Monday, August 8, 2016

Butter and Solitude and Cats


Because sometimes you make the pasta and eat the pint of ice cream and watch the rom-com and play the song by Jacqueline Fran├žoise that always makes you think of Paris at Christmastime*, and miss the boy.

Because even three hours is too far away. 

So pet the cat. Spoon the ice cream. Boil the water. Squeeze the lemon juice. Sprinkle salt + pepper. Slice the butter. Put on the slippers. Pull the blanket tighter. Curl up with music and words for comfort. 

This is life. Good and hard. Full of joy, deep and full, and solitude of long nights with looming questions. 

*Noel Blanc

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Be Where Your Feet Are


'Be where your feet are.'

That's what growing up is, I think. 

It's learning to love vegetables. To choose of your own free accord to buy mushrooms and turkey and kale and balsamic. To get up at 4 a.m. when you've been tossing and turning instead of staying in bed and waiting to fall asleep like your mom always told you. To make midnight eggs and look your lions of anxiety in the eye and tell them, "You do not get to speak louder than me."

To call someone babe for the first time in your life and to smile unsarcastically when you say it. To not caring what your life looks like on Facebook any more - or even wanting to have a FB account, even.

To realizing relationships are about compromise on your part just as much as on the other person's and that sometimes you have to give up something.

It's learning how to do life well alone and then learning the even harder lesson of how to let love in.

To remembering what you laughingly said to a friend months ago, "I want a pet because I need something or someone to love," only to understand later on that you had someone to love - and that person was you, and damned if you didn't finally start doing a fine job of loving yourself after twenty-three years. 

It means falling asleep safe in someone's arms and understanding that home can be a person, not merely a place. That as Bea Taplinn says, sometimes 'it has a heartbeat.'

Monday, June 20, 2016

One Small Fact


***ONE SMALL FACT***
Ghosts, contrary to belief, exist.
They are everywhere.
Writers are just the ones who see and name them.



"I suppose we're all ghosts when you really think about it," he said. "We become something different, never again who we were during this exact moment...just ghosts of our old self."

 She wrinkled her brow, looking around at the golden November light falling on the crisp winter ground, melancholy and sweet all at once. Quiet surrounded them, and for a moment, she could see all the faces passing through the years who had come and gone, who had walked that very path stretching before them and stood in the very sun they now sat in...nothing had changed. And yet nothing was the same. She, too, would leave with no visible mark that she had ever been here. A slight shiver of wistfulness ran through her. 

She looked at him. "What about when we leave places and people - when we move on to different ones?"

"I think all they remember is how we were then - who we were in that exact place during our time with them. All they have of us are memories..." he finished softly. "Ghosts." 

fiction. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

This skin I've been wearing

I tend to find for myself, and others as well, when things are quietest on social media or on the blog, it's because life is either very full. Or very hard. Life's been a mixture of both this semester.

This year, rather. From the very start, 2016 has been different than any other year. Last year, I dyed my hair blonde as a way of being bold and proving to myself that I was strong, that I could stand alone on my own two feet, that I could take adversity and change and survive. And survive, I did.

But the beginning of 2016 has been the aftermath of that survival. It was the ugliness that comes after crossing a long, hard finish line. It was the collapsing, the part where my knees gave out and I couldn't get up for a very long time. Anyone who runs and has done a half-marathon or a full one can tell you that the moment you cross the finish line...feels amazing. The next 5-10 minutes are full of adrenaline and you feel like you can do anything.

Because you've survived.

You did it. And damn it all if you aren't proud as hell about it.

But then, all of the pain comes flooding. The ache and wear and tear that you've just put your body - your self - through comes roaring in.

And it stays.

You're sore for days and can barely move or walk. And you're starving. Starving and hungry and yearning for food, for nourishment.

In many ways, so far, 2016 has been sore and painful and filled with yearning.

Starving for love (all the different kinds, not merely or even the romantic sort), for security. For solidity and safety and strength. Because sometimes the world tilts and everything changes, and you're standing in the exact same place, yet nothing is how it was. Nothing is the same anymore.

I've gone through hard seasons before...we all do, you know. And I will continue to, for life is filled with ups and downs. But this year...this season...this semester was different.

Because for the first time in my life, I looked in the mirror and saw deep unhappiness in my eyes.

It's the skin I've been wearing this year. This semester.

Unhappiness.

It's why my hair went dark and shorter, why I snipped bangs late at night over a sink. Because I felt so very fragile and quiet and lost.


Transitions are always strange and hard and painful, and I think mine came early. While other friends were excited for the last semester of college, I spent my first week on campus struggling to keep back tears at the sight of a familiar building. The beginning of many last firsts...and first "lasts." Life's beauty and fleetingness was especially poignant those first few weeks, made even more so by the fact that so much had changed in my personal life.

Emotions and friendships and love and self-care. Boundaries and esteem and lines and things unspoken and moments uncaptured.

The past five months have been ones of quite suddenly, and without reason, wanting to cry. And yet nothing tragic or terrible has happened. There have been many happy moments...and many lonely, hard ones. I started vlogging in February because I wanted to capture my last semester and the people in it on film...and then halfway through March, while looking at the footage, everything came to a startling halt. And I stopped filming.

Because I looked unbelievably unhappy in every. single. video.

As someone who's always worn her heart on her sleeve and can't hide any display of emotion of her face, even I finally saw the truth. The spark in my eyes had gone out. And hadn't come back, even months later. I went on a few dates with a boy at the beginning of February, and we went to go see Tina Fey and Amy Poleher's film Sisters for our second date. I laughed so hard that night, and laughed some more with him after the movie. And was shocked to realize I couldn't remember the last time I had laughed that hard.

I sat there and tried and I couldn't.



I've felt the darkness of depression before, and this wasn't it. There were many circumstances out of my hands that had to be endured, and choices I had made that caused ripple effects. Details aren't really important because I think perhaps everyone experiences at least once, a soul-deep, skin-covering unhappiness.

And being aware of it was perhaps the best thing. Because I began to consciously make choices that would bring happiness.

 I started saying no when I could to commitments or extra tasks that I didn't have to do but was asked to do. I started taking myself to the park to sit in sunlight and silence, alone with only music and books. I started moving slower, giving myself permission to nap. I sought out the people who made me smile, who made me feel loved, who didn't require a performance or extreme emotional energy from me. I treated myself to a favorite meal and stayed in my room on the weekend for some much-needed introvert time to watch a film I'd always wanted to see. I gave myself permission to cry and to laugh. I prayed a lot and tried to lean in to God, to lean my head on His knee and just sit in His presence.

I tried to give myself grace and sunlight and kindness. I tried to take care of myself and stay away from bullies.


I'm slowly, very slowly, becoming. Becoming me...becoming Grace - this strange, wonderful, silly, deep person who dreams about worlds and elves and love and babies and good cups of coffee and the rolling hills of Ireland and England. This person who is made up of words, who dances and sings, who says too much and feels too deeply and always overthinks.

But she's me, and I'm proud of her. Proud of who is she is today. Who she is becoming.

Together, I think we'll be quite something.

So, slowly, I'm shedding the skin I've been wearing, the skin I've thought I should be wearing, and learning to love my own.

Friday, May 27, 2016

What Might Come to Be

am so often given to moments of quiet. 

Both of doubt and of certainty. 

Quiet moments that slip in, like soft beams of sunlight - gentle and weightless, but calm and comforting. Moments that fold around you, a delicate drop of richness and stillness, permeating your skin and hair through to your very soul, to the most silent part of you that cannot always be expressed through words, that is only felt. 

Sometimes I sink into those moments, as John Green said, "slowly and then all at once." And I'm floating, falling so very gently and slowly, slipping into what is and what could be...

And I can see, can feel what might come to be. 

The cool weight of a slim golden ring on my hand. The gentle dip in the bed as he slides out and pauses on the edge. The soft, almost featherlight brush of his hand against my hair and the faint warmth of his palm on my shoulder, his morning ritual before standing to begin the day. The clear slits of light tumbling through the blinds, falling over the edge of the crumpled comforter and scuffed wooden floors.

The quiet babbling of little ones in the next room mingling with his low timbre of their morning dialogue, and the comforting creaking of feet against floor as they journey to the kitchen. The rich scent of black coffee deliciously wafting into the room with the faint, far-off hum and gurgle of the coffeepot, accompanied by the faint clink of dishes against the table.

Mere moments that feel as real, as deep with certainty, as the sheets against my skin. Then my eyes open, and I wake up, but always with a secret smile as I hold those moments close and safe and warm. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Timing


It all comes down to timing. 

Because that's the thing. People aren't pieces in the puzzle of your life that you can pick and force into corners they weren't supposed to be in. It was like finding the perfect corner piece for the upper right side, but not having any of other hundred pieces needed to connect that perfect corner to the left half of your slowly-constructed puzzle. 

It all comes down to timing.

One of my friends in her mid-twenties said during a phone conversation, 'I really like him and I think he really likes me, and we have a great connection, but we're both about to move elsewhere. The timing's awful...so I don't think anything will happen. But he's the guy that, if we met up again in five years and we're both still single, I'd marry him.' 

Timing. 

I've been thinking about it a lot. About how there's this fear of running out of time. Of finding something - or someone - wonderful and not having enough time together.

Act now, my mind whispers. If you don't, you'll lose this chance forever. 

Your time is running out. 

But I don't control other people. They're not chess pieces or pieces in my puzzle. They have lives and hopes and dreams and plans of their own...and maybe I'm not a part of that. Maybe my puzzle doesn't look like their puzzle. 

Just because I think I've found a perfect puzzle piece, one that makes sense and makes my picture complete, doesn't mean I have to grab it now. It doesn't mean it's mine.

'I'll see you in the future
when we're older
and we are full of stories to be told
cross my heart and hope to die
I'll see you with your laughter lines'
~Bastille~

Because timing's a funny thing. And if you're very quiet and still...and listen carefully and honestly, you can hear when it's off, even just a little bit. 

You can meet the right person, be at the right place, have the right job offer...and it might not be the right time. It's hard to put it into words because it's not easily discernible or explainable.

But life isn't full of dramatic running through airports to catch planes or professions of love right before someone moves away. Choosing not to say anything right now does not close off a future conversation. 

You never know what will happen, what the future will bring. But you can know and accept and understand when the timing isn't right.

And the world doesn't end. If anything, it's a little bit sweeter. Because the only thing holding you back is time. Not a lack of emotions, or fear, or rejection. 

Just the quiet knowledge of...it's not the right time. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tenebrae


Holy Week has always been a deep favorite of mine in the liturgical year...and yet somehow I'd never attended Tenebrae (the Wednesday candlelight service) until last night.

We gathered in the church, clustering closely, the Divine Office in our hands, and gazing at the the ascending fifteen candles nestled in a wooden, triangular stand. The solemn rise and fall of Latin prayers, Matins and Lauds, filled the air as we listened to the grief and lamentation of the Psalms + Jeremiah. 

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord your God." 

With each reading, a yellowed candle and the overhead lights were extinguished until only the center candle, white to represent the Christ, was the only light. It flickered calmly and quietly. 

We gazed at the Light that stood alone, the entire church shrouded in darkness and shadows. 

Then a clamor arose - knocking and drumming, wild noise of clangers and our hands beating against the wooden pews - symbolizing the chaos and tumult that arose in Nature itself when the Light of the world went out. 

And then...silence. 

Pure, deep, and profound silence such as I have never heard before. 
Tenebrae. Shadows. 

The mourning of our Lord. 

His Calvary begins. 

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord your God.