Whenever you let your guard down, they remind you why you had it up in the first place

I’m perched at the cherry wood desk in the top floor office when you walk in, your hands clammy with sweat and your heart pounding. At my request, you sit down with your resume, your pile of references and a letter of recommendation on your lap. The expression on my face doesn’t help the anxiety pooling in your stomach but you hand the papers to me anyway.

Please don’t notice the sweaty fingerprints. Oh gosh, I wonder if she can see my pit stains! Please, no! I can almost hear the voice in your head. I want to reassure you, tell you that you have no reason to be nervous, that it will all be over in a few minutes. But I would be lying.

I skim the resume. It looks pretty good and I can see no red flags yet. Moving on, my eyes flit down your letter of recommendation. It’s a long moment before I gather my thoughts and start to piece together my impression of you. Hmmm…you got her to write it for you? That’s generally a good sign. If the references line up, you probably have a pretty strong chance of acceptance — but I will say nothing to get your hopes up and I keep my mask in place.

As my fingers reach for the references, I notice that you swallow audibly. That’s awkward. Hopefully, that won’t continue. But I say nothing. The list of names exceeds my expectations but disappointment soon drips into my happiness like an IV in a vein. I purse my lips when I reach a name in the middle. Nope. This won’t do.

I open my mouth to speak the verdict: “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid we can’t be friends.”

So, I may be exaggerating. But only a little bit. The point remains the same. It’s very involved process for me to consider someone a friend. I’m not the sort of person who opens up that easily. In my bible study, we often pray for each other and we give a glimpse into our struggles, but we don’t hang out that much outside of the study. Even the people in my carpool who I see every week are scarcely considered friends — there are one or two and you know who you are, so don’t freak out on me just yet. I even went to a Lord of the Rings marathon this past weekend (extended versions…that’s right, we’re cool) but I would consider very few of those people my friends. I have several acquaintances, probably up in the 100s but I have a small circle of friends.

If you’re wondering if we are friends or not, I’ll clear your mind. We probably aren’t. I consider you an acquaintance. Before you write me off as a obstinate, snot-nosed snob, please know that I’m very interested in cultivating your friendship. Just because I don’t have many friends, doesn’t mean that I don’t like making them.

Let’s go get coffee so I can see if you actually drink coffee, some sugar-infested version of it, or if you prefer tea. Let’s have a movie marathon at my house so you can tell me which ones I have to watch before I die and list all the reasons that that guy is your favorite actor. Let’s text a few times and schedule a hang out where we can sit around a fire and you tell me what your favorite season is and why. If I start to laugh more, if there’s a smile on my face more often than not, if I start to volunteer information, you’re on the right path. If there’s one thing you have perceived from reading these posts, it’s that I like people who put in effort.

I’m a very loyal person and I love to make friends. If you’re my friend once, than you will probably be my friend for a lifetime. It may be hard for some people to understand why it’s so hard for me to open up — those are the people that I probably don’t want to be friends with anyway. I want to open up to people. It’s just scary. Call me a coward, but I’m not going to tell you what my worst fear is unless you are close to me — because what if you find a way to use it against me?

We always hurt the ones we love the most. Why? Because we have become so close to them that we know exactly what will sting the worst. What feels like lemon juice in a hangnail for one person may feel like acetic acid poured on a deep gash for another. That’s why I’m scared of opening up to people. Authenticity is so hard to find these days because we can be so scared of rejection and pain at the hands of other people. This mask I wear? It’s actually my armor and I’ve become very comfortable in it’s painless existence. It’s a lonely one, to be true, but it’s safe.

So for all of you who know my name and little else, I do want to be friends with you. My gilded prison of a mask is safe but lonely and I want to give you the key to let me out. For all my confidence and the aura that I give off that I can handle anything, I’m a very scared person.

I want to be your friend. You’ll just have to pass the interview process first.

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana

I’ve been blessed to be given 86,400 seconds in one day but in the blink of an eye, the day is gone. I turn around and a week has slipped away from me and I can’t get any of that time back. I smile at life’s oddities and I laugh at one joke before I realize that an entire month has run into the horizon and gotten lost in the sea of yesterdays. I cannot seem to comprehend that even though the hands of the clock have returned to it’s original position, it will never again be the time before.

My sister has been travelling for several weeks now and it’s the first time that I’ve seen her for more than a few hours in a month. I’ve indulged her every whim and we’ve watched several episodes of BBC’s Merlin and I’m waiting for the opportune moment to add in some Doctor Who. I’m exhausted and the dark circles under my eyes toe the line between shadows and valleys but I will do anything to make her smile. I leave to go back to school soon and I want her to be able to treasure the time she had with her older sister and remember the late nights we spent quoting sassy British tv shows. It’s the little sacrifices that add up over time. Like grains of sand in an hourglass, all these memories will fill her mind and I’ll be happy if she will think upon me with a smile and know she was loved.

On the spur of the moment, I stopped by a boutique store on the way home from work today because they were having a sale and I needed a few new shirts for school (and let’s be honest, after surviving this long as a nanny, I needed a small reward to motivate myself to finish strong). I wasn’t dressed like I wanted to see anyone and the goal was to get in and get out quickly so I would have some time to spend with my sister before heading off to my second job. I was browsing the sale rack with my goal and money in hand when I heard a voice a few feet away. I looked up, intending that my only response would be my acknowledging glance.

When I did, I found myself looking at a dear friend from college who has been on my mind a few times this summer. She wasn’t even supposed to be in the state so imagine my surprise when she was shopping in the same city as me! We don’t know each other terribly well but I appreciate her friendship more than she knows. I didn’t have much time to spend in the store but I’m glad I got to spend it by catching up with her. Laura has the most contagious smile and — this is hard to admit because I love fashion blogs and shopping — I’m beginning to think that I didn’t need to go shopping to cheer myself up. Maybe all I needed was the hug from a friend that I haven’t seen in awhile and the promise to get coffee together when we go back to school. And Laura, if you do read this, I can’t wait to see you in a few weeks and guzzle down the coffee while we complain how tired we are of school when we have only just started 🙂

Needless to say, I was still tired when I got home and saw my sister. When I came back from my job, I was even more tired and by the time my sister and I had got through a few more episodes of laughter and Merlin, I was exhausted. To be honest, I can barely keep my eyes open while typing this. But my spirit is considerably lighter and I felt that I cashed in all 86,400 seconds given to me today.

No, I didn’t get another chapter of my book edited. No, I didn’t wash my sheets like I’ve been meaning to for the past two days and I didn’t finish folding a load of laundry that has been calling my name. No, I didn’t get to paint like I needed to because my project is on a strict deadline. No, I didn’t unclog the sink drain in my bathroom. There were a lot of things that I didn’t get done today but I don’t feel like I wasted a single bit of time. No, I didn’t even get to see my mom today because we both worked and I was still at my second job when she went to bed. However, I am blessed that I was able to spend a few moments of time with people that I love and appreciate more than anything — even if I only interacted with my mom over a phone call while driving.

No matter how many times I flip the hourglass over again, those are 86,400 seconds that I will never get back. And I don’t consider a single one of them wasted.

To write is human, to receive a letter: divine!

Dear future husband,

I hope you’re a nerd. I hope I can ask you a random question and you won’t look at me like I”m strange, but rather you’ll answer it to the best of your ability. I hope that if neither one of us knows the answer, then we can find it together. I hope you’ve got the same innate curiosity within you that I have, that uncanny talent of asking questions about everything. I hope you indulge my own inquisitiveness.

I want to be able to talk to you about anything. Someday, I hope to introduce you to my thinking spot by the water so your mind can wander like mine. We can sit on the edge of the pier at 2 in the morning and you can describe all the constellations that you remember and we can have a contest to see who finds them first. Even if my mind is running a 100 miles an hour, I don’t care if yours is taking a leisurely stroll without a care in the world. And when it rains, I hope you will grab my and and run with me to the dry comfort of our home — but not before pausing to waltz with me to no music as the raindrops cling to our clothes and cluster in our hair. I hope you join me in sitting in a chair by the fire, staring out the window with cups of tea between our hands.

I don’t even mind if you’re a coffee person or a tea drinker, or none at all! As long as you can sit with me and think, we will get along just fine 🙂

I hope you ask me questions too. I hope I can answer them and when I can’t, I hope that you will suggest a trip to the library to find out. I love libraries. But you will have known this already because you will have already given me a book for my birthday present (and if you haven’t by that time, I’m sure you will in the future). I hope you like books. I don’t really care what type of books, be they fantasy, science fiction, history and genealogies, textbooks on quantum physics, romantic stories even! I care not as long as you read. And if perchance you are a slow reader, that will make you all the more dear to me because you put forth so much time and effort into a past time you love.

This letter is filled with many hopes of the type of person you will be, memories that I hope to make with you. I hope that you are intellectually attractive. Even if you do not fulfill all these dreams I have of you and even if — heaven forbid — you don’t like books, you are still my future husband and I will still love the wonderful person you are. I pray for you and you float in and out of my thoughts.

I love you even now.

Your future Wife

It will look better in the morning.

Welcome to the wee hours of the morning, the most productive hours of the day. Sleeping or creating, the world is always busy at this time. Brutal honesty ushers in these hours and we are often disturbed by the layers of truth that we let slip through our words when sleep hovers heavy on our eyelids. We struggle to keep them open and when we eventually succumb, the depth of the longing in our dreams can frighten us into believing that we hate the early morning.

But we really don’t. Or at least, I do not. Even now I wish that I could perch on the edge of a dock facing an endless ocean with the echoes of my own endless thoughts with the stars blinking at me in confusion and acceptance as they realize that I, too, am a creature of the night. And if I could not gaze across the inky water, then I would wish to curl up next to a bonfire with the smoke swirling around me as I murmur my thoughts to the crackling of the embers. I like speaking of what I think. I like knowing what other people think.

There’s is a difference between people who actually want to know and the others who are simply curious. I am a Chemistry major; I prize curiosity for the sake of discovery. However, curious people are dangerous. Curious people gather secrets like moths to a flame and there are some things that I don’t want everyone to know. We all have those tidbits of information that we keep tucked away. No one is an entirely open book; there are always a few pages that we hide from the eyes of the reader.

I do not often speak of these secret things to many people. There are few people who can know anything incredibly deep about me. It takes more than curiosity to pry words from my lips. I have heard it said many a time that I am closed off, that my face doesn’t look open to conversation, that I am intimidating by the “no trespassing” expression. I may look that way, but I am not. I only wish to see if anyone is willing to work at friendship before I tell them more about myself.

You don’t trust people.

Well, you’re right. I don’t.

That’s why I write in the wee hours of the morning. I may not be open about certain subjects during the day but I can open up here. Here, you’ve put in the effort to find this little blog so I know that, while there still may be some curiosity, there was more to it than that. And so, I write honest work. Honest work, uncensored work, “word vomit” work is the work that touches people most. Perhaps more importantly, it touches me the most. I hate reading over my own writing (any of the novel posts will tell you that much) but I will sometimes read through these ramblings to see what is going on inside my own mind.

My favorite time of day is early morning. It welcomes all types of people, from any walk of life, without harboring any hint of judgement. You can take your mask off in this place and stay awhile…well, at least until the sun creeps over the horizon to peer at us. Until then, though, join me. I’ll be waiting in the corner table of your mind, when the clock hands grow weary and slow over the 2, where the moon sings karaoke and the stars swing dance all the night long.

You should come here more often, these wee hours of the morning. Everyone is welcome here.

Patience is how we behave when we are waiting.

I’m not a patient person.

I hate waiting in lines.

I can’t stand growing any sort of planting because I don’t like how it takes so long to see the fruits of my labor.

I don’t like how long the year is because I have to wait 9 months for each season to come back around again.

I’m not a patient person. However, I have gotten considerably better at enjoying the waiting period. The more that I write, the more I have learned to be patient with myself and let the words come when they may. I can always write something, even if it just be my thoughts, but even I have to wait for a particularly inspiring passage to spring from the tips of my fingers onto the keys (I know, control your shock that not everything that flows from my mind onto the screen in literary genius).

What I’m trying to say is this: now that I have fully acknowledged my inner writer, I have noticed that it is much easier for me to wait on things. While I used to grow irritated by someone who took so long to speak, I now realize that they are getting their thoughts in order and meticulously poring through a mental thesaurus to make sure that they are using the correct word in order to get across the correct meaning. As a writer, I understand the importance of saying what you mean. While I used to grow annoyed whenever I stood in a line, it dawns upon me now that I am standing in a line because there is a certain procedure that needs to be followed. Like a writer setting up a scene or beginning a passage of dialogue, there is always a particular method that needs be obeyed.

There are aspects of being a writer that I never knew would have an impact on my life (such as noticing details, watching people develop over time like characters and realizing why people act the way they do, using a broader vocabulary in order to communicate your exact meaning), but I never expected patience to be one of them. I will have to keep this writing gig up so that I can continue to see development in my own behavior over an extended period of time.

There’s only one problem.

There is nothing better than the encouragement of a friend.

Has anyone ever told you exactly what you needed to hear, exactly when you needed to hear it?

It’s like fitting a key inside a lock and the feeling the satisfaction of listening to the cogs turn before you open the door. It’s like putting the last puzzle piece into place in the 1000 piece landscape you’ve been working on all night and experiencing the success of completion. It’s like the fire in your blood when someone else’s fingers intertwine with yours and, just for moment, you aren’t alone in this big old world anymore.

One of the best feelings in the world is knowing that someone else believes you and appreciates the effort that you put into enjoying life. One of my friends (I haven’t known him long at all but I would still go so far as to consider him a friend) told me today that he read my blog. I didn’t give him the name and I have no idea how he found out, but I’m glad he did. It’s been quite a few days since I have written, although I meant to write earlier several times and I have several topics whizzing about in my mind. Life got in the way and there were more priorities that seemed to interfere with the time needed to type out a post. I recently returned from my family reunion and now that work has continued, I remember how few hours there are in a day.

Joy tingles in my whole body when someone comments on the accomplishments that I stack up in those 24 hours. I was even asked tonight to share a responsibility, to lead a bible study on Chapter 6 of Galatians. I was unaware that my own observations and questions qualified me as a leader, but I’m pleased and pleasantly surprised. I appreciate the trust they have to ask me to do such a thing. It may seem little, but it holds a special importance for me since I have given that impression in such a short amount of time. I am usually such a reserved person so it is still new to me that someone could form an opinion about someone else so quickly (although do not think that I do not respect or appreciate that opinion, because I do).

I said usually. I meant what I said, but as of late, I have noticed a slight change. I am more apt to smile easily and I find myself pleased at small circumstances. Whatever had been plaguing my mood for months now appears to be dissipating — and now just as my summer is coming to a close! I am slowly evolving into a person who is willing to open up and speak voluntarily about my private life (slowly being the key word there) and, while part of me isn’t sure about it, there is another part of me that is excited that I’m finally going through the change. There’s a Doctor Who quotes that says:

“When you think about it, we’re different people all through our lives, and that’s okay — that’s good! You’ve got to keep moving so long as you remember all the people you used to be.”

I think Matt Smith articulates it perfectly. I have been several people in this life: a soccer player, a small-town girl, a freshman, a girlfriend, a single person, a religious skeptic, a faithful Christian, a tomboy, a very feminine nerd. I value the experiences contained in all of those titles. Nothing could make me forget who I was during all those stages of my life and deep down, I will wear all of those hats. I am a complex person. I am me.

And I like it when people can see just a hint of the perplexing puzzle that is me and I like it even more when they encourage me to continue to evolve into the best version of myself.

So, Justin, I don’t know when you will read this post, but I’m very thankful for the words that you gave me tonight. All you said was “I read your blog and I love your style of writing.” It was one sentence but it was more than enough inspiration to create this post.

Therefore, I thank you.