I remember where I started. I was a creative wriitng major whose time was consumed with course work which kept me from doing what I went to college to learn how to do well: write.
I started a blog to force myself to write.
And I have. I have written every day for four years.
Is writing easier now? Writing is never easy. Writing is hard work. Writing takes time and dedication and craftsmanship, all things which I’ve not always been able to apply here. Sometimes I wrote posts in the last thirty seconds before midnight. Sometimes I wrote posts days in advance. Sometimes I wrote with passions about something really important to me, and sometimes all I could brain out was a list.
But it is much easier to write what I really think. It is much easier to be honest and objective with myself than it used to be.
This blog has helped me realize I am far better at creative nonfiction than fiction. Far better at poetry than at short stories. Far better and pantoums than song lyrics.
Far better at being me than being anyone else.
I will not post tomorrow. I’m not entirely sure when i’m going to post here again–I haven’t gotten that far. I plan to publish the first post on my new blog on Friday, but the best laid plans of mice and men, so they say, oft go awry. If I start the new blog on Friday, I’ll be sure to put a link here.
I may not post. But I will write. I will always write. Old habits die hard.
I can’t stop now.
After all, how else could I have survived the last four years?
Sure, there’s laughter. Laughter is one of the best survival tools ever implemented by man. Laughter is why this blog began. In person, at least, I’m really good at getting people to laugh. I’m even pretty good at getting myself to laugh at impossible or difficult circumstances.
But there are some things even laughter does not help or heal. And that’s where faith stepped in.
I was stuck in Croatia the day they joined the EU. Stuck in an airport surrounded by people who did not speak my language and could not explain why my flight was delayed, why I could not meet my connecting flight, and how I could possibly tell my parents where I was or why I wouldn’t be home on time, if I got home at all.
Fate could not have delayed my flight and landed me in the line to get my flight rerouted. Fate could not have put me in line behind the one person in the airport who was fluent in English and had a phone capable of calling my parents home number from Zagreb, Croatia. Fate could not have put me on a flight sitting next to an EU representative who was questioning his Greek orthodox faith and would let me open my Bible with him as we searched for answers to his questions.
God could. God did. God always will and always does.
The last four years have been a series of seemingly insurmountable odds. I could not have overcome them on my own. I could not have survived on my own. People will laugh at me, tell me of course I did it on my own, that my dependence on God is some kind of sick self-deprecating fantasy.
But it isn’t.
I didn’t do it alone because I am never alone.
God gets full credit for every last moment of it.
It’s easy to be fearless until you’re staring down the lion’s throat.
The thing about blank pages is that there are no limits. No limits but yourself. Yet that limit keeps us from dropping so much as a blob of ink on the page for fear that a blob out of place will send our lives into a downward spiral.
The future is our darkest enemy. It has no face, shows only its back, and is hidden by a cloud, darkly.
The future could keep us from doing anything, unless we choose to be fearless.
There are lions in the streets, we cry. But we are the lions.
But God shuts the lion’s mouths. We can walk unafraid. I can walk unafraid. No matter what happens, no matter the headlines, no matter the lions, I can walk toward the future and they won’t bite me.
Fear silences us, but faith lets us sing.
The coals burn, and they burn steady. They may not light up the world, but they light up the little circle around them. And they keep the people close by warm.
You see, the last four years saw me extinguished and reignited. Before I started college hoping for little more than a degree to get me a job to get me a house far away from people, in the mountains, surrounded by trees. Part of me still wants the little cabin in the woods, and I visit occasionally but I can’t live there.
My feet don’t stop. I couldn’t run a mile once–now I can run three and a half. I couldn’t stand the thought of living anywhere but home, and now I want to make the world my backyard, the airport my living room. I want to run. And run.
And I am no longer content to be solitary. I am no longer content to be silent.
Once the coals start, they don’t stop burning. I want to warm everyone around me. I want to change things. I want to change myself, or see myself change, or whatever happens first.
I want to be a lighthouse and warn people about the rocks around them. I want to shine out truth so others can see it–whether they believe me or not. Whether they like me or not.
I want to be fearless.
I’ve been blogging for almost four years, and I didn’t even start a countdown.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who I was four years ago. I’m not overfond of that version of myself, but one can’t deny one’s own history.
The me from five years ago…how that was a girl. Six years ago and my, my, you wouldn’t know me. I had so much fire.
Four years ago, I had no idea who I was anymore. I had my walls torn down and my foundation cracked and I was so confused. I had to start all over from the beginning.
That’s when I met me from three years ago. That’s a me I never want to forget. That’s a year I never, ever want to forget.
And the thing is, I won’t, I can’t. Because it’s all here, on the blog. Every day. There’s a snapshot here for every late night, every early morning, every road trip, every escapade. I even saw me fall in love on this blog.
This blog saw me graduate. This blog saw me start my first full-time jobs. This blog saw me married.
Me from six years ago wouldn’t recognize me now. I had so much fire then. Now I have coals.
But goodness knows coals burn hotter.
“Just How Rich Are the Kardashians?”
Apparently that’s a newsworthy headline. I saw it towards the bottom of the homepage of a news website I frequent. Next to the headline was a (photoshopped) image of Kim herself, her hair whipping dramatically around her allegedly flawless face. Thankfully just a headshot this time.
Because of course we are fascinated by successful people. We are fascinated by those who seem to have it all–the beauty, the money, the attention. How did they get where they are? Where are they going? How do they live their lives? What does one do with all of that money?
Because of course money equals success. Right?
I’d argue that if the only thing you’re good at is being pretty, and if that’s all you ever aspire to be–pretty and rich–then you’re missed the “success” mark by a mile.
I’d even argue you’ve missed if all you are is rich.
If “success” can be defined as simply meeting an established goal, then fine. Success acheived. But what else have you acheived?
Attention? That comes in droves. It follows money.
The most successful people I know are the ones who get very little attention and have very little money. But they do so much good. And they have so much love.
I’d rather be that sort of successful person. Any day.
We are unusually blessed as a couple. We have families that love us individually and together, distant relatives we gladly call our friends, a perfect wedding, a warm and happy home, employment…the list goes on. God has been good, for sure, because we certainly don’t deserve to have all that we do.
We were even blessed (abundantly) with wedding gifts. People gave us everything we asked for, everything we needed and didn’t know we did, and some extra nice things that we’dnever dream we’d own.
These weeks beging the process of thanking all of these lovely people.
However, some gifts seem to have mysteriously appeared. They had no card or name attached, and one had a card but no name. Process of elimination won’t let me figure out who they are–the list is too long, and there are too many variables.
So will the giver of the bag with the cookie sheets, bundt pan, wooden spoons, cake pans, and the 9×13 insulated baking pan, the bag with the navy blue towels, and the bag with the pizza stone please stand up?
Thank you so much, whoever you are.
There was a lot I was going to get done this afternoon after church.
I was going to write thank you notes to all the lovely people whogave us wedding gifts. I have a long list of people to thank, and the more I can get done the quicker I can, the better things will be.
I was also going to try an read a little. I love reading, and I never have time to sit down and read something that isn’t an email. I have a really long list of books I’ve read a few chapters from and had to set aside because of school. School is coming again, and even though I’ll only be taking one class, I know life will find ways of being busy and I won’t get to read anymore. Unless it’s for class.
I also wanted to write in my journal, which I haven’t touched since the night before the wedding. There’s a lot that needs recording (such as how the wedding went) but I haven’t had a moment to sit down and record all of those important memories.
But you see, it rained. It was Sunday afternoon, and it rained. A gentle, grey, cool rain that fell lullingly on the roof, on the grass, on the road outside my parent’s house where we were spending the afternoon.
I was forced to nap. I promised myself I would only sleep for thirty minutes, but I was in the coolest and greyest corner of the house, and my stomach was pleasently full, and there was the rain steadily drumming…
I had no choice but to sleep for two hours.
We’ve been married three weeks.
And I’m still very glad that we did. And we are. And we will be.
Our little house is quite a home.
At least, it’s home as long as he’s here.
I had forgotten how long the first week after a vacation can be.
I had forgotten how quickly it feels as if last week was a year ago, or a dream.
Yet I was away long enough that my legs and lungs forgot how to run, and retraining myself back to a 5K, though it took less time than I thought it would, seemed very, very long. Retraining myself for yoga after weeks of not doing so much as a downward facing dog, was embarrassingly challenging.
My legs and arms ache a little from the effort.
My head wasn’t used to thinking about my job. I had to reteach myself the jargon and relearn where we keep everything in the file system. And that’s probably why my head hurts as much as it does.
It’s Friday. And that’s a beautiful thing.
But it took its sweet time getting here.
Our apartment is hilariously tiny.
Imagine one slightly oversized hotel room. Now put a wall with one door down the middle. Slap a kitchenette on the back wall of one half and a closet and a closet-sized bathroom back to back on the back wall of the other half.
This glorious little box is our home.
Figuring out where to put things is a bit of a riddle. Thankfully, the closet is large for a closet, so our default answer for “where do we put this” is “the closet…somewhere.” Our large-ish closet is now not only our clothes closet, but also our linen closet, our utilities closet, our laundry closet, and remote storage for things that won’t fit in the kitchen.
Because space is so tight, it’s taken a while for things to filter into their proper places. There’s quite a bit under the bed (in boxes, of course, not haphazardly thrown), and there are still stacks of random items on the floor (which are constantly tripped over). What we want hung on the walls is sitting by the baseboards, waiting for us to have time to hang them, and a lot of our decor is plopped unstrategically around the apartment, waiting for the day when all the essentials will find a home so the aesthetics can settle into place.
I finally carved a path to my desk today. I arranged items on the desk into neat little piles for later sorting. If the desk can look clean, then there’s hope.
And I am quite content.
It’s not that I’m still in vacation mode, because I’m not. Two weeks away was enough relaxation (sort of) and I’m not really all that tired (okay, that was a lie. I’m tired.)
My boss warned me that this would happen. In the weeks leading up to the wedding, he kept telling me how it took him and his wife months to recover from the whole matrimonial experience. They went to bed at eight every night because they couldn’t stay awake any longer. He told me that no matter how long I was away, I would still come back tired.
I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. I slept 8-12 hours every night of our trip. I’m still getting close to seven hours every night, yet I’m ready for a nap by 9:00 AM.
Maybe it’s because I’m at work all day, followed by unpacking and organizing the apartment at night, as well as spending the evenings sorting out banking things and other tedious adult matters. And then I sleep, get up, and do it all over again.
I’m glad to be back, but I still wish there was more sleep involved.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I feel any different, now that I’m married. This question has come to me from both people who are married or people who have never been married. It seems that there’s a universal assumption that being married “feels different” from being unmarried, as if something about matrimony changes people at a cellular level.
I have an increasing number of married friends. Every week, more of my friends end up married, and all of them have weighed in on this feeling (sometimes because I asked). Suddenly, I’m married, which is something I never thought would happen. Yet it has.
Yet, aside from surprise and delight, I feel no different from the Risabella Rambler of three weeks ago. I feel exactly the same.
Exactly the same, but more so. Not an ounce less than what I was before, yet somehow the essential pieces of myself have become amplified. I am more myself than I have ever been before. I do not feel shackled; I feel absolutely free.
No, I do not feel different. AB and I talked about this, and he doesn’t feel any different either. We both feel very much ourselves. More comfortable, more us, than we have ever been. We are finally where we belong, so what we feel is contentment and peace and wholeness.
Yet I felt content and peaceful and whole before marriage as well. Just not to this degree.
Nothing has changed. Everything has changed.
It’s quite a paradox.