I’m like a cat. Sorta.

Did you ever get the feeling that you’ve lived many different lives? I think I’ve had about five so far, each complete with its own tiny tragedy and death. My different lives are usually built around new places or people. And when I change cities or relationships, I have to bulldoze over everything I’ve built and start from scratch.

My third life orbited around a guy named Ben. I was 22 at the time, still in college, and worked part-time at an independent bookstore. I had recently moved back to Pennsylvania after spending three years in Vermont and had lost contact with almost everybody I knew from my home state. Ben was a godsend and the gateway drug to the archetype of man that I now prefer. He was the typical tattooed, hardworking, blue collared, beer guzzling, I-can-fix-everything-in-your-kitchen-and-on-your-car-and-I-can-even-sew type of guy. Ours was a love measured in mileage. He lived an hour away in South Jersey and every day one of us took up the task of rounding up the dogs and making the commute across the river to the other’s apartment. I created an adorable life when I moved back to PA, filled to the brim with feminist theory seminars, Ikea futons, laid back, easy part-time work, dog walks, and punk rock shows. I had literally no responsibilities other than keeping my GPA up and paying the cable bill.

That life came to an end shortly after I graduated. Ben wanted kids and I wanted a career so we parted ways. Life Number Four started the day I moved to Philly and revolved heavily around poverty, fear, career changes, and another relationship. I laid Life Number Four to rest two years later, after two apartments, four jobs, the worst break-up that I’ve ever been through to date, and the adoption of another dog.

 Life Number 5 is the first life I’ve had that has been primarily about me. It’s about self-improvement, self-realization, and self-acceptance. I’ve made tons of mistakes already and have hurt a lot of people in the process, but something has woken up inside of me.

All through high school and college, some ingrained thing in me was growing and feeding on snowstorms and Catholicism. It made me bite my nails at 60 miles per hour and it made me sad in the winter and it made me stay up all night stressing about where all of this was going, and when I moved to the city, I shut it down. Hey there, painful thing. Chill out for a couple years. So there we sat, in a posh apartment with a job in journalism.

But lately, it’s been moving around again, this enormous monster in the soupy lake of my subconscious. It’s gnawing at me and punching at me and I feel like I have to suffer a bit more to grow up. Life Number Five is about feeding my painful thing, allowing it to grow and working my butt off so that I can feel fulfilled with the one real life that I have. Does that make sense?

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