Three Years

I’m sitting on a plane after being in LA for my first month. I’ll land tomorrow in nyc, my old home, a place that saved me again and again. It held me when I arrived after college and felt small and lost and scared and alone. It comforted me years later when I was out of control, losing my dad and unable to hold on to myself. It welcomed me once I’d said goodbye to my dad forever. It reminded me what I liked about myself and how I wanted to spend my limited days on earth. It woke me up and put me to sleep with the sounds of chaos, the deafening reminder of the life and magic that was waiting for me when I opened my door. It is my home and my nest. It is the place that made me feel emotionally safe and protected and inspired from the first day I moved there. New York City taught me how to be tough and independent and unique and pushed me to really figure out how I was different from the thousands of other people that arrived daily on a train ready to breath in the same beautifully dirty air as me. As hard as NYC pushed me, it held me. It provided the noise and inspiration and comfort of a best friend so that even if I spent a whole day depressed in bed, I knew I wasn’t alone. It gave me the same butterflies you get on a first date just by letting me live in it. In a twisted way, the most aggressive, dirtiest, busiest place I’ve ever lived made me feel the calmest. All I had to do was show up and it would do the rest. And when I was ready to do the rest, it was ready to be the wind pushing me. It is a magical place that will always feel like home. I will always have a place to go back to if I need to feel safe and loved and whole.

My dad died three years ago. It has been hell living without him. I feel an emptiness in my stomach. Tears sit behind my eyelids waiting for a song, a smell, a stranger to free them again. Losing my dad has felt like losing half of me and I’ve been on a wobbly journey trying to fill that other half with all the good stuff he was. He was joyful and determined and optimistic and quick and observant and funny and thoughtful and hated saying “no” and never ever said “I can’t.” I have tried to wear him on me and in me and find him in others and in myself. He did the heavy lifting for so long and the past three years have been a reminder that all the years I felt so strong and independent were really that I felt held and loved and energized and protected by my dad. He was there for a run, a game, a pep talk, a heartbreak, a spell of darkness, a job interview, a new love, a holiday, a good day, a bad day. He was there and it gave me wings. He laid the groundwork and made me feel so loved and protected that I was able to try to fly and reach higher knowing that if I fell, it wasn’t a long distance to his arms.

Leaving NYC this past month made me feel grateful. I am so grateful that I had such love that I can still go on. My gas tank was overflowing and has given me years of mileage after he died to keep going. My dad and NYC gave me similar love. They both were the trampoline that I fell on when I was tired and that catapulted me when I took leaps. What a gift they have both been to me. Moving to LA, I realized I landed with an extra suitcase of magic. The older I get, the more I realize how lucky I was to have this kind of love. The best thing we can do for each other is give that kinda love. That I love you as you are, believe in all you can be and am here for you no matter what kinda love. I am so grateful for my years I got to live with my dad. I’m so grateful for the years I got to live in NYC. I know that I will return to both of them often. I know that their power and love follow me and fill me up. I know that I am lucky. I miss my dad. I see him everywhere. I wish I could sit with him. I wish that more than anything in the world. But if I can’t sit with him, I feel lucky to have him walking with me. Three years. Love you.

Addendum: As we are landing, the flight attendant gave me a set of wings. He didn’t give them to anyone else (except a baby). Most likely he gave them to me because I was crying a lot (like the baby) but I will choose to think it was my dad. The sunset is beautiful as we descend. I’m up in the sky with him, carrying a set of wings. Nice little reminder that as long as I look, I’m never alone.