Monday, May 17, 2010

wild like the sea

via dolorosa. strange name for a road at the beach, don't you think, among the 'sand piper way'-s and the 'palm tree lane'-s. it felt somewhat appropriate today, though. it began storming this morning while we were all still in bed and the clouds have persisted throughout the day. rain at the beach. dolorous, indeed.

but not enough to keep us wholly indoors. it was kind of nice to walk along a largely deserted beachfront. strangely peaceful. with thoughts that have been tossing and raging like the waves against the sand, emotions rising and falling like the tides, a bit of walking through the light drizzle did me some good. the world was at once quiet and roaring. and i felt drawn back into nature, bare feet sinking deep into the sand and what is usually meticulously-straightened hair blown curly by the wet ocean wind, wild like the sea itself. or, if not one with nature, i might have stepped into a Dali scene, with beached jellyfish strewed about like melting clocks.

while all of life makes me want to write in prose, there is something about the ocean that makes me want to write in verse, to dance and to sing and to love life and to feel connected to the larger everything. it makes me ponder the Almighty, who created such bizarre creatures as crabs and set the moon in place to pull the tides, and yet it also makes me feel like a child again. a child who last night was scared to walk on the beach in the pitch black of night for fear of stepping on said crabs under the meager light of only a sliver of said moon. the child who handed a pretty shell to her mother as they were walking along the beach, because, as she said, mothers always have pockets.

we've been a delightfully odd bunch this week--one mother who always has pockets and who loves the beach almost as much as she loves her children. her endearing boyfriend, who says 'vehicle' instead of 'car,' 'eatery' instead of 'restaurant,' and who drank one margarita too many while cooking hamburgers on the grill. one sister, who has been avidly watching Lost and discusses theories on the meaning of it all with me ad nauseum. one brother, who, on the beach at least, is still a kid at heart despite the ever-increasing evidence to the contrary. his girlfriend, who has puffy bruised cheeks from wisdom teeth removal and has been gumming food pitifully but with increasing success. his puppy, who has kept us entertained with his constant attacks on his own leash and who has reminded us of the true sensory overload that comes with one's first experience of the beach. one grandmother, whose sweet tooth is one of the few that can out-eat my own and who gave a kind listening ear to my thought-vomit on the 3.5 hour drive down here. one grandfather who is the silent backbone of the family, and who is probably more like me than i can know.

and me, the one who can describe the rest of the eccentric bunch because, as Paul might say, of these i am the worst. perhaps another would peg me as the pale one who carefully monitors the placement and proportion of any exposed skin under direct sunlight, but still comes home with odd patches of sunburn at the end of the day. truly though? the only way i can fairly describe myself now is transitioning. here, but not fully. thinking thoughts of what's passed and what's to come: 2 weeks in Atlanta, 2 days in Charlotte, 2 months in DC. delighting in the adventure of it all while still catching myself longing for normalcy every now and again.

like the ebb and flow of the water, life swirls forward.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

home(s) and family(ies)

it's the little things that make me feel like i'm back home. stupid things, really--no maybe just quirky. yesterday, as i drove across the state line into north carolina, it was being surrounded by almost all NC plates again. it was hitting that stretch of highway where you can pretty much turn on the mental auto-pilot, because you've driven it so many times, and suddenly find yourself pulling into a familiar cul-de-sac, walking up a familiar driveway to a door that you trust will be open. and then mom's smiling face is there to meet you, as she comes out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel. and something smells really good.

it's been nice to be in a full house again. i've been virtually alone in the atlanta house since arden moved out last week. i only saw courtney for a brief few minutes since finals ended--i think she stayed one night and kept mostly to herself. though i've been lonely without any roommates, it's helped me to remember two things about myself: 1) i should always live with people...i wouldn't do solo living well, and 2) if i ever do have to live alone, it shouldn't be in a house, especially not an old one, that creaks. there's still a lot of the little girl in me who is scared to be home alone. and now i don't have to be, for another week at least.

there's something odd about this visit home, though, too. i've decided to stay at dad's house, because things are a bit too crowded at mom's with her two roommates and my grandparents. it makes sense to be here where there's available bedrooms (and AC!). but this house never really turned into a home for me. and my "bedroom" here, which was a little more mine in high school when i still lived here every weekend, has since been converted into an official guest bedroom. what's more...the house is currently being prepped for sale. my dad just took a new job and will be moving to florida! so him and my stepmom are cleaning and consolidating, purging and reorganizing. there's a guy out in the hallway who is stretching out the carpet. soon the pseudo-home will belong to another family entirely and half of my own will relocate to somewhere that i'm sure will feel even less like home to me. let's be honest, in florida--it will be like a vacation home for me, with that weird mix of familiarity and specialness.

easy access to disney though? yes please ;)  my brother did not seem to be quite as excited as i was by the proximity of the new harry potter theme park. he can stay home. fall break, anyone?

we're still missing the one member of the family who we're meant to be celebrating this week--she's still finishing finals, which seems rather unfortunate to one who wrapped up over a week ago.

i miss my atlanta family though, a lot. there are some quality people who're still in town that i'll be fortunate enough to see during my two weeks of summer school. but it's different to have the candler community somewhat disbanded--not seeing each other in class or meeting for lunch in the commons. even the sense of fellowship that comes from complaining together over classes is now gone. and most of my besties are gone. you know, i think there is something really romantic and appealing about being a wanderer, and i certainly do still feel exceptionally lucky to be at a stage in my life where i can still embark upon summer adventures and do something completely different with my life for 3 months of the year. but really, i think i need roots. i will be ready to plant them when that day comes. maybe that's just me being adversive to change. maybe roots isn't even the right word for it--or not the roots that go in the ground, but roots that plant in people.

i guess, really, i've got that now. roots in certain people. they're just far-reaching roots that stretch from atlanta to charlotte to arkansas to DC to chicago, and several places in between and beyond. that probably makes for the strongest tree, right? wide roots. sometimes it doesn't feel like it though. sometimes i just want to be back in chapel hill, in kristen g's living room eating homemade bread and laughing and sobbing with bets and rach. (insert other memories here). but i suppose that's why we spend weeks like this--with family. or why i'm so excited to meet michelle tonight for coffee and catch up. or why i'm over the moon about spending a whole summer in the same city as Betsey and Mallory, with Sarah only 2 hours away in Pennsylvania. those times won't last forever, but they'll be so good. it's what sustains a person, what keeps one loving life and seeking new relationships. knowing the joy found in each other, in sharing life. in being family.

Monday, May 10, 2010

shooting the breeze

things accomplished during my week off:
  • slept in til 10 more days than one
  • enjoyed several mornings, afternoons, and evenings reading a book (of my choosing!) on the front porch swing
  • Shake at the Lake! Pat and I went to Piedmont Park one night to hang out and toss the frisbee around, and ended up walking by this makeshift outdoor theater with a crowd full of people nestled on a hillside. We went to check it out and learned that A Midsummer's Night Dream was being performed every evening that weekend. We couldn't sneak in then--tickets were given away at 10am each day. So, next day, we drive back to the park...but not until 11. The tickets were gone. We decide to come back to the park by 5 to wait in line for extras...and we got them! Sam joined us, and we had a great time! Even though it was hot, the show was wonderful. And a nice family sitting in front of us seemed to take pity on our lack of a picnic dinner, and shared their leftovers! Somewhat awkward, but most grad students I know have a hard time saying no to free food...
  • learned how to throw the above-mentioned frisbee in a new way. told i was a natural. took the compliment in the hopes that the supposed skills at frisbee would make up for my rather embarassing lack thereof at pool...
  • saw the year-end performance of the chapel choir here--it was excellent. made me miss choir singing very much.
  • spent my free $50 gift card at a fancy restaurant in downtown decatur and enjoyed lots of good food and good company
  • walked to the Target a couple miles down the road. felt very good about accomplishing three things at once: errands, exercise, and enjoying the nice day. of course, when i left target to walk the two miles back was raining. fail. at least i had grabbed my umbrella...


wednesday--home to see the fam, including the grandparents, and to celebrate my sister's graduation from college! congrats to all the other grads out there!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

fleeting finality

i have such a hard time with endings and goodbyes. and this week is really such a very small blip on the radar of life changes, but it is still a closing of sorts. my first year of seminary, done. i took my last test this morning--my Hebrew final. and that's such a silly thing to mourn, right? i mean, i enjoyed learning Hebrew, but I sure won't miss the flash cards and the homework and the weekly quiz on Fridays. but i will miss my quirky TA who loves Job a little too much and the intimate feel of a five-person class and those intermittent passing realizations that this really is holy stuff we're mucking through, this beautifully biazare language.

of course, there are many other, more significant things i will miss now that this school year is ending. my roommate, arden, moved out this morning. it was weird to say goodbye and to wish her a good summer. it feels final somehow, even though i'll see her in the fall. it also doesn't feel like it's quite summer yet. having a whole week to myself though, to just hang out in atlanta and do a whole lot of nothing--that'll make it feel like a break. and i think it'll be just enough. i'll head to charlotte at the end of next week to see my sister graduate from college. then we'll spend a long weekend at the beach with my grandparents and it should be lovely. then summer school will start. like i said--just long enough to do nothing. after summer session, i'll head up to DC.

it's hard to be thrust head-first into this period of transition. people are leaving town and making summer plans, saying goodbye and wishing one another well. the fact that we've all been pushing so hard over the last few days to get through the end of finals week makes us realize all too suddenly that once the tests and papers are done, it's time to move on. it feels like standing up too quickly.

i'll miss this porch swing. i'm sitting on it now, writing, because it's cooler here in the shade than it is inside. this is my favorite place in the world right now. it's sunny and quiet, except for a few birds chirping, and there's a little girl swinging in circles on a tire swing down the street. and it's perfect. i have another month in this house, and there are certainly some things i will not miss about it. but this swing is my rose. last night, a few of us got together for margaritas and my sweet friend Say asked us all what our rose and our thorn were from the year. i decided all the times that i've spent out on this front porch, with lots of friends or with just one, or even by myself, like right now--those have been the best moments. studying or sleeping or laughing or just sitting. a lot of things have happened in my life this year--almost all really good things--but sometimes you just need to sit on a porch sweet on a warm southern day and sip on a glass of sweet tea (if you're lucky) and let life just slow down a bit.

but, like Qoheleth said (and as I correctly identified on my OT final last Friday!), to everything there is a season. summer always seems to be one of change. what i dislike the most, i think, is having to leave people and places and routines knowing that when we try to pick it all back up again in the fall--everything will be different. and that's good, really. my friends and i may come back together as different people and have to work to readjust to one another, but i hope that i change and grow from my experiences this summer--and trust that they will, too. but it's hard. it's a disruption. but i guess life wouldn't be much of anything if it wasn't for the disruptions.

so for now i'll say my goodbyes. i'll sleep in every day for a week and i'll watch gilmore girls reruns and start packing and planning. i'll rejoice that i've completed a whole year of this privilege that is graduate school. i'll rejoice to know that i'm in such a good, different place than i was two years ago, that i'm a different person with a new set of life experiences and a new community than the person i was just last year. and thank God for that. for no matter how good we think we've got it at any particular point in our lives, there's always the promise of more to come. gotta take the bad with the good, but there's always more to come.