Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Role Reversal (59/90)

My Dad has a lingering cough.

I've been hearing it for far too long. I started nagging him a while back, before I went to Tampa on break and after I noticed it wasn't going away.

 It started out sounding like one of those coughs that just sneaks up on you after your throat gets a little tickled. But it happened often.

"What's with the cough," I started asking.

"I don't know," he'd say and that would be it.

 But it continued and I started probing with more concern and urged him to go to the doctor. And he went and got the cold medicine that was supposed to remedy the cough.

It's getting worse still now, no longer dry and shallow but deep and mucousy. And every time I hear it I worry. And by worry I mean my stomach falls to my feet, my face gets hot and for those few seconds--or minutes if it is a fit-- my world stops.

When I  am up in the wee hours of the morning working I hear him coughing down the hall, his sleep interrupted. I cringe, stop what I am doing and wait for it to be over, for the silence to envelop me again. And when it does, it brings with it a lingering fear.

I sometimes wonder when the roles reversed. But I can't remember a time that I haven't worried about my parents.

I remember waiting up for my Mom as a little girl. I'd be laying in my bed filled with panic waiting to hear the roar of the garage door opening and the back door swing open as her keys jingled in her hand. By the time she made it up the stairs I'd already exhaled, rolled over in my bed and was finally ready to sleep. I just needed to know that she was home and safe.

For some reason I always feared that she'd get lost or hurt and every night I had to make sure that my fears were, indeed, just fear and not reality.

I've never worried so much for my Dad as I do now, though. And I'm sure it's because now I'm watching his hair gray as he slows down. He used to run every day,  come into the house smelly, dripping with sweat and make a smoothie or drink a Gatorade while he watched the news or a sports event from the couch.

 Now, the arthritis in his knee won't allow him to run and he tells me to just walk on the treadmill because he doesn't want me pounding on my knees when I work out.

I've seen him be totally caught off guard by his own emotion as a tear slipped down his cheek and his voice broke when we were chatting one day. He stopped speaking for a moment and looked away before he finished his sentence, his lip still trembling.

When he was done, I excused myself and rushed to my room and crawled into my bed where I was flooded by my own emotion.

All of this in the midst of my excitement about the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Only my excitement is drenched in heaviness and dripping with worry.

And I have to remind myself, that my parents survived this world without me for many years.

Cartwheels In The Park (58/90)

Sometimes you just know within an instant, devoid of any reasonable explanation, the answer to the question that's been lingering unanswered. 

I spent last weekend in Chicago with about 25 of my colleagues from Cardinal Communications. We drove up on Friday and spent the day touring a couple PR firms in the city. Later, we had dinner at Quartinos with some Ball State alumni and other professionals that we had the chance to  meet earlier. 

We had a full day on Friday and while most of us had planned to go out and enjoy the city when it was all over, we  were exhausted and ended up staying in the hotel room for the night, just sitting around chatting instead. 

On Saturday after checking out of the hotel, most everyone made their way back home. But, I decided to stay behind with a few friends.

I woke up early on Saturday morning, full of energy and excitement, which if you know me, is rare. I am not a morning person, and after several attempts to change that, I've resigned myself to the fact that I will never be a morning person. But, on this particular morning, I was awake, alert and happy by 7 A.M. 

***

It's been a while since I've been to Chicago, I think the last time was when I was 14 or 15, for a church convention. 

And I was enthralled then, but for different reasons than I was this time. We did some fun touristy things on Saturday, like taking tons of pictures at The Cloud Gate in Millenium Park (otherwise known as The Bean).

We must have spent nearly an hour in the park taking silly pictures and enjoying the energy of all the people surrounding The Bean. At one point I got so excited that I did a few cartwheels. 


 We walked up and down Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive, stopping mid-day to have lunch at a little sandwich shop. For the most part it was pretty normal and relaxed; what I imagine a typical Saturday in Chicago could be like for me. 

City life invigorates me. I love being surrounded by the diversity and culture and I love that there are endless opportunities within arms reach. 

In Chicago I felt balanced. I was excited and invigorated but settled at the same time. I went to bed early on Friday and rose early on Saturday, both on my own will. That's a feat for me, but I don't think the credit is mine to take. 

***

I've been searching for a home, a place to build my own life for years now; intensely contemplating where I want to be.  In anticipation of the season that I'll soon be entering I've had many a conversations, made some visits and did some research. And it's been a long search with weighty considerations.

For a while it was New York, then San Francisco, then Destin. And there was a full list of other options. But Chicago never made it to the top of the list. Although when I was hellbent on New York, my Dad urged me to consider it instead. And I wouldn't. 

But last weekend, I sent him a text saying, "I think I could live here." 

For whatever reason, it just feels right. I can't explain it, and I'm okay with that. Because sometimes just knowing is enough. 

And I'm not sure that I could go wrong in a city that causes me to leap from bed at 7 A.M. and turn cartwheels in the park on a chilly  Saturday afternoon. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Truth, In Bits And Pieces (57/90)

Technically, it's Monday. But it's still Sunday in my head because I haven't slept yet. And Sundays have been weird in my head lately.

I wake up wondering whether I should stay or go; a question that I contemplate all weekend. I sleep on it Saturday nights and decide within an instant on Sunday mornings. I don't know if it's something that I'll ever feel settled with. It is only now, at 22, that I'm beginning to feel that the choice is mine to choose.

And that there is, indeed, a choice.

I've always been taught that we are chosen. And the right choice is easy when you know that you've been chosen: accept that you are chosen and live accordingly. Which for me meant a sacrifice of everything that made my life my own.

I'm a radical human being, I throw myself mercilessly into the things that resonate with me. I give myself completely. And that's been a source of great heartache in my life, I've been taken advantage of in the worst and most hurtful ways. But, I can't be any other way no matter how hard I try.

And I have tried. I am trying. To live a life that is balanced.

So on days like today, I struggle with the fact that there is emptiness where a routine has been for my whole life. I've missed church for five or six consecutive weeks now. I'm not sure what to put in its place, though.

Today and many Sundays it is studying. That is something beneficial to my week and fairly easy to explain. Because there are questions. I suspect that there will be questions for a while, if not always.

I avoid my Dad on these days, because I fear his disappointment. I remember as a child the days that I tried to skip church. When I was too young to understand the point or be interested in anything that came from the pulpit. I would pretend to be sleeping or sick when it was time to get up and dressed in my Sunday's best. I learned quickly that was not the best choice.

When we didn't go to church we didn't eat. Not the way that we were used to on Sundays. Instead of the family dinner out we'd be relegated to whatever we could scrounge up at home. Leftovers or peanut butter and jelly. There were no special provisions. This was a punishment.

One that still exists today only more subtly because I can feed myself now.

But there are still consequences. The questions that haunt me, and the judgement that is passed off as concern by wolves in sheep's clothing. These are things I can handle, though.

And when I am called on Sunday afternoons by various churchgoers, as I was today, and asked about my whereabouts, I explain that I am at school working, that I have more work than I've got time for and must spend every free minute plugging away at it and preparing for my tomorrow.

And that is the truth.

But not the whole truth.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tiptoeing Around (56/90)

It’s 11:33 P.M., Chicago time on Friday.  I’m sitting at the desk in my hotel room. It is quiet.

I’m writing this in my journal, which I’ve learned to carry at all times, for moments like these. Two of my three roommates for the night are sleeping only a few short steps away from me.

I’m scared to wake them by writing on my laptop, as is my nightly ritual. And these hand written words won’t be typed and published until the morning. Plus, there’s no free wi-fi in the rooms at the Hyatt, and after the long shower I just took to clear my head I don’t feel like leaving the room.

***

It’s been a long, wonderful day. I’ve been up and surrounded by people since 5 A.M.

By the time we were halfway through dinner at Quartinos, passing plates back and forth, I’d reached my Social Output max. That may be a misleading statement because I absolutely love being with interesting people. And today I have been.

But I always reach my limit, and it’s never anything personal. But at some point I always turn inward, my thoughts become heavier and I get quiet.  This happened last night while I was sitting in one of the rooms with 4 or 5 girls sipping wine.

It didn’t help that I was exhausted and full, and drinking. Thankfully though, the mood shift happened gradually today; I started out laughing and singing in the car on the drive to the city and remained pretty excited and social throughout. When we got to dinner though, I began to wind down.

I was beginning to long for a few long moments of solitude. For the writing.

***

It’s 9:22 A.M. Chicago time on Saturday. I’m sitting at Descartes, a coffee shop downtown, sipping a vanilla caramel latte. I’m sitting at the bar looking out the window watching the passerbys.

I found myself stirring in the bed far before everyone else. I slipped out of bed at 7:15, got dressed grabbed my bag, left a quick note on the desk, and headed out.

My friend Hannah just joined me at the café and we will soon be off for breakfast and some exploring.

 “I saw you in the morning, and thought man, you’re serious about this writing thing," she said.

I didn’t set an alarm last night, again for fear of waking the others. But I got up energetically, hit the streets, and found my writing spot.
I may always be apologizing for my need to go off and write; tiptoeing around in the wee hours of the morning, and sneaking out, but this is my life.

I’ve always thought that I was made for the city.

Now I’m starting believe that I was made for this life, too. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Enough For Now (55/90)

Tonight, I am drained.

It wasn't until I was leaving campus, chatting on the staircase with a friend after a full day, that I remembered how long last night was for me. I went to bed at 4 and woke again at 7. Surrounded by the things I have been too tired to run from; the overwhelming fear and the sudden sharp pains of anxiety in my chest.

Sometimes we needn't run, though. Sometimes one foot in front of the other is enough.

I called THE grad school today and left a voicemail for the director of the nonfiction program. His voice, what I heard of it on the recording anyway, was gentle and controlled, his speaking pace slow. But I'm  hoping desperately that he is quick to call me back.

An hour or so later, I sent an email to the admissions office in case he doesn't. And I finalized the decision a bit later in the day that even if they don't respond either, I'll see the school this weekend.

 I'll make my way there hurriedly after our scheduled agency visits while the others return to the hotel. I'll   try to blend in with the other students, listen in on their conversations and feed off of their creative energy.

This tenacity came only after a meeting with my mentor, Brad, this afternoon, who has a way of pushing me through that overwhelming fear, far past my comfort zone and into that unfamiliar space, where I need to be.

I've finally come to the end of my whining about hating the countdown. There are  45 days until it's over. I am excited and sad. Actually, there are days that I am excited and there are  days that I am sad. Those emotions don't coexist yet.

On Saturday, while still in Chicago, I'll wake up early and go out to find a coffeehouse to sit in for the morning while I apply for an internship, which is  the next step beyond the 45 days. (It's technically not the end for me until I actually walk across the stage in July, but for all intents and purposes, it's over in 45 days.)

I can't lie. That number turns my stomach, and brings the sting of tears to my eyes.

All of the things that I'd hoped for when I moved her nearly two years ago are slowly but surely coming to fruition.  And I'm not sure whether this timing is perfect or cruel.

But at some point,  the night always fades into the morning.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Adventures: One Step At A Time (54/90)

It's 3:45 p.m and I'm home. Sitting at my desk where I've been all day. The panic of not being able get to campus after the car issue spilled over into today has settled a bit.

I  missed my 12:30 test and my 3:30 class. But, I'm doing what I can here. And today, that will have to be enough.

My stomach is growling, and has been since 1:00. We get to the store sporadically and buy only what we need when we do, because we don't spend much time at home.  There is chicken breast in the freezer and vegetables that I could have made for lunch, but I didn't want the spend time in the kitchen and lose the productive spurt that is happening at my desk.

I feel the pressure to be extra diligent since I'm not on campus. I don't want to get comfortable here and let the day slip away from me.

Yet, it's a nice day out and I keep finding my eyes wandering toward the window. I would love to walk to a cafe where I could sit outside, have lunch and work there for a bit. But there is nothing that close around here. .

I've always wanted to live in a city where that wasn't such a long stretch; to wake up on a Saturday morning, walk to the bookstore and then to the coffee shop and stop by the market on the way home. I can't wait to be in Chicago this weekend, walking the city and discovering my favorite little spots.

 I've decided when the time is right, I want to sell my car and move to a walking city. This has always been a dream of mine. I'm a wanderer and I'm invigorated by city living.  First I thought about New York, then Boston, and then D.C.  But, I don't have to make any decisions just yet.

For now, I'll take some time just exploring the options. I spent a few minutes looking at the 25 Best Walking Cities in America during a study break. And I was immediately enticed by the idea of Denver, Tucson, Portland and San Jose.

 I want to explore them all and rank them myself.  But maybe the city I'm after isn't on the list, or even in the states.

And that's the beauty of adventure.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Such Is Life Sometimes (53/90)

Today's been a bust. A complete and total bust. And as of right now, tomorrow is not looking so good.

The day started the way that I thought it would. I got up early, got myself my favorite iced vanilla coffee on  the way to campus and got to class. I wasn't bothered by the rain, even when my brand new umbrella failed me.

As soon as class was dismissed, I made the 40 minute drive back home for an appointment at Midas to get my car serviced before the Chicago trip. I got to the shop ten minutes early and sat down to wait. I was thrilled to find that they have free Wi-Fi and I could get some work done.

 It was a good thing, because the Midas man was swamped, and has been since I made the appointment last week. I spent 3 hours and 20 minutes waiting to get a 45 minute job done on my worn rotors. That really wasn't an issue for me, patience is a virtue and I can always use more of it.

Less than thirty minutes in to my wait, though, I realized that I had left my flash drive, full of this entire year's work in the office I was working in last night. Still, not a huge deal. I knew exactly where I left it. But, there are lots of people in and out of the office and on the computers.

I started to freak out and felt totally helpless since I wasn't on campus and had trouble getting in touch with anyone that was. I damaged the flash drive that had all of last year's work on it when I dropped my computer and I'm still upset about that. So I was trying to prevent the loss and all of the hassle that comes along with it.

Luckily, I finally got a hold of a friend who got it for me and has it in safe keeping now.

And, my car was finished just in time for me to make it back to campus in time for my 5:00 class and grab a cup of coffee on the way. I got to campus, parked and pulled my bag from the floor to my shoulder and grabbed my coffee.

But when I went to pull the key out of the ignition, I couldn't. I made sure the steering wheel wasn't locked, that my gear shift was in the right position and everything was as it should be. No luck.

So, I did what I always do when I have car trouble: Call my dad. Even when I'm 900 miles away. God love him, after he couldn't help me on the phone he came to Muncie to see if he could get the key out while I waited in the car.

First he told me just to go to class and lock the doors and he would come check it out. I, of course, refused. I know it's small town Muncie, but it's not the 50s. When he got to the commuter lot on campus where I was parked he jumped in the driver seat of my car and jiggled the key. He turned the car on and then off, put it in neutral and back in park again. No luck.

He offered to switch me vehicles, which I also refused. By this time it was almost 6:00 and I'd missed the majority of my 5:00 class so there was no reason to stick around. When we got home at 7:00 we called Triple A and waited.

It's 10:00 now and the Triple A locksmith just left not long ago. He got the key out and then put it back in and it got stuck again. And again. It's out now, but obviously this is a problem. Something about the Solenoid switch.

Tomorrow I've got to spend more time getting it all figured out and hopefully still make it to my 12:30 test. I hate that these little nuisances have consumed my day and my energy and that I feel helpless. But, these things happen. Such is life, sometimes.

So, what I can do to make up for today and plan for tomorrow I am doing. Starting with a late night workout and my favorite concert DVD.  Because there's much bigger, better things to be consumed by.

Lists (52/90)

It's 11:30 p.m and I'm sitting in the Cardinal Communications office on campus. I told myself I'd be home by now and in bed by midnight so that I could be rested and recharged come Monday morning.

But, I made a to-do list.

 Actually, I made the same list twice. I threw the first one out because my handwriting was ridiculously sloppy and I knew I'd be annoyed when I looked at it everyday. And now I'm obsessing, playing this game to see how much I can get checked off. I'm curious if I can push my body and mind through the "For Monday" section all the way to the "For Wednesday" section before I surrender to sleep.

 On the bottom of each day's section written in blue is "blog post." Which I went back and added hesitantly after I'd already made the list and started in on the work. Because for me, it just feels wrong putting that on a list. Mixing the sweetness of the thing that I love with the tartness of all the other things that are just necessary.

And then I began to wonder, with worry and anxiety swirling in my belly, if this it what it will be like. Putting love on the bottom of the list, saved as a reward for the end of a day spent doing what will get me from Point A to Point B.

If I'll always feel betrayed by my body as I get overwhelmingly sleepy, just when I've hit my stride and the writing begins to flow.

Of course, I could always put love, this love in particular, on the top of the list. And I have. At the beginning of this challenge when I was trying to find out what works best for me, by way of copying the style and schedule of others, I got up and spent time writing before I set my mind on anything else. What happened, over and over again, is that I'd lose track of time, and spend hours doing what I'd alloted only 30 minutes to an hour for.

My mind would get stuck on the writing. I'd write and re-write and start over. I wouldn't have anything to show for my day, except for the writing, which often times wasn't even worth showing. But that was, and is, okay with me.

It's 12:05 now, and the anxiety in my belly is pushing me to wrap up and make the 40 minute drive home, where I have to get on with the list that will push me through the necessities of tomorrow.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Night On The Town With The Brat Pack (51/90)

Last night I experienced my first grown up outing with "The Brat Pack" as Langston dubbed us early on in the evening. But, that's unofficial still, because Riana thinks that we need something more original.

Let me back up a bit though, this Brat Pack that I speak of consist of me, of course, my 29-year-old sister Riana, and my 25-year-old brother Langston. And we all kind of do our own thing, independently of each other.  And because our parents are divorced we don't all gather at Mom and Dad's ever. And since Mom lives in Florida, our family gatherings are relegated to Christmas, which we've held at Riana's the past few years.

But that's not enough. So we planned a a day of fun around the Jay-Z concert at Conseco Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis.

I can't tell this story rightfully without being honest about our dynamics, though. Growing up Lang and I went through a long drawn out case of sibling rivalry, and while Riana and I never had any problems, the age gap distanced us quite a bit. Add to that my nerdy nature and Riana and Langston found a lot more in common with each other than I did with either of them.

When Riana found out about the Jay-Z concert she immediately called Lang, who is a huge fan. Matter of factly, Jay-Z was all I heard blaring from his room when we were in high school. It was no doubt that they would be securing tickets for the concert. As an afterthought, my sister called me just before they bought the tickets to see if I wanted to go, though she doubted I would.

I've never been a huge hip hop fan, I spent my time in the house locked in my room listening to Celine Dion ballads and 90s pop songs while I was writing and reading. So, my sister was a bit taken aback when I said "Yeah, I wanna go," to the concert offer without a moment's hesitation.

 1. It's JAY-Z and 2. It's a night spent with my big sister and big brother. Of course I wanted to go.

My brother and I decided to ride together from Anderson to Indianapolis. Among the first words out of  his mouth were "Do you have any Michael Jackson in here?" You see, the M.J. love is a shared love in my family. My brother rifled through my CD book, found the Dangerous album and popped it in.

From that point I knew we were bound to have an incredible time.

When we got to my sister's place we had just enough time to play a bit with our niece and nephew and take a few pics.


We couldn't get Lang to take off the do-rag just yet. Something about his waves and the line that would remain on his forehead. But, it's a nice happy pic of all of us, I think.

Then, we all hopped in Riana's car and headed downtown. Before the concert we went to Scotty's Brewhouse for dinner and drinks and more photo opportunities.


Right after this picture was taken, Lang melted Riana and I's hearts. "I'm so glad I you guys are my sisters," he said. "You're very classy ladies." That was the sweetest thing I've heard him say, ever.

We continued to talk and laugh over dinner and drinks before walking back to Conseco where the concert was. Everybody and their momma was out to see The Jigga Man, so when we arrived back at the fieldhouse around showtime we were met by a line wrapped around the building.

When we finally got in  and took our seats the excitement began to set in. By the time that Trey Songz opened the show the entire crowd was buzzing with excitement. My brother said on the car ride over that when Trey Songz took the stage he would have to go hit concession area to find some girls to talk to. But, when I looked over at him he was bobbing his head and enjoying the show right from the start.

He wasn't starstruck until Jay-Z took the stage, of course.


Halfway through the show he turned to Riana and I and said, "That's Jay-Z."


And boy was it. The Jigga Man put on an incredible show, even staying behind to perform an encore full of the old songs.

But, as amazing as the show was, for me it was all about this:


My time spent with The Brat Pack, and I can't wait to do it again. And maybe by then we'll have a more original moniker.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Excited Indecision (50/90)

My sister wanted me to get a tattoo today on the fly.

I don't think that's going to happen. Four-plus years of thinking can't boil down to a snap decision. Well, it could and it has before, but that's now what I want now.

But if I do decide to get one, my sister wants to be there. It will be a bonding moment for us. I was there with her, along with my godsister, when she got her first. I watched as flipped through the design book, asked us for our opinions nervously and then teetered on her decision before finally sitting down in the chair. No turning back.

But I've never been as spontaneous as my sister. Especially when the decision holds permanency. She's tried to get me to just make a decision on the tattoo thing for years. But, I can't. Not in a hurry, anyway.

And I'm sure that I frustrate her  because I so often entertain the idea. I love tattoos. Well, let me be clear, I love thoughtful, artful tattoos. And when she called me yesterday with fresh ink on her ankles, I was upset that she didn't invite me to go along. But that's just the thing, for her, it was a snap decision.

But I've entertained the idea for years. Never in a rush to decide. Because, like with many things in life, I think that I'll just feel when the time is right and when it is I'll know without a doubt what I want to be permanently etched on my body.

Until then, I'll keep admiring the ink on others and asking intrusively for the stories behind it. And I'll keep frustrating my sister with my excited indecision. Because I'm of the creed that there should be a story, or a compelling reason.

And so when there is, then I will be inked. And it may just end up being spontaneous after all.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mentally Preparing (49/90)

It's just past midnight and I'm laying in bed mentally preparing for the weekend. For the next two weeks actually.

I've made it through the first week back from break now. I knew it would be rough, as I didn't do any school work over break. At all.

So it's been a game of catch up. And I'm still not quite caught up, but thankfully my class tomorrow is cancelled and I don't have any appointments or commitments.  So I'm on my own schedule, which is how I like it.

I plan to start my day with a workout. After a hiatus I am ready to get back in the groove. I'll begin with Jillian Michaels 30 day shred, which is beastly if you haven't tried it. But, I know that it works because it's whipped me into shape before.  And this time around, I'm worrying more about how my body feels than how it looks. But I can't pretend like that's not something I'm still talking myself into.

Anyhow, I'll do the workout. And hopefully, I'll stick with it and incorporate other fun things like rollerblading, long bike rides and maybe even some tumbling on open gym nights at the gymnastics center.

After the workout, though I've got work to do; assignments to catch up on and internships to apply for, a community to start building around my social media project.  And then it's a movie night with some friends, which I'm looking forward to.

On Saturday night, I'm off to see Jay-Z with my brother and sister. Our first real outing together as adults. It's been a long time coming, my sister is 29, brother is 25, and I'm 22. So, it's time. And it will be a good time I'm sure. My sister has taken the role of the coordinator, it's burden she bears as the oldest, I suppose. She's called me a few times this week in anticipation, first to ask what I was wearing, then to talk over plans, and then again to talk over the new plans.

I'm not as excited for the concert as I am for the experience with my siblings. Thinking about enjoying the concert reminds me of the nights we spent in that house on Eastern Drive, lined up in the living room with brushes for mics, dancing and singing as music blared from Dad's stereo.

And I hope we keep it up.

Then it's back to life as normal until next Friday when I venture to Chicago for the weekend with a group from Cardinal Communications, the full-service PR public relations agency at school. We'll be visiting some agencies in the city and doing other professional development type things, I think.

But, we'll also have some free time. Which means I'm going to find a way to take a tour of the top choice school. And then, on Saturday I've decided to stay behind with a friend to do what I love doing most, explore.

As evidenced by my plans and newfound excitement, my life is filling up in a way that I wasn't sure it would. And maybe I'm mentally preparing for more than just the next two weeks.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sweet Surrender (48/90)

I've been unable to fight my sleep lately.

Which is a good thing. Although it's almost 2 a.m. now and I'm awake only because I'm worried about all of the work I've got to finish up. For the past two nights I've been working on all of the assignments I didn't get to over break,  searching magazines for a new blog series, scanning pictures and studying for tests.

But,  long before I should be done for the night I get sleepy. At a normal hour, not the insomniac hour that I'm used to falling asleep in. And when I'm smart, I surrender and leave loose ends for the sake of my body.

I can't remember exactly when the shift began, but it's been shifting for a little while. A welcome respite from long, empty, restless nights. I've started sleeping earlier, and through the night. When I was in Tampa over  break there were many a nights that I went to bed early; 10:00, 10:30 just because I was tired, which normally isn't reason enough for me.

I've never been a good sleeper, as confirmed by my friends after a late dinner out. They just shook their head at me, when at 1 a.m. they were going home to sleep and I was going home to write and find something to work on for four more hours.

But, the insomnia is calm now, coming only ever so often instead of night after sleepless night. I'm thankful for that, and scared to ruin it by pushing my body too hard and too long and falling back into the same vicious cycle.

And now, my eyelids are getting heavy, and instead of fighting, I'll let them close slowly over this night, leaving loose ends all around me.

Because this is not a fight worth fighting.

Finding Me In The Media, Part 1: Natural Hair (47/90)

The influence of the media is powerful. Especially in our perceptions and attitudes about appearance. It seems natural to want to see a vision of ourselves represented in the media. It serves as some sort of validation, without which we too often  go to great lengths to conform to whatever it is that is represented and appreciated,  at the cost of the beauty that is our individuality.

I've decided to begin a search for myself in the media. I'm curious to see what aspects of my appearance are represented in the media, and which aren't and explore reasons why.

First up: Natural Hair.

I've pulled ads of  several ads of people with natural hair from two issues of Essence magazine, a publication that targets African-American women. I expected that it would be easy to find representations of natural hair in an African-American publication. And it was.



                                              


                                                  








Of course, there are still some issues. This ad, for example, is full of irony. Mizani is a black hair care line. In this ad, the featured product line is for natural hair. Only this model has a head full of weave, with a curly, kinky texture. What is that saying? To me it screams that real natural hair isn't good enough, not even for a natural hair product line. 



Then I searched in five different mainstream magazines. And here's what I found.





I'm pleased with the amount of ads featuring people with natural hair, but  again, I expected what I found there. It's a black publication and the advertisers tailor their ads for their target market, which are African-American females. 

As for the five mainstream media magazines that I searched and found only two ads with natural hair, I'm disappointed.  I think it's sad that I had to search several magazines and found only 2 non-weave, natural hair images. And I'm sure there are more, if I search. But should I have to search, becomes the  question. 

But this is only my experience on finding me in the media, what's yours? 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An Uphill Battle (46/90)

From the start of the day, I haven't quite felt like myself. That isn't exactly true, I've felt pretty good. I was surprisingly chipper and excited to be back on campus today after a wonderful Spring Break in Tampa that I wasn't quite ready to be done with.

But, I struggled this morning when I looked in the mirror. I fiddled with the hair for far to long, whether I should pull it up or leave it hanging and I just couldn't get it to look right or figure out what the problem was.

Then I fiddled with my earrings, trying on three different pairs before I went back to my big basic studs. This odd fidgeting happened all day, I found myself pulling at my clothes and feeling a little uncomfortable for no good reason.

But we all have these days, I think. Just off days where it's hard to even pinpoint the issue.

And then tonight, I watched this video that I made for my social media project that I've been worried about ever since I made it. I knew that I didn't want to see it before I made it, but of course I watched it anyway.



And I cried.

Which, although it's no secret that things like this tend to embarrass me, is not my typical reaction. I think it was just a big dose of reality for me. I tend to be avoidant at times, and this has been no different with my struggles with my appearance. I've been in denial about my weight, refusing to get on the scale, and refusing to deal with the awkwardness of my hair now. And I think the reason this killed me so much is that I've been trying to tell myself that I'm okay. That my weight is okay, that my hair looks good, that I look okay.

 But what I saw in that video is just not okay with me.

Thankfully, I'm ready now to deal with this. Which for me means figuring out what will make it okay. Or how to be okay with it. External validation will never be enough. I've got to find a way, within myself, to really be okay with it or to do what it takes to make it okay.

The one good thing that came of this though, is that I know I'm in the right place with the writing that I'm pursuing, and the social media project. This is something I struggle with, and may always struggle with. But, the feedback that I've gotten so far on writing about the struggle, is that other people do too.

And I've always wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, to share openly, the way that other people have with me, the things that make us human and relatable.

The first step I'm taking in being okay, in gaining power over this struggle, is finding little things to celebrate. I'd love for you to join me here.

Tomorrow, I'm celebrating with a post (and pictures) of natural hair in advertising.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

In-Flight (45/90)

I am on my way back to the IND now, literally. I am 32,000 feet up in the air, sitting uncomfortably cramped in seat 25A, beside the window (although the shade is down now to block the glare of the sunshine on my screen). The arm hairs of the man next to keep brushing my arm and we’ve bumped elbows a few times now.  

 It is an overfull flight, as we were told over and over, first from the gate and then when there was no space in the overhead bins for carry-on bags.  I gladly checked the extra bag that I borrowed and brought along today; full of my Spring Break purchases, since all of the sudden AirTran was so willing to check it for free (and allow me to board the plane early for doing so).

It’s been a day full of these sorts of accommodations, though as I experienced my first travel SNAFU.

***

After a day spent shopping in Orlando, we got home around 1a.m. I had a 7a.m. flight to Atlanta, a one-hour layover and then finally a flight back to Indianapolis that would land at 11 a.m.

First, we lost an hour with Daylight Saving’s Time today, which meant I lost one of my precious three hours of sleep. I woke up around 4:00 a.m., which is when, on a typical day in my life is I would be going to sleep, and finished packing. My Mom and I sleepily headed to the airport around 5:30 a.m. We were stressed and somehow, made the 30-minute trip in 15 minutes.

When I arrived at the airport and tried to check my bag outside, I was told that the flight had been delayed until 10 a.m. Now, I am normally very collected, but at that point I unintentionally sighed aloud before I thanked the uniformed lady and headed inside.

When I got inside I was jolted by the incredibly long line, one that you’d typically see during the holiday rush. I stood in line for two hours behind an entire military troop, and in front of a fanatically religious trio, which made for some entertaining eavesdropping.

 I was probably a little entertaining near the end of the two hours also, as I had already taken my Dramamine to prevent motion sickness on the flight and chugged an entire bottle of water. I was already sleepy and add to that the drowsiness of the Dramamine and the pee-pee dance and three bags to manage and I probably looked pretty silly.

When I got to the front of the line I was told there was no more room on the 10 a.m. flight and that I would be moved to the afternoon flight instead. At this point, I was just too tired to be upset, at all.

I had walked away from the counter with all of my bags still in hand as it was too early to check them, and called my Mom hoping that she could pick me back up.

While I was still on the phone with my Mom, the representative at the counter called me back over. She had forgotten to give me the free round trip, she told me. She handed me a white card, with a confirmation number written on the bottom, with which I can redeem a free round trip to anywhere that Air Tran flies.

***

When my Mom reached the airport again to pick me up she seemed as tired as I felt. She didn’t get much sleep either because she spent the wee hours of the morning helping me to get my laundry finished and packed.

I told her about my free round trip as an afterthought, kind of the way that that lady at the counter had offered it to me.

And she immediately perked up and suggested a trip to Hawaii, and I think that could be nice.

I’ve been flying alone since I was 14, shuffling back and forth between Tampa and Indianapolis and this is the first time that I’ve ever had a notable issue. And I’m not even sure that this is notable.

This is the best of SNAFU’s in my opinion. One that leaves you with less trouble on the ground and provides more airtime, for free. 

So Long For Now (44/90)

(Saturday March 13, 2010)

It’s my last day/night in the bay.

I’m sitting here reclined on my mom’s couch beside the porch. The door is open and I’m enjoying the breeze that still feels damp from yesterday’s rain. The neighbor’s wind chime is ringing, cars are whizzing by, dogs are out for their Saturday morning walks and many joggers have run past, huffing and checking their watches.

I have butterflies as I type this. I’m loving this moment.

Soon and very soon, I’ve got to get up, finish my laundry and get my suitcase packed. And I’m worried that the 41 pounds I came here with is over 50 now, thanks to the clothes that my mom had laid out on my bed when I got here and the outfits that I’ve picked up throughout the week.

Add to that the weight of whatever I will pick up today during a full day of shopping at the outlet malls in Orlando. I’d be happy to walk away with a new watch, some new spring flats, and a handbag. But, we’ll see what happens. I’m going with two women who love to shop and peer pressure and/or good deals may influence my purchasing.

I’m now convinced that I need to get a small carry-on suitcase to pack all of my new things in. If we could only go back to the days when life was good and airlines didn’t charge for absolutely everything, including our bags.

I’ve got a 7a.m. flight back t o Indianapolis in the morning, which I didn’t realize when I was planning, would actually be a 6a.m. flight due to Daylight Saving’s Time “Spring Forward”. It’s very likely that I will not sleep again until I am back in my other bed in Anderson.

There’s much to be done when I get back, all of the things that I neglected while I was here enjoying the city and the company of my Mom and friends. While I am stressed just thinking about those things, I’m also thinking joyfully on some other things that I’ve got to do.

I told my friend last night that I am determined to seek out the things that make me happy when I get home. All of those little things that make my heart smile and fill my stomach with butterflies; the cute little cafes to write and do homework in, the artsy events to watch and enjoy and the parks to sit and read in.

These are the places and things that keep me feeling inspired, creative and…happy. And I know they’re out there, and finding them will be an adventure of sorts.

So it’s so long for now. But there are new adventures before me, as there always have been. And now, I am more than ready for them.

But, here’s to hoping for a summer internship in the bay, under the sunshine, surrounded by the laughter of my friends, my Mom’s love and homemade cooking and many butterfly-filled moments. 

It's A Celebration (43/90)

Monday marks one year to the day of my life new life as a natural chick.

I’ve decided that this is a day worth celebrating. Actually, I may just celebrate all week. And I’m sure this seems silly to some, and I’ve decided not to worry about the some that don’t get it for right now. Those that do though, I invite you to celebrate with me.

And, let’s celebrate the newness of things in your life too, hair or otherwise.

I’ve come across several natural hair celebrations and they were an inspiration for me to continue through my journey from relaxed to natural hair and gave me something to look to look forward to once I reached the awful awkwardness that followed the first few days and months of my Big Chop.

Of the celebrations that I have seen so far the most common were video montages that chronicle the hair journey, length checks; which often times mean flat ironing the hair for the first time, adding color, or pampering the hair with special treatments like Henna and creating homemade shampoos and conditioners with all natural ingredients.

I think all of these are awesome ideas, and as said before they were inspiring to me during my transitioning stage and first months in the natural club. But, this is my celebration and I want to do something original and share it with you.

But what? That is the question.

I’d love to know what people want to see as I celebrate my first year natural. I’d love to answer any questions you may have about the hair or this natural journey. Also, what would you like to see/read/hear from me?  

And, I want to know what you’re celebrating, so I can join you in your celebration as well.

 Let’s talk, and CELEBRATE! 

Friday, March 12, 2010

"We're Falling Apart And Coming Together" (42/90)

It’s almost 1:30 a.m. and I’m lying in bed fighting to keep my eyes open.

Generally, this wouldn’t be such a fight as I am a night-owl/insomniac/curious cat who is often up at all hours of the night. But tonight, I am exhausted. It’s been a full week, much fuller than I anticipated. I haven’t studied for the major test I have on Wednesday when I return, or applied for internships, or done my reading or any of the other things I brought along in my school bag, sure that I’d have time to get to them.

Still, I feel it’s been a successful break. I’ve been able to spend a lot of quality time with my mom and reunite with my friends here.

***

I’ve just gotten home from a night out with the girls, minus two. “The girls” are the girls that I went to high school with. There are five of us, and I’m not even quite sure how we bonded, as we are all so different, but we did.

Throughout high school we ate lunches together when we could, had sleepovers and holiday parties, and many a late night talking sessions. We went to homecomings and proms together and always came together when one of us was having a hard time, after a break-up or let down or even just to celebrate.

We are five years post high school now and we don’t talk often, but we have get-togethers whenever we can and try to catch up. Thankfully, I was in town this time and got a chance to hug my girls and hear about their lives now.

As it turns out, while our lives are all still very different we all seem to be in the same place.

Before I say all this, let me first say that we are a pretty awesome group of girls. Among us is the class valedictorian, two college grads, one of them a Duke pre-Med student, a soon to be teacher, and two who hold two jobs whilst going to school.

We are smart, hard working and determined.

But, because we are honest with each other it is also evident in our conversation that we are confused, broken, and scared.

Though we are finished or nearly finished with college we aren’t exactly sure what we want to do with our lives, or if we are, we aren’t exactly sure how to make it happen.

We are growing up. And we were unaware of how hard and unpleasant that can be.

***

Tonight I felt like I was having déjà-vu. I’ve been meeting with friends all week, and we’ve been having this same conversation, within the different contexts of our lives and relationships.

There wasn’t one person I talked to that had it all together, well, there actually was one but that’s just because they weren’t being totally open or honest. But when we are being real, the truth is that most of our lives are falling apart. Not in an end of the road, way but in a this must first be broken, way. Some of us have realized the beauty in that and have made peace, and some of us are still fighting the inevitable.

We are 20-somethings trying to feel our way through this world. We are torn between doing what’s safe and doing what makes us happy. We are ready for love and the heartbreaks and joy that it brings. We are frustrated by our opportunities and responsibilities. We are not who we thought we’d be, and we either are or aren’t okay with that.

We are all of these things that we couldn’t anticipate and aren’t quite sure how to handle. But the one thing that we are not is alone, unless we choose to be.

We are all in this together, friends. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In Anticipation (41/90)

I’m sitting nervously at The Coffee Beanery, a quaint little café in New Tampa, only minutes from my house. And I can’t believe that I’ve never made it here before. It’s a nice spot for writing or studying; there is free WiFi, good coffee and decent looking food that I haven’t the stomach to try today.

My nerves have my stomach knotted in anticipation of the informational interview that I have scheduled at USF today with the graduate director of their Creative Writing program.

And truthfully, I’ve got no reason to be nervous. This is an informational interview, which means I’m not in the hot seat. I’ll be asking some basic questions about the program and their expectations and goals for their students. Logistical stuff, mainly. It’s a practice run for the interview at the top choice school and this particular program is not one I’m even seriously considering just yet.

But for me, it’s more than just an informational interview. It’s another step.

****

We’re nearing the halfway mark in the 90 in 90 challenge now.

To be completely honest, it just keeps getting harder. At this point I’m finding myself constantly searching for inspiration, just a spark to set ablaze a new fire within me. One that is fresh and ferocious and untapped.

I’m searching for some momentum to keep me from the long moments of stillness that break the flow of my writing and replace the rhythm of my fingers pounding on the keys with silence. Which, in this whole process has become more and more unpleasant.

Because creating, anything at all, is hard. Creating consistently is even harder. It is both a struggle and a joy.

And this is the life of a writer, I presume. This is the life that I want more than anything. It is the only thing that I can imagine pouring myself into day after day, for a lifetime.

***

I feel foolish daily. It happens routinely, right about the time that I click “publish”. I know the things that I will hear when I go to that interview: There won’t be room for many. Not everyone is cut out for this life. It is hard, lonely and arduous.

These are the words that I’ve heard over and over again. The words that have kept me from my love for so long.

But, here we are on day 41 and I’m sitting here preparing for an interview at a graduate school. Trying to build a life around my passion for writing.  And I still don’t know if I’m doing it right. Or if I even have the ability to do it right.

But I’m doing it. And I’ll keep doing it.

Because despite the answer, the passion is in the doing. 

Between Us (40/90)


“It will just be until it won’t anymore."

Those were the words I uttered about this friendship while I was sitting at the bar among friends several months ago.

A bit of foreshadowing, it turns out.

Things are falling apart, not quickly though. Which is hard. It’s a slow crumbling. The kind that when you see it happening, you know there is no salvaging of the pieces, all of the little pieces.

***

The silence was almost unbearable today.

There was an empty space between us, one that no one else could have observed as we sat, chatting, and laughing over breakfast. But it was obvious to me, because it hasn’t always been there. And it felt, well, the way that emptiness does.

I know that we’re getting down to the end now.

There isn’t a timeline. But, I just know. Because I feel it.  And there is no convincing me otherwise. More truthfully, I know because I’ve been on the other side of it. I know exactly how this works. I know what’s coming next.

 And of the two options that I see, one being letting it fall apart, and the other being fighting to keep it together, neither one feels right.

***

Our worlds no longer collide. There is no commonality.

I walked away from the thing that made us the same kind of people. I broke the unspoken contract that friends enter into: I’ll be here, and we’ll be friends as long as you stay the same.

The hardest thing is that no love has been lost. None at all. But authenticity has. I’m holding back, watching my words. I’m scared to speak the truth that I know will in this person’s eyes, disqualify me from friendship.

***

One of my pet peeves, probably the biggest of them, is superficiality.

This is especially true in relationships. I can deal with most things, and I’m loyal to the core, but the one prerequisite I have is that we are allowed to move beyond the surface, to dig into everything. Fairly quickly, even.

I can’t help that need. That’s always been in me. The rudimentary things in life just don’t satisfy me. And it sounds pretentious, I’m sure. But I see it differently.

 I don’t need things to be profound, mind-blowing, or sensational, just real.

***
But here I am holding back.

I’ve been trying to convince myself that everything will be okay. That sometimes things fall apart and then come back together. But this is not what I believe. I know that it will not be okay.

I just haven’t the courage yet to accept what I said on that night at the bar after one too many drinks: It will just be until it won’t anymore.

And that’s what’s real.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Invisible Fence (39/90)

I’ve made promises that I’d start wearing my hair big. Because several people have asked. But, more importantly because I want to wear it big, in its natural state, which was the whole point of the chop.

I’ve made excuse after excuse, even going so far as to say that that I feel restricted because of where I live and the lack of diversity therein.  And I even feel silly typing that. Because freedom is not predicated on one’s environment, although my perception has had me convinced me otherwise.

I thought for sure that it would be no big deal for me to wear my hair big here in Tampa. This city is truly a melting pot. I knew that there wouldn’t be the questions and the comments that I’m used to at home.
           
And on Saturday when I wore my hair big at the art festival, there weren’t. Only because no one was worrying about me. Or my hair. They were going on about their day, the way that people do.

But I fussed over it all day, and my Mom kept encouraging me to let it be. And I did, because I had no other option at the time, but I pulled it back before I went out to meet friends later that night.

The more that I type, the sillier I feel about actually having such a hang-up. But this is real. So, I’ll continue.

I’m kind of a control freak, and that manifests itself in every area of my life. Including the way that I wear my hair. Next week I’ll be a year natural, and one thing that I can say in retrospect, is that I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I don’t regret the chop. At all. But, it’s taken me a year just to adjust to the newness. And I can’t say that I’m fully adjusted. It’s odd to have a totally new head of hair. One that I couldn’t predict or prepare for after having my hair relaxed for longer than I’ve been styling my own hair.  

Before the chop, I had my hair down to a science, no pun intended. But, I knew how to work it, how to get it to do what I wanted. I even had certain hairstyles for certain outfits. It was the way that I perfected my image.

And now, I am lost. Things don’t match up in my eyes.  But I guess that’s okay. Because I know that we don’t see the same things anyways. I’ll never see what you see when you look at me. That’s my reality, and the reality of many I presume.

That in mind, it’s foolish of me to try to control what others see when they look at me. Or to blame my fear and discomfort on my environment. Or to hand anyone my freedom.

I can’t control this hair. And already, I’ve grown tired of trying.

It took me several years to decide to transition from relaxed to natural. I endured 8 months of said transition, and decided in a moment of bravado in New York City to chop. I’ve begun adjusting now after this first year of naturalness.

All that’s left is to let it be. Which for me, of course, will be a process. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring State Of Mind (38/90)

I’ve done a little bit of everything today. I’ve been here there and everywhere. Enjoying the weather that is just beginning to warm up after a chilly weekend. 

It finally feels like spring. I even spent some time shopping for some spring wardrobe pieces. Colorful flats and jeweled sandals, flutter sleeve tops and capris to replace the black cardigans, dark-wash jeans, and boots.

And it’s been nearly impossible for me to sit still. But now I am. Still.  Beside my Mom on the couch with my feet up.  And BJ, who has been around ever since we moved here, is lounging on the other couch. The TV is on and there is a constant conversation between us.

This is not how I typically write, it’s noisy and there is too much going on around me. But I just can’t bring myself to go sit alone in my room for a few hours, even though I know I need to.

***           
I’m currently on Spring Break. And my routine has certainly broken as evidenced by the fact that I’m several posts behind on the 90 in 90 challenge.

Surprisingly, I’m not beating myself up over that this week. Although I did have a plan before I got here, to write early in the mornings before the hustle and bustle of the day at my favorite breakfast nooks and coffee shops. And tomorrow, I will do that, between the time that I drop my Mom off at work at 8 a.m. and the 10 a.m. breakfast I’ve got planned with friends.

But, the writing may be the only thing that needs to stay routine this week.

I was stuck in a rut at home. And I’ve only just now realized that.

***
I almost feel like a different person here.

 Here, I am independent and sassy and strong. All of the things that this city, this life away from home, has required of me.

From the day that I got here I’ve been finding things for my Mom and I to do. Seeking adventures for us to get lost in. My mom has joked that everything that she’s tried to introduce me to I already know about; the park that I spent mornings walking in, the deals at the hole in the wall restaurants, the beach that is nice but never too crowded.

“You knew about all of these things and never told me, huh,” she asked jokingly.

“I just thought you knew Mom,” I said sincerely.

“I’m an explorer. You have to explore here,” I said.

“It’s not like home,” I continued. “There is always something to do, if you can find it.”

***

I like the way that I am here, which doesn’t necessarily mean that I need to move back. Although that is the thought that I entertain every time I come here and these things that I love about myself begin to emerge.

But the truth is that this is a state of mind. Which means it is a choice.

I haven’t been exploring at home. Searching for the things that keep me happy and inspired. And it’s not that they aren’t there.

Here I am not afraid to get lost. I’ve been lost many times, in the projects, stuck over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, navigating the one-way streets downtown, without streetlights in the country, but I no longer panic because I know eventually I’ll find my way. So, I just take in the scenery and enjoy the ride.

I haven’t had such confidence at home. Yet.

But, the season is changing. Spring is upon us. 

A Weekend Of Festivals and Fun (37/90)

The weekend is winding down. And it's been a nice one here in Tampa Bay.

I got into town in the late afternoon on Friday. I don't do well on flights, I almost always get a bit of motion sickness, which isn't enough to stop me from flying.  But this time was a little harder than most because I had a connecting flight, with a layover in Atlanta. What is normally just a two hour trip felt like a day full of flying. By the time that we landed I was just ready to lay down for a bit.


After seven years of living here, I am still enchanted by this city. This beautiful sunset on the drive home  fixed my flying woes pretty quickly.



Mom and I ate dinner at one of my favorite restaurants on Friday night. I had plans to go out and meet friends later,  but I fell asleep on the couch instead.

On Saturday, I heard, via Facebook, that there was an art festival downtown. We decided to check it out. It was at the newly unveiled Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park which overlooks the beautiful architecture that is the University of Tampa, and the city's new art museum.


If the venue wasn't enough, the art was breathtaking and awe-inspiring. There was more than we had time to really take in. We spent nearly two hours walking through the the exhibits that were housed in white tents, exploring. We took  time to express our appreciation to the artists for their work and spent too much time talking, especially when they were friendly.


My mom was really drawn to all of the jewelry and glass art, while I was especially intrigued by the sculptures, paintings, fiber, photography---ok, let's be honest, I was intrigued by all of it although the jewelry was the least exciting for me.


When the exhibits closed for the day, we decided to linger downtown for a little while longer. I introduced my Mom to Five Guys, because I was appalled that she had never eaten, or even heard of their burgers. She loved it as evidenced by the “Mmms,” and long silences at the table and the conversation about them again today.

Later that night I shared a fun but simple night in with friends, which ended with me beating them at a wildly entertaining game of “Things”. And I probably won’t let them forget that.

This morning Mom made a delicious brunch including Apple French Toast. After a bit of lounging around the house we headed to The Strawberry Festival. This was another first for us, though we've talked of going down to get our hands on the famous strawberry shortcake for a few years now.




 This festival was overcrowded and the lines for the strawberry shortcake were outrageous, but we found other things to enjoy.  


My Mom, B.J. and I decided to share some kettle korn. I can’t explain how funny this was, and I can only hope that the cell phone picture does it justice.



My mom is a stickler for a bargain, you see, and her explanation for this huge bag of kettle korn was that it was a good deal. We left a trail behind us as we walked back through the festival to the car. And several hours later, we've yet to make a dent in that bag. 

We got home in just enough time to watch the Oscars and I enjoyed some more of Mom's cooking, an indulgent pasta dish this time.


The weekend is over now. But thankfully, we've got the whole week and another weekend still before us.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

"Find Something That's Real And Make It Your Own" (36/90)


It’s almost 11 a.m. on Saturday and I’m sitting at home in Tampa.

My mom is in the kitchen making a big breakfast. She’s spoiling me on my first morning back. If I’m telling the whole truth, I must admit that she’ll spoil me for the entirety of my trip. She’ll cook meals too big for just the both of us, take me shopping and wake me and tell me to get in my bed when I fall asleep on the couch.

 I’ll have to convince her to relax, and remind her that this is home.

 It’s hard for me to believe that I left this place where I sleep in my queen sized bed and wake to the warmth of the sunshine on my face, the birds chirping and the sound of a gentle breeze dancing through the moss hanging from the trees outside. And I wonder if there are things about it that I am not remembering. Things that made it easier for me to leave.

And I know that there are, although I’d rather not spoil the joy of this moment by searching my heart for traces of those things. The pains that pulled me back to my first home.

****
I remember my first morning back in Indiana. It was a warm July day in 2008.

The morning my Dad and I sat with my Mom at Cracker Barrel. And I, all of the sudden, was feeling sick. I didn’t get a wink of sleep the night before, as I was busy packing my belongings into boxes. I threw away many things that I shouldn’t have in my haste and I have been glad to find that my Mom kept many of the things that I left behind.

I remember my parents being worried that day. I could see it in their eyes as they sat on the other side of table. They couldn’t quite figure me out as I sat their sick, but emotionless.

It was a quick decision, I thought for only a few weeks, applied to Ball State in March, was accepted and moved by July. It didn’t really require much thought. I knew what I was after.

I was running.

 I remember walking through the door after the grueling overnight drive with my Dad in my 2-door Cobalt with my belongings filling every inch of the back seat and trunk.

After a fever wiped me out for the duration of the trip, I drove us the last stretch home, from somewhere in Kentucky to the driveway. I remember being exhausted but excited for the newness before me.



The life that unfolded over the past two years was not the life that I imagined. Not the life I’d hoped for when I was longing for some sense of familiarity. It took a long time for me to settle in. from the little things like the bed that felt nothing like mine, to the much bigger things like the hauntingly lonely weekends.  

 Nevertheless, it became mine.

***
I’m not even two full days into a nine-day trip and I am sickened by the thought of going home. I love my home. Both of them, but for entirely different reasons.

One holds the memories of my childhood, the other the memories of my teen life and the beginnings of my young adulthood. Mom is in one, Dad in the other.
The city keeps me charged, inspired and sassy while the country makes me feel comfortable and stable. All of these things are necessary in my life, I have found.

It seems that while I am anxious about finding yet another home, one that requires less choosing, there is choosing still to be done. What I want is a fusion of these lives.

I don’t know where to find that. Or if it exists. And I know that there is only danger and disappointment in trying to recreate the past. The choice then becomes one between what I want and what I need.

And I think what I need is something entirely new. 

Que Sera Sera (35/90)

I'm sitting at the Indianapolis airport heading to Tampa by way of Atlanta. I'm sipping a coffee while I wait and am watching, as people are moving all around me. I'm listening discreetly, but unashamedly to conversations that I am not a part of.

The airport has always been one of my favorite places to be. There are so many stories here, so much to see. And there are stories that we miss when we aren't watching. Stories that are not offered up but just slip out

The gentleman sitting beside me is anxious. He is on his way to see his father in Florida who is, as I type this, having a heart catheter put in. He has made a few calls and on last one spoke with his pastor. When he did, he told him the same story I've heard three times now and then asked him to say a prayer. I watched as he closed his eyes and held his cell phone tightly to his ear. And although my prayers have been few lately, I said one for his father too.

There are babies that I want to hold and toddlers that I want sit on the floor and play with. A little blonde toddler is excited about the 'nana that her Dad just bought her, but her Mom who is holding a chunky blue-eyed baby girl, won't let her open it until they get on the plane.

But I must acknowledge that these are not their stories, this is only their now. 

***
As a senior in college this could potentially be my last Spring Break. Unless I am accepted into graduate school, and I'm assuming that even if I am, that will be different. By that time I’ll be considered a real adult.

I'm not quite sure how I feel about that yet or if I should feel anything. Many of my friends here are not in school, so they are taking time from their schedules, which haven't broken, to spend time with me.

I wonder if when this year is over I'll ever have the time, or the means to come spend a week with my friends. I'm worried about how often I'll get to come and just sit with my mom. I'm convinced that relationships need visits. Face to face time, eye contact, affection. Phone conversations, Skyping and texting are all nice, but those things will never be comparable to sitting around talking with your friends, having a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning or catching a movie on a whim. 

***

I will have nine days to enjoy in Tampa. I am excited and anxious and nervous. I’m not sure what lies before me in terms of the relationships that I cherish here. And the more I worry about them, the more I realize that I am wasting my energy.
What will be will be.

What’s important is that I want them to be, and for these nine days I will spend time enjoying them, nurturing them, holding on to them.

But I must acknowledge that these nine days are not telling of our story, they are only telling of our now.