To Myself

I can’t remember the last time I really got to relax.  I can’t remember the last time I got be alone and think and work and write.  Which is why I feel almost nonexistent.  I’m always working.  I’m always with someone.   There’s always something else that has to be done.  Why don’t we cherish things when we have them?

My heart is not broken, but at the same time, it is.  I miss home the most in the summer, when it’s so hot here that I can hardly breathe.  All you have to do is exist and you’re sweating.  And the rain does nothing to cool the land.  I miss my dad and my brother and my best friend.  I miss home cooked meals and long drives and being allowed to spend the day in bed.  I miss my mom.  You never quite learn to appreciate things until they’re gone.

This life is not what I thought it would be.  But then again, life never is.  It’s full of surprises, good and bad.  I used to call myself a writer, but I don’t think I can say that anymore.  I’m not even trying anymore.  Any talent that I may have once have has disappeared in the busyness of work, and relationship, and life.

I don’t know what I want.  And I don’t know why I complain so much.  As humans, I guess that we are never quite content.  I miss the days when I would sit in silence and meditation, but I live as though there’s no time for that anymore.  I can’t make the days grow any longer.

As I write this, I know I still need to go buy groceries.  I still need to clean my apartment.  I still need to do so many things that won’t get done if I’m not the one to do them.  Because I am an adult.  Adulthood snuck up on me.  It probably sneaks up on all of us.  Even though we spend our childhood chasing adulthood.  How foolish are we to want this freedom that isn’t really freedom at all.

A year.

A year ago today I arrived in the city of Florence, AL, the city that I now call my home.  I got here with no job, no place to live, and no idea what I was doing.  And I still don’t really know what I’m doing.

I thought moving here would bring me better writing opportunities.  And I have gotten offers, but none that have followed through.  Sometimes it seems that I’ve been so caught up dreaming, that I’ve forgotten how to write anyway.

Since moving here, I’ve gotten my first apartment on my own.  I got my own car insurance.  I have a dog and a real relationship.  Every decision I make is mine alone.  I’m finally fully discovering adulthood.

Florence has shown me that community is like the tide.  It comes and it goes.  When you really need it, community is there for you.  But community disappears when you stop asking for it.

Florence is a place I have fallen in love with.  It’s unexpected, but so am I.  It’s the place where I fell in love.  And, for now, it’s my place.

I’m one year in.  I’ve made it.

Right Now

I am currently sitting on my balcony, that I just swept off, for the first time since moving into this apartment seven months ago.  It is November 1st and it is 82 degrees outside.  Back home it’s 35 and they’re getting ready for the soon coming opening of the mountain for this winter season.  I have to get ready for work in fifteen minutes so that I’ll be there on time.

This forest behind my apartment is not silent.  Not the way Mammoth was.  Almost every second something is stirring.  It’s autumn, so leaves are constantly falling.  And I’m certain every step I hear is from a deer or a squirrel making their way around.  It’s like magic though.

My life has changed drastically in the past year.  I’ve probably changed too.  I’m fairly certain I’m not the person I was last November.  Maybe I’m better.  Maybe I’m worse.  Maybe I don’t like who I am.  But maybe I’m trying to.

My heart is as restless as it always is, but I think I have found a home.  I think I’m learning what life is supposed to be like.  I think I’m finding who I am.  And I think I’m okay with any mistakes I might make in the meantime.

23

I think turning 23 is the birthday that I have thought about the most.  I’ve dreaded it.  I’ve looked forward to it.  I’ve imagined it for far too long.  What would it be like to be 23?  Even though I think you feel about the same, no matter what age you are.  Yes, sometimes you feel old, and sometimes you feel young; but I feel about the same today as I did yesterday.

A few years ago my friend Zack was turning 23.  And it hit me that Blink 182 once said that nobody likes you when you’re 23.  I found that to be hilarious, and it became a running joke for me about anyone who was 23.  So maybe I thought that nobody would like me when I was 23.

Today, I turned 23.  And it also happens to be my golden birthday, because I was born on the 23rd.  My best friend sent me on a scavenger hunt that ended in a surprise party at one of my favorite lakes.  I don’t think anyone has actually put this much effort into a birthday for me.  I am so grateful, and I feel so loved.  But instead of going out tonight and doing something crazy, I was just tired.
I came back to my temporary home (more on that later), and I took a bath.  I’m going to sleep after I finish writing this, and it’s barely 10pm.  I am getting older.  That’s what 23 has taught me so far.

But you know what?  I like me when I’m 23.  And I know a lot of other people who do.  I’m going to Ireland when I’m 23.  I’m going to get my first real apartment when I’m 23.  I’m going to run more, eat less, and write as if my life depended on it.  I’m going to put myself out there when I’m 23, both in my writing career and in my personal life.  I’m going to take care of myself when I’m 23.  It’s time to be a real adult.  So I’m going to grow up when I’m 23.  I think this is going to be the best year yet.

About Hope

I tend to remember everything.  More specifically, I remember almost every conversation, especially minor ones, that I have with people.  As of late I have learned not to bring up old conversations, because the speaker usually doesn’t remember saying the things that I remember.  But I digress.  

I once had a conversation with a good friend of mine, Aaron.  I was 2.5 years ago, and my mind was still pretty messed up.  I wasn’t sure how long I would be metaphorically “sticking around” then, but I had a little bit of a grasp of what I would do if I got through my ish.  I had an answer for everything, even in my brokenness.  I was pushing people away in a successful manner.  Throughout our conversation Aaron noticed something.  He then asked me where my hope was.  I had no answer.  I had no answer, because I had no hope.  Even though I was in Bible college, doing my best to follow a God who I felt was betraying me, I had no hope.  My hope was not in God, even though I desperately wanted it to be.  

Fast forward a few years to where I am right now.  For church on Sunday we made s’mores and had community time.  We separated into groups around the four separate campfires and we told God stories.  I had on my heart a need to share where I had been and how I got to where I am now.  I talked about how I had always had a plan, and now that I have no plan I am more content than I have been in a while.  My sharing sparked an ongoing conversation, and some prayer and some vulnerability.  One of my roommates, Gus, went on to point something out to me.  He said that it seemed that for a long time I have had no hope in my life.  When I had a plan, I had no hope.  But now, he said, I have an evident hope.  Even though I have no idea what my life holds, I have hope.  

So maybe when I have plans, I put my hope in them.  If I have learned anything in my life though, it’s that if I don’t get my hopes up, they can’t be let down.  Now that I have no plan, I cannot be let down.  My hope is in God’s plan, and not knowing what it is makes life a little bit more of an adventure.  And I want to be in love with adventure.

When I Was A Child

When I was a child, I acted as a child would
I woke up early on Saturdays to watch cartoons with my brother
I let my imagination run who I was on the day-to-day
Creating characters that were never birthed into fruition
And if I skipped breakfast, it was only because I didn’t know how to make it for myself

When I was a child, I spoke like a child
I didn’t understand the meaning of words like theology, calamity, destruction, depression
My made up stories were about beauty, talking animals, fairies, and life
Rather than ugliness, heartbreak, loneliness, death

When I was a child, I was innocent and free
Nothing bitter, harmful, or cancerous had yet touched me
The phrases that I used were still black and white
There were no hidden meanings in my replies
I was not yet broken, untrusting, or terrified

When I was a child, I was still able to dream
I was fully aware that the world is so much more than it seems
There was no reason that I couldn’t conquer the world
I could do absolutely anything; nothing was too big for this small girl

But I am not a child anymore!
When I became an adult, I put childish things behind me
I became aware of the world’s corrupt and fallen nature
Not trusting anyone, because I don’t want to be broken

I abandoned imagination for reality
Raised my vocabulary with a dictionary
Left my innocence for strength, a fortified protection
And my dreams became just that, dreams, fiction

So why do we want to grow up anyway?
I now understand Peter Pan, forever residing in Neverland
But like Wendy, I left, and have forgotten who I am
Hoping to wake up in a blur, still wondering what happened

Why do we strive for adulthood, so structured, hard, and cold?
When Christ rebuked His disciples for being exactly that, for acting too old?
He said, “Let the children come to me” “Have faith like a child”
I wonder, are we not His disciples?  Are we not His children?