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.

Blogging Everyday in July|Last Day

It’s the last day of the month.  I made it.  This is it.

Today, I wrote a poem for someone wonderful that I haven’t known that long.  Marsha asked me to write a poem for her when I said I was gonna write one for her husband.  I’ve been wanting to write it for a while, but I’ve been so drained.  But today, it finally happened.

Mama Duck
Mama duck
With all her ducks in a row
Always having someone to care for
Because she was made to care

She knows her quiet place
She knows that there, she can find rest
Her empty nest is never an empty nest
Her heart is always full

Healed
Redeemed
As someone who brings healing
As someone who carries freedom

Mother, daughter, sister, friend
Both known and unknown
Safe in the mystery
Comfort in the open places

Holy
Loved
She reflects the Father
As she dwells in his gaze

No need to search for something more
More is already given
Overflowing
Find peace beneath her wings
Home.

In Conclusion

You may be unaware of this, but I have been unintentionally angry with God for quite some time now.  I’m not sure when it started.  It’s kind of like he’s that friend that you want to be mad at, and then he does something wonderful and you’re like, oh right, you’re actually great, I’m just being a beezy.  So I was mad for a lot of college, but after I graduated and moved to Mammoth and got to spend almost a year just listening to his voice, I fell back in love with him.  I remembered what it’s like to have a good relationship with a loving God.
After I came back from Ireland, which might possibly be the highlight of my entire life, I wanted to move right away.  I tend to try to rush God.  And really, it might not have been God at all that kept me from moving in October.  I stayed for the winter.  And really, it was a fantastic winter.  But I pulled away.  I pulled into myself.  I became someone else temporarily.

Being in Florence, I’m learning to find myself again.  I’m learning to listen again.  But all of this is just digression to the story I want to tell today.

Last Monday I flew back to Nashville from Reno via LAX.  I knew that when I landed in Nashville I would have to get an uber or a taxi to get back to my car, because my flight was delayed so much that the shuttle would no longer be running.  I also knew that I had barely any money left to do this.

On my second flight I sat next to this girl who kept catching my eye.  If you follow me at all, you know that I do my best not to talk to strangers unless they first address me, and even then I get awkward.  I’m not good with small talk.  So this girl caught my eye.  Our plane took forever to get clearance to take off, so we kept taxiing around the runway and I realized that she was editing photos on her phone using the same app that I use.  I always edit photos on planes too, because it gives me something to do.  This is not that strange of a thing to have in common though.
Then (I’m such a creeper) she started going through her music on her phone and picking songs to listen to on spotify.  We have the same taste in music.  Again, not that strange of thing to have in common, except that I listen to a lot of folky indie music.  She started working on editing a short film on her computer, mostly just the title sequence, and I was trying so hard not to watch her as she did this, but I couldn’t stop noticing this girl.
Finally, they came around and asked what we wanted to drink, and I almost always order coke on planes.  It kept running through my mind that this girl and I were cut from the same cord, and then she ordered a coke.  And we both got a second bag of pretzels.

As the flight went on I tried to fall asleep, but God kept speaking to me about this girl.  I felt that if I didn’t write her a note that I would regret it.  So I grabbed my notebook and wrote to her, telling her that God was speaking to me, possibly, and that she didn’t have to believe me and I told her how I never do this and that I would understand if she thought I was crazy.  I told her how I had been angry at God, but I needed to write to her anyway.  I told her what God was saying to me.  I said if she ever needed help from a stranger that she could email me, and I gave her my email.  Then I folded it up and put it on her tray, while she had her head in her hands during the turbulence.  I went back to my music, stared out the window, and tried to fall asleep.

About ten minutes later, maybe twenty minutes before the flight landed, she tapped me on the leg.  She said that the note was exactly what she needed to read, and that I had no idea.  She asked me my name and told me her’s was Molly.  We talked about her school, how she’s in her last semester.  We talked about how she grew up in the south, but she wanted to break free from it, and talked about how I was trying to embrace it.  We didn’t really talk about God.
Molly asked me how I was getting back to my car and I told her that I honestly didn’t know.  She said her mom was picking her up and then they offered to give me a ride.  These strangers drove me the 8 minute ride to my car all because God made me a creeper on the plane.

God is all about connection.  Connection to him.  Connection to the people around us.  I think I’ve been so angry because I’ve forgotten that.  I was so stuck in my own reality, in my own social anxiety, that this connection terrified me.  Really, he just wants us to be able to enjoy the life he gave us, and he gives us the tools to do this.  We just like to do it on our own so often.

In conclusion, once again God has taken care of me.  And once again, I will do my best not to forget it.  He’s great.  You’re great.  I’m great.  We’re all great.  Also, I’m tired and losing my train of thought.

Both Worlds

There are things that I love in life.  Things that I’m figuring out.  Things I feel called to.  And I’m learning that there are things that I need.

I love art.  I love stories, both hearing them and telling them.  This is why I love people, even though I make such a point of saying that I don’t.  I love writing and being able to share that side of me.  Being encouraged in that is one of my favorite things.  Being pushed to do that is what I really need though.  Which is why I love community.  I need a community that has at least one person who will do these things with me, because my anxiety won’t let me do them on my own.  That’s something I had when I was in school, but I have no desire to be back in LA, with the traffic and how long it takes to get anywhere.

I love mountains.  I love nature and open spaces.  I love adventures and hiking and skiing and kayaking and swimming in lakes.  I love that these places aren’t crowded.  I love that I could take off my clothes and jump into freezing cold water and not have to worry that anyone would see me.  I could do this back home.  But I didn’t love the isolation.  I felt like I couldn’t breathe there.  Two different kinds of people were telling me who to be, and the people I found myself listening to weren’t the best people for me.  I needed to do something on my own.  And there wasn’t art, not in the way I crave it.  The artists there were lazy.  If someone had talent, no one would know it, and not enough people cared enough to pursue it.  You had to have the type of personality to make your own name known.  That’s not who I am.  I hide.
And Mammoth was so far from everything.  Two hours to get to the nearest city, and working too much to make going anywhere possible.  No one pushed me to be the best me, but that’s not anyone’s fault.  It’s a town of individuals.  Those individuals didn’t build the kind of community I needed.

I love good music.  I love musicians.  I love history and wildlife and culture.  That’s something that Florence has, although I haven’t grasped it yet.  There’s events all the time.  I just found out the university here has live lions as their mascot, though they weren’t out when I went to see them because it was too late in the day.  This town has culture and nature and art.  It has people who I could love, if I would stick around enough to be in their community.
But I’m an individual.  And I work in hospitality.  So I don’t have weekends or a regular schedule.  I used to go out after work and drink, but be only five minutes from home.  I was spoiled.  If I didn’t want to be by myself, I didn’t have to schedule time.

I was called here.  Or I thought I was.  But I wonder if I just wanted to escape what I thought was an unhealthy environment.  I wanted to do something on my own.  I was miserable.  I need to remember that.  I needed to know that I can make it on my own.  Yet, I keep asking myself why I decided to do life alone.  I went running the other day and realized that absolutely no one knew where I was.  I suddenly was very aware that if I disappeared, no one would notice for quite some time.  And no one would know where to look for me.  But who the hell am I going to tell my daily whereabouts to?  Isn’t that a weird thing to do?

I’m not giving up.  I’m just having a lot of doubts in myself.  I keep wondering what I have done.

I want so badly to find a place where I belong.  I want mountains and lakes and kayaking.  I want culture and community.  I want poetry and art and options.  I want the city.  I want the snow.  I want to be my best self and I want to be somewhere that I can thrive.  But I don’t want to do it alone anymore.

 

The Difference

I have lived in different parts of California my whole life.  I’ve visited a lot of different places over the years as well, but if there’s any place I know, it’s California.  Until a few weeks ago, I had never been to the south, except Florida, but that doesn’t count.  I hadn’t even really been to any other eastern states.  Yet, here I am.  And I certainly didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

Here, people talk in church.  Which happens in some churches in California, but I am used to attention not being put on me, and I like it that way.  However, I also really like hanging out with the people I’ve met in church.  I was expecting a bunch of conservative people, because in California, everyone told me that it would be too conservative here for me.  It certainly is not.
I had Mexican food for dinner.  It’s not California Mexican food.  The beef was ground, not shredded.  There were veggies in the rice.  But it doesn’t make me not love my life.

I don’t know many people here yet.  I haven’t started working yet, so I’m bored a lot.  But I know all of this will change.  I’m lonely, but content.  I know that I am where I’m supposed to be.

People look at me funny when I fill my car up with diesel.  And until I took the Thule box off, I got questions about it far too often.  But here, people aren’t afraid to ask questions.  Maybe some would say “nosy,”  but I like it.  I like how kind people are, how caring they seem.  I like that I have been invited into a community, a family, instantly.  I don’t feel like I don’t belong.

My anxiety makes me feel like everyone is staring at me all the time.  I haven’t yet found “my spot.”  But I have begun to make a home.  I know it’s all in my head, and no one is watching me take my trash out.

Before I moved, I thought southern hospitality meant that when I moved in neighbors would bring me food.  They didn’t.  I’m kind of glad about it though.  I’m glad that people aren’t trying to force their way into my life.

I’m rambling.  But I love it here.  I’m unsure still, but I can feel my heart filling.  And yes, I will definitely need to adjust to the heat and the bugs.  Good Lord.
Hello Alabama.  Sweet home Alabama.  Haha.

Road Trip With Me: SoCo with Lime

If you’ve ever gone out with me, you know that I hate taking shots.  I can’t just throw something down my throat, I have to have it sit in my mouth.  Thus, shots are horrifying.  My last Sunday in Mammoth, the boy and I went to see my friend DJ at a local bar/night life place.  We both had a drink and then the boy asked if I would do a shot with him.  He already knew the answer was no, but he begged me to try soco with lime.  I had no idea what it was.  But it was awesome.
In case you’re wondering,  it’s Southern Comfort with a lime added to it.

Sometimes you just need a little southern comfort.

When I was about fifteen, I made a friend on the internet *gasp.*  It started on a Christian Myspace alternative, then went to Myspace, and then to Facebook.  Over the years we’ve gotten to know each other, watched each other grow in life and in our relationship with God.  I’ve seen his life with his wife and now two little boys.  He’s seen me graduate, first from high school, and then from college.  He’s watched me struggle and flourish.  We’ve prayed for each other.  We’ve heard each other’s stories.  All with never actually meeting.  Well on Monday, we met.  See, he lives about 2 hours south of Florence.  So I drove down and we went on a hike and had dinner with his wife and friends and little ones.  And it was as if it was just normal.  As if it wasn’t the first time.  SoCo with lime.  I’ve always considered Ryan to be one of my good friends, but now I might consider his family my family.  My Alabamily.

Yesterday I went to a job interview for a job I really wanted and was offered the job while I was there.  They’re just waiting for my background check to come back so that I can process in.  And I signed a lease.  The first time I’ve lived truly on my own.  I feel insane.
So I’m sitting in my new apartment, utterly alone.  And it’s so empty, because I moved across the country with no furniture.  I obviously need things, but right now I just need to keep telling myself that I am content.  Because I will be okay.  I know that I am taken care of.  I know that I’ve made the right decision.  Now I just need my heart to settle.

Road Trip With Me:Time to Trust

So I’m not very good at making plans.  If they fall through I get stressed out, and when I’m the reason they fall through I feel like a jerk.  I tend to keep my plans to myself, especially when they’re risky.
So now I’m in Florence.  And I have no idea what I’m doing.

I looked at apartments and requested info from a few several weeks ago.  However, I never heard back at all.  Yesterday when I rolled into town I was so out of my mind, and it was too late in the day, for me to actually call on properties.  So I decided I would take care of that today, as everyone that I know in Florence is out of town.  Surprise surprise.  But I’m fine.
However, today is Saturday.  Offices are closed on Saturdays.  And it usually takes a few days for rental approval to go through in order to move into a place.  I really don’t know what I’m doing.

Yet there has been some encouragement.  I maybe should have started with this bit, but it wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t scattered in my thoughts.  I stopped in Topeka, Kansas and saw my friend Jordie.  We ate Chick-Fil-A and talked.  Mostly I talked.  I just had so many things I needed to get out.  I told her how I sometimes felt, on the drive, that I was making the wrong decision.  But she encouraged me.  She said she wished she could do what I was doing, but she is called elsewhere.  She told me about all of these other people who are flocking to Florence.  I suddenly felt like I was part of a movement.
I stayed the night with my friend Erica and her husband.  I went to college with them and it was nice to feel safe, loved, and taken care of, if only for a night.  Erica and I caught up.  She heard my heart.  And it was good.

Last night, after my arrival, I found a place to stay and I tried not to fall apart.  This is my home now.  I just don’t understand it yet.  But I filled out more job applications and prepped for whatever is going to come next.
See, I feel as though I left a big piece of my heart behind.  I’ve never felt that way before.  Every move I make here, I haven’t yet accepted any of it as permanent.  It’s like I’m on an extended vacation.
This morning I left messages with apartment offices, I printed my resume, and I drove around Florence.  Every hotel that I stopped at with my resume (an application already filled out) gave me more encouragement.  Everyone is so nice.  I have a few interviews lined up and already had some mini interviews.  And though I’m worried, I’m not really that worried.
And today someone told me about a spoken word open mic event that happens every other week, and even offered to take me.  And there’s so much music here!  I should feel welcomed.  And I think I do.

This is the first time in my life that I have really had to trust God.  I’ve always had my family, or someone familiar, to fall back on.  I’ve always had someone who believed in me, who knew me, that I could trust to be there for me.  So, although I have heard God and he has provided for me in so many miraculous ways in the past, I have always still had one hand holding onto earth, holding onto what I know.  Well here, I don’t know anything.
I’m in Florence, and I don’t know what I’m doing.
I’m terrified.
But I’m also oh so excited.