the leaving.

“Burn it all.”

That’s what I keep saying to people. Burn all of it. I’ll leave tomorrow with the clothes on my back and the books in my car if it means I don’t have to decide anything about another possession again. But I guess tomorrow is closer than I think even though I’ve been saying that for months. My Waco-days are dwindling– I count about seven left across the next few weeks of traveling.

I hate packing.

I hate that I have accumulated so much stuff, brought on by my distraction of being, but mostly I hate that I am faced with it. That I am faced with the leaving at all. That I have more worthless things than icons of the ones that really matter. 

And I hate that I cannot remember the exact thing the prof said in class that day–

Getting rid of all your crap doesn’t mean anything unless you are willing to do something about the shit that encrusts your heart.

Something like that. I really don’t know where to start with either.

I am angry that I am stuffing in another scarf and not one more hurried-but-sweet friend-lunch between classes, or folding another damn V-neck T-shirt and not a thousand heart-talks passed over our cups as the sprinkles melt into the ice cream. I’m packing books I should have read this summer, and dates I should have made with people I love along with them. The books I can read later. The rest I am unsure of. Do I make long-distance promises to people I forgot to call when they were down the street? The question itself breaks my heart.

And then there’s the muscle memory to release, the ten thousand past selves playing scenes over and over in that one coffeeshop, in that one corner of campus I swore I’d never forget, in that one tree that accosts me even though I made it no such vow.

I know I am not the only one to have ever left a place I really love, but God, it’s the first time I’ve had to.

—————————————————————–

About a year ago, I bought a library stamp for all my books. It seemed very important at the time to do this, to not only mark possession, but also place in the sum of parts. Somehow the composite collection was to make a sort of home. It seems pathetic at the end of the day, because it’s just a little front of control, I suppose. In truth, those books are ultimately not a monument to the information I have accumulated, but to the transformation that they offered. They mark the distance from one point to the next. They are almost as good as diaries.

But still, I find myself wanting to take another library, of memories, to take with me, to stamp my name in them. Maybe then I won’t lose them. And even if I do, at least the person who finds them will know to return them to me.

With every stamp, I yell, “MINE,” like the child.

—————————————————————–

I grew up with only one recurring dream (if you don’t count the ocean-of-cats motif that somehow found its way into other nightmares).

I am on a field trip, and considering I was homeschooled for a long while, it’s a mystery as to how the images of a farmyard full of children and a yellow school bus with cracking plastic seats so vividly play out in my sleep. I am so happy to be at the farm (this is a true part– I will never remember my grandfather without thinking of sheep and cows). We laugh at the squealy pigs, we name them. We feed the goats.

But the chickens enrapture me. There are scads of newly hatched chicks, so fluffy you could die, and so when no one is looking, I stuff one into my jeans. 

I want the farm to be with me forever.

Somehow, I make it all the way back to the bus and halfway home with the chick undetected. I finally decide to release the little thing once I decide the bus has gone past the point of no return, and suddenly realize that I have instead.

I find the chick to be crushed and suffocated in my pocket.

And then I’d wake up.

I think that’s what I’m most afraid of. The leaving is hard, but I am more afraid of holding what I love most too closely, and that it will all die because of it.

I am afraid you will find me months from now sitting on a dirt road, with muck in my hair and mangled treasured things between all my fingers.

nothing hurt that couldn’t heal [over at Alise…Write!]

Today, I’m thrilled to be sharing a piece of story about Alia and me at Alise’s space today. I have long loved Alise’s blog, and the way she writes about friendship is healing and inspiring. (you can check out some of my favorite posts on this here and here.)

So, I’m quite honored to be talking about friendship over there today, as it relates to differing kinds of faith within relationship (though Catholics and Episcopalians are probably more like oranges and tangerines than apples and oranges. Or apples and Grapples? …anyways.)

Some parts were hard and humbling to write, like this piece of old belief:

You see, Catholics, had faith—maybe–but faith misplaced. They were, well, theatrical at best, conjurers at worst, which was most of the time.

but at most points I just found myself shaking my head in gratitude for what a wonderful friend I have.

[She had told me once, patiently, that there was a distinction between doing something for someone and because of someone, but it wasn’t until I saw my own life that I understood.]

Click here to read the rest.

but as an oh-so-special bonus, over here I’ll share some then and now pictures. You’re welcome.

2003. braces and crazy hair.

High school graduation. Don’t you think for a second I’m the weird one. //photo by Taylor Blackall

treehugging in Santa Fe. yup. smize? // summer 2009

we’re a *little* more adult now? // March 2013

Here’s to the first ten and at least ten more, Alia. Times ten. I adore you, joon.

Cheers!

twenty-twelve debrief: part three.

The third installment of a debriefing of this past year. You can read part one here and part two here. I mean, really. I know this is getting long. 

It was a very Waco summer.

[Ok, before that, I had to pack up my whole life–dorm room and Dallas room–and move back down to Waco, bumming around with my now-roommate until we found an apartment. In the blazing Texas heat.]

I worked in the same office that started my college career–proselytizing for a program in the Honors College (with the number of the Great Texts department chair in my back pocket all the while.) Alright, other people call it recruitment.  My office-mate and longtime bud Maggie and I worked long hours, decided margarita happy hour was a definite benefit of postgrad life, and listened to One Direction on the sly when our bosses weren’t listening. Yeah. The freedom was intoxicating. We were so adult.

[Also maybe I wasn’t trying to think of the fact that Erica was in France for a month, and that a cluster of other good friends were in Houston.]

I turned 22 on the 19th of June. My roommate asked me what I was looking forward to in my twenty-second year, and I couldn’t give her an answer.

But that same week contained the sudden upswing highlight of the summer: my dear wonderful friend Jenni got married to her pyromaniac partner-in-crime.  [We are a blind Facebook friendship success story, ya’ll.] She made the most lovely bride. I alternated between squealing (pretty sure that’s why I was in the wedding party) and crying. It was a beautiful beginning to witness.

The next day, I got a midmorning call, a tragic report that one of my favorite professors died far too young. I carried the grief around.

In July, my job slowed down, my parents finally moved to New Mexico. I started to feel a little lost, a little lonely, a little bit unsure. Scrambling for Grace that was there all along.

Erica came back (I told her Duke Divinity was a thought. She said that sounded about right.) I got to see my family in NM (and say goodbye all over again.) Not one, but two jobs for the rest of the school year landed in my lap, right after I found out my mom finally got a job after a three-year forced hiatus. I took lots of lovely weekend trips. Freedom. Adulthood.

Jerry got into the MBA program at Baylor–he would be staying in Waco after all. I cried.

I said goodbye to Preston the day before he jumped oceans. I cried.

Waco was flooded with students all over again, and I saw shadows of my student self, my student life walking around beside me as I ran errands for my campus job and punched numbers at that favorite coffeeshop that practically defined my college experience.

As I kept telling people, I was circling the same places but with a different function.

And then I think one day I looked around and realized everything was alright. Somehow, He kept me afloat even when I felt floundering, thrashing about in all my panic and irrational darkness. Somehow, I found myself surrounded by the most amazing Waco circle, even amidst all the change. I woke up and went to work every day and didn’t fall apart (with no small thanks to that circle. and a lot of grace.)

I audited a Dante class (as anyone who pays attention to anything I do online certainly knows.) We talked theology and poetry and somehow Duke Divinity kept pounding in my ears. (It had been a long time coming.) A few choice divinely appointed coffeeshop conversations and a whirlwind trip to North Carolina later, it felt right. And I’m running with it. (I’ll let you know in February, OK?)

November happened, and then December happened. But you already knew that.

I know it sounds like I spent most of the year crying in my yoga pants, but would you believe me if I said I look back over 2012 quite fondly? That despite all the discomfort and growing pains…I’ve grown? It was the best year on the books bar none for friendships (like I said, I’ve already gushed about some of them here and here. Don’t make me get weepy. Again.) I moved off-campus, cooked a few meals, learned what a paycheck feels like. (And what bills feel like.) I have a glimmer of a next step, and maybe even the trust to make it even if it falls through.

For I am His. And He is Good. And that alone is worth celebrating.

Cheers.

Happy 2013, friends!

Thanks for bearing with me through way more words than I bargained for.

What are you anticipating in the new year? Drop a line in the comments!

what i’m into, December.

OK, so I only did the last what I’m into hosted by the great Leigh Kramer a few posts ago–December’s been a bit bare around here. But I couldn’t pass up a chance to share the happenings and loves from this month: it’s been pretty full!

music:

  • a new song from David Ramirez. He breezes through Waco every once in a while, and I love getting to see him live. 
  • I pretty much just add on to old playlists as a listening habit. But here are the songs I added to last month’s playlist. Enjoy. 

books:

  • still working on Acedia & Me. I find that I get my best reading done on planes…and I haven’t done as much traveling as last month. Still loving it, though!
  • I love a good YA. My bedtime read has been The Thief  by Megan Whalen Turner on my iPad. Apparently it’s part of a series, under a slightly different name. I like Turner’s prose a lot, as well as her charming boy-protagonist.

blogposts:

TV:

  • my only addition from last month is Monarchy with David Starkey. Because this is the kind of thing we watch in the post-gift-opening haze. 
  • [but OMG 30Rock was ON FIRE THIS MONTH.]
  • and ok I’ll admit to a Kyle XY ep. Fine.
  • and I’ll also admit that I’ve stopped watching New Girl religiously. I’m just kinda over it.

things to wear:

  •  this month’s lipstick: Revlon ColorStay Overtime in Nonstop Cherry. I mean. This is serious. stuff. They’re not kidding when they say 16 hours. So make sure you want it on for at least that long!
  • I’ve got this freaking amazing chunky purple sweater-cardigan-thingy that I wear all the time. It’s turning into something of a security blanket.
  • …when I’m not wearing my chambray.
  • and I mean, scarves again. My sister gave me one like this for Christmas, and I’m obsessed.

moments:

  • lovely times with the Epsicopal Student Center in Waco, including the start of Advent party. I’m not technically a student, but they’ve accepted me anyway!
  • The Croft Gallery’s show displaying all the artists who rent studio space there, including my lovely and good friend Erica Wickett. She’s a big deal, guys.
  • a number of get-together’s at Lula Jane’s. Fellow lady-barista dates, longtime friends, new priests, quick catchups… it has been a month full of good conversations and yummy things to eat. 

    knitting with Mags. love.

  • one of my favorite humans ever came to visit Waco a few weeks ago: the indescribable Blake Trimble. He is probably the least likely person to read this post, but there’s a good chance you already know him. No? I’m surprised. He makes friends and creates a ridiculous amount of joy wherever he goes–good for a laugh and a great conversation, guaranteed. If I could just find a way to make him stay in Bear Country…
  • The Common Grounds staff Christmas party. There was much dancing and fancying to be had. And time for my soon-to-be-vacating-the-country friend Katherine to take this favorite picture of Erica and me:

photo cred: Katherine Walker. [Don’t go to France.]

  • got to see Jenni graduate! Wedding, graduation… 2012 has been a big year for this girl, and I’m glad I was there for both!

Erica and Jenni on one of our lunches. I have great friends.

  • I had the chance to catch up with my fearless leaders from my days as a Community Leader (or RA, pick your poison) in the freshman girls’ hall, North Russell. Lisa, Leslie, and Jamie played a huge part in my life as a college student, and I hope to hang onto them as friends for a good while longer.
  • scheming scheming scheming super-secret exciting things.
  • And hey, did you know Preston’s back on this continent? Like, not an ocean away?
  • my post entitled ‘to the girl who wants a boy for Christmas‘ was my most-read post ever. [go figure.]  I loved getting to hear from people who read, and talk about it with people in real life, too.
  • in case you didn’t know, my mom is serving in her first teaching position since 2009. I was able to come to New Mexico early to join her third-grade Christmas party. I wept for a number of reasons that day. There was the grief of being in an elementary school so soon after Sandy Hook; there was the incredible joy of watching my mother truly in her element, with a ragtag classfull of hilarious kids who clearly adore her. All day pondering gift given, gift lived. It’s a day I will remember for a long time.

    She’s just magic, ya’ll.

  • oh, you know, Christmas. My grandmother’s cousin and her family came to visit from California, and there was much laughter and loud and food to be had. This is a part of the family I have only really come to know in recent years, and I’ve treasured every moment with them. And did you know we routinely have four Christmas trees? And, um, 200+  Nativities/Creches from all over the world…displayed year round? yup. That’s us. Perhaps my favorite Christmas tradition is a strong one in New Mexico: Luminarias. The idea is that you light candles in simple brown sacks weighted  with sand to light the way of the traveling Holy Family on Christmas eve, to beckon the Christchild into your home, your life.

    The pictures are never much. In person, with no other lights but the stars, it’s breathtaking.

  • Les Miserables. Just go see it. Right now.
  • making this cranberry-orange-pecan coffee cake from Joy the Baker. I mean.
  • And TODAY my longtime friend Alia turns a whopping 23…AND is zipping over to NM for a visit! Let the wild rumpus start!

what I wish I was into:

  • actually finishing this Duke Divinity application. As you can see, December has been quite full, even my work schedule aside.
  • actually slowing down enough for Advent.
  • actually knowing how to observe the 12 days of Christmas.
  • eating like, veggies. Don’t get me wrong, I love all this New Mexican cuisine [pass the tamales!] but my body is tired of it.
  • actually finishing any book lately.
  • pulling myself away from twitter.
  • keeping my crass, snooty mouth shut. when it needs to be.

what were you into this December? No, really. Tell me in the comments. Or link a post of your own!

 

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

filled with naming.

“I fill you with Naming.

Be!”

A Wind in the Door, Madeleine L’Engle

Jenni’s wedding day. This was right before we made dino noises.

————

Freshman year, when we were roommates-but-not-roommates, and you would stay through the wee hours to hide or study or just be or listen to me sleeptalk about bubble-guns. And then when I was really, finally sleeping, you would turn out the light and whisper,

Goodnight, Kiddo.

I helped lead the way down the aisle for you this summer, and all I could hear was the love reverb you stacked inside that word with each barefoot step I took: kiddo, kiddo, kiddo. 

Three months into your marriage, and five months into my middling “real life” we cozied up in your big chair and talked big-girl budget while my laundry spun. I sink my head in your shoulder, thanking you for being my Waco-mom.  Any time, kiddo, you say.

This time and care and giving means more to me than you know.

——-

Goofy, awkward affection.

My mouth is moving faster than anything, faster than my heart, faster than my brain can weave these words together. You know this is not how it normally goes; when it matters, I feel the need to edit and sketch them in the air in front of me, so I can cut, paste, and patchwork to tell you what I really mean.

You listen well, always wide-eyed, and graciously take another loop around campus because you know I need the time.

Or maybe I’m just telling you about my debilitating awkwardness seizure du jour, because you might know better than anyone that for me they are really real, and that the ones I don’t tweet about make me want to hide under the covers with a kitten.

I could also be curled up on your bed, close to tears about what feels like the latest disaster, and I know it hurts you, too. You want to protect, and be angry with me, for me.

Oh, Little One,

you say through it all, again and again, reaching into the heart of things, and speak the truth about myself that I refuse to see. Over and over the same tears. Little One, like a balm, to make me feel the right kind of small.

——

high school speech meet.

Joon.

This one you had to teach me years ago, dear one, along with giggled foreign curse words long before we would dream of daring our own. But it found its way into our friendship early, and stays with us still. Joonam: my dear, my heart, my life.

[I think you told me once it can even mean my liver. We probably laughed loud and long over it.]

Eighth grade pep rally. Yikes.

It’s steeped in time. I said it at fourteen–hair wild, braces clinking, locker next to yours.

I said it at eighteen–mortarboard askew, loud and always close to reprimand, prankster marble in hand to trade for a diploma.

I say it now at twenty-two–hair still wild but wrangled, smoke settling into my shirt as we juggle sticky s’mores, your hipster beer, and sadly separate lives.

It’s the kind of thing you say in a family, to those you hold close to you one minute and ask to set the table the next. It’s the kind of thing you say to someone who gets it already, whose presence is like that go-to broken-in well-worn whatever. There’s only just enough explaining.

I think these days we use it most in greeting, like an acknowledgement of the setting: joon, my dear, who knows my heart and my life so well.

——-

“To be given a name is an act of intimacy as powerful as any act of love…To name is to love. To be named is to be loved.” –Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

I read this in reflection and ponder the names–gathered not only as treasure to hold, but as lexicon, as a vocabulary of love to hand out again and again.

Kiddo. Little One. Joon.

for the fellas [a certain two].

I fumble my way out of bed, resisting my body’s reminder that last night was a late one, replete with stories and laughter and mild abuses. But the truth is that finding these guys in the big, airy house takes priority over another minute of shut-eye. A half-hour later, and one is sitting across from me, balancing the morning’s scripture and coffee in the same lap, while the other takes the piano with force, filling the place with music, like it’s the most natural thing to do.

And I’m quickly overwhelmed by these gifts, these boys I cherish.

And I really mean “boys” in the most endearing of ways, for they are men. These two are fiercely loyal, abundantly generous, punch-in-your-gut wise. They tell the hard stories, they seek to protect, they cultivate, they create. They wrestle with Truth, pursue Goodness, and treasure Beauty. They love, and love well.

We are the most likely to make a scene anywhere—museum, grocery, coffeeshop, bookstore. We easily dance between music and theology and running shorts, circling back often to grace.

From them, I learn that chasing big dreams can be a sort of faithfulness. I learn that God constantly surprises us, that He is making all things new, that He weaves and shapes and bends and speaks. Here. Now.

They have shown me how to cut lemons and how to make the sign of the Cross, how to ask for help and how to fall in love.  They give me the tough answers, nudging and nodding. They hear what I am really saying, when I don’t even know what that is. They teach me how to walk with questions, how to loosen my grip on things that are not mine to hold forever.

They see me when I do not want to be seen, they speak words that build.

And, well, they are just as likely to tease me for being a girl or photo-bomb my twitter—some kind of twentysomething version of tugging on a ponytail, as brothers are likely to do.

I love them still, even though I often do not know how, even though my words are failing me.

But I know that now, in the brief repose of Jerry’s playing, as he reaches for his coffee and Preston underlines another verse, that my only response is to offer feeble thanks and praise. For the beauty of this friendship that undoubtedly seems odd from the outside, for this strange and undeserved grace I have been given, for this love that often looks like hair-pulling.

————————-

dudebros. [stolen from Preston.]