Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Blue Couch

I wonder if there will ever come a day when I feel like an adult.

Is this something I want?
Is this something I should aspire to?
Is this something that I need to feel?

Being "adult-like" may get a bad rap. I often think of a conservatively-dressed-set-in-their-ways-financially-secure-mother or father-with-a-career-a-church-membership-and-matching-beige-Cadillacs. (A bit dated, eh?) And I can tell you for sure, that's not what I want.

What I really mean when I say "adult" is "put together."
When I say "adult," I mean "confident."
When I say "adult," I mean "stable."
When I say "adult," I mean "feeling-safer-than-I-do-now."

I don't feel like an adult.
I feel like a trapeze artist without a safety net.

I grew up on the pedestal of Childhood. I took the leap and left home. And now I'm swinging around in this mostly unpredictable land of job/home/husband/future and feeling sure that, any moment, I'm going to drop before landing safely on the pedestal of Adulthood. And there won't be anyone there to catch me.

As a kid, I remember looking up at (well, everyone...) "adults": my parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, church members, teachers, and thinking, They are adults. They have life figured out.
They owned homes. They bought groceries. They were confident. And wise. And well, adult-like.

A few months ago, I watched home videos of my parents sitting on our family's signature blue couch. I was just home from the hospital and they were holding and baby talkin' me to pieces. And it hit me: In this video, my adult-like, put-together parents are only a few years older than I am now! What?! And in conversations since, I've learned that my parents felt/feel insecure. They've had money struggles. They've argued about foolish things. They've disagreed about how to raise the kids. They've questioned their faith. They've felt fragile.

They are just like me.

I write this blog from that same blue couch where I was held as a baby. This seat was gladly "gifted" to us by my parents seeking newer furniture. This couch has been through a few moves, a few family pets, a few jumping sessions, a few food spills, a few generations of memories and life-experiences. And now the couch is mine: to use and abuse and create memories on. It's mine and it doesn't come with directions, because there are none. There is no right way to do this, we all just figure it out as we go.

Maybe Adulthood is not a trapeze pedestal that we arrive at (eventually) after swinging around recklessly in our youth.

Maybe adulthood is the swinging. An experience that we all take differently. That we all make mistakes at and slip--and yes--even fall. But the safety net isn't our parents or our childhood. The safety net is grace. And humility. And the realization that we're all just doing our balanced best.

And that's always enough.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Nudist at the Pool

I haven't been very joyful lately.
I haven't felt a whole 'lotta peace either.
When these things are absent, I know there are a few obstacles standing between me and God.

I don't actually believe that the distance between God and myself ever changes. I believe Truth is always arms-reach away. Maybe this is Biblically sound. Maybe not. But wouldn't a God who leaves us in hard times and draws nigh other times be flaky? Unpredictable? Distant? No, I think that when I feel "far from God" there is just a lot of fog between us.

One such fog: "perfection."
But also, let's not forget: "anxiety," "fear," and "trying to do too much."
Common culprits that make me feel far from God.

This is my obsession.
This is my hurdle.
This is my fog.

I remember about 4 years ago, I went to a string of doctor's appointments related to my eating disorder, my digestion issues, a string of flus, allergies, joint pain, etcetera and nearly everyone asked me, "How is your stress level?" and I answered how everyone must: "Umm...fine. I'm always stressed. Isn't everyone?" This is the point when every medical professional would smile gently, tilt their head to one side, and say, "Well..." with hesitation "no." This is one of the first times I recognized that not everyone was seeing the world the same way I was.

I'm well associated with stress. But what I've encountered lately is anxiety.
Which surprises me and I think:
          What do you really have to be stressed about? 
          Your life is good. 
          This isn't "legitimate stress." 
          Get a grip.

It's in these moments when I recognize most clearly: Oh, Helga's back. Make yourself at home. You know the place well.

And I want to give in and let her take over.
I want to just slump into a heap on the floor and say, "You win." Again.

But then I remember, that as stubborn a houseguest as she is, Helga's a pansy when confronted a few key things, namely:
slowing down          
and deep breaths

Helga can't take it.
Won't hear it.
Vacates faster than the loan swimsuit wearer at a nudist pool.
She can't handle the vulnerability.
Can't take the heat.

The fog lifts only when Helga is completely out.
Not one foot in the door.
Not screaming insults from the window.

This I know for sure:
There is only joy and peace when transparency steps in and fear steps out.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Stepping on a Nail

I remember there was a time a few years ago when I dreaded answering my cell phone. For some reason, whenever it rang, I held my breath, I waited for the bad news, I anticipated the worst. I would look at the caller ID for a few extra moments wondering what awful information that person was about to give me. That was a different time, and yet, I've been doing it again lately.

Two thousand thirteen has been a bumpy year.
My dear friend moved across a few oceans.
Mom fell and broke her pelvis.
Nana died.
My brother broke his arm and had to have twelve screws drilled into his bones.
Jeremy's aunt died unexpectedly and he flew to the East coast to be there for the funeral.

And this morning, a text from my Dad at 5:45am: "Call me."

Well, what if I don't want to? What if I can't handle any more bad news?

I waited.
I imagined what it could be. (Which, by the way, is an awful thing to do)
I brushed my teeth.
I got a drink of water.
And then, he beat me to it and called.
"Mom was rushed to the hospital last night in am ambulance, they don't know what's wrong. Exploratory surgery. We'll tell you more when we know more."

It makes we want to turn off my cell phone, because that would mean I wouldn't have to hear the news. I could hide from what is. Because when my Dad, one of the strongest and most sincere men I will ever know, calls me with bad news, I can sense it immediately in his voice. It's like he's talking to me while simultaneously stepping on a nail in his bare feet. With a smile. He winces. He sounds pained. He holds it together with incredible courage, but there's no getting around it, he's telling us news that should never have to be given over the phone.

More bad news.

I suppose this is just how the seasons go. And this is our season.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Nine Month Anniversary

Married life has become our new norm...

In making money decisions.
In paying bills.
In sleeping arrangements.
In talking about the future.
In compromising.
In making food for two.
In splitting up chores.
In calling to let him know I'll be late.
In thinking about someone else as much as I think about myself. it seems downright crazy that it's only been nine months.

But I suppose, we've been friends for several years now, getting married just seemed like the next, most natural step. And we took it. And I'm glad.

I often think about how dramatically my picture of marriage has changed since I was ten years-old or sixteen years-old or even eighteen years-old. How much I didn't know. How much I couldn't have expected.

For example, I guarantee you, I didn't think marriage would be this fun. I thought it was all seriousness once you got "old" and married. Not true.

I guarantee you, I didn't think marriage would be this much work. I thought it was easier and simpler. Not true.

I guarantee you, I didn't think marriage involved as much compromise over what type of yogurt we'd buy, what music we'd listen to, how we'd wash the dishes, how we'd fold socks, when we'd fill up the gas tank, and how we'd spend our money.

I guarantee you, I didn't think marriage would make me realize how very poor we are (in the money category only).

I guarantee you, I didn't realize how completely happy and yet amazingly challenged I would be.
Or how I'd miss him when he's gone.
Or how I'd be so excited to see him at the end of the day.

Years from now, this 9-monther may seem insignificant.
But for today, this is all I know.
And for today, that's enough.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Somewhere there is a girl who moved around the world and feels alone.

Somewhere there is a woman who recently fell and broke her pelvis.

Somewhere there is a man begging to be set free of living.

Somewhere there is a girl who was robbed and cut with his knife.

Somewhere there is a girl aching to be seen fully, but terrified to be gay.

Somewhere there is a man feeling despondent that his life's work has meant nothing.

Somewhere there is a woman existing in a marriage she hates.

Somewhere there is a woman mourning the loss of her sister.

Somewhere there is a girl fielding racist comments about her own people. And smiling.

Somewhere there is a man doing his best, while the whole world watches and laughs.

"Somewhere" is everywhere. These are people I know. And people for whom I have no answers. These are people for whom my heart aches. And my soul wants to scream "Why?"

But I know why. These things happens because the world is a spinning orb of billions of people trying to find their way who are not immune to life's troubles. There isn't always a reason. There isn't always a silver lining.

Shit happens.

But what I've learned is that there doesn't always have to be reason. Some things are just awful. And they hurt. And no amount of words or Bible texts or prayers or Hallmark cards are going to make this feel better or less excruciating. So we just sit with the feeling. Because that's all we can do.

This reminds me of what The Onion wrote immediately following the Sandy Hook shooting almost two months ago. The article said almost nothing except that the shooting happened and people at the scene said, "What the..." and "How does this hap..." and "Oh my, oh God." Which is sometimes all you can say. And maybe that's enough.

Because these moments of grief and pain are not meant to be anything else.
Peace will probably come.
Hope too.
Maybe even healing.
But not right now.
No, right now, this just hurts.
And that's okay.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Moving On

So...that just happened.

That thing that makes me want to scream at kids and say, "You are being ridiculous?!"

But now it's over.
And yet it's not over.

Because somehow it still lingers in my hastened heart beat.
It still permeates my tense skin.
It still leaves me on edge.
At risk of taking 15-minutes-ago frustration out on a completely different kid.

That moment is now in the past.
As much as I want to drag it around all day
to exact revenge on the universe for aligning my day in this way,
and take out my frustration on every person who crosses my path,
I won't.

I know better.
Thus, I do better.

I'm moving on.
I'm taking a deep breath.
I'm looking forward.
I'm taking one step at a time.
In this moment.
At this time.

Which is sometimes the hardest thing to do.
But I am built for hard.

So, I'm moving on.