This was … this was.

This was, i say again to myself.

This was a strange year.

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There is one thing, one big thing this year, and I am still at a loss for words. A loss for words. Not for lack of speaking, or explaining, or talking or walking or wondering or being. A loss for words.

Or maybe I’m just afraid of writing about it.

But writing, writing seems to be so, so


I only laugh because I’m so open, and I share so much with so many friends, that when I reconnect with someone far and away and we get to talking, sometimes, one of them will say,

Hey Sarah! I heard you got married – congratulations!

And that’s enough to startle me back to the end of 2009, when I was getting married and I have to stumble around in my brain a bit, and sort through some of those boxes. I mentally scroll through my calendar of this year, past the Fellowship and the three moves and the trips to Seattle and Portland and Philadelphia and Taipei, past the hospital stay for dystenery, past the triathlons and the open water swims, past the belly-aching floor-lying painful days of that month, the month when I realized I wasn’t getting married and it wasn’t happening, and then, way back there in my calendar, I look at it. I look back at my friend and then inward at myself and think,

Wait, I was going to get married?

I pull that self out from within myself and look at it, strangely, and I try to recollect where, and how, and when I could have been at a place where I thought a wedding band on my finger was actually happening.

Oh yeah. And all those wedding dresses.

There is a folder of photographs, on my hard drive, of my sister and I. I’m standing on a box and I’ve tried on seven different wedding dresses and she’s next to me in purples and pinks and blues, and all I can think is how awkward I felt standing up on that box, and how the dresses made my swimmer arms look fat, and how they squeezed tight in the middle and made me feel like a big poofy ball of cinderella lace and glitter. Enough to make me want to barf.  The matching bridesmaids’ dresses – all I could think was that they were all so ugly.

And that I hate wedding dresses.

And I’m not so keen on the idea of weddings, in general.

Who wants to spend $50,000 on a wedding?

But it happened so fast.

I suppose I’m afraid to write about it, because it’s as if I write it, in one story, in one way, then that’s the only way that it happened.

What story do I start with? What comes first?

Should I work backwards, and tell you how it is now, now that I’m standing up? Now that I’m laughing, living, talking, and brighter than I’ve ever been? I can kiss your ass with rose-colored glasses and tell you the moral first, the moral that is the hard things in life really do make you better, and, sweetheart, don’t worry, because you’re gonna get through this just fine, because you know that I did. I’ve laughed my way straight through dysentery and death and rib removal and all the other stuff you think I haven’t been through, because it’s been one of those years. And I can smile, annoyingly at you and still not.really.get.it, because to be there, to be in that place, is something that only you can pull yourself out of.

Maybe I can tell you about a time in my life when things weren’t fine, and I really was quite upset. It takes a lot of digging for me to find that place again, because I don’t feel that mad or sad or lonely or anything anymore – I guess I just am. I am where I am. But then, then, then.

Oh, then.

The kind of what-the-fuck-just-happened-to-my-life upset, where I drove around in my car just to drive and I couldn’t make eye contact with the drivers around me because I was afraid if they looked at me, not only would they see that tears were streaming down my face, but they would see that my mouth was open, wide open and I was bawling. Bawling so hard I couldn’t barely keep my head above the steering wheel, hiccuping in that disgusting get-yourself-together kind of way, so I would just pull over at the next stoplight or drive in and park and sob. I would pull over the car to any side of the road, even the freeway sometimes (I’m sorry Dad, I know it was dangerous!) and stand and drive and stare for a very long time and just wonder. Wonder who I was, and why I was, and where the fuck I was going if I couldn’t even figure this part out.

Somewhere in the middle of the very loud silence that is the world when two people separate, a tinny noise came out of a strange technological device and I could hear my friends talking to me, consoling me, calling me, telling me that this was for the best and that engagements are broken more often than most people talk about.

I just remember being really cold. It was a cold, brisk water-front month in Sausalito. The kind of weather that makes the grass stand tall, brown and still, where the water on the bay moves so little the ripples almost apologize for being. I wore a sweater that wasn’t warm enough for the season and leggings and my gray flats, the shoes I bought from downtown San Francisco’s DSW to wear as a bridesmaid in my other friends wedding. It’s stupid to wear flats at all – who wears shoes without socks when it’s cold? Girls do, I guess. Girls can be stupid, I suppose.

The brutality of a break up is that you’re ripped out of forward thinking and shoved straight into the present time. It’s as though someone has robbed you of all your future memories that you have yet to make, and after they’ve stolen them, they run circles around you with your dreams and wishes and fantasies tied up in their little goblin bag, and then they make sure to come back and hit you and prod you when you least expect it.

Then, then.

I kicked the rocks on the waterfront, angry at the water, telling it to move out of my way.

Now I just stare at it.

So fuck, I can’t think of one word for 2010.

One word?

Well, how about a hundred.

Because 2010 was the year I became a writer.

And I thought I wouldn’t be able to write about this.

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Photography credit: The amazingly talented Alexandra Sklar, who blogs at Bancroft & Ivy