Defying Gravity

For me this time of year has become the most emotionally powerful anniversary in my life. Two years ago I learned what it was like to lose everything. A week after moving into a new apartment with 2 of my (then) best friends a fire in the apartment above us caused the sprinkler system to malfunction and pipes to burst, flooding everything. As my 2 friends escaped with only minor casualties, the worst of the damage was to my room and the living room. Since all of the living room furniture was mine, I literally lost 90% of what I owned. The yellow tinged, smelly water was inescapable. When I close my eyes I can remember the soreness in my throat from the smell and how my feet were wet and clammy for days after wading in the water to try and help my roommates save their stuff while watching the construction workers haul mine to the dumpster.

The pipes burst just after midnight. I called my mom at 2 am hoping for a few minutes that I could show some weakness and cry. My roommates were surrounded by their families who had rushed over to help both physically and emotionally. My mom told me I was pathetic and hung up on me. Looking back, I realize why this night has had such an impact to my soul. I went through that disaster alone.

Have you ever closed your eyes and had to struggle to hold them closed because it took less effort to stare at the wall? For months every time I closed my eyes I could smell the water and see my bed covered in pots as a waterfall fell from my bedroom light fixture right into the middle of it. My eyes wouldn’t close. It hurt to remember. It hurt to feel.

Within months of the flood my life changed in just about every way possible. I was diagnosed with diabetes, insomnia, depression and an anxiety disorder. The meds my doctor put me on didn’t like each other, so he put me on 2 months short term disability to try and heal my body and mind so every day life was liveable.

I know you’re probably thinking I’m pathetic and weak for allowing material things to affect me like this. For the better part of the last 2 years I’ve beat myself up for it until I realized it wasn’t the ‘things’ I lost that caused me to become this beast, it was the loss of my family and friends.

Shortly after the flood I came out to my friends and family that I no longer considered myself Catholic and didn’t believe in organized religion. Having come from an extremely Catholic family and surrounding myself with friends who only had other Catholics as their friends, I quickly found myself losing people one by one. The hardest part was when an old friend lashed out against me on Facebook in a long note proclaiming to the online community that I was an idiot and going to hell.

After the fires died, I remember going through my phone and deleting all the people who no longer considered themselves my friend. I was left with 12 phone numbers, 4 of which belonged to my mom, dad and grandparents.

This post is getting much longer than I intended it to, so I’ll cut to my point. After the loss of my possessions, friends, body, mind and soul I have come out the other side and found a life willing to take a woman who was little more than dead and mold her into someone who now has a fighting chance at chasing her dreams once again. Friends who know I’m a writer have asked me why its so hard for me to finish stories and why I’ve shaped worlds I haven’t bothered to dedicate any time writing. Its because I didn’t see a future for myself and didn’t want the world to have the final pieces of my soul the last 2 years hadn’t taken yet. For that time, the flickering light of my dreams was the only thing that never failed me. Now, I’m ready to start shaping that flickering light into a bonfire so that I can share it with whoever wants to join.

Tonight, I have a bed. Tonight, I have a community of friends who love me for me. Tonight, I’m smiling because there’s a beautiful future worth fighting for.

Tomorrow, I start the journey I thought 2 years ago had destroyed.

To help me never forget what I’ve come through I had the words ‘Defy Gravity’ tattooed on my right wrist. Last year on this anniversary I had a soaring sparrow tattoed on my left wrist to help me remember I can fly. Tomorrow I will finish my sparrow with color and shading so that I can remember the beauty and pride of a fulfilling life.  My sparrow will soar, a colorful rememberance that defying gravity isn’t impossible.


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A Non-Memory of Christmas Past

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This time of year is always the hardest for me because eleven years ago I lost the most important man in my life- my grandpa Fred. My family’s holiday traditions died along with him 11 years ago. He was the glue that held together a very fragile and broken group of people. I barely remember what it feels like to spend a holiday with another human being because for the last 7 at least I have been alone.

This little post isn’t all about sadness and gloom, I want to share the little bit above because you need to understand that this memory I’m about to share is the only Christmas memory I have. I don’t remember any others when my family was still together.

Being so small back then I remember walking through the front door of my grandparent’s old yellow Victorian house and taking off my coat and laying it between the columns in the living room. In the far corner was a thick Christmas tree with a weird gold topper that always reminded me of a pregnant puffer fish. The ceiling in my grandparent’s living room was nearly 20 feet high and the tree almost touched it. It was like a fairy tale seeing so many presents (in some places they were piled halfway up the tree).

I hope this year they’d let me play Santa.

All of the adults were either Men: watching sports Women: in the kitchen helping fix the food and drinking coffee. The coast was clear… no one was guarding the bowl of black olives that had been already set on the table in the dining room…

Just as I was about to load up my fingers with olives (load up meaning putting an olive on each finger so I looked like I had frog hands) my cousin Scott came up to me with the plate of crispy turkey skin. My family wasn’t exactly healthy, but grandma did take off the skin and throw it away every time she cooked a bird. Scott and I crawled under the long table set for 25 and began to eat the buttery, crispy turkey skin. It was absolutely delicious.

Usually at this point in a story the kids get caught and scolded by the adults, but Scott and I never got caught. I don’t remember just how much we ate but I do remember it was enough that we ruined our Christmas dinner.

Ever since that Christmas, turkey and chicken skin makes me want to gag. I can’t even look at it without getting grossed out. 🙂

This time of year always makes me sad because more than anything I wish I had a family to share the holidays with. I hope someday the man I marry and I can give our kids wonderful holiday memories they will cherish as they grow. Hopefully someday they will have more to remember than turkey skins.

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Share The Book You’re Most Thankful For:

When I was 13 years old and a 7th grader at Holgate Junior High our English teacher assigned us a book to read that would end up forming a part of my heart in a way nothing else I’ve ever read has. The book was Night by Elie Wiesel.

This particular book didn’t look too appealing at first because a) it was non-fiction and b) at that time I wasn’t interested in reading any books outside of The Babysitter’s Club. After only a few pages I became obsessed with finishing the novel and did so in only a night. It was the fastest I’ve ever devoured a book before.

Elie’s window opened up a new world for me and allowed me to feel the power writen words were capable of holding. I read the book again and again before finally having to return the battered school copy back in to my teacher. One night after class that week I stayed after and cried. For nearly an hour after school had ended we discussed the book and its intense effect on me. My wonderful English teacher encouraged me to go home that night and write a poem for a contest that was being held at school called Reflections. She told me to pour my newly opened heart into that poem and bring it back to her when I was finished.

I did and I won first place in both the city wide contest and the state wide contest. Night taught me how to access emotion and turn it into inspiration through words. As I write this, I am filled with a deep desire to go back and read Elie’s words so I can be reminded of the power and awe that filled me 13 years ago. That book gave me the first nudge towards writing and it will always have an extra special place in my heart because of that.

To inspire emotion and open gateways to worlds unknown is one of the greatest gifts we can give. To recieve one of those gifts is a blessing more precious than anything monitary gain can provide.

Abielle Rose

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