The tears finally came, filling my eyes, brimming over, running down my cheeks. I pushed back up against my bedroom wall and slid down until I had crumpled into a heap, my head between my knees, arms lying limp at my sides.

When I was little, I would lay in bed holding my sheet up, filling it with air, and then letting it fall around me, like a dusting of snow. This is the closest way I can describe how the grief found me. It fell down around me, all at once, encompassing. I cried for the sudden change in the present; I cried for the smoldering remains of the past. I cried because I was equally as excited as I was terrified. I cried because life is not fair and because it is strangely wonderful. I cried because I felt everything at once.


“I’m not normal.”

I’ve said this one thousand times. Usually on first dates, because hey, might as well get it out there from the beginning. I’m not here to waste anyone’s time.

When it comes to relationships I have no clue what normal is. My first real relationship (if you want to call it that) started in college and ended in divorce, and in between those two bookends, it was filled with intense highs, devastating lows, drama, lies, and the kind of manipulation that would put Queen Cersei to shame. It took me three years to heal; I emerged even more naive than I was in the beginning.

Sadly, the more relationships I have gone on to have, the more screwed up I have become. Or, at least, I think I’m being screwed up. Again, I don’t know what normal is. I know I’m not supposed to be sad. I know it’s not supposed to be a battle every day. Other than that, all is fair in love and war… right?

Post aforementioned soap-operatic divorce, pre-healing, I threw myself into a relationship that I would look back on in the years to come and regret how unable I was to appreciate what a healthy relationship looks like. Hindsight is 20/20. Hindsite is also a bitch.

Three years later…

 There have been exactly two relationships I would classify as legit. The first destroyed me. On shaky baby deer legs, I opened up to someone else and subsequently got punched in the throat. Duly noted. The second I went into timidly, but after a couple months of dating, felt I could believe what we had was becoming something real. Enter: An impromptu temper tantrum in front of a crowd of people in which I was accused of being “a disrespectful, disloyal, blatant liar” for something I was completely innocent of. I couldn’t talk him out of it; I couldn’t talk myself into getting back into the dating pool for another six months.

I am Samantha’s Total Confusion.

Maybe not knowing what is normal is the new normal. And if not knowing what is normal is normal, than I am normal as hell.


photo (1)

Let’s play a game.

Never have I ever had all of my chapsticks (a ton of chapsticks that I stash in useful places; my purse, the car, desk drawer, kitchen drawer, bathroom sink, next to my bed) all run out all at the same time. Never have I ever had a first date with a 38-year-old and spent the entire time conversing about the degradation of grammar and our shared hatred of voicemail. Never have I ever felt genuinely lonely.

All of that would have been true a month ago.


Some days are so much harder than others. I have yet to figure out why, but I’m looking for common denominators.

Try #12 | Time

As I’ve previously established, I am a deeply relational being. I need to be near people and I feel the best when I am surrounded by others. My endorphins race when I’m sitting in a booth, laughing with my friends, or relaxing on my parent’s deck in the sunshine, listening to my family talk. When I fall in love, there is literally nothing I want more than the electric rush of skin-to-skin contact. I am addicted to that closeness. I crave it. I feel empty without it.

But there are some times I want to be alone.

I struggle with the voices in my head. Some are positive, some negative, and sometimes they all talk over each other. The incoherent debates mixed with the conversations I am listening to or participating in outside of my head become overwhelming. I can’t focus. I can’t prioritize. I start feeling frantic and skittish. I start looking for an escape.

What’s so interesting to me is that I often find sanctuary from this kind of anxiety in coffee shops. The atmosphere in a coffee shop is incredibly calming to me. Hushed conversations, people focused on their laptops or papers, the quiet typing of keyboards, the ambient noise of espresso grinders, tapping spoons and steaming milk. The smell of fresh roasted coffee.

This is my happy place. This is my zen. This is where I can focus, tune in to what I’m working on, tune out of other stressors.

And here’s the revelation: Maybe it’s not coffee I love so much, maybe it’s where the coffee comes from. Often times, the $5 latte I’ve purchased will go untouched and serve only to buy myself some alone time and wi-fi. Maybe this is why I fantasize about owning my own coffee shop. I’d be living in my own little zen garden, making americanos in a blissful meditation.


Try #11 | Home Sweet Home

You know that movie Failure to Launch? The movie about a grown man who won’t move out of his parents’ house? Apparently, in the movie adaptation of my life, I am portrayed as a boy and played by Matthew McConaughey.

To be fair, I wasn’t living with my parents because I loved the laundry service and home-cooked meals (oh, but did I love them), it was because I had nowhere else to go. Divorce will do that to ya. On my own, I didn’t make enough to rent an apartment, and for that matter, I didn’t want to live in Salem. Even if I had wanted to, I couldn’t find a job that would pay me a living wage. But with hindsight being 20/20, I know now that I was supposed to be home. I was an emotional shipwreck; practically unsalvageable. I was supposed to be home because home is where I healed. It’s where I remembered what it felt like to have carpet under my feet and not on my face. It’s where I remembered where I started, which made learning how to start again a lot easier.

It took a while, but finally, I found a roommate and made the big move to Beaverton. It was immediately followed with regret, heartache and anxiety. I was still 20-minutes from the city I wanted to be in, where all my friends were, and where the streets were familiar and comfortable. I was homesick for my city, for my family, for the past. My anxiety was through the roof with two dogs that did not get along and could not be left alone. I held out, though, knowing a month later I would have new roommates. Enter: Nate and Yelena, two of the most loving, kind and generous people that I know to exist. They became my anti-anxiety pill. The minute they moved in, I started to breathe again, and as a bonus, their dog and mine were instant friends. They were the reason I was able to stay in Beaverton for the nine months that I did.

While I was fairly happy, I still wasn’t at home. I kept to my room. I barely unpacked. The majority of the house belonged to Nate and Yelena (and I was fine with that) but I wanted my own space. I needed to feel independent. But most importantly, I wanted the hell out of Beaverton.

With a new, miraculous, incredible, answer-to-prayer job in Vancouver, I signed out of my lease early and held my breath. Nothing to do but wait to be led to a place I could afford, in a decent location, that allowed dogs, and felt right.

It was a rough ride. My heart was broken a couple times over places that I thought were perfect, that I wanted desperately, but fell through. I couldn’t understand why. Why? Why? I am always asking why. WHY should be tattooed on my forehead; it should be written on my tombstone. Yet, no matter how many times I ask “why”, I am consistently met with grace, patience, and eventually, an answer that is one-thousand times better than I ever expected or dreamed.

I wish I would reflect on this more often.

From the moment I walked in, I knew. I signed the papers that afternoon. My teensy-tiny studio apartment, complete with a murphy bed (that I swore I wouldn’t use but now love), a beautiful kitchen that takes up half the studio space, and a washer/dryer combo in unit! IN UNIT, PEOPLE. That doesn’t happen. Not only were my prayers answered, but they were answered with luxurious, in-home, do-it-at-11pm-because-I-can convenience. Unbelievable.

It’s been six months now and from time to time, I still find myself unlocking the door, stepping inside, and feeling incredulous and overwhelmed. This is my place. The word grateful doesn’t even begin to describe it.

A little studio. A little space. A little independence. All adding up to many little steps in the right direction.