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so pretty to think


By Cali LoriaPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - February 2024
so pretty to think
Photo by Nicole Calmet on Unsplash


Hallmark once told my parents, concerning their love story, that it was "incredible, but not enough conflict" to be made into a movie. From birth, I was certain soul mates existed, that they found their way to you with the same pristine ethos as a stork delivering a baby in a crystal sky. When I asked my Mother about sex in 5th grade, she handed me a bodice-ripping romance novel and said, "Here, read this." I didn't stand a chance.


One of my greatest embarrassments occurred in 8th grade, as I walked the hallway of my latest, new middle school, reading a book held open on my trapper keeper between my sweaty palms. Chance DeHaven was throwing a pencil as he walked, heedless to his surroundings, the way one can afford to be when popular. The pencil flew back and landed on my reading material, and without missing a beat, I said, "See, I'm a good catch." It haunts me to this day.


On Take Your Daughter To Work Day in 1994, I went with my Father to a luncheon with a business partner and Miss America. I got to pick the restaurant, and I chose Applebee's. Those Oreo shakes had me in their chokehold long before TikTok dances immortalized them within the zeitgeist. I could not wait to get one with a clubhouse grille and fries. Miss America ordered a side salad, no dressing, and a diet Coke. I felt the obesity of my thoughts, straining their way through my disordered thinking like the buttons on my sun and moon Kohl's vest. I didn't dare order the shake. Later, in high school, the day my eating disorder was revealed to my parents by the school nurse, my family went to a diner for our evening meal. I ordered a milkshake. If I drank the entire thing, it would somehow prove that I was, if not better, sincerely repentant. My milkshakes have brought me to tables at which I could never swallow the size of my existence.


When living with ten theatre majors in college, all collectively agreed I would make the worst mother. I was aghast. I was the only sober person in the house, academically gifted, and I collected Hallmark cards in a heart-shaped wicker basket in case an occasion arose one was necessary. I was the first to have a child, at 22, right outside of my graduation. I deferred my Master's Degree and, during the Pandemic, spiraled deeply into alcoholism. I did not comprehend that the leap from child to adult to parenting a child required more than a Bachelor's Degree. There is no Hallmark card to say, "I loved you more than life itself, and never learning how to love life itself, became a snake eating its tail." To conceive parenting, one must first give birth to one's ego.


The other night, my Daughter's Dad said to me, "You're ridiculous," with the grin I take to mean, "You are the single most delightful person on the planet, and your charm enamors me," but that might also mean, "How on Earth have you survived 39 years of life and what would you do if I ever stopped raising you?" Both could be true simultaneously, and that is how I know love is a binary: an encoding system in which there are precisely two possible states: low and high, zeroes and ones.


When I was in rehab for alcohol addiction, a grief counselor told me that in recovery, I would grieve losing my true love: alcohol. I stumbled through so much of life outsourcing my self-esteem, first to men, and when that failed, to a bottle of poison I could nurse at the lips. That I would mourn the loss of such a toxic lover caught me off guard; it was both the prologue and the epilogue to my addiction. Recovery taught me that learning to love myself was akin to learning to walk before I took off at a run. Being pigeon-toed, it was no surprise that I would stumble, fall, and then fly.


For most of my life, I treated love like the styrofoam filing in a cheap toy: it was never enough until it was simply too much and bursting at my seams. I chased a happy ending without ever beginning. I thought love would define me and never questioned my boundaries until I faced down sobriety and took hold of my invisible string. I unraveled the mysteries of needing to tie myself to another, rewove the umbilical cord between myself and my children, carefully unknotted the distance between myself and my Mother, and painstakingly stitched together the blanket of self-love in an intricate cocoon, held together by each story, each layer of approval and denial, worth and witnessing, until I felt warm and safe inside myself.


About the Creator

Cali Loria

Over punctuating, under delivering.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (6)

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  • Anna 2 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • olymoolla2 months ago

    Your writing is very nice you write like this you will be a great writer And I was asked to do a story by going to my vocal ID

  • Hummingbird2 months ago

    This was an enjoyable read, very entertaining. I saw two spelling errors, let me know if you want to edit it.

  • Shaun Walters2 months ago

    Loved the line “did not comprehend that the leap from child to adult to parenting a child required more than a Bachelor's Degree.” Great job!

  • Kendall Defoe 2 months ago

    This is really speaking to me. Thank you for sharing this!

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