5.17.2018

IN WHICH I LIVE BEHIND THE TARGET

The other day I bought myself a skateboard. Probably because I'm having a midlife crisis. It has a skull on its belly and it cost me just a penny under fifteen bucks. It's still in its plastic wrapping at the time of reporting; it has declined to comment. It is currently residing in a large butter churner by my front door.

This is all a true story.

***

Now, contrary to what you might be thinking, I did not buy this skateboard at the Target! Even though I do live behind a Target. (I know, right?)

I actually got it at the Walmart. The Walmart!! Look at me already subverting expectations!

I definitely didn't go to the Walmart intending to get a skateboard. In fact, I didn't go there for any real reason at all, now that I think about it. I hadn't even been inside a Walmart since I left Moscow in February, and it is a matter well established that no one goes ten miles out of their way to get to a Walmart when one has a Target happening practically in their front yard. I mean, Chip and Joanna over the Pioneer Woman, I think this one speaks for itself. Maybe I was feeling homesick? But I digress.

The Walmart in question turns out to have the exact footprint and layout as the Walmart in Pullman, which was a rather weird experience. Kind of like the time I bumped into my ex at the Walmart when we were both there to buy milk for our kid. We reached into the dairy fridge at the exact same time, looked up, had an awkward moment, and then went about our way. I was getting 2% for my house, he was getting Whole. This must happen a lot, but it was quite the sensory flashback.

Just before landing in the toy section and momentarily getting caught up in the ridiculousness of a mode of transportation I just know I do not have the sense of balance for, I wandered about the place feeling quite like a Dolores or a Bernard, looking at the asparagus, casually questioning the the nature of my reality, wondering where I was... and when... truly, it could have been at any time! Diet Coke architectural displays are timeless! It made it so that every time I crossed the Subway in the front (which was a lot--I like for my Walmart trips to be as spiritually aimless as possible; the more times you can inefficiently criss-cross the joint on your way to get mundane things, the better), not only would I smell that overwhelmingly magical yeast-y Subway smell, but I swear I could also catch the faintest whiff of wheat fields wafting in from the automatic doors. Not to mention the vague aroma of knowing you've got nothing interesting around you to do for miiiiiiiles.

***

You know those scenes in Sci-Fi movies when some poor dummy gets sucked out into space and experiences that sudden frozen floatingness of dread? This is related, I promise. These scenes are all quite the same, aren't they. Something happens by accident or someone pushes a release button, and out they go! And then for the next thirty seconds or so you get to watch this one scene that all science fiction movies seem to have, that 'floating out to nowhere in space in slow motion' scene. These poor saps just ... floating there, one arm outstretched, their face a frozen mask of terror mixed with a weird kind of dawning acceptance. You know the one:

 

Like that. I like to call it the Slow Motion Oh Shit. (It's catchy.)

Anyway, I was thinking about this as I was contemplating skateboards, that weird sandpaper-y finish on the top, and whether or not I'd have to buy myself a pair of skater shoes now to go along with it, and what are the physics behind skater shoes anyway? And did you know that I am single and I live in Portland now? 

It's quite the tactile expression, I think. (We're back to space suckage now.) Almost immediately in those sequences I start to feel like *I* could be the one out there with nothing to hold onto, everything deafeningly silent, my pulse drumming in my ears, my mind a complete blank. It'd probably be pretty peaceful, actually, if you could wrap your head around it . . . all those stars and galaxies surrounding you, the relief of finally succumbing your own mortality, nobody nagging you for another bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch . . .  I mean, maybe. And it makes one wonder (shut up, yes it does) if that must actually BE the face you'd make if YOU got sucked out into space, too. Is there a science to this? Has there been a study? Probably every single person who's ever been sucked out into space has made this exact face so far... except how many people do you suppose have actually been sucked out into space before??? Is this just a collective unconsciousness deal, wherein we've all somehow silently conceded that this is how it would be like, if?  

And you know how sometimes the Universe keeps trying to tell you to do a thing, and you know what it is but you're willfully pretending like it doesn't make any sense because there's GOT to be a better way around it? And so you sit on your thumbs and do absolutely nothing about it instead???

***

Once upon a time I was married.

(This is how I was going to start this blog post, like, five iterations ago.)

Once upon a time I had a blog, and I was married. I lived in a city that I loved, I had a husband who loved me (enough... ish), I had a child who was spectacular (still is spectacular), and I had a blog that I wrote in whenever crazy creative juices were flowing, or else whenever we were strapped for cash.

I truly, naively believed it would always be that way, for better or for worse, even when it was the worst, and even when I knew it was unreasonable and it was killing me, and even when I knew that parts of it had become entirely untenable.

Until one day, April Fools Day, actually (how fun is that), all of that ended, and I got dumped.

Well, scratch that. Most of it had ended looong before that. My city was just a depressing memory by that point, and my marriage a complete shambles. The blog had become a kind of self-flagellating prison. By then all that was left was this overly tight grip we all had, a kind of desperate holding on to a thing that seemed to want nothing to do with us. White-knuckling a past future, I guess. Clinging to the final vestiges of expired dreams like a five-year-old clings to your leg at kindergarten drop off.

And anyway, I wasn't dumped so much as let loose on the world without any prior consent or preparation on any of our parts, and let me tell you, it has been TERRIBLY GRACEFUL.

***

You know, there's a certain kind of comfort in clinging, I suspect. It's a thing one can do when there's not much else to be done. It has a road map already, it's got a final destination, whether or not that destination is actually attainable or even preferable is another thing altogether, but all Wilson Phillips aside, I think I'll assert here that excessive holding on, for one more day or for any amount of time, really, isn't terribly good for anybody.

And so I was let loose, to, eerily, silently, yet oddly-gracefully (hah!) float off to nowhere, one hand outstretched, my face a reflection of my doom... Not to put too dramatic a point on it or anything!

Actually, at first it was liberating. All stars and orbits. My stomachaches went away. The sun seemed brighter. Rehashing in my mind old things that had been said that once hurt me . . . now they didn't anymore. They felt ok. I felt settled and final.

But then the dread sets in. Suddenly every planet you've known is out of your reach and disappearing quickly. Your surroundings are beautiful still, but your future feels grim and your face feels paralyzed and your limbs go numb. Your destination seems at once wholly up to you and entirely out of your control.

Obviously, the first thing I did was end my blog.

No no no. The first thing I did was move all my furniture and my kid into a tiny cowboy shanty on the edge of town that was built in 1890, had been moved around Moscow four or fives times since, and was currently perched on a foundation made of cinder blocks. How's that for a metaphor! I made that move all by myself, in the rain, over a day and a half. Fierce determination in the face of absolute confusion. That felt pretty good.

And then, I cried. I cried a lot, for a long time. Not for the loss of a person or a relationship, and not even for the loss of the future we'd white-knuckled for so long. I was grateful for that release valve, I was grateful to be floating. I think what I was grieving was that sensation of sudden unmooring; the overwhelming freedom of the destinationless.

That's when I ended my blog.

***

What happened next?? Well, here's what you missed. I threw myself into my kid and my chickens. I decorated the ever loving daylights out of my tiny house. I got a turkey, two ducks, and a very opinionated rabbit. I bought a gym membership and took barre classes, gained all these new muscles, not to mention a whole host of old lady gym friends. I read books and I went to counseling and I downloaded Tinder. I watched EVERYTHING on Netflix. I got odd jobs where I could and went thrifting with Kara. I did a lot of crying, made a lot of questionable choices, and did a lot of cracking-open. Really breaking the ribs and opening out, letting the oxygen hit me. Very slowly I started the process of getting to know myself after marriage.

I was able to muscle my way into a job here in Portland with a start up and, with Brandon's blessing, moved Huck and myself out west to start a new life! . . . Which then promptly tanked because start ups are assholes.

This was when shit all got real, and there I was again. Floating. This time it felt interminable, and frightening. It felt like a life sentence. I got back on my horse just the same and I applied to all the jobs. To ALL of the jobs. You know, health insurance and 401ks and reliable paychecks. Even the jobs that sounded horrific, I applied to them all with gusto. And over and over again, something just doesn't want that for me, something that's even more stubborn than I am and hellishly determined that I not take the sensible way out. I must have applied to thousands of those jobs. Millions of them!! Aren't you happy to see that my skills in exaggeration are still in fine form!!??! All the while I really, really struggled. It became oddly difficult to even take care of myself in the most basic ways, it seemed like everything was gone at that point, and I think that was when the finality of not having a family anymore, of not going to be having any more children, of not getting a clean start, of not being taken care of, finally set in. I really had to grieve it. The things I had cracked open before, I now needed to smash all to pieces before they could finally start to knit themselves back together, and it was hard, and it was lonely. I tried on futures. So many futures. I tried on futures, and I discarded them. I tried on other futures. They discarded me. Me and my future, man, we've been naught but goopy noodles of spaghetti getting flung against the wall. over. and over. and over.  

I suppose it is time that I just listen to that damn old Universe already and do what it's telling me. After all, nothing else is sticking. 

(Am I too al dente is that the problem???)

(Pasta metaphors!)

***

You know, being without the constant scrutiny and opinions of outsiders these last few years while also being finally outside the realm of critique that came with my marriage made it hard for me to know which source was the culprit of everything I'd gone through all those years ago, until suddenly, my mind was the culprit. Whooshing in, over and over, criticisms, insults, doubt, tearing myself down, reminding myself of failures and shortcomings, chiding myself over mistakes, my head becoming a hell of my own making. I guess you can outrun your captors, but that doesn't mean you've escaped your captivity. Maybe it wasn't always a hell of my own making, that old part of my life online and in marriage that was so toxic and hurtful to me, but by now any part of it remaining I had to own and accept as my own responsibility, a creation of mine and mine alone. Only I could produce that crippling self-doubt for myself, and so only I could destroy it. So, one by one, one false core belief at a time, I did. It took a lot of work to take them all down, and it was rough. I had to really claw my way through it, but I'm proud of myself for getting here, and still working to forgive myself for how long it took and for all the dumb choices I might have made in the meantime.

But back to to the skateboard for a minute. It's a pretty good idea, you know; learning new things, time spent outdoors with my kid, you know, brain wrinkles and things; unless it is a DISASTROUS idea. Remember, I once broke both my heels jumping over the last two steps on a staircase. But I've got band aids, a good stash of arnica cream, and a fair amount of bad judgment. I think I can do it. 

And on this: I'm certainly not going to get it right this time around, either, and I'm not at all sure what it's going to look like yet, or what my monetization strategy will be, or how often I'm going to write, or even WHAT in the damn hell tarnation I am even going to write about for bob's sake?! But I don't suppose that's ever stopped me before now has it? :) I get the sense that this is where I need to be, that it's time to let go of whatever's been holding me back, and just jump out there with the stars and galaxies. Slow motion "oh shit" face and everything. It's time to loosen my grip. I've got a finger on a release button.

It starts with p and it rhymes with "rublish."

Here's to the floating, kids.

127 comments :

  1. Glad to see that you're back, even in the messiness. I'm sorry for all that you've endured -- I've been there. Floating, alone, lonely, out in the world. You'll find your way.

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  2. Love it. Love you and your realness. Talk about the new anne of green gables and how it made you feel. i liked it but it also made me angry...things don't have to be so dramatic amiright?

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  3. "fierce determination in the face of absolute confusion" SPEAKS to me. you are a stellar human being, and I am so dang excited that the blog doors have opened once again.

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    1. This was my favorite line too! Welcome back, Natalie- here’s to being a better version of ourselves tomorrow.

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  4. I am glad you are back. I hope you are well.

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  5. just so excited to read your words again! welcome back and here's to the floating, indeed.

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  6. Good to see you! You’ve got this!

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  7. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this!! congratulations to you for making your own decisions and putting yourself first. It is hard work what you are doing, we all go through it at some point and you are doing an amazing job! Also, selfishly, I am so happy you are back!!

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  8. Welcome back, Natalie!! I've missed your words in my brain these last few years. Thank you for being so open, so vulnerable- even though I'm sure that wasn't easy, it sure is appreciated. You got this, girl. Here's to seeing what this new crazy life will bring! Bloom where you're planted, and all that.

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  9. Oh Natalie, I'm here at work tearing up reading this (in a good way!) Truly, this may be on of my most favorite posts you've ever published, and I've read your words from back in the original Moscow days, and had many favorite posts and quotes in that time (one quote even that I actually wrote down on a scrap piece of cardboard and hung on my Christmas tree the year my whole world came crashing down a few years back - and ever since - and it brought such solace and beauty to a really rough chunk of time there! So thank you for that!) OK, getting lost in space here, back to my point... I am so glad you're writing again, and sharing it with us. It was like visiting with an old friend. Write when it feels good, share it when it feels right, and keep being YOU! You've got this, girl... And we've all got your back!

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  10. This is so poignant and beautifully written. I remember finding your blog in college over 5 years ago and connecting with you so much. I was really sad when it ended, but also felt happy for you in a way. This post really reminded me of some of the first entries I ever read from you and how raw and real they were. It seems like you're finding yourself again. Much love on your journey.

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  11. Welcome back. We've missed you.

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  12. Missed your voice. Glad you are (maybe?) back. *hug*

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  13. This makes me so happy!!! Yes to floating, yes to skateboards, yes yes yes! I’m glad you’re back :)

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  14. You came back! 👏🏽🎉 so glad you’re here. I’m so glad you’re in a better place. I struggle with my inner critic a lot and it’s comforting to know I’m not alone. I’d love to know more about how you went about challenging those false core beliefs as I’m working on that myself. Xo

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  15. Welcome back! I have wondered about you often and I know you will be ok now. You have an amazing brain that will help you along the way. Many of us out here have your back. Take care!

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  16. I'm so, so, so happy to see you back in this space! And I'm excited where your new beginning or "midlife crisis" takes you. I'm rooting for you!

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  17. I am very happy to see you back and hope to see you around again. Thank you for sharing.

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  18. Also, Yes to the above comment, I am totally keen for some Anne of Green Gablea discussion.

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  19. OMG so glad you're back!! Also, Portland is THE best! So I feel like you're already on the right path :)

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  20. This has to be the best description of the free-fall of divorce I've ever read. Thanks for writing, it makes me feel less alone. And welcome back.

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  21. I'm so glad you're back!!!!!! Thank you for having the courage to publish once again. This was beautiful.

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  22. YAY! There are tons of us that adore your perspective and appreciate that you share it with us. Thanks for coming back :)
    I bought a skateboard at Walmart on a whim years ago. Good luck ;)

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  23. welcome back. the internet has missed you.

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  25. So so so so happy to have you back.

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  26. ::whispers to self:: She's still got it.

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    1. NAILED IT. She totally does!

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  27. Oh man I'd forgotten how much I loved your writing. I don't even have the words to describe what it does for me, but it speaks to me in a way that few authors can. It's authentic and funny and scattered and real. I'm so happy you're back.

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  28. So happy that you're back!!

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  29. Welcome back! And you've GOT this! Sending lots of love to you and Huck... and the chickens, turkey, rabbit, and whoever else has come along since the time of posting. ;)

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  30. Natalie, darling Natalie. It's really good to have you back. What a lot to have lived these past couple years under the radar. I understand the reluctance to venture back into the blogging world, but good on you for taking your cues. I paid the Universe to steer you this way, you know? You are so goooooood at this! You've always had an honesty, a hilarity, a bareness, a kookiness, and a wild way with words. Your voice has been sorely missed. For as long as it suits you, it's going to be fantastic to follow your new journey.

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  31. I am soooo glad you are back, this was a beautiful post! I think it is only appropriate to celebrate with this poem:

    Love After Love (by Derek Walcott)

    The time will come
    when, with elation
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror
    and each will smile at the other's welcome,

    and say, sit here. Eat.
    You will love again the stranger who was your self.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.
    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.

    You can also listen to Tom Hiddleston beautifully read it here: https://www.npr.org/2017/03/19/520708160/a-reading-of-derek-walcotts-love-after-love

    Much love!

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    1. That is going into my journal thisveryminute, as I sit here at work, with a million things to do. Thanks for sharing. <3

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  32. I'm so happy. You were very missed.

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  33. Funny thing is, my greatest fear on the world is floating untethered through space. This so totally unreasonable, I am not an astronaut and I will never be in a space movie. But, I write this to say, I get that feeling and it's terrifying or at least,I think it is. But what a story it is going to be.

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  34. beautiful and inspiring, as always. happy to see you back and amazing as ever after so much REAL LIFE SHIT. so much goodness is on its way, i just know it. hang in there, friend

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  35. Hey girl, sad to read about the murkiness of the last few years but also inspired by your grit and so happy to read your voice again which is as wonderfully real and quirky and charming and relatable as it ever was. xo from Florida.

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  36. I'm so happy you're writing again

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  37. It's wonderful to hear from you! It feels like a favorite book has a recently discovered long-lost chapter.

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  38. Welcome back! How long we have waited. Good things are ahead and so many people are behind you!

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  39. I laughed, I cried, 10/10, would read this blog again. WELCOME BACK!

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  40. Yes, the floating. I hear you. You've got this!

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  41. WEEEELLLLLLCCCCOOOOMMMMEEEE BAAAACCCKKKK!! Reading this post made my heart so happy. It reminded me why I fell in love with reading blogs many years ago. Your writing is so beautiful and clever, thank you for listening to the Universe and having the courage to return. You have been so missed. Here's to Natalie 2.0 xxx

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    1. Hmmm.. just to clarify - the post itself didn't make my heart happy, it was your writing that did that ;) the excitement over you being back may have gone to my head!

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  42. Let me echo the words of the tribe and say WELCOME BACK FRIEND. For as long or as little as you are comfortable staying, welcome back. We surely missed you.

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  43. Thank you for coming back! You have been missed. I'm going through a divorce, and it seems a lot of women that I've following online for YEARS have been through that same recently. It's very comforting because its like we are all going through it together. Also, thank you for the Slow Motion Oh Shit, it's vv relatable and I love having a name for it now. I very glad you're back, the internet wasn't the same without you! Thank for sharing your gift with us, you've got a forever fan in me.

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  44. Oh, and aren't we all at least a little untethered these days?

    You may already be familiar with Laura Jane Williams (of Superlatively Rude), but this post especially made me think that your writings might resonate with each other, so I thought it was worth a mention!

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  45. You are such a great writer, I'm so happy you're back.

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  46. Welcome back, Natalie!! I am excited to get to know you as you are now! Also, wanted to let you know I was raised by a single mother with my dad in a different city and my life turned out great. Things weren’t perfect, but I’m in a joyful, healthy relationship now and appreciate everything my mom did to give me love, opportunities, and encouragement.

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  47. What a great read, very raw and honest. Glad you are back. Best of luck w/ everything, do deserve it.

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  48. breath. of. fresh. air. I'm so glad you're back, however it may look. reading this was like therapy.

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  49. I am SO glad you are writing and sharing again! It feels like great privilege to be able be on the other side of your stories and writing, because you are both honest and talented.

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  50. Oh yes queen. Your writing is pure delight for my soul. So happy to read about your floatings. Hugs momma!!!

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  51. Thank you for writing this! I relate in so many ways. I haven't been divorced, but lost my brother five years ago and in a lot of ways, the grief is similar. You're always in my thoughts.

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  52. First, ((hug)). Thank you for being courageous enough to write this. Courageous enough to share yourself with us again. It is so amazingly good to have you back.

    "...one by one, one false core belief at a time, I did. It took a lot of work to take them down, and it was rough..." It reminded me of another line of yours: "Home is where ever you fight like hell for." (or something like that). You're making a home for yourself within yourself, I think. You're fighting like hell for a clear and healthy reality, a safe space within your own mind. It's a battle worth waging. Don't give up.

    And please, if you can, keep sharing it all with us. We do love you as much as it's possible to love someone you've never met in person!

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  53. I'm so glad you're writing here again

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  54. Incredible! It’s nice to have you back, skater!

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  55. Ah, you’re like comfort food to my soul.

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  56. I'm so glad you are back! I've missed your blog/writing so much <3

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  57. So happy to have you back! We've missed you and I'm so grateful for your honesty and openness. It's so difficult to be real sometimes when everyone wants to present some perfection...when all we are as human beings is imperfect. Thanks for coming back!

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  58. Oh my goodness, we missed you so much. This is beautiful, thank you for sharing. P.S. Please continue the Instagram stories. They are sooo great. <3<3

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  59. So so happy to have your writing back!

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  60. This essay is amazing Natalie. Keep writing.

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  61. How amazing it is... to feel that life is not over, that we can actually endure the most terrible things. Your writing is the most sublime thing. Thank you for sharing your pain and release, your beautiful way to grow, with us. We have missed you!!

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  62. love having you back. missed your writing terribly. keep doing it. <3

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  63. I’ve missed your writing, your humor, and the voyeuristic peek into your life. I’m glad you’re back.

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  64. This is so EPIC! I have often felt the same “oh shit” moment. Those moments remind me that I’m alive and that life is messy and parts of it are totally out of my control. But that doesn’t mean it cannot or should not be amazing. Sending you much love and hugs :)

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  65. My favorite saying post divorce is: "I didn't die".
    It relates to so many situations. Old situations where I surely thought life itself would kill me, and new situations where I just do new things and see where I land.
    I'm glad you're back. I'm glad you're writing.

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  66. Wishing you the warmest welcome back. You are an incredibly talented writer and I look forward to reading whatever you want to share. Much love from Nashville.

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  67. You've either got it or you haven't and you do, which you already know. Onwards and best of luck.

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  68. You're back!!!!!! I am the happiest when I read your writing <3 Welcome home friend!

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  69. “I guess you can outrun your captors, but that doesn't mean you've escaped your captivity.“ Gave me chills. I felt your soul on the page, and it is powerful. Do you have any idea how talented you are? I hope you do. Even if you write about nothing, it’s enjoyable. Thanks for this post especially. Fan for life. xo

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  70. YAY. I’m happy to read your writing again. I live around the corner from your old place in Greenwood Heights. Mom and professional trying to figure it all out. Please keep it coming-your writing makes me feel a little less alone.

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  71. I've missed your writing. Welcome back, Natalie!

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  72. I teared up reading this. That floating in space feeling is palpable. I get legitimately pissed off sometimes because of how unknown the future is, but I know that’s the point and I’m not supposed to know how everything turns out. I truly wish you so well and your writing brings me joy !!

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  73. This post was every bit as wonderful as I'd imagined your comeback to be--of course it is--but these comments! I'm in tears from the supportive words of loyal readers who are, like me, thrilled to have your voice back in our lives. I can't wait to see all of the wonder and magic Portland, and the skateboard, bring our, er, your way!

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  74. Yes!! Your voice is so appreciated around here. Your writing is like no one else’s. Enjoyed reading as always. (And I feel like Portland and you will be a great fit)

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  75. Nat, I think you are the kind of bird who does best as the master of her own fate. You're going to fly and it's going to be brilliant. I'm so glad you're back.

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  76. Hands down, this is the best post of all time!

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  77. i love this. i feeeel this, on many a level. i'm rooting for you, always.

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  78. I hadn't read your post yet (because I didn't want to read it on my phone) and then this morning as I was brushing my teeth I had a sudden vision of a scene in a movie where we see people all around the world opening their laptops and going to your post and laughing, crying, sniffing as they read, maybe a cat jumps on their lap, and I put down my toothbrush and came and read it and it was beautiful and perfect.
    Some people say skateboarding is all about learning how to fall. xx

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  79. Girl. I missed you. It’s been a time. The human in me is so glad you went to counseling. The therapist in me is glad you made or your struggle public. ❤️❤️

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  80. Oh my goodness I've missed your writing. Welcome back!

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  81. I'm so happy you're back! Hang in there, girl.

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  82. The words! ALL the words, every.last.one. It’s all the facets of you in one post, it’s like a mash-up of all you’ve ever written, a well produced mash-up too. Even if you never write a damn thing again this will make it okay.

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  83. Sooooo glad to have you back, stirring up all my feelings lady, can't wait to tag along on your adventures in Portland... it's gonna be great!

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  84. Cheering for you + your freedom. I’ve been here! And actually I ended up feeling like divorces and breakups and breakdowns were so powerful that I became a coach who specializes in helping women get their lives back in the midst of the mess of them. If you ever feel like talking, or reading, I’m here! bookme.name/kimberlypendleton

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  85. Whoop whoop - delighted you're back.

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  86. Not to rob a major movement, but me too!

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  87. Oh, I've missed hearing your voice. So glad you're writing again, Natalie.

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  88. Such wonderful writing that I found especially relevant to a personal situation right now. Please don’t stop! I missed your blog.

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  89. I have missed your writing so very much! Happy to see you back-you've got this, girl.

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  90. Thank you! for coming back, for sharing your story, for your writing!
    I have missed you :)

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  91. Welcome back lady! We all missed you terribly. Also, your random word associations are giving me life!

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  92. So glad you are back. Rooting for you, always.

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  93. Yessssss!!! I’m so happy you’re back!!

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  94. Welcome back! Add me to the list that has missed you and your writing. It made my week to be able to read this - can't wait for more!

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  95. So glad you are back! Since you have been gone, I had a baby, got married and moved to a new place with my family. I'm also in a similar place as you, looking for meaningful work, raising kids and trying to navigate things with my ex (who, oddly, bought me a copy of your book when we were in a getting along phase). I'll be glad to go through this with you :)

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  96. Nat!! I found you circa Fat Rat and will follow you as you venture into the Great Unknown. You got this. Reading this post gave me allllll the feels.

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  97. woo hoo, you're back! what a wonderfully written post.

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  98. I am so glad you are blogging, but so sad over the ending of your marriage. Been there, done that. Take care of yourself and I will read your blog as often as you write.

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  99. Welcome back....I've missed you!

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  100. I missed your writing so much. You don't know how happy this post makes me.

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  101. Welcome back! It's great to read your blog once again.

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  102. Oh, God, that last paragraph resonates with me so darn much.

    Welcome back Natalie, you have really been missed.

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  103. Really glad you're writing again. And feel you on the future-less-ness. It's freeing and it's paralyzing.

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  104. welcome back, so happy you are. i hope this space remains a place you can be you because that's all we really want.

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  105. Beautifully written and courageously told. Welcome back, Nat. Fuck off to anyone on the internets who can't see your struggle and find grace.

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  106. i am so incredibly glad you're back!!!! your words were music to my soul tonight.....thank you for being here in this space, for showing up, and encouraging us to look at our own hearts and lives and be real!

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  107. ::Cups your face in my hands, stares in to your eyes:: Have you read all the comments? Do you feel all of us rooting for you? Can you see how excited we all are for YOU and your writing? Please don’t go looking for naysayers and haters who will surely be lurking somewhere. Fuck those people. WE are here - your fierce supporters. We are here for you and we love you. And we want you to monetize the shit out of your writing so you can do what you are meant to do.

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  108. We have missed you so much. You are a spectacular human, and so strong. Thank you for your courage in sharing and being so honest. Your writing is incredible, and such a comfort to so many. <3 <3 <3

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  109. I couldn’t sleep so I went on instagram. As soon as I saw your post I hurried here. You gave us a lot! Thank you for being so open, Nat! Sending you huge hug from SoCal!!!

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  110. Thank you Natalie for returning, I've missed you, we've all missed you, and we're all older, 'wiser' and more worldly. Take the stage lady!

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  111. I have been waiting years for you to come back! You are a writer, Natalie Jean. That is your talent, your gift. Use it!

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  112. Always publish because I will always read. Good luck Natalie!

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  113. A great post and fun to read. I like your stream of consciousness !!

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  114. Good to see you back. Looking forward to reading more.

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  115. I was so happy to be able to type in "heynataliejean" and a new post come up! I have missed your writing and can't wait to read more! Good luck and I'll be here for it!

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