an important detour, and a bit of a love story

Sometimes I come here because I just need the sense of accomplishment. Like, I’m going to be super honest with you- I don’t really feel like I have anything compelling to tell you today, but fuck, I really need to do something.

(There is no going back.)

It is just past 11 am, and my eyes already sting from crying and I ordered too much delivery yesterday and I let my coffee get cold, and I wish there was a STORY here. Something to dazzle and delight you. I used to have a lot of stories. Stories have always been my currency. I will tell you literally anything. Here are my scars, here are my blue veins, here are my boiling guts… just LIKE ME, PLEASE?

Here’s a story I hope I haven’t told:

(I’m going to tell you a nice one this time. I need it.)

(It’s hard to remember the nice stories right now.)

The first time my world fell apart, Lucas and Cat and I drove all the way from Atlanta to Wisconsin just a week later. We were traveling to experience the Bristol Renaissance Festival, because we’d always heard such amazing things. My heart was broken and I was just beginning to wonder if Something Was Wrong With Me. I believe I was 21. I could look it up, but I’m really tired.

We took off in the early morning and quickly realized that Next to Normal was the wrong Broadway soundtrack for this particular trip at this particular time.

We stopped in Chicago for deep dish pizza and, at our hotel, Lucas and Cat went down to the lobby to do hotel bar karaoke, because they are brave and beautiful souls. I stayed in the room and watched that episode of SVU where Stabler gets mixed up in the animal smuggling ring. I think they eat a tiger. It’s just awful. I had nightmares.

The Bristol Renaissance Festival is a truly magical place. We ate the perfectest cheese fritters in the world and were endlessly delighted by the performer Doctor Kaboom, a science-themed stage act. I eventually tipped him on Sunday afternoon and confessed to him that his show had been the source of light in my heart during a truly terrible time. Always tell the sunbeams in your life they are sunbeams, even if they are strangers, I think.

I cried a lot, but I also got to touch a porcupine, I believe.

(And maybe that’s why I’m telling you this story. Hey, Current Dani! You have been totally despondent before and you still got to touch a porcupine! Remember that? You have to remember, please.)

When I joined the cast of the Georgia Renaissance Festival at 16, my friend Lucas handed me a wooden sword before I’d done anything to earn it and helped me to find my name and he is the older brother I didn’t know my heart was missing. And this brings us to the best part of the story.

I had just enough wobbly sparkle on the drive home from Wisconsin to playfully pester Lucas about the road signs we were passing for Six Flags: Great America. Please understand it is a 13 hour drive from Wisconsin to Atlanta and we were quite tired and sunburned from an intense weekend of nerd-ing and Six Flags is a kind of a gamble even in the best of circumstances.

The moral of this story is to never forget it when people show you how they love you. To hold those memories to your heart as you weep and drink lukewarm s’more-flavored coffee, because you are a soft, soft beast and your heart is so tired. Keep beating, keep pumping. You are loved. You have to remember. You have to hold on.

At the moment of truth, Lucas wordlessly turned off on the exit to Six Flags.

Remember the people who will take you to roller coasters when your world is crumbling. Aspire to be that person for someone else some day.

I don’t know if I’m going to get anything else “accomplished” today. I am very tired and sad and my coffee, as I’ve mentioned, is growing cold. It might be that I hit the “Publish” button here and then curl back up under my Spider-Man 2 blanket and try to forget everything that hurts.

Try, instead, to remember porcupines and cheese fritters and fairy wings and roller coasters and friendship. Because they can take everything away from us but that last one.

Damn. Also? It’s ironic, because current depressed me is watching a lot of SVU these days and I would trade it in a heartbeat to hear Lucas and Cat sing karaoke. Maybe I’d even be bold enough to join them now.

Kind friends and companions, come join me in rhyme
Come lift up your voices in chorus with mine

Published by Dani

I like breakfast, marine mammals, Star Wars, comedy, the song "Dead Man's Party," and Halloween musical revues at theme parks. Let's be friends!

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