I had a summer that changed my life once.

roses

It was a lovely thing, wrapped in that airless, buoyant kind of hope that only a college girl would be dreamy enough to dream.

When I think back on it, I think of roses and summer nights and fireworks and rain.

And then – somewhere beneath that swarmy fog of happy memories – I dig deep enough to remember the depth of that summer. The hard nights spent alone in my bed. The 2 a.m. wake up calls that became a little too unhealthy. The spontaneous late-night roadtrip to West Jefferson with a wonderful, beautiful friend – just to get away. The hours spent alone in a coffee shop trying to write through the tears. And more than anything else that summer, the overwhelming, overriding feeling of aloneliness.

Yes, I’m aware it’s not a word, but somehow, it just feels right.

Aloneliness.

In the midst of aloneliness – in the thick of it – you begin to discover a side of yourself you never wished existed. A dark side. A side that’s so hard to escape, it makes you forget pieces of yourself.

Sometimes people say it’s hard to forget the bad things in life – the people who do you wrong, the hurt that has left scars so deep you don’t think they can ever really heal. I was one of those people once.

I was one of those people just two weeks ago.

But sometimes – sometimes, you can surprise yourself. Sometimes you’re stronger than you think and stronger than you believe. Sometimes all it takes is a diet coke, a long-lost friend, and a good heart-to-heart before you realize you want the tears to stop and the flowers to return and another iced coffee with extra sugar because you’re 21 and you’re allowed to do that.

Sometimes it takes time, and sometimes it takes effort. Sometimes it takes remembering the roses and summer nights and fireworks and rain instead of the tears.

Sometimes it takes choosing to live in Beauty, rather than the aloneliness.

I’m choosing to live in Beauty.