Tag Archives: college graduation

We Are In Different Ponds

pond-girls-feet

I’ve been crafting her story for three weeks now. That’s the blogger in me: I see a date, a life moment, and it billows into a hurdle and my knees get cramped and my legs get heavy and my head gets cloudy and I cannot find words for days. So I lie in bed and say “Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will write you a story, or a song, or a poem, or a letter.” And tomorrow becomes next Monday and three Thursdays from now. So I had to stop. I had to write it best I could.

A friend of mine once said paper makes you honest. I hunkered down onto my couch with a pen and notebook and got honest for a short hour. Here goes.

[one]

I’ve been preparing to lose her for ten or fifteen or twenty years. Give or take. Maybe since the day she wrapped her pudgy fingers around her purple vinyl Pocahontas suitcase and marched to the end of the block. Maybe it was then that I knew she had an inclination, a tendency, an urge to push away from the safe harbor, our driveway and the little yellow house with dark green shutters, and wait for an uncertain future to gift her with adventure.

If she had been alive in 1912, she would have been a fierce Irish girl with poppies of freckles dotting the bridge of her nose and her cheekbones. She would have been a real Rose Dawson. Me, I would have been back in Ireland, peddling on the cobblestone streets. In the last century, nothing much has changed.

[two]

He asked me, last week. “You gonna cry?” He said it the way humans do when they fear the answer, the truth, because it’s not such a far shout into the void from a moment they once knew. Empathy spills over them then, hushing their vocal chords with the thick syrup of sadness. It’s all they can do not to say, “I’m sorry. I know. You’re allowed to be sad.”

“I might,” I said. “I just might.”

I did. Cry, I mean. At the end of a long, late night movie, with a dark theatre full of strangers, I praised God for thick blue plastic glasses shielding my face. Because sometimes God blesses you with silent tears, and as long as the world cannot see your eyes, you are fine. You are so very fine.

I saw her on that screen, falling like some Alice in Wonderland to her death. I saw her and I had to let her go. I couldn’t catch her.

We learn that lesson ad nausea – that you cannot save people from themselves, from their enemies, from their brokenness, from their final moments.

A story is circling the globe right now about a boy named Ryan, a boy who ran out into the street to retrieve a Frisbee and was hit by an oncoming car. He died. Ryan with his bright red hair and his big smile, he died. That story could have owned him, but I pray it doesn’t.

[three]

I gasped when I learned it. I imagined her, of course, a six or eight or ten-year-old girl, playing on the front lawns of our neighborhood, dashing into the center of the road where a stray Whiffle ball or hockey puck had settled.

She was a wild one, still is, and that story could have owned her, too.

Just before prom, her date admitted he had no intention of taking her. She and her friends scraped together enough funds and a touch of courage to ask a sweet underclassman if he would be so kind as to come with her. He did. I thank him for it. But it was then I started worrying about her – her heart & the real possibility that it would someday be tested.

I had to learn, in the way that Ryan’s parents will never learn, that she won’t always be ready – to have life gut her soul & test her faith, among other things.

[four]

She’s sleeping solitarily and soundly in the south now. And I’m not going to cry about it. And I’m not going to worry about her. Because I know that we leap before we are ready and the rest of us, the rest of the people who love her, will just have to follow her lead.

And maybe one day she’ll call – about a white dress and a ring on her left hand – or a job that she only could have dreamed about – or the little shack she’s secured downtown for herself – but for now, we are in different ponds.

That’s how she says it: “We are in different ponds.”

I wish, I always always wish, that someday God will give us the same pond to play in, but most days, I think we got that pond at a time when Barbie and basketball courts and balloon animals made their way into our days. And those are over. That pond is gone.

The Small Moments // My January In Photos

january-in-photosI’d like to start remembering the small moments more. That’s what I discovered recently, when I realized 2013 was a whirlwind of change and I couldn’t pin it down. We focus on the bigness: the things we FINALLY do, the ways we TOTALLY change, the jumps & the leaps & the bounds. But do we ever think about all the tiny steps, the little bits of happiness & patience tucked in the pages before those final chapters? I certainly don’t. So here’s my January in pictures, because looking back, it was a big first month.

booking my hotel for my sister’s graduation trip // attending an awards gala for work // returning to my track days at a high school meet // rebranding the blog // dog sitting this adorable little Gracie girlie // having to walk away from my dream house // deciding to move

What did your January look like?

Get it, girl.

girl jeans ripped indian style sittingThe hallway was our Neverland.

We wouldn’t call it that, but whenever life felt heavy, we filled the space from one bedroom to the next, sat Indian style on the itchy carpet, and doubted ourselves.

It’s never gonna happen. I’m not good enough. There’s no way.

We slipped those sentences on like well-worn blue jeans, frayed at the knees, tearing at the seams. They couldn’t hold us, but we weren’t ready to let them go.

Back then, it was easier to talk ourselves down than dream of moving beyond cow pastures and crowded dining halls to a place where we could grow old.

We knew, oh how badly we knew, that staying wasn’t an option.

People didn’t stay in Neverland. They visited. They circled the perimeter, saw what all the hype was about, and got the heck out of there. It was a holding queue for the kids who weren’t ready to be someplace.

That hallway was the smallest version of it.

On those nights, when we wanted to dream but were too afraid, we talked about the places we’d go if we could go anywhere.

Dirty apartments in New York’s five boroughs. Condensed villages of Kenya. Winding vineyards in southern California. Iced ski slopes in Colorado.

Laying on our backs, knees to the ceiling, music on low, we’d talk in circles.

You’ll get there. Anything is possible. Get it, girl.

Get it, girl. It was the last touchdown inside the two-minute warning. It was the walk home with the boy next door. It was the one-off scholarship and the Lucky Charms for dinner.

It was everything we talked about on the hallway floor. Thought about on navy and red plaid couches with cups in our hands and red in our cheeks and football reflections in our eyes.

On the couch, or the floor, it was possible. It was gotten.

We would catch our dreams and rally our tired limbs and carry ourselves from Neverland.

Nothing is possible until it is. And then, the next thing. And the next thing. And the next thing. And we could find ourselves on that same carpet, in that same hallway, thousands of times if the new tenants would let us, but we had to leave.

That’s what life is: leaving before you’re ready, then wondering why you were ever scared.

It's Warmer In The Future

It was only a year ago that I was feeling antsy about this real world lifestyle, knowing that working hard was a not a skill people put on resumes. I knew I would work tirelessly, that I would do anything I could to learn and grow and be someone worth putting faith into, but did the human resources professionals of the Eastern seaboard know that? Well, I wasn’t sure.

Yesterday, a friend of mine admitted to a fear quite similar. And as they say, it’s easier to look objectively from the outside in. I knew, deep down, she was golden. Just brimming with energy and passion and experience. Her resume, in the right hands, will be understood and appreciated.

This post I wrote nearly two years ago, for all the worriers and anxiety-ridden recent and future college graduates who have no idea what will become of their lives in these coming months.

lake-trees

The future is 34 pushpins pressed into a map of the United States.

It doesn’t matter how precisely we press each pin into that cork backing. The future is shy and unforgiving and anticipatory and utterly unknowable.

My roommate stood next to her map, cupped her forearms around a cluster of pins along the West coast.

“Probability says California,” she said to me.

I nodded, trying to imagine her in the sunny state, me in New York City and our other roommate in Washington, DC.

I couldn’t.

It’s funny how one home transitions into another. In five years, I have found myself in Pennsylvania and Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland. Looking back, it’s seamless. But when I was at the edge of each cliff, eager and nervous to jump, it was like the first time I realized the world was in constant motion.

For all those moments leading up to a big, shifting change, we’re too busy preparing and pushing onward to think about what happens when our parents unload the trunk and cart our luggage up stairs and shut the door, leaving us alone for the first time.

For three years and eight months, the idea of graduating college is just that – an idea. And then, someone pulls out the big G word and it’s everything again.

We feel it rising up from the pit in our stomachs like a wave of nausea forcing you to sit down and center yourself on that pushpin-invested map. Begging you to regain balance and stability for just a while longer.

“Where will I be in the future?” we wonder.

“You’ll live on the lake,” I told her then. “I can picture it.”

And I could, then. The forests rising up on three sides. A vast expanse of murky water in front of her. The laughter of children in the background.

I saw her stretch out on the shoreline, digging her toes into the grass and dirt. I saw her put down her book to crane her neck, motioning her daughter to come to her.

“Do you want to go for a swim?” she asked.

The girl, her hair as white-blonde as her mother’s, nodded vehemently and tugged her t-shirt over her head.

She reached the line where the water meets land, lifted one foot, and frowned.

“What’s wrong?” her mother asked.

The girl shook her head and started back toward the spot on the grass where her mom stretched out.

“It’s too cold,” she said.

Her mom sets her book down. “How do you know?”

She shrugged her shoulders. She didn’t know.

“Come on.”

The two of them walked to the edge. Holding hands, they took a deep breath and waded, gently, into the murky water. A fish swam past and the little girl squealed, latching onto her mother’s leg.

After a moment, she released her grasp. She waded out farther and, without warning, dove under the water. When she emerged, she brushed her hair back and giggled.

“Brrr,” she said. “It’s warmer in the water.”

It’s the first moment that will string together a couple thousand others. The initial shock of icy water filling her lungs grew into a comfort. It’s warmer in the water. What once was cold and terrifying and new became familiar and wanted.

Only one of those pushpins became home for my roommate. She did not, contrary to probability, end up anywhere near California. But where she lives now, there is a lake with icy water. And try as she might, she won’t be able to emerge without shivering. She’ll learn, in these few years, it’s warmer in the water.