead.

No matter what my troubles, my pain, struggles, I get to live. I get to fall in love and eat and sing into my hairbrush and drink and tattoo my body and live. 

Lauren doesn't. All of her memories have been made. They're for us now. And it's so fucking unfair, because I never knew someone who wanted to live as much as she did.  I survived and some days I don't move from my bed. Lauren would understand but I should be doing more.

I have to live more, because she can't. I have to be kind and live big and write, like she always bugged me to. I need to write about cancer and the word and how heavy it hangs around your neck. 

I miss my friend. But I'm going to keep on. 

I'm going to Be Kind and Live Big.