Tag Archives: love

Dear Pepper

Dear Pepper,

I want you to know how special you are. This world that we live in has been created to tell you no, no, Pepper, you are not special. You are not smart. You are just another dog, born in a backyard without a family to hold you and love you and teach you. But Pepper, this isn’t true. You’re one of the smartest pups I know. You’re kind, and you’re considerate of your doggy friends. You share. You’ve learned how to sit and how to walk on a leash and where to go potty, even though everyone said you couldn’t do it. Even though people called you dumb, you persevered. Oh, how you’ve blossomed. How you’ve triumphed. 

I know what it’s like to be on the outside, Pepper, to be the one who everyone says will never be successful. To be abandoned, to be hurt, to not know where you’re going next. To not have a family. I want you to have more. A house, a HOME. People who love you. I want you to feel safe and smart and special and all the things that you, like every being, should get to feel, forever and ever. I don’t just work in rescue because I can; I work in rescue so that you and your friends can have a better life. I work in rescue because I get it, because I’ve felt it, because no animal should have to be abused or neglected or left behind in this dumb world that doesn’t understand you. I want to be the one who understands. You have let me be that, and I have learned so much from my time with you. You have been hurt, yet you still love. You never stopped. I want to be that. I hope you can teach me. 

I wish, for you, for your friends, that the whole world was like me. That everyone would want to work together to find the best for every single animal. But this is not the world. So many animals get hurt. Please don’t give up, Pepper. Keep giving yourself. Keep putting yourself out there. Keep loving. Keep LEARNING. Grow. Be. When I see you do it, I can do it too. 

I wish that I could give you a perfect world, that I could give all the dogs ever that world, the love that you have and the home that you have now. But I can’t, because I’m not enough. Because there are too many dogs and not enough help. Because I am just one woman, and no matter how much I cry that I get it, that I understand because I’ve been hurt too, it is not enough and I cannot save you all. So for now, dear Pepper, just know that you are special. You are NOT dumb. You are loved. And you’re safe. 

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I feel a wet nose on my hand as I wait in line to board the bus, and I look down to see that it’s attached to a young yellow lab. His bright eyes peer up at me, almost glittering against his bright golden fur. My first instinct is to reach out and pet it, at least until I notice the working dog harness that’s attached to it. The woman holding the other end of the harness pulls the dog back as he stretches to sniff my treat pouch belt.

“Gus, lay down,” she commands him. He persists in sniffing my treats, and she pulls him again. “Gus.”

He reluctantly lays down on the ground, careful to stay right next to her legs. He can’t be more than two years old, and I find myself impressed by his behavior. “I’m sorry,” I tell the woman, fingering my treat pouch. “I just came from walking dogs, and he smelled my treat pouch full of Chewy Louies. I’ll put them in my bag.”

Her laugh is surprisingly high for an older woman, and I smile as she turns towards me, even though she can’t see it. “It’s okay, he works for treats. You can give him one if you have an extra.” To the dog, she adds, “Gus, up!”

Gus stands up immediately, his four paws squared and his tail curved upward; his ears are perked for the next command. I bend down slightly and feed him the treat, and I swear he smiles a little as he devours it. His tail wags only slightly, as the urge to be excited loses out to his drive to work for his owner.

“What a good dog,” I say.

The bus pulls up. “What number is it?” Her hand tightens on the harness.

I look out the window, playing her eyes. “The 166. Which bus do you need?”

“Oh, any of these.” There are four buses that go down our street, and they all stop at this same part of the bus terminal.

People start to move, and Gus goes to work, leading her out to the bus. The people in front of them let the door slam back, and I reach around them quickly to stop it from ramming into Gus. He takes the first step on to the bus and then the second, seeming to know precisely where he’s supposed to go. I wonder how often they make this trip as I offer the woman my hand as she takes the first step, as Gus waits for her to move, step by step. We sit next to each other in the front seat, my favorite spot. Gus lays down between the woman’s legs, his nose on his paws, sniffing the half wall in front of our seat.

“What a good dog,” I say again.

“My old guide dog passed away last month. I’m still breaking this one in. But I trust him, and I know he’ll take care of me.” She reaches down to pat Gus on the head.

Oh, to have that, I think. Oh, to have that.

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On Love

This has been a weird week for me and love. The third would have been my anniversary, so there’s that. Also, I finished the most beautiful video game in the entire world, “The Last of Us,” and I went to see “The Fault in Our Stars.” Why, you ask? Because I’m apparently a glutton for punishment. And feelings. All the feelings. You see, I’m really not one who finds it easy to believe in the good, in love. I believe this is the reason that I watch so many horror films. They tend to favor gore over feelings. While I personally am not into gore in my real life, it makes for a good escape. 

I am not sure I have ever believed in love. So when I watch amazing movies such as “The Fault in Our Stars,” I find myself a little lost. It isn’t really real to me. I have never clicked with a person like that; I have never been loved in that way:

“I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.” 

Love isn’t real; life will always end; people will always return to dust. The sun will eat the earth. These things will happen. They are facts. And just like they are all facts in the moment of this speech, it is also a fact that this boy loves this girl. I have never been everything to somebody else, despite all of my greatest efforts to be. I will give everything. Part of that is just my personality, but part of that is also that I really just want people to like me. I say all the time that I don’t need to be in a relationship with another person to be complete, and that’s the truth. But holy crap, do I want to feel that type of love even just one time in my life. Just once. Do I cry over this movie because of the beauty of it all? Or because of what I don’t have? Or both?

I thought that I had to be a certain way, fit a certain mold wherein I married and had kids and did all of the womanly things I was supposed to do. I did that, but it didn’t work out for me. Because it wasn’t me. It isn’t me to give everything and receive nothing in return; it isn’t me to give everything because I am made to do it. Giving everything of myself to someone needs to be a choice that comes from within me, not an idea that is pressed upon me. Never has anything rung more truly to me. Love should not ever be that way. Love is not ever one-sided, or, at least, it shouldn’t be. 

Every person on this planet, all six billion plus of us, are orbiting in small circles that occasionally come into contact with one another. And we all leave tiny ripples behind; everything we do alters the paths of those around us in even the tiniest of ways. The greatest lesson that I’ve ever learned is that there is no right way to be with other people. There is not one singular way in which to do it. Everyone is doing what they need to do to survive, to show that they care for each other. And somewhere, out there, there is perhaps another person who is doing the same things that I am doing. Showing the same things. A match.

This year has opened up a whole world I never knew existed, thanks to the making of many new and openly honest friends. There’s romantic love, there’s attraction. There’s men with women, and vice versa, and women with women, and men with men, and people who don’t identify with any of these things in particular. There isn’t one formula for love; it is always different. And perhaps the reason that I have never found it, never felt it, is because I have tried to place it inside a box.

I lost something, but I lost it because it wasn’t the right thing for me. And what I lost was in no way real love. It wasn’t love at all; I see that now where I couldn’t see it while in it. So thank you world, for opening my eyes. Maybe I will never be loved in the manner of Augustus and Hazel Grace. But the hope is there. And that’s enough.

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The L-Word (I Didn’t Know)

Sometimes when you read something really poignant, it sticks with you even if the original topic is not what you yourself are considering.  I read something in the blog of an amazing writer I know today that really made think.  Perhaps it was the day I had today, or perhaps I just saw something in her words:

“Whether you’ve been in a long-distance relationship or not, how or why did you decide to move closer (or move in) with your person?”

This question made me think for hours.  Through my meetings, though homework, through grading and still more homework.  Here’s the blog:  http://thenicktr.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/the-live-in-girl/

I couldn’t figure out why this thought bugged me until now.  I remember.  I remember that I never really wanted my relationship; I remember that I didn’t dive in with both feet.  That I didn’t dive in at all.  I just sort of…fell.


The night that I knew I was going to marry my (now) ex was actually a morning.  One in the morning, in fact.  I was coming home from a twelve hour shift at the gas station I was running.  The day had been a cesspool of retail-related drama, and I wanted nothing more than to go home to my apartment, sink onto the couch, and devour my brand new DVD— “Joan of Arcadia” Season One.  As I was driving down the dark unlit road into our tiny town, I had a thought.  I wanted to see him.  I had worked all day, I was exhausted, but I wanted to see him.  Instead of turning to my house, I went the opposite direction and parked in front of his around the corner.  We sat at the piano together that night and both uttered the l-word.

I didn’t know what it meant.  I don’t think he did either.

When I left that night to go back around the corner to my apartment, I told myself that I was going to marry him.  And I did.


Two months before our wedding, we left the church we had been attending due to a series of unfortunate events with my ex’s mother.  We found another church for relatively cheap, but we lost our catering and our minister.  We had to find someone else to do the marriage counseling.  But someone we found all of these things in just enough time.  As one thing fell apart, another thing solved itself.  Around and around and around.

Until the night of the rehearsal dinner, when I got the phone call that my soon-to-be father in law had lit the side of the deck on fire making the chicken.

I should have seen the signs, but I didn’t know what love meant.


The night before my wedding, I remember sitting on my bed with my then best friend as she painted my toenails silver and told me I was making a horrible mistake.  She believed, with all of her heart, that I would die if I married him.  “Maybe God has another plan for you.  Maybe the fact that the wedding plans kept falling apart is a sign that He wants you somewhere else.  He’s not good for you.”  She thought that she would never see me again.

I didn’t understand what she meant until hours after she left.  It was three in the morning, and I was staring at my ceiling.  I had been incredibly excited about the wedding, the pretty dress and the flowers and my family and friends.  But did I love him?  Was I excited about him?  Was I making the wrong choice?  The fact that she was the third friend to cry upon realizing I was really going to marry him perhaps should have been an indication.  In my heart, I believed there wasn’t anyone else out there for me.

Did I love him?  I didn’t know the meaning of the word.


Two weeks after my decision to, as I put it in my head “marry that boy someday,” I had to ban him from coming inside my apartment.  I believed in the idea of not having sex outside of marriage, and he did not.  He claimed to.  But things were different when it was dark and the lights were down, when we were alone.  I wasn’t comfortable with him anymore, and I told him he couldn’t come over alone again until we were married.  He became quite angry.  One thing led to another, and then we were in the parking lot of the building and I was on the ground with a boatload of pain in my elbow.  He had shoved me to the ground.  I got in the car and drove away, ignoring his frantic pounding on the windows.  But when he followed me in his own car and cut me off in the middle of the country highway, I listened to his apology.  I went back.  I believed he could change.  I also knew that he was the only one who would ever love me.

He never changed.  And whether he loved me or not, I don’t know if he knew what the word meant either.

I didn’t know what love meant.


We got back from our honeymoon, and I had to go to work the very next night.  I didn’t have any time after church to go home and wanted to go through a drive-thru.  He informed me that the three dollars I spent were my three dollars to eat off of for the day.  There would be no more food money after that.

That was the beginning of the end of things.  Day thirteen.  But it would take me over five years and a lot of tragedy to figure that out.

I didn’t know what love meant.


I believe that we can find ourselves in relationships for the wrong reasons.  I didn’t want to be alone, so I married the first person who came along.  I tried to love him, and I tried to change him.  But I couldn’t love him because I didn’t love myself, and I couldn’t change him because nobody has the power to change anybody else.  I let him change me.  While the decisions were made by him, I didn’t do anything to stop him.  I didn’t know how.  I can see that now, and I know better than I did then.  I let our relationship mess my life up so badly that I couldn’t tell up from down by the time I left it.  Even though we’re apart now, the remains still linger in my soul, my life.  I’m just now learning how to separate myself from them and take the steps I need to towards who I really am.

Maybe I don’t know what love means.  But I’m learning.

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