I’m not tired – I just want the world to be quiet for a bit.

The writer came back.

Of all people, I should’ve been the one to know better.

I asked him how he was after he already told me.  How rude of me.

The caverns under his eyes whispered the secrets of his nightmares while his coffee breath murmured quiet confessions about his drug addiction.  Multiple hangnails on his thumbs turned away shyly, dripping evidence of his stress-filled days as the sunshine leaked through the window and splashed across his desk in his tiny NYC studio. Straggling hairs crept out his ponytail, ashamed of their existence that rivaled the tangles of thoughts that bounced – no, pounded – like hammers on anvils in that rugged head of his. The charcoal eyes had lost their spark, and I worried for him as much he worried his lip with those aching teeth that sorely needed brushing.

He smiled. How sad he was.

He reached out his hand.

I panicked.

I was too weak to be his lifeline!  Don’t ask this of me.   I stared quietly at the fingers shadowed with ballpoint smears, shadows of his soul’s troubles quivering there.

“Two years ago, I thought you were an asshole.”

No, that wasn’t my script.

“For two years, I hated you.”

Well that wasn’t much better…

He laughed. The sound of such an empty emotion echoed as John 11:35 veiled my thoughts.

But this drama was far from over and I steeled myself for the rest of my monologue.  My elegy distracted him from his own troubles for awhile and he cried tears – not for himself but for me! – by the time the tale had trickled so slowly from my lips that it reached it’s end.   Despite the clownish makeup on my face, he recognized me beyond the costume.

When I bowed and walked away, I thought the play was over.  The look on his face made me wonder if there would be an encore.

I will never see him again.

Except when I look in the mirror.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How helpless I feel with a full cup of coffee and the urge to sneeze.

“I got a full, doctor and psychiatrist-recommended, fully-functional human being requirement of 8 hours of sleep last night. It rained today and the autumn wind nibbled at the edge of my turtleneck and flirted with the goosebumps sliver of skin above my ankle boots. 

The night before that, I fell into the company of bar flies, procrastinating college students, and penniless writers and went to bed at 2:30 to wake up at 7:15. It looked like a country song: sunny and 75 with girls in short shorts carrying overpriced sugary bean water in cups with a green mermaid printed on the side

Not that it matters what the weather was like – welcome to October in the Midwest. But thus begins the cycle of waking and wanting.   

I take my coffee like myself.  Hot and slightly bitter.  

I take my tea the same way.  Stronger than it needs to be. 

And yet I can wake up in the morning without actually drinking what’s in the mug that warms my hands.  It’s the experience.  It’s the standing in line at the coffee shop, admiring the way the barista expertly pushes buttons, pulls levers, and drips coffee into paper cups but not envying how early they had to get up to do so (they have to be earlier to work than even I!).  It’s simply carrying it to class and having something comforting to wrap your fingers around, the warmth slithering to your veins. It’s the smell and knowing what you have to look forward to, the anticipation of putting the mug to your lips and feeling the slight tink of the ceramic against enamel. 

Take it a step further. It’s the first sip that burns the same place on your tongue over and over, forgetting how hot it was the day, week, month before.  It’s the bitter bite of the flavenoids on the back of your tongue and the churning of your stomach as the acidic coffee hits the chyme. It’s the jitters that course though your fingers and the shake of the pen as you take notes for your caffeine-logged brain to register later.

Like all things, the experience is almost better than the thing.  The relationship is always better than the person.  The person is imperfect and selfish, a student and a tutor with pimples on her nose because she was too tired to wash the makeup off, a student teacher with too little motivation and time to invest in things other than the class schedule.  People are messy but it’s the relationship itself that makes it worth it.  

Coffee leaves stains but it’s the experience that I need.”

She nodded, satisfied as her eyes flitted across the lines once more.  One hand slid on the keyboard to publish the post and the hand wrapped tightly, possessive, and slightly neurotically around a mug of black coffee that glimmered seductively in the low lamp light.

The experience, indeed. big_thumb_f58f2692810eb6f9a6f06f3d5224aea5

 

What in the world can you buy with an apology?

“I’m sorry,” whimpered the innocent eyes.

“I didn’t mean to, ” pleaded the bloodless hands.

“Will you forgive me?” begged the virtuous heart.

And yet my head screamed no.

Apologies are not sincere when received from the wrong donor.  A blood transfusion is hardly worth anything if the antibodies don’t match – in fact, it would kill you.

That’s why I don’t accept the words spoken from his mouth when they should’ve come from yours.  One man does not, could not, should not take the place of an entire institution.  I do not accept this.

And yet my entire faith is based upon this concept.

When my alma mater (though the words drip toxic from my bitter tongue) plays favorites with the graduating seniors, when the achievements of some are overshadowed with songs and theatrical talent, when misunderstood academic concepts become Stars of David upon the graduation gowns, that’s when the apology ceases to be acceptable from the mouth of a messenger.  A child cannot forgive a parent who forgets they exist.  Resentment festers and this is what you end up with!  A tantrum from the child who tries way too hard to gain acknowledgement from the ignorant parent.

(*They say ignorance is bliss.  I say ignorance creates monsters.  If you don’t believe me, look at the American government and educational system.  Ignorance in the system has created an abomination to imagination and creativity that is now too large to contain.)

Now listen to the voice of the child who has grown up and spent four years in the shadow of everyone else that you elevated above me.  I am grown.  I don’t want you.  And, perhaps most dangerously and most importantly, I don’t need you.

And in the future, when you claim your confidence in my ability to make you proud as your alumni, when you want to attach your name to mine, when you want to invite me back to prattle in your little chapel speeches, I will say yes. Oh, and don’t you dare act surprised. You should know that I would never pass up the opportunity to tell you to your face my true feelings:

“Go away you evildoers.  I never knew you.”

Writing is easy – just sit at a keyboard and bleed.

“Your writing is wonderful.” She paused, drenching her next words in pity, bitterness, and familiarity.

“The inside of your mind must be a terrible place.”

And she wasn’t wrong.

People write because they need to write, or they hope to find the sanity merged within the ink on the page, or they hope that someone else can find the sense that they’ve misplaced, or they hope that maybe – just maybe – something they’ve done can be permanently etched into the history of humanity that convinces others (or more dangerously, themselves) that what they’ve mundanely done is worth something.

Isn’t it ironic?

One worthwhile thing done to justify the other worthwhile things makes those other things meaningless anyway.

They often say not to show your writing to other people unless you want it to get torn apart.  People ruin beautiful things, they said. And they aren’t wrong either.

But my writing isn’t pretty.  My writing is the trash that I need to dump in order to purify my thoughts once more.  Do monsters make war? Or does war make monsters? Do writers show the gnarled rottenness of life, the ugly sneer of the days that pass, the bittersweet stench of what-ifs and has-beens?  Or do those gnarled, rotten, ugly, sneering, bittersweet moments make the writers?

What does it matter when all that’s left in the end is the writer and a pile of pages that no one wants to read?

What abundance of grace was born to you that you could share with me?

I found the one whom my soul loves.

I found him in a coffee shop over two years ago and he held my hand as I jumped in puddles.  I found his eyes softening like butter when he gazed in awe at my freckles as the raindrops jealously kissed my face. I found his hand held onto mine despite the sweat that dared to slide between us in the 90 degree heat.

I found him when he laid next to me in the autumn leaves and held me against the on-coming chill. I found him when we stared in the flames of a bonfire and reveled in the comfort of the silence between us. I found him when he pulled his hat over his ears and buried his face in my hair to share the precious warmth.

I found him when he kissed my forehead to break the bonds of sleep – only to present a steaming mug of clarity (some call it coffee) as we watched the sunrise over the pier. I found him when we had a splash war in the water, and although he grabbed and threatened to dunk me, I never doubted that I was safe in the arms of my lifeguard.

The days turned to weeks, and the weeks tumbled into months, and the months stumbled into years and I waited to see if he could still be found.The baby face melted away into the chiseled cheekbones of a man. Depending on the day, the contacts would materialize into glasses. The peach fuzz of boyhood toughened into reddish bristles, neatly trimmed to frame the lips that still spoke words as warm as his embrace.

Then one day, I found him again.

I found him on one knee in the summer grass where the leaves had once laid with us in a blanket of color. I found myself blinded with the glint of a diamond while his hands shook in time with the beating of my heart.

And in that moment, I couldn’t find him.

When my eyes recovered, there he was.

A new title, a little older, a little more scared of the unknowns ahead, a little more excited too. And a little more mine.  I found him.

But what I didn’t realize, is that he found me.

Vedanta’s 2 Symptoms of Enlightenment: Calmness and Coincidences

I’ve never woken up before the sunrise on a regular basis during the summer, and I was surprised to find out that even the sun struggles to wipe the sleep and stars out of it’s eyes. The moody clouds slip away as the caffeine starts to thud in our veins with it’s normal rhythm, the thump-thump of my heartbeat marking pace for the sweet serenade of the mourning doves

Mourning doves are truly the only real “morning people.”

I am not.  In fact, I wanted to be nothing like those birds.  I will mourn nothing this summer, I told myself, because I am going to grow and make money and learn to become a real adult. What I didn’t realize is that becoming an adult is ultimately a process of mourning.  The early 20s are so hard because you are mourning the loss of your childhood innocence, the loss of your dependence on your family, the loss of the happiness that used to tinge your rose-colored glasses.  Becoming an adult is actually a very sad thing – now you know why children think adults never smile.

I promised myself that I would learn to like myself even if I didn’t like the circumstances in which I found myself.  I would try and figure out how to live at peace when all of my choices left me mangled inside and wondering how my life was supposed to be a masterpiece when the broken pieces kept slipping through my fingers.

That’s the thing about life. It’s a mosaic.  All the shattered glass, all the accidents that cause the vase to fall off the table, all the scratches and the grooves, the mismatching colors and tiles that don’t fit together quite right – that’s what my life is made of. It’s a glorious mess that sometimes cuts my fingers if I try to manipulate it too much.

I’m grateful for it.  I wasn’t always that way, but I’m learning.

I’m learning to let go.  My plan for my life is nothing compared to the plan that God has for me.  Sometimes it’s nice to remember that He hold the world and therefore, he can handle this moment in my life.

I’m learning to be grateful.  I’m learning to appreciate the little things, like brown sugar in my oatmeal (it’s gross without it – like eating flavorless vomit) and coffee that doesn’t come from a packet.  And I may spending 3 hours commuting to-and-from work, but at least I have a lot of time to listen to the radio.

I’m learning to find peace. Did you know you can pray with your eyes open?  And you don’t have to say the words out loud?  AND you can pray for things that happen in the moment, or will happen in a few minutes or months or years?  Seems like a common sense thing, but I’m just starting to figure it out.

It’s quite enlightening.  I’m peeling back the layers to find a more refined person in my skin than I thought existed.  She’s calmer than I am.  She remembers to breathe when she’s walking down the hallway. I even think she has less muscle knots than I do…

I’m not in school right now, but it’s amazing how much I’m learning.

 

The story of man runs in a dreary circle.

It was 2013 and I was sweating nervously thinking about the amount of perspiration that I would shed during the many hours that I would invest to play soccer at my college – as if the schoolwork enough wasn’t intimidating enough.

It was 2014 and I was moaning at the thought of going to nanny for 4 boys all summer and not getting paid nearly enough to run around and chase “noise with dirt on it” for eight hours.

It was 2015 and I could feel the half-eaten oatmeal churning in my stomach thinking about returning to my internship at SBMF and having just another one of many crappy days as I extracted protein from stool samples.

It’s 2016 and now I’m dreading driving my hour commute tomorrow to arrive at my official first job where I begin to learn how to detest corporate America and the healthcare regulations.

Year after year after year and I realize that history repeats itself every summer. Somehow, all I want to do is take a breath and be satisfied with where I am in life. Maybe that’s why the 20s are so hard.

Truly no matter how close you are currently to where you want to be for the rest of your life, and no matter how your fingers itch for the next step, and no matter how little space remains between this time and the next – satisfaction and happiness are dangerously illusive.

You’d think I would’ve learned by now.

But I haven’t.

In fact, I’m stuck in the same place I was before, wondering how I’m going to get through this summer just like the others.

I’m thankful for/to:
1) have a job in the first place
2) to be able to live at home with wonderful people that I don’t get to see nearly as much as I wish I could during the rest of the year
3) to have a best friend who can encourage me and wipe the tears away and remain close despite the miles between us.

I’m trying something that I didn’t do before. The goal is to wake up early, appreciate my time, actually eat breakfast, pray for peace and rest for my weary soul, and remember the things that I should be, and am, grateful for. If history repeats itself and I haven’t found a way that works in the past, maybe I should try something new.

Switch my mindset.

Alter my own reality.

Find a new identity.

But maybe, if history truly repeats itself, then maybe I’m not becoming a new person at all. Maybe I’m finding the person that I was before, who resurfaces whenever I need her to.