25 years

A year ago, I brought in age 24 relating and laughing about this song. “Growing up is tough. Got to hit the gym because I’m losing my agility.” 

This year, I like to pretend I’m having a crisis because I can rent cars now. Instead of crisis, though, I am overwhelmed with this feeling of awe and joy at where I am in my life. Just last week, my roommate and I sat at our kitchen table talking about our days at practicum and looking back at where we were a year ago as 1st year MSW students, scared and altogether too anxious about paving our way in the world. We’ve changed and grown in ways we never could have predicted, and I couldn’t feel more blessed on the day of my 25th. I want to write a narrative of this year of life, taking a few sentences from every journal entry in the past year — my 25th year of life that has left me here on Friday, September 13th, 2013 turning 25 and so excited for everything ahead of me.

September 2012

I’ve let this soft and terrible world draw me out — cup my chin and gaze into my eyes, say, “I’m the desire, not the weight. You are the weight, you create these expectations, you fear and cry and hide. I am the desire for hands in the soil, fog, cliffs, the dance of barefoot children (if you scratch open the vulnerability you carry in your chest and hold me, I will not be weight).” So I approach the world.

The day woke up and remembered it’s October so on my run, the leaves were falling  and suddenly red and yellow, and I felt like I could accept the chill of fall, like I could fit into the friendships, follow my dreams…

He will be fine, the surgery will save him, and it’s only the word that’s scary (cancer) not the situation because what did the doctors say? “Best case scenario” — he didn’t sound so joyful on the phone as he could be and I want to chop down the woods he says he’s not out of and say, look, it’s over, you’re safe. 

I’ve become the dream I had for myself and there are many people on this path but only one conversation that led me here: why can’t you be anything you want to be?

I find myself in an apartment telling my friend I’ll be by her side no matter what…

We sit on the couch in the cozy of sweatpants and TV shows, faking homework, loving our belonging to each other and this experience. We will always belong to each other because we belong to living all of this.

 

Am I creating an identity that will lead me home?

I am filled. Fulfilled. Do I adjust to not wanting more?

Sometimes I fall asleep or wake up and shadows of orange frame the cat in the window, falling on my bed, so I don’t even need to wake up fully to know it’s 4am and she’s there, gazing out undisturbed.

I love the sky here, how the West is open and you’ll never see the clouds like you can see the clouds driving back from Macomb in September or along the farmland between counties in Southern Illinois… I watched the sun rise and the sun set but I’ve never seen a moonrise like it did last night as I crossed this world home.

I will live among bookshelves and boulangeries, some strange change to live among small relevant things, to hold cold hands on winter mornings. 

People hire skills not passion. I need (or feel I need) to stop being passionate about things and start being good at things.

Do not burn out, don’t asphyxiate your shine, your light, your YES!

When I think I’m too scared to place my bare soles in the dust of Africa, too scared to be dangerous and confident, too sensitive and gentle to push my mind to the limits of critical thought, dare the world, fight for furious things… I end a semester where growth (almost fire) was all I had.

I need to dance. To allow myself dancing. 

Oh, you ugly ugly place world– I will wring the grit and blood from your sinew and pores and I will bear the blood with creativity and joy because I have some wild hope for better days.

 

I’ve run and come home and danced and been emptied but I’ve never stopped believing. 

I’m here, joyous. My life has come back on. A light. This isn’t burn out. Burn up. Shine. Buy a plane ticket to Costa Rica. Get out of bed. Be excited to do it. Don’t use the word dread. Life’s too short to attempt perfection. Happy matters.

Eventually, I feel generous and tired like my full heart has been blessed with so much goodness for a Monday. 

I am certain I want to hold coffee in my cold hands in the morning, pray for something in 7am daily mass…

I kick back with a smile. 

Awesome things that happened this week: snow snowfall dancing

Rather, to open the soul wide and let whatever and whomever fall in. 

What happens that means joy: slam poetry in the kitchen, 3am (or 2 or 4) jam session in Cassidy’s apartment, singing wagon wheel to the guitars and resting close to sleep, snowfall (always the snowfall)

“Your work is to discover the world and then with all your heart, give yourself to it.” 

I will open doors and shut windows and scramble through chimneys, pause in the ash, the dust. Kiss friendship.

I want to say, pretend I’m not calling about hospitals– how are the horses? can I tell you about grad school? wipe the stress from her brow– I wish I could. Talk longer. Know what to say. 

Listen to music. Value art. Celebrate people.

I went outside between bouts of sleet, wandered by the dark restaurants, made note of the ones that were open as if I had the money to imagine going out for dinner, sitting in the window booth, watching the sleet begin again and humbled people slide their way down Delmar. 

The feeling of health, meditation, yoga, prayer, desirable outcomes, peaceful rest in a today that is not urgent but perfect in itself.

Everything. 

I will not succumb to the petty world of self-serving praise and look-at-me doubts so that validation and being seen becomes more important than my present.

Walking in the sunshine or back along the ocean late at night after pool at the pizza joint … nothing begging us to be greater than the arms of a child, a suntan…

And we thunder with laughter, read poems in bed, are amused by the cat…. we are the future we’ve always wanted by making time for our transient now.

You can’t live on poetry, though I would if I could. 

What makes the person with the Masters and incredible intelligence choose to answer phones in a high school? for the powerful to relinquish everything to live in poverty?

It’s not about a signature but a life of integrity. 

Green God the color of love her eyes his shirt

It’s about getting home and realizing where it is and not getting there specifically but still driving all the same.

Giving alone will not nourish you. Sometimes you feed and sometimes you are fed.

This morning 9am yoga, the towering trees overhead and grass under my yoga mat. The vast green so lofty above, putting my eyes beyond my fingertips stretching up, up, up toward the glory… we are nature in all our wide circle of mats beyond the bustling farmer’s market…

I was needed and you made me laugh —

It’s nice to have boxing and running, to write and think about beautiful things. 

 

There’s more to do than be angry and isolated.

You don’t get to be comfortable– as long as people the world around you are in the midst of discomfort and hatred and discrimination, I don’t get to be comfortable. 

Everything you have is extra. You alone are perfect and worthy — so breathe.

I shoulder into the beautiful park at dusk and night, loving summer for all it is worth, with all of who I am– sun touched and deep breathing with legs alive from running and soul alive from forests–

For some reason I feel in love– with all I encounter

I wonder if I’ll ever write a novel– trust myself to paint light on the farmhouse, rain on the street corners.

I didn’t live here when this concrete was poured.

The pool fights, good friends, sleeping in piles in the spare room…

I’m hardly on the golden roads (that evening light seeping through the pine trees) before my heart is in the white birches with the golden rod and forest smells–

As much as I long for the dark roads…

There’s a man in a gold Pontiac convertible with the top down. 1967, probably the first year the car touched a blacktop, and it’s 2013 and his dreads are pulled back; he throws his head back laughing as he passed the corner of Cates and Kingshighway because his friend is on the sidewalk hooting and pointing a finger at him, like, “You! You sir!” Drive that Pontiac like you belong to everything in the world.

There’s water running in the alleyway in the summer warm light;

Every line of work comes with its own challenges… I do believe in justice.

September 2013.

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