Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Have you ever felt this?

Sometimes we just do things that don't make sense.

Since David and I moved to Rome, we sometimes walk to the grocery store closest to us. Most of the time, it's for essentials like beer and cookie dough, and a stroll can be a nice way to end the day. Today, however, I was just feeling cooped up and hungry, so I decide, despite the look of the ominous sky, it was time for a walk. 

Have you ever experienced summer rain that feels like relief? I'm not talking about when it's been dry and blisteringly hot outside, but the other kind of pre-storm that feels pregnant with moisture and pressure. Like a lid on a jar that just won't give in, just won't, and then suddenly, it does.

It's the kind of rain that makes the whole world feel wet, and the raindrops sound and feel more like a water balloon ambush. This was the kind of rain that started coming down just as I decided to walk to the grocery store. It ran every where, and it was so all at once that the ground couldn't lap it up quick enough. Little puddles were quickly big puddles, and the rain kept coming so hard and fast that soon I wasn't sure what was bouncing off the ground and what was falling from the sky. At first I tried to cover up with my rain jacket, but soon the world was so wet and soggy that the wispy pieces of hair that escaped my jacket were dewy cobwebs across my face. So, I pulled down my hood and bathed in it. 

It wasn't a cold and refreshing rain, but a steamy one that tasted like the green, summery June it frolicked with. In those minutes, I time-travelled. I no longer worked at a college, paid a mortgage, or cared whether the laundry was put away. I was approximately 9, freckled, and free. 

And then it was over. The grocery store's fluorescent lights and motion-censored doors released an attack of cold air, and I came to my senses, dripping. A large, middle-aged woman at a nearby check-out counter let out a cackle and hollered over, "Honey, you pick the wr-awww-ng tiiime to walk." "Yes, yes, I did mumbled back," trying to stifle my grin. I had definitely not picked the wrong time to walk. 

As I began to walk back, pretty waterlogged and now carrying groceries, the novelty of the moment began to wear off, that is, until I saw three children sitting at the end of their driveway sprawled out in the nastiest of puddles. One had a cup and was dumping the water on the other, and they were singing. I waved and yelled, "Y'all having fun?" "YEAH!" They yelled in unison. "Me too," I replied.

From somewhere came giggling, and I looked up at the house to see two mothers huddled in the front door, witnessing all the glee. I waved and they waved back.

And now I sit here, not sure what to make of this moment, but knowing I want to capture it before it's swallowed up as a yesterday. And I know if I say or think too much, it might start sounding like some sappy, made-up country song. But I will say this, it's been a really strange and really beautiful summer afternoon.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

"What's in a name?"

Recently, I have written a lot of drafts and not posts. I get halfway through a post and get distracted by a paint job or just the busyness of life. I think my drafts-and-not-posts have also had a lot to do with the fact that I don't really know what to make of this new phase. I sort of feel like I've just come off the tea-cup ride at Disney, and I still don't quite have my bearings. Not to say that I haven't enjoyed the tea-cups. As a matter of fact, I was probably spinning the wheel with all my might trying to make it a more interesting ride. But with that said, I'm still feeling a bit dizzy.

Or maybe it's the fact that I have been reading a lot of articles out there about blogging and social media that have made me want to be extra careful when considering my motive for blogging. For me, writing in this sphere has always been about telling stories that makes someone else say "me too" or "I'm with ya." I do think that sometimes (like now), I just begin reflecting and try to get somewhere by the end. It's not the kind of writing I was coached to do in grad school, but that's what I kind of love about blogs -  the messy, reflective nature of them.

So, where am I exactly as I write today? I have just moved to a new town and to a new job, and I am back living with my hubby again (full story here). I cannot help but laugh at my ridiculous self as I read back over that list of blessings - job, husband, etc. - and I write knowing that I have been feeling unsettled and fidgety even with all those blessings in tow. The fidgety part is probably just a case of the January/Februarys, but what is the rest? 

After walking through shifting communities a few times now, I have come to recognize a serious craving in my nature. I like to be known. Not just the "Hi, how are you" kind of knowing. I like for people to know my name, to know my history, to really get me, to recognize my worth. I don't think this is an introvert vs.extrovert struggle really. I just find myself saying the same thing on the phone to long-time friends, "I just don't want to do freshman year of college conversations over again."

And maybe this is not one of those moments where all readers are saying, "Yeah, me too. I totally get that feeling." But let me put it this way...


Titanic Exhibit

I will never forget going to the Titanic exhibit when I was 12 years old. I had heard about the unsinkable boat that sank, but at 12, I still wasn't sure what the big deal was - boats and planes crash. But at the beginning of the tour, I was given a passport of a little girl just my age to walk through the story of the Titanic with. I touched the iceberg as this little girl. I saw her living quarters and her toys. And at the very end of the tour, I looked for her name among the survivors. It wasn't there. I was stunned. Mary Burns had not made it. I began to cry for a long lost girl I never knew. Maybe you have been to a similar exhibit where an unfathomable tragedy was made personal with a name. It really begs us to ask Shakespeare's tragic question, "What's in a name?" And I guess too, we see life experiences so differently when we walk through them with someone.

Throughout history and literature, names are repeatedly significant. It's what has people searching for their family trees, and it's what keeps people "name-dropping." It is what's so endearing about nicknames and knowing your best friend's middle name when other people don't. Names hold cultural significance and intimacy. There is really something to knowing someone and being known.

And it is this very fact that makes a God that searches and knows me so very comforting; a God that has "written my name on the palms of His hands." And I guess that's where I've been headed all along tonight; I am working on resting in the comfort of a God who knows me and has plans for me instead of feeling the need to find my identity in being "known." Truth be told though, I think Cheers might have been on to something:

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name
And they're always glad you came
You wanna be where you can see our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name. 

Just a little food for thought.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A shout out.

By Sarah Horrigan

Have you ever had one of those moments that seems quite normal at the time, but as you look back on it, it becomes unforgettable? I have this one simple memory that I keep reliving from the past few weeks. A friend of my came over for the afternoon for a good, long walk. We hadn't gotten to hang out one-on-one in awhile, and we had both been going through a lot, she more than I. But this was the amazing thing, even in the rough road she was facing, she was quietly listening and encouraging me as we strolled. After walking for a bit and talking my guts out, I suddenly realized how selfish and one-sided the conversation had been. I began to apologize, but my friend stopped me and began telling me a story: 

"One day," she said, "my mother was sitting in a hospital with a sick friend, and she was going on about how horrible my teacher was at the time (or something to that effect).  And suddenly, just as you stopped, my mother stopped talking and burst into tears, 'Listen to me rambling about teachers when you are battling cancer,' mom cried. And Laura, do you know what her friend said? Lying there sick in bed, my mom's friend said, 'We all have our cancers.' So, don't apologize - this is your cancer right now."

I was astonished. What grace and empathy to understand and care about my mole hill next to her mountain! And as we continued walking and talking, unexpected dark clouds rolled in and unleashed their fury upon our walk. The downpour had a movie-like quality, mimicking our unbridled emotions and making the moment feel so private. We were completely separate from the world, only able to hear each other in the shroud of rain. And then it eased up as quickly as it came. We both began to laugh. We had walked through the rain like it was sunshine, almost unknowingly, and our clothes stuck to us, hanging heavy and unflattering. Whatever this was, it was friendship; it was a God-send. 

So, now a shout out to a girl who really knows how to love people well and who has just started her own blog chronicling, ironically, a very different kind of walk... Check out Keep Walking: The Story of Mary Anna Caldwell by Kari Caldwell.

And I guess too this is a blog to say, treasure those little memories and the sweet nuggets of wisdom that come from friends. I certainly don't do that often enough.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An Update

It's funny to write a post on a blog that was created to tell the story about two people beginning life together, and now, after 3 years, it's a the same story with a new chapter - those same two people living apart. I haven't written in awhile because I haven't known what to write. I think I've been trying to process this whole only-get-one-coffee-cup-out-of-the-cabinet lifestyle. But I decided tonight that sometimes the best way to process is to write:

So, I'll start with the question, "How are you?" It's a question that I've had a hard time answering recently. I can't even believe it, but David will have been living in Rome, Ga for 6 weeks as of this coming Friday. And maybe the weirdest part is that I'm still figuring out "how I am." There are days where I miss him, all of him - piles of clothes beside the bed that he swears he will rewear tomorrow, impromptu concerts in pjs, and bike parts everywhere. And there are days when I'm frustrated, almost jealous, that I'm not with him, but these feelings are a lot more complicated than just feeling sad or lonely.

Coosa River Bridge at sunset
And maybe the truth is that I haven't really been sad or lonely. As a matter of fact, I think there's a part of me that's been feeling more guilty than anything - guilty that I haven't been sadder or lonelier. Satan has a weird way of twisting the peace that the Lord gives into something else. I have these ridiculous thoughts like, "You're not lonely? You must be a terrible wife. You must not love him enough. BE LONELY!" How in the world does peace turn into such turmoil? I know it's not true, but I hear this small, sick voice in my head every time someone says to me, "I bet you're SO lonely. I don't know how you're doing it." I should smile and respond, "Some Jesus, exercise, New Girl, and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," but I always feel too guilty to admit that loneliness has not been my biggest struggle this far.

Okay, so if I'm not feeling lonely, maybe you are wondering what I am feeling. I think for the first time in 6 weeks I have an answer to those how-are-you questions. As I sit here trying to express it, I'm realizing I never could have guessed that I would feel this way. The truth is, more than anything, I think I feel empty. I'm empty, spent, bedraggled. The whole thing feel like an endless game of tag where we are running back and forth saying, "You're it!" And in that quick moment where we catch each other, it's wonderful and fun, but the rest of the time I feel like I'm running around trying not to get caught by the rest of life, trying to catch up to the next Friday when I can stop the world again to be with David. I guess that actually makes David more like "home base."

It's funny though, when I wake up late on these Saturdays, all lazy and snuggly, I feel whole and satisfied. It's almost like I don't realize how I feel during the week until I'm back with him feeling like the "real Laura." Then, I look back at my week, and it's like I see things clearly. I was happy all week, but there were pieces of me missing. My jokes didn't land because I wasn't telling them to David. I wasn't sure about my shoes with my outfit because he was not there to nod in approval before I headed out the door, and I can't blame the fact that Louie ate something AGAIN on David this time, because, well, he wasn't there. It was entirely my fault haha.


And as I write this half-smiling, half-teary confession, finally able to put my finger on it, I realize again that THAT is why I married him. It would be stupid to say that I could not live without him. I did for 19 years. But being apart has helped me remember why I married him, why I didn't want to spend another day without him, why he is my best friend. And as cheesy and mushy as this damn post is turning out to be (cuss words = less mushy, right?), I really do understand at some new, weird level that marriage makes two people one. 

So, how am I? I'm good. I'm feeling a little like I'm running on empty, and I really miss my best friend, but I really am alright. Oh, and by the way, I can't wait til Friday. 

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PS - Sorry for few and low quality pics these days. It's just not how we're spending our time.
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