this is for the mornings.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This is for the mornings when you drag yourself out of bed, eyes deep with sleep and hair messy in the tangles of dreaming. When the alarm clock isn't turned off the first time and outside it's gray, gray like the shale of pencil lead smudged across your hands during first grade. Math problems were never easy, but the heartbreak of five a. m. alone is worse than long division and calculus. It's cold in your apartment, and alone, and the floor feels like ice under your bare toes, already numb. You're questioning why you decided to put in wood anyways -- and where's a decent throw rug? The fridge is bare save seven day old cottage cheese and half a piece of pizza from a few days before when you couldn't take the expense or stress of just eating greens and caved to the little restaurant down the corner. The next morning, your abdomen looked pudgy and you sighed at your hips but the restaurant was quiet and you sat in the corner, alone at a table lit barely by candlelight, and you savored the loneliness like a rich chocolate, a fine dessert. Learning to be alone is a skill, loving being alone is an art. You've become a maestro at holding in words you've wanted to say and pretending that going to bed on the right side of your king size mattress is fine, that it doesn't matter there is no one to hold you on the left when you wake up at two, sweaty and flushed from a nightmare.

And so, you walk through the chilled kitchen and scrounge around in your cramped apartment for change, deciding to buy a bagel on thirty-first and west. You glance at the clock and suddenly it's five fifteen and if you want to be on time, you'll have to skip a shower. The grime of yesterday feels sticky on you and you glance longingly toward the shower. Finally, another look at the clock, and you head to the bathroom. There's no hot water again and it's the faster shower you've ever taken. Once you get out, you're shivering in a thin towel that was really meant for the beach but was all you could afford. Your pants are stiff and your socks feel lumpy and it's five thirty nine before you're halfway to presentable, but you can't leave any later than five forty five, so you swipe on some mascara as your eyelashes clump and twist your dripping hair into a bun. Messy buns are in, right? You sigh at the reflection in the mirror, the dim yellow light of the bathroom flickering. Am I really that pale? You wonder. Yes.

This is for the mornings when you ask yourself if you are really that pale. Yes. You really are. And it doesn't matter. Your beauty isn't defined by the line of tan on your skin or the freckles across your nose or the swipe of red on your cheeks when you blush. Embrace that dimple, that petite chin, the curvy line of your hips that says you are a woman. Embrace the red lipstick on days when you feel less than pretty and embrace the little black dress even when you feel too round to make it work. You can always make it work. A little black dress is an ambiguous trick to make you feel beautiful, but it's not cheap and it doesn't lie. Allow yourself to believe that you're beautiful, and not only believe it, but say it. Say it loudly to the quiet of your apartment, to the smudged bathroom mirror, to the man on the subway, to anyone who's listening. When you get breakfast at Dunn Brothers, picking up your steaming black roasted coffee and bagel swashed in cream cheese, and the man behind the counter with the smile like a question asks how you are, tell him you are beautiful and life is good. And if he smiles and laughs, embarrassed, let him go. Shake it off like a bad dance, like a bad dream, like a memory of your middle school self at a school dance. Eat your bagel by the window and write in your journal in big black letters that YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, as many times as you need to before you believe it. Someday, when you step outdoors in your heels or flats or boots, it won't be a word that you have to ink onto your hands to remember, but it will be a truth that you believe fully, wholly, completely. There is a confidence and bravery in seeing yourself for who you are and still believing you're beautiful. Someday, you will have mastered that grace and when people wonder who that pretty lady is, it will be you. Not because you lost the last ten pounds or wore a smoky eye, but because you'll be exuding the confidence of a woman who knows who she is. Hold onto that thought, that dream, and when the scale seems to suggest you're less than you truly are, let it go. Numbers are no determiner of beauty.

This is for the mornings when you decide to take three scoops of sugar in your coffee instead of two and feel bad because you're not trendy having it black, and you should be eating less sugar, and those last five pounds won't just disappear. Ignore it. Sink yourself into the richness of the morning brew and savor the taste of the roasted beans on your tongue, the sweetness of the sugar rounding the milky brown goodness into a drink that could have been made in France, Spain, Rome, anywhere but here. Close your eyes a moment and allow yourself the luxury of pretending that you're at a little cafe and the sun has just decided to peak over the horizon in the smudges of red from a crayon. And you are watching it all from your small table outside, a little chilly for want of light, but then the first flush of the sun rays hits the streets and you sip your drink and feel marvelous. Allow yourself that dream, for just a moment, for there is no shame in the pretend and the wanting. Let yourself want things, deeply. Don't forget how to love and how to lose and how to do them both gracefully and painfully at the same time. There's a difference between letting go and giving up, like the difference between true white and yellowed paper. Don't be the copy, the cop-out, the cheaper way because your heart can't bear the hurt that letting go will mean. Keep going. Your heart is strong and you will survive. Keep going even if it means saying no to things, saying goodbye to things, throwing out the TV and buying a bookcase that you will someday fill with penciled in, crumpled, stained books from second hand shops and thrift stores that will become your someday children's legacy.

This is for the mornings when the jeans fit a little too tight, when you look in the mirror and can't stand what you see, when you have no time to fit in a run and honestly, can't stand the thought of your feet pounding the treadmill next to strangers for three hours just for the sake of beauty. Shake it off, let it go, and tell yourself you're beautiful. Walk to the office and enjoy the taste of the world on your tongue, breathe deep of the crispness of possibilities. Look at the people on the street and smile, because not only is it your best asset, there is a kind of bravery in choosing to be happy when you feel anything but. Don't let the world rid you of your joy, don't let it rob you of the quiet voice in you that says there's good and beauty in those hard moments, those crying at the foot of your bed because you have no strength left to climb into it moments, those sitting at your cubicle at work with your head in your hands moments, those moments of feeling not good enough or not worth it. You are good enough and you are worth it and someday you'll find a man who will believe those truths more than you. And he will pursue you and love you a protect you and encourage you to take risks and send you flowers just because. Don't give in and don't give up, wait for the one who you click with, who you love deeper than blood and thicker than the skies come sunrise. There's a richness to the soupy sky much like romance between you and the one who is yours. Wait for the one who has a word on his tongue that when he speaks, you find it's the same as yours.

This is for the mornings when the quiet of your apartment rings in your ears and you no matter loudly you play your music, you can't drown out the break break break of your heart pounding from your chest. When the sky is blue but it feels grey and your lungs are heavy with loneliness, when you stare longingly at photos of your family plastered on the wall and secretly check plane tickets to find a cheap one, trying to convince yourself missing a couple days of work won't matter. Stop and let yourself be sad. Let yourself miss your family. Call your mother and tell her you miss her (because she worries about you, all alone) and tell her that you're sad. She will understand. And if she doesn't have words to give, the hum of listening to her speak on the phone is enough. Ask her what the sky looks like where she is and hold the image close to her heart all day. Let yourself remember summers in the country and swimming under the stars and that one time lying in the fields all day, watching the sky. If you have that afternoon alone, go explore. Pack yourself a picnic lunch of food you like to eat, even if that means just eating mast brothers chocolate and freshly baked french bread, and set yourself on a flat rock, doing nothing but staring up. It's not silly to still be picking out shapes in the clouds and you don't have to allow yourself to feel childish for crying from homesickness. Picture the sky at home and allow yourself to be sad, to be homesick, to be lonely in the city you love. Someday, your loneliness will be a badge of courage you wore when you were trying to get by. Was it worth it? They will ask, and you will say yes, because you will have learned to be lonely and to let go.

This is for the mornings when you feel like it's all too much.

Take a deep breath.

And keep going.

750 words this morning turned into 1823. but it felt good to write again.


  1. i swear, you are one of the most stellar authors whose work i've had the privilege of reading. you make me want to be a better writer.

  2. this. this is just...i don't know. i can't really put it into words. but this is so real and honest and heartbreaking. this is the kind of writing i love to read. you, hannah, are a stunning author. i could read your work all day long. :)
    and this sentence "Wait for the one who has a word on his tongue that when he speaks, you find it's the same as yours." I literally stopped reading and just went "wow". beautiful.

  3. This is pretty much exactly the kind of morning I've been having. I can't thank you enough for sharing this today. I've been feeling unloveable and not pretty and basically like I've got nothing to give. And I've been failing at love and failing at contentment.

    The fifth paragraph was probably the one that spoke to me the most. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou for writing this... even though you probably didn't write this for anyone's sake but your own, it really lifted my heart today. <3

  4. I feel like I can reach out and touch the emotions you're expressing. Tangible, real, and heartbreaking. But hopeful, and tentative, and new. I love the mornings when thoughts are expressed more fully than before. <3

  5. wow. this left me speechless. i really admire the way you can impart such raw emotions to your readers. beautiful, beautiful work. x

    ( the alcove )

  6. ooh man. I really love this, girl. just...really good. <3

  7. Hannah, you are SO talented. So so talented. I LOVE reading what you write because your words captivate me. I love how your words help me to see and feel things more deeply and how you describe real, raw emotions. I don't really know how to describe how much I love reading what you write or how to describe how well you write. Just know that I think you are really talented and I feel privileged to read what you write.

    Blessings, friend!


  8. Hannah..I am so privileged to read your words. You are so talented and your writings inspire me so very much. Thank you.

  9. My eyes are teary and my arms have goosebumps. Not only at the way your words are beautifully formed, but at your words. In working on one of my stories about a girl who is told by a mirror she is not beautiful, I find it more and more sad to think of all the girls, myself included, who believe day after day they are not beautiful because their face may not be perfect or their body may not look like unhealthy models or they may not meet the world's standard. The truth is, the world's standard is corrupt. It's filthy, it's disgusting. It's nonsensical, it's ugly, it's revolting. And this is what every girl strives to be, this person that the world sees as a thing. Because the world lies to us.
    It's taken me my entire life to realize this, that my worth is NOT from my looks. I don't know why it's taken me so long. God whispers I'm beautiful every day, if I would only listen to Him. It's taken my entire life to realize that beauty is not based of appearance.
    Your words are lovely and deep and resonating and needed. Thanks.

    1. Amen Abby, beauty is not based om appearance. I needed to read that. :))

  10. This is so beautiful and deep and lovely and I cried.