Thursday, December 31, 2009

everything that happens is from now on . . .

the end of the year nostalgia is coming over me in various waves of emotions.

in summary :: i loved a boy, and it felt like freedom not bondage. laurie and i had an art show. we danced with manny. we called it 360 degrees of love because everywhere we looked, there were people to love. i student taught. i drank a lot of gin and tonics. i had crushes on boys and some of those crushes bore fruit. i lived with sarah and watched the sun set every night over lawrenceville. i listened to a lot of bon iver. my college ex-boyfriend told me to never contact him ever again. i watched a lot of birds flying in the sky. i ate a lot of pierogies. the boy broke up with me. i wrote a break up song about it. we got back together. i got a masters degree. i spent most of my time with mrs. foster and her 3rd grade class at miller. chris and lacy left pittsburgh and moved to boulder. my church bought a building. my dad moved to boston. i drove across the country with laurie. we had more fun than i could have ever imagined. i moved to the grand canyon. i met my arch-nemesis. i fought with 19 year old christians about whether or not drinking was a sin. i spent months in total seclusion. i went to flagstaff a lot. i went to bedrock city. i met luis, an 80-year old cuban who i loved. i didn't miss anyone. i was happier than ever. i was free. i lived the dream. i ate a lot of ramen noodle soup and hot dogs. i spent a lot of time in bed. i spent a lot of time traveling. kate, paul, denise, my parents and amanda came to visit me. i changed, a lot. i left the grand canyon. dominic and i drove across the country. we spent a night at the coral sand dunes in utah. we saw chris and lacy in boulder and danced to youtube videos all night. we saw the bridges of madison county. i saw the sun rise over lake michigan with the skyline of chicago behind me. dominic and i fell out of love with each other on interstate 80 in nebraska. i moved back to pittsburgh and moved in with laurie. i had a difficult time settling back in. i questioned all of my relationships and friendships and motives. steve moved to pittsburgh. i drank a lot of gin and tonics. i took a lot of pictures. i longed for more. i pulled a cop over for running a red light. i was more hipster than ever. i struggled with what it means to be a christian more than ever. i struggled, generally, more than ever. i did things i never would have thought i'd do. i watched people do things i would have never thought they'd do. i learned more about grace and humility than ever before. i tried to be honest with myself and everyone else and, hopefully, everyone who was part of this endeavor grew a little, changed a little, but most importantly, laughed a little at my exploration of the truth.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

letters to a young poet

when i was in the grand canyon, steve told me to read it. it took me a while. i'm reading it now. it comes as a sort of haunting reminder.

themes of isolation and solitude vs. community and intimacy seem to be overloading my brain lately. confused about attachment. confused, too, about human love, in general. confused, then, too, about what it means to be a christian.

here's a few, in a list of many, good things found in this book.
"the necessary thing is after all but this: solitude, great inner solitude. going-into-oneself and for hours meeting no one - this one must be able to attain. to be solitary, the way one was solitary as a child, when the grownups went around involved with things that seemed important and big because they themselves looked so busy and because one comprehended nothing of their doings."

"and if it worries and torments you to think of your childhood and of the simplicity and quiet that goes with it, because you cannot believe any more in God, who appears everywhere in it, then ask yourself, whether you really have lost God? is if not rather, that you have never yet posessed him? for when should that have been? do you believe that a child can hold him, him who men bear only with effort and whose weight compresses the old? do you believe that anyone who really has him could lose him like a little stone, or do you not think rather that whoever had him could only be lost by him?"

"and you should not let yourself be confused in your solitude by the fact that there is something in you that wants to break out of it. this very wish will help you, if you use it quietly, and deliberately and like a tool, to spread out your solitude over white country. because people have (with the help of conventions) oriented all their solutions toward the easy and toward the easiest side of easy; but it is clear that we must hold to what is difficult; everything alive holds to it, everything in Nature grows and defends itself in its own way and is characteristically and spontaneously in itself, seeks at all costs to be so and against opposition. we know little, but that we must hold to what is difficult is a certainty that will not forsake us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it."

"to love is good, too: love being difficult. for one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation."

Friday, December 11, 2009

eyes wide open

my bed - it's my mother's from when she was a child. my lamp - it's from the time that my mom and i were driving to central pennsylvania to visit family and stopped at the antique shop outside of new bethlehem. the green chair - sarah, andrew and i carried that chair from locust street to the vanbraam apartment. the lady bug pillow case - i told a friend at school that i liked it, so she took it off of her pillow and gave it to me to keep, leaving her pillow bare. the old reader's digest books stacked on the mantel - they're from the trip to appalachia in college; sarah helped me pick them out. the lamp hanging in the window is a christmas present from my brother and his ex-girlfriend. the framed print above my head - red mountains - is from my dad. the paul simon songbook, the rug at my feet, my winter coat, the tea cups, the lights outside of my window, the street that i've driven on almost daily for my entire life, the street light hanging in my view: red, yellow, green. the nick drake song that i listened to on repeat when he told me about when his mom died. sitting at ritters with steve and singing along to "rocket man" with half of the people filling the diner.

this is just as good at adventure. the old is just as meaningful as the new. tonight we said that balance was the hardest thing - it takes a lot more discipline, strength and work than being an extremist. i will have to remind myself that i need a balance of these two lives. neither one is better than the other.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

everything is meaningless

he's tall and thin with long black hair. we've worked together for a few months now, but i've been so consumed by how attractive he is that i've been unable to talk to him. today is the last day of work and it's his job to drive me around to the general offices, uniform center and housing to hand in paper work, turn in my uniform and give back my key. we get into the van, he rolls down the window and "every rose has a thorn" has never sounded better. the sky is blue, the sun is shining and there are large white clouds littering the sky above us. his wrists are square with tiny threads of fabric framing them.

we stop at the general offices and i get some papers signed. when i come back out of the building, he's leaning against the white van. he's smoking a cigarette and the classic rock station is playing loudly. we only get three radio stations here. i approach him and he asks me if i'm in a rush - if it's okay if we take our time. i tell him that it's fine. he finishes his cigarette and we get into the car. we drive around for a while. to drive from one end of the grand canyon village to another is about a mile drive. so we make the loop a few times. the conversation opens up quickly and intimately. our time here is now limited and ending - i will be leaving in a few days. there is no time for bullshit now. he wants to know why i'm leaving. i brace myself because i know that for the first time, i'm going to be honest.

i tell him this, "sometimes you make decisions. and you're not sure why you make them. or if they're right. but you just sort of have to go through with them." i can tell that he understands what i'm telling him. i'm telling him that i am a scared child - that i don't know why i'm leaving, that i have no good reason, that it's probably the wrong decision - but i'm going to do it anyway, because i'm scared of what it would mean to stay.

staying would have meant that the people who i cared about - i don't actually care about. staying would mean that everything that i had built my life to be was wrong - a lie. staying would mean that the purpose of my life is happiness, not love, not community, not growth, not change and transformation. staying would mean that all of the things that mattered to me didn't matter. staying would mean that love isn't the answer, that relationships don't make me happy, that intimacy doesn't really mean anything to me.

and here i am now stuck. feeling like it's all true :: everything is meaningless. i don't actually care. everything that i thought mattered doesn't matter. i want to be alone. i want to go home early. i'm in so many places with so many people and i don't like it. everything i did that was important to me isn't important to me anymore. like the only purpose to my life is happiness. and i've met happiness and i know her well. only, now i'm stuck in a gray, rainy city where happiness is as rare as the sun.