What Happens in the Heart Stays There

What Happens in the Heart Stays There

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my abuser. She was the first person I ever dated, but more and more I’m reluctant to call what we had a romantic relationship. I used to think I was in love with her. But I’m starting to think it was more of an infatuation. I was obsessed with her. With getting to know her. With being in her life.

And she took advantage of that. She used that to her advantage. She held it over my head. Even if she didn’t know what she was doing. She abused me. She refused to commit knowing I would stick around anyway. She sucked up all my emotional energy to fuel her ego. She flushed herself up on my concern and my care. And she gave me the bare minimum in return–checked in just enough to keep my energy up, touched me just enough to make me tingle. But she withheld real intimacy. She tallied up my weaknesses and methodically touched each trigger when she needed to set me off, needed to steer me a certain way. She held labels hostage. She set all the expectations knowing I had never done this before. She ridiculed my concerns, making it clear that my requests for clearer boundaries, better times, a stronger connection were unfair and selfish. She told stories of healthy relationships with the side note that those relationships were unrealistic, clingy, and gross. I kept most of my ideas for myself. I trusted her too much. I trusted that she knew where to take us. I trusted that what she said was true, that it was normal for couples to refuse to acknowledge they were together, to refrain from making long-term plans, that it was okay and healthy for her to refuse to invite me to her gatherings with her “other friends.” It was fine that we never held hands, even when we were alone.

I was not allowed to ask for more. I was not allowed to expect more. I was not allowed to feel resentment towards her restrictions. If I complained, she gaslighted me or guilted me into taking it back. I had to follow her rules. I had to stay on her track.

She could talk about the man she was in love with even while she claimed she wasn’t attracted to men. She could spend all her time with me talking about him, how perfect he was, and how much she missed him and couldn’t stop thinking about him.

If I mentioned my self harm, it was treated as trivial and unimportant. Not worth her time to discuss or try to help me. Apparently I just did it too often for her to care anymore.

I could not be weak; I had to monitor my emotions by myself and take her for her word without breaking down. I was not allowed to self-deprecate, because comforting me was just too inconvenient.

And yet I could not be strong: I couldn’t stand up for myself, I couldn’t question her, I couldn’t begin to stray away or do anything that indicated I knew I deserved better.

I had to stay exactly where she wanted me, while at the same time she berated me for not growing up, not taking care of myself, not being the person she wanted me to be.

She never said “I love you” until she was blackout drunk.

She never thanked me for staying with her the night she lost her grandmother and drank herself into a stupor.

She never apologized for making me miss the obligations I too readily gave up for her sake.

She never asked me about the scars or the lowering grades, the skipped classes, the guilt spirals, the emotional distress, the self-abuse (mental, verbal and physical).

Everything was fixed with a tight hug, a mumbled excuse, a reminder of how shitty her life was.

I clung so desperately to what little she gave me because I didn’t know anything else. I was used to being taken advantage of, abused, neglected. I was used to being consistently invalidated and mocked. My parents had been doing it to me for 20 years. When she fell into my life, it just seemed natural to let her do to me the things she wanted to do.

She never made plans; I had to deal with her last-minute texts asking me to drop everything and come to her. When it was my idea, the timing was bad, the idea was wrong, the details were illogical. When it was hers, I had no say but followed along because I thought I loved this person.

For four months I did everything she wanted, everything she asked, everything she needed, because I though that’s what I wanted, I thought, that’s what you do for the people you love.

I thought I loved her.

I never really did.

It felt like love at the time, but since then, I’ve felt what love truly is. I understand the difference now.

I was infatuated with her, obsessed with breaking down the wall she’d so viciously built up. I was sure I could get through to her when no one else could. I was intent on learning every detail of her life so I could examine and cherish it.

Since then I’ve felt real love from my friends, my chosen family, the amazing girl I dated for two and a half months, and the incredible people I’ve filled my life with since the abuse.

I thought I had no regrets. I comforted myself with the belief that everything happens for a reason.

I’m sick and tired of excusing her. I’m sick and tired of refusing to admit the regret I feel for every time I let her shove me down. I’m furious that my society had me convinced that in the long run my abuse was worth it, because everything happens for a fucking reason.

Sometimes things just happen.

And you can be angry as hell.

And that’s okay.

Because sometimes there’s no good reason for things to happen. All the lessons I leaned from my abuse, I could have learned from having loving parents and a secure support system. I could have learned it from a better social life growing up, from a few casual dating experiences I was never allowed as an adolescent. I could have learned it from so many other events.

There is no good fucking reason I had to suffer at the hands of a selfish cunt for a year and a half because society allowed me to be stupid enough to believe that I DESERVED IT AND IT HAPPENED FOR A REASON.

I want everyone to take a minute to reflect.

You don’t owe the universe anything.

Sometimes shitty things happen.

And it’s okay to be fucking angry about it.

Because there was no good reason. It just happened.

Allow yourself to feel the extent of that pain, because no matter how shitty it may feel to know you were hurt without there being a positive outcome, it’s so much better than lying to yourself and excusing the actions of your abuser to defend the idiotic idea that people getting hurt is okay.

Garnet Stars

Garnet Stars

Moon whispers through the whispy clouds and the shivering trees as we walk. We pause along the way. Air nips but we’re bundled and brave. The sky looks fresh and sacred, deep with night and sprinkled with silver, dashed with garnets of stars. The path spreads curled in darkness to my left and your right, it’s late at night, you’re here. Nothing seems more right. I’m used to darkness spilling in lumps out of my mouth streaked with tears when a hand is offered. But with you all I can think is how happy I am and it’s clear as the garnet stars sending their light in a centuries-long stream ending in our eyes.

Cars croon in the distance and the light from the apartments behind the trees adds an accent to your face when you look into the sky. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the moon.

You sit in the grass on the side of the path and I join you as close as I can get without the tight sadness in my eyes. We talk about the moon and the sky and look across the pond sketched with stars giggling in the nighttime breeze.

We walk again and whisper through the trees giggling into the chilled night and bumping shoulders when we trip through darkness. Gravel grumbles at our feet. My hair is sticky from daytime heat and I feel embarrassed about the oil in my skin, relieved for the thickness of my jacket keeping that from touching you. Your hair seems perkier and your skin smoother. You’re even smaller that I am. I wonder at the conciseness of your body, shaped and sketched from years of editing. Your thesis is finally on your face and it’s a good one.

You don’t like spiders. I try not to giggle when I think of you braving bridges and traffic and people and gowns yet stiffening when the sticky thin strings touch your skin. I know the way better and lead on to a clearer path free of webs. Anyway, we can see the sky better from here.

The golf course is green and well-groomed, almost eerie in the light of the lampposts. Tall spoon-shaped trees create the shadows and a feeling of walls as we walk. There’s a hill, so we climb, and it scoops down towards the street. You ask to see my phone and we lay in the grass staring at the garnet stars and listening to the soft music curling from its tiny speakers and etching into our ears.

I look at you staring at the sky with the tiny light from my phone beaming into your face and I want to tell you, I want to tell you every piece of me that’s ever been missing. When you look at me I close my eyes and wonder if you’re watching me breathe.

You stand and jump to roll down the hill, laughing and hollering, and I scream and join you, spiraling through the moistened grass and landing right into you. You grab me quick, my back pressed into your face, and we lie there laughing like lovers in a John Greene novel. My blood is shivering from cold and screams and spirals and the feeling of your body holding mine.

You roll me over to run your sprinting fingers down my sides and hear me laugh again. I fight back feebly but my fingers flail limp against you and I clutch your fuzzy jacket and scream. You’re on top of me and in my face and I’m gasping for more than one reason when I see your eyes and feel your arms and elbows on my chest.

You ask me how I feel and I try to hide the truth from my reply.

I want you to never stand up but as soon as it starts to feel okay you must think so too because you get up to grab my phone from the top of the hill.

I know I’m wrong and you’re trying, but the garnet stars in my eyes tricked me when I thought it might be okay. You walked me home and then left and I lay in the rug pretending it was the moistened grass of the golf course and the cat on my chest was you.

This Summer

This Summer

This time last year I was celebrating the end of a huge milestone in my life. I’d gotten through the most difficult summer of my life so far. I still felt like crap most of the time because I was dealing with fresh wounds from my ex, an unsupportive bio family, and the emotional aftermath of saying goodbye to my summer camp family. But even with all of that I was able to look back and feel a twinge of pride that I had made it through—despite enormous lows, recurring bouts of self-hatred, chronic self-harm and a suicide attempt. Despite struggling to make connections with my kids and utilize my support system. Despite the huge changes that were coming my way. I’d made it through and could feel myself growing stronger.

Now this year the summer is once again coming to a close and once again I find myself looking back at what I’ve accomplished. I thought nothing could be worse than last summer, but this one was—somehow it found a way. Once again I was getting over a breakup, both easier because I knew I would be okay and harder because I was saying goodbye to a beautiful healthy partnership instead of an abusive one. Once again, I had recurring bouts of self-hatred and self-harm, intense lows, and difficulties connecting with my kids. But this time I had more experience with all of that and was able to work through it in a healthier way. Even so, the tangles were harder to unwind and the emotions harder to unpack. And on top of all of this, I was going through identity crises related to my gender (or lack thereof), my name, my role in life, my ultimate goals, and my relationships with the people in my life.

And this time when I tried to kill myself it was a much more serious attempt, one that would have landed me in the hospital if the bottle had had more pills in it.

This summer I was forced to distance myself from the kids that meant the world to me. I spent as much time with them as I could, but it never seemed like enough, and the pain I felt was physical when I saw my friends acting the role that should have been mine as well.

This summer I was given a new group of kids to work with, and struggled to work with volunteers who didn’t care as much and kids so needy they cried over the slightest things when I knew something much bigger was the cause.

This summer I witnessed internalized racism when working with my students of color, and heard real-life stories from all of my minority students about what it’s like to be in high school as part of a marginalized population.

This summer my heart broke when 49 of my queer siblings died at the hands of hate.

This summer my reality was changed when I saw more and more people of color brutalized by the systems that have oppressed them for centuries.

This summer I felt keenly what it’s like to be a queer person in America, from feeling thrills of pride at my local celebration to being mocked on the Internet to questioning my very existence as a non-binary human.

This summer I connected on a deep level with another animal, my soul mate, my emotional support animal, my love.

This summer I experienced crisis counseling and prevention plans when I felt the keen and terrifying option resurfacing.

This summer I became even closer to the most important person in my life as we began our journey as roommates.

This summer I helped organize programs for my school to raise awareness for the struggles faced by queer students.

This summer I spent days alone in my apartment without even a job to look forward to, cast out in a limb by the summer camp I had depended on not only for employment but as motivation for life itself.

This summer I put myself out there as I searched desperately for a job to be rewarded with a $60 check every two weeks.

This summer I was unable to earn $12 an hour for my internship because my dad messed up my financial aid.

This summer I nailed the best interview I’d ever gotten and received word that I had been hired for an amazing job working once again with underrepresented youth.

This summer I visited my sister’s family and experienced for a week what true familial bonds should feel like.

This summer I avoided contact with my family as much as possible when the only interactions we had were upsetting and toxic.

This summer I said goodbye to my brother as he left the state for the first time on his own.

This summer I panicked when I thought I saw my ex, broke down when I saw her one social media, and finally, miraculously, was able to calmly tell her off when she attempted to contact me one last time.

This summer I celebrated her announcement that she would not be returning to my school.

This summer I showed my blog to people for the first time and made the difficult decision to put myself out there as a writer under the name I wanted.

This summer, I told people what my real name is.

It’s terrifying and it’s not over yet. In many ways I’m just getting started. I have a lot to work on from here. But I’m stronger now and I realize that. I’m going to make it through.

My Struggle

All the other camps I want to apply to are either full-time off campus positions (which I can’t take if I want to be a teacher for TRIO, and I want to maintain any connection to my kids that I am allowed) or already fully staffed and no longer accepting apps, or have values that are so drastically different from mine that I would not feel comfortable or safe in that environment. I know there are a lot worse things that could be happening to me right now and for the most part I am a very lucky person. But I can’t help but feel discouraged and undervalued. My kids are my life. I thought I was doing well enough that people could see that. Is it just that my methods or mentoring are so bizarre to people they can’t trust me in that role? Is going out of my way to empathize and understand those that I work with so uncalled for? Is taking time to have extra conversations with the ones that are usually ignored really that horrible? Is disagreeing with what my co-workers say and do and trying to have a constructive conversation about that an instant fail? I know I had my off days where I got short with a kid or a co-worker, but doesn’t everyone have those? Why aren’t I allowed that? Just as my self esteem was beginning to blossom I get shot down again because my philosophy on working with kids isn’t exactly the same as theirs. I’m blocked from the Pine Ridge trip because of stupid politics and someone who seemed bound and determined to bring me down by targeting the thing that was most important to me–my work with kids. I was prevented from even applying to CESA 6 and their Youth Mentor Program because my fucking anxiety won’t allow me to be a safe driver. I can’t do TRIO because of “something to do with group dynamics” and a few remarks from kids about me picking favorites when the majority of their comments were positive, saying I was nice and friendly and interesting and even logical. Logical! Do you have any idea what that means to me after years and years of being written off as an emotional nobody with nothing valuable or important to say? At least one kid out their respected the fact that I took time to explain things and went about doing things in a way that made sense to me (and them too apparently).
And now I can’t do any other summer camp that’s come my way, because I missed app deadlines because TRIO took their sweet time letting me know they didn’t want me back, or because I disagree with the mission of the camp, or because choosing that camp would force me to choose between it and maintaining what little connection I still have with the kids who I promised would see me again.
I know that I’m young. I know I’m still learning. I know I have room to improve. I know that, for the most part, I have nothing to complain about.
But I’ve only recently figured out what is most important to me. I’ve only recently begun to take action on it, get myself out there, make myself known. And I am being blocked again and again for reasons that I don’t understand or agree with.
I’m not unused to this. I grew up surrounded by people who loved to shoot me down. Who told me I could do whatever I wanted and then laughed at me whenever I did what I wanted, or showed any semblance of passion or talent.
I guess the difference now is that I’m not going to let stupid petty people get in my way. I’m going to keep fucking trying. Because I might not have the confidence to believe in myself but fuck anybody who thinks I don’t love my kids more than anything else in the world, and fuck anybody who thinks I would ever, EVER give up on them. I won’t be shot down, I won’t be shoved aside, I won’t be disregard or laughed at without fighting back. I study this shit. I know it’s hard on kids to lose a mentor figure even if all that figure was is a familiar face. Let alone a trusted friend, role model or support, which I know I was to at least some of them.
People tell me that it will all make sense some day. They say that this is all a strength test and I will come through better for it in the end. But having started with so little confidence, so little strength, and sop little support, I am constantly afraid that I may physically be unable to come through at all. Things that seem like small obstacles to other people can seem like insurmountable challenges to me, because I have so little experience to go off of. I have only recently discovered my sense of self. There’s not a lot of me that I can carry around or save when things go wrong. I’ve had to start over so many times in the past three years after doing the exact same things day in and day out for seventeen years. I don’t understand life. People terrify me. Relationships terrify me. The future terrifies me. I wonder if I am capable, emotionally, physically, to continue with anything I do. If I am capable of actually being. I let people walk over me constantly. I let people take advantage of me. I let them think I am fine, I am okay, I don’t care, go ahead, you’re more important than I am. And they believe me. I let them think it does not bother me that the things that are most important to me are taken away. That it’s okay for them to define me as something that I am not, as someone who I am not. To pass me off as unimportant. Because guess what? I believe them.
I want to keep going. I want to keep trying. I want to keep fighting. I want to say FUCK YOU to anything and everything that gets in my way. If I don’t have me kids, I feel like I won’t have anything. They are my purpose ad my life.
But I’m scared. I’m scared if I can’t. I’m scared if the day comes and I no longer want to. I’m scared if I lose my support. I’m scared if everything I believe in once again falls apart and leaves me to deal with the pieces. I know that a lot of people have gone through so much worse than I have. I feel petty and stupid even complaining about this. But I am small. I came in here with nothing to go on. I had no self concept except this image of a horrible, selfish, stupid, worthless person. A person with nowhere to go.
But now I’ve found where I want to go. I want to say that nothing can stop me now and these obstacles are just roadblocks that I can overcome. But I’m not sure. I’ve been wrong before. It’s hard for me to remember a time when I was right.

Mysterious Ways

Someone or something does not want me to forget my ex.

We’d agreed not to speak to each other outside of our jobs at the end of October. After weeks of silence on her end and me finally giving up, she somewhat randomly (from my perspective) confronted me about all the little things she hated about me. How I acted. How I ate. How I talked. How I interacted in different groups. I’d previously just been upset, but now I was mad. I was fucking pissed. For the first time since we started dating, since we broke up, I stood up for myself and fought back. She was taken off guard and we both fled the scene in anger.

I resolved not to contact her again, and this time she was the first one to reach out, proposing a solution I was not thrilled about. I told her we both needed space, we’d both be traveling soon anyway, and once we returned, maybe then we could see if it was still worth sorting things out.

She agreed.

I was remarkably relaxed about the whole ordeal. This time I’d been the one to break ties, and it gave me a sense of power, rather than the helpless despair I’d always felt before. If I saw her I smiled and said hello and went on my way rather than stopping to chat or pretending I didn’t see her. At first she seemed shocked that I was acknowledging her and refused to respond, but after a while she started saying hi back and smiling. We even managed to sit next to each other at an event (by accident) without getting mad at each other. We managed to have a civil conversation.

Then on one of my low days I happened to see her upset and suddenly I was worried about her all over again. Coincidentally, the next day we bumped into each other in the hall, and stopped to catch up. She was overwhelmed but fine. And so was I.

Then, though, she came to my apartment to visit my roommate. I didn’t feel like talking to her so I pretended I didn’t see her, but she kept throwing words my way till it was too rude for me not to say hello. But I was irritated.

Then we passed each other in the hall again and she waved and said hi but stopped in her tracks as though shocked when I waved and said hi back.

“Wait, what?” she spluttered.

“I said hello,” I snapped, wondering why she had to make a production out of every time we crossed paths.

Then one day it randomly occurred to me that she has been dating her current boyfriend for longer than she’d dated me. The fact hurt more than it should have. Maybe it would have been easier to deal with if she hadn’t started dating him only three weeks after breaking up with me.

As I ruminated over this I remembered something she’d posted on her Tumblr, which I’d read before deleting my account. She’d said something about not understanding how he could think of such nice things to say about her. That no one had ever done that for her before.

At the time I’d just been a little upset reading about her boyfriend, but thinking back on it, I realized what that meant.

It meant that all those things I’d said to her didn’t mean anything.

All of my compliments, all of my encouragements, all of my critique, all of my praise. None of it had meant anything to her. None of it was good enough.

It made me feel like I had wasted four months’ worth of words on someone who wasn’t listening.

Two nights in a row I tried to block out these thoughts by binge-watching “Once Upon a Time” on Netflix. It was starting to work–I was getting caught up in the story, though the constant references to “true love” were a bit depressing.

Then I spent a morning with a friend and we went to his apartment. He lived on the same floor as my ex. Randomly, I had just found out that he knew about us, when I’d thought he hadn’t. He was taking me to see his cat. We took the elevator.

When the doors opened on his floor there she stood with her arms full of laundry.

I was too shocked to muster up some sort of fake hello and didn’t even step out of the elevator until my friend did first. She stared back at me with a startled “Hello” directed at both of us.

I’ll forever be grateful to my friend for what he did. He went up to her and gave her a huge hug. I knew it was mostly because he was happy to see her once more before she moved out and left the country, but whether he knew it or not, he was also blocking me from her view until I could get out of her view enough to excuse the fact that I wasn’t looking at her. He then engaged her in conversation until she boarded the elevator and threw a generic goodbye to both of us.

Thank God she didn’t hug me, text me, or ask me how I was doing.

My friend led me to his apartment. “Of all the people to randomly be on their way down as we come up,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s all fine.” I was in a bit of a daze, not sure if I should have handled that differently. Am I the only one in the planet whose ex still had that kind of affect on me, after only four months of dating and six of breakup? And why, for fuck’s sake, do our paths keep crossing? Before, she would always seem to pop up when I needed her most. Now, she seems to appear when I most want to forget her.

I know the Universe works in mysterious ways but I wish it would lighten up. I can’t wait until we’re in different countries. I need her out of my head. I need to move on. Every time I get close to being okay she pops back into my life. Even deleting her on all my social media can’t keep her out of my line of sight.

Maybe someday I’ll understand and be grateful; there’s still this crazy part of me that thinks whether either of us likes it or not, we’re going to continue to fall into each other’s laps. It makes me wonder how she felt when she saw the door slide open and me standing in front of her. On her way down to her car, preparing for her new life elsewhere. And suddenly I was there.

Whatever device of life this is I hope one day I can look back and appreciate it. But right now I’m left wondering.

Crossing Under the Bridge

Part of my job training this fall is going to camp. By far, it was everyone’s favorite part of the training. Th site we stayed at for two nights is such a beautiful place, and we spend so much time working together in large and small groups that we get to know each other incredibly well, and in multiple capacities. I feel like I can rely on my coworkers not just as that, but friends as well–almost family.

My job family is almost as tight-knit as my summer camp family. Not a day goes by I don’t miss all the wonderful people my summer camp brought into my life, but I’m beyond thankful to be given this opportunity as well. Working so closely with so many special people, and getting to know so many new faces, all within the span of two short days at camp, makes my heart happy.

During camp I got to go canoeing with my best friend, who happens to have the same job as me. The two of us have just gotten through a really rough patch of being angry and upset with each other and basically ignoring each other all summer. The day before camp we were finally able to come to terms and apologize and listen to what the other had to say. I’m so happy to have her back in my life. And just like that, our crazy adventures continued as if they’d never stopped. We planned on kayaking all the way across the lake (it’s 200 feet deep! That was scary!) but about halfway across we saw a bridge on the side of the lake, with a current going underneath leading to a secluded portion of lake filled with lily pads. The two of us are crazy of course and decided to go under the bridge. It took us four tries but we finally managed to steer the kayak under the bridge. The current was strong and the water was loud, echoing around the underside of the bridge…but once we reached the other side, the water turned placid, the trees blocked the wind, and our kayak drifted peacefully across the water. We stayed there for a whole listening to the sounds of the water and the wind, letting ourselves float aimlessly, talking quietly or sometimes just sitting and staring.

Life is like that sometimes. I feel like that about my friend right now. We were both going across the lake with a purpose, and for whatever reason we’d separated ourselves from each other. But when we came back together it was like going under that bridge in the same kayak. We had to work together, and we had to want to go the same way, and we had to be willing to take that crazy jump and try again and again. Because we both were determined to get to the other side. We had to fight our way back into each other’s lives.

I’m so lucky to have someone in my life like this. She pushes me to do my best and asks me for advice, because she knows I know her well enough to help her when she needs it. There’s no one else I can go on spontaneous, daredevil adventures with, and there’s no one else I’d rather have at my side when I take those leaps. That’s why it felt so wrong when she stepped out of my life. Regardless of what happened between us in the past, I knew every day she was gone that I wanted and needed her with me in the present and into the future. And when she came back she told me the same thing. She wanted me in her life. It seemed right for her to have me in her life.

Some people are meant to come into your life, do their part, and leave. At first I thought she was one. She’d shown me so much about the world and helped me discover so much about myself in the process. She had my back during one of the hardest and loneliest times of my life so far. She was such a comfort and motivation, and it seemed almost too good to be true when she told me she was going to stay.

So when she left, it almost seemed right. It almost seemed like she’d fulfilled her role and I was to move on without her.

And I did move on, but I knew I didn’t want to be without her.

Truth be told, we used to be more than just friends. I used to call her my girlfriend, and we had the closest relationship I’ve ever had the privilege of being a part of. And as that was, we both came to a point where we knew it was not going to work out that way.

But part of me wasn’t ready to let go of that, and part of her wasn’t either. It took weeks of awkward interactions of us being “just friends” before we started getting angry. We’d never set boundaries, and when we couldn’t come to an agreement that would help to keep us in each others’ lives, we decided to stop trying.

For two months we didn’t speak or interact, and for two months I missed her every minute of every day. It took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t even the romantic relationship that I missed. I missed her as a person. I missed my friend.

Maybe the time we spent apart was what we both needed to realize that. Most romantic relationships don’t take this course, and more than once I’ve questioned why it is that I’m one of the lucky few who gets to keep someone who used to be my one and only and turn them into a solid part of my support system, even after all the bullshit. But I do know this: some people come into your life for a reason.

I think that’s all I need to say: She’s in my life for a reason. I am grateful every day for that. I won’t hesitate to say that I love her, even though it doesn’t mean quite the same thing that it did when we were dating. She has been, and hopefully will continue to be, one of my best and closest friends. And knowing that she was willing to fight to keep me around, to brave that crazy-ass bridge to get the reward on the other side, is one of the greatest compliments I’ll ever receive. Not everyone is willing to try so hard to keep me around.iPod pics 043