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Posted in Fiction on February 7, 2014
When I was sixteen I bought a map and hung it beside my bed. I put star-shaped stickers on the places I’d go as soon as I left home. I dreamed of all the exotic and wonderful cities I’d end up in. The people I’d meet and the things I’d feel. I was naïve enough to think I could survive solely on optimism.
I left home after graduation and I learned the things my parents feared. I learned that sometimes people are dishonest. Sometimes you over-prepare and psych yourself up and fall on your face anyway. Sometimes you find yourself on a park bench with thirty-six cents and no idea what to do next.
I learned that life doesn’t care if you’re twenty or scared of homesick. It doesn’t care if you’re poor or hungry or needing a second chance. Life takes what it wants and doesn’t owe you an explanation for the things it takes.
These moments will unzip you. But, if you’re wise, you’ll shed what you need to move forward. You’ll realize it’s okay to set things down just because they’re heavy and you don’t want to carry them anymore. It’s okay to let go of things that used to be true but no longer feel honest.
All of these lessons add up to something, although I’m not sure what. I just know that sometime during the past couple of years, my perspective shifted. I stopped seeing the world as a map with stickers on it. My world became a playground filled with contradictions. Beautiful and ugly. Light and heavy. Easy and hard. I used to think there was only one way to get where I should be going. Now I think maybe all roads eventually lead to our own personal mountaintop.
And if you’re wondering what happens after you pick yourself up off that park bench with your thirty-six cents, I’ll tell you what I did. I called home. I asked to come back.
It hadn’t occurred to me that I was getting older until I was back on this street. The neighborhood I grew up in looks the same, but I’m not the same. I left home and the most terrible and wonderful and interesting things happened to me. And now I’m back.
I can see my parents’ shadows on the porch in front of me as I approach our house and I don’t feel what I think I should. I don’t feel scared or excited. I don’t feel ashamed or disappointed. I just feel like I am supposed to come back home. To the people who love me well when it matters. To the map beside my bed.
Posted in Love on October 8, 2013
The person whose details I committed to memory. The person I want to forget sometimes, but can’t.
I memorized you. Because if I memorized the freckles on your cheeks and the late night text messages, it’d somehow keep the details safe. All those details added up to something.
I ignored the signs. The ones that told me I was on the wrong path. I knew from the beginning it wouldn’t work so I memorized the moments. Because that’s all we get sometimes…
Moments. The ones that change us and break us into something better. The ones that keep us moving. Keep us writing. Keep us searching.
The one I can’t forget. The one I memorized. The one with freckles.
I carved your name into the muscle of my heart. And, that’s the things about hearts… they don’t let you forget names you carved.
They just let you heal enough to add names and memorize new details.
Posted in Life on August 22, 2013
It’s the moment when you know you survived.
It’s when you think about the people who you couldn’t live without. You lost them anyway and you’re still thriving. Because your life is a revolving door and when one person leaves another enters.
It’s love. It’s the best damn love you could have asked for and you don’t understand it and you’re not sure you deserve it. But it’s there so you take it.
You have the power to withstand sorrow. You have the power to forgive. To do the best you can. And it’s everything. It’s so big and so small. It’s beautiful and ugly. Heavy and light.
Your hands are empty. Your heart is free.
Posted in Life on June 2, 2013
Things I have lost in the past 5 years:
3. Clarity on my purpose.
4. Ability to trust strangers.
5. My favorite necklace.
6. My natural hair color.
7. The girl I thought I was.
8. Desire to go to medical school.
9. Both grandmothers.
10. What I knew to be true.
11. Some naive ideas.
12. Some rigidity.
13. My 10 year plan.
Things I have gained in the past 5 years:
3. A business degree.
4. Miles on my running shoes.
5. A nose piercing.
6. Fear of aging.
7. Practice saying “no.”
8. My writing voice.
9. Experience with parties and hangovers.
10. A backbone.
11. Joy. Wild & fierce joy.
12. A hot pair of heels.
13. A love that moves freely in both directions.
15. A travel companion.
17. Second chances.
18. Acceptance. Of others & myself.
19. Open-eared & open-minded friends.
20. Moments where life pulsates vibrantly around & within me.
21. A tenacious spirit.
I am thankful.
For all of it.
Posted in Love on May 14, 2013
It’s funny how people come into your life and fill holes you never knew you had.
Some days I don’t understand how I met you or why you stay. I just know that you make things better. You make me better.
I’ve held so many hands and broken so many promises. I’ve loved quietly and fiercely and recklessly. I’ve been happy and sad and strong and broken.
I could write about all the ways you’re special and amazing but that would be too easy. I need you to know that you filled a hole.
A hole the size of a girl who was never asked to a dance in high school. A hole the size of the monsters that came out of her closet at night. A hole the size of another failure. Another disappointment. Another lie.
I don’t have to be broken for you to love me. I don’t have to be happy for you to love me. I don’t have to be yours for you to love me.
You just love me.
And your love fits perfectly inside this hole.
Posted in Faith on April 14, 2013
Sometimes I hate looking in the mirror.
Sometimes I see pictures of myself and can’t handle the image staring back at me. I get overwhelmed and cry and tell the world to leave me alone. I don’t know if I cry because I feel ugly, or if I cry because I realize there are some things in life that I have no control over. Some things that I will never have control over.
After these self-loathing tornadoes stop, I worry that you’re mad at me.
I worry that I’ve disappointed you. That you shake your head and wonder if someone else should have had my place. You gave me a heart that beats and eyes that see but I am often so ungrateful.
I don’t feel you the way I think I should. The way other people seem to feel you. I don’t feel you at church right now. I don’t feel you when I close my eyes before bed. I don’t feel your comfort when I’m lost and lonely.
But, I do feel you.
I feel you when I run. Not because I’m actively choosing you, but because running makes me feel like you’ve chosen me. I run and I know you’re not mad at me. How could you be mad when you’ve given me all these beautiful pieces that work so perfectly together? This heart. These lungs. These legs. How could I be anything but chosen when I feel you with me and we’re both happy?
I know you have a plan for me. Maybe your plan right now isn’t that I find you in church. Maybe it’s not that I get on my knees every night. Maybe it’s okay that I lace up my shoes to find you. That I run for those moments when life gets quiet. When the sound of my breathing is a prayer in itself.
I breathe in and I feel your pleasure.
I breathe out and I give you thanks.
Posted in Life on January 19, 2013
I lose sleep when I count the number of times I’ve lied to you.
I didn’t understand certain things about the world. I thought if people knew that children were being hurt, they’d make it stop. That if you sat with enough social workers and enough people knew your story, they’d take you somewhere safe.
I used to tell you that everything would be okay. That the pain would stop because someone would intervene and get you out. I’d promise better things were coming if you could just hang on a little longer.
I don’t promise you that anymore.
Now I tell you that the things done to you should have never happened to a girl your age. I tell you that it’s not okay. It will never be okay. And someone should have been there to protect you.
But I no longer tell you it will stop. I don’t promise better things will happen soon. Because I don’t know if that’s true… And you deserve truth.
I now tell you things I know to be true.
That, honey, you have to be strong. Stronger than what seems fair or possible. Stronger than all the other girls in your grade.
You have to be kind. Even though the world has not been kind to you. You have to responsible for your own feelings because harboring bitterness will just prolong the pain. You have to find people who will love and accept you. You have to learn to accept their love and have courage to love them back.
You have to envision your happiest dream in front of you and run toward it. Let it be your mantra. The thing you play over and over while putting on your shoes for school and brushing your teeth before bed.
You have to keep going, even when it hurts. That’s the truth.