Monday, July 14, 2008

Southern Summers

Written on my old blog over two years ago...two days before my 25th birthday. How much it still feels true...

"Southern summers are indifferent to the trials of love..." - The Notebook

Southern summers are indifferent to a lot more trials than love. They're indifferent to hairspray, carefully applied only to have your hair fall from humidity within two minutes of walking outside; they're indifferent to makeup, which begins to run as soon as you get in your car that closely resembles a sauna from late May til early September. They're indifferent to the chorus of grasshoppers and crickets that begin to sing when night falls right outside your window and gets so loud that you literally pray for the AC to kick on and drown them out so you can fall asleep.

Why am I speaking of southern summers when it's 36 degrees outside right now, at nearly 2 in the morning? Because I can hear the crickets. They are outside my window right now, singing that summer is just around the bend, and a new season is about to begin.

I can't say it's been a long, hard winter. I actually like winter. I'm one of those strange people who likes the cool weather, likes snow and don't really like the opressing humidity that summer brings. I like the sun on my face and backyard barbeques, yes...but when seasons change it's a reminder of all that has been done since the last time that season was upon us. Summer especially brings to mind a time of ending, re-grouping and reflection, and when this summer arrives, it will mark one year since I have been back in Kentucky.

I can no longer say, "I just moved from..." or explain away the fact that I'm not sure which road I'm on to "oh, see, I just got back...." I should be adjusted now. And I am, for the most part. I guess it's just losing it's novelty; and I am losing my excuse for sometimes faltering and feeling a bit unsettled.

It's been a year. I should probably just get over it now.

I was in a wedding late last July and it was outside. The heat was unbearable, we were sweating upon walking out the door and I listened to the words in a distant way while hoping the whole thing would end soon and we could all go inside and have a cold drink.

The cicadas were circling, the lawnmowers were humming and mosquitos hovered. It was somewhat of a welcome home, in a way. Welcoming me back to a place where time still seemingly stands still when the air is thick with steamy humidity. Where the air is thick with memories and hazy with the ghosts of summers past.

I'm not sure the point of all this, I just got inspired to write a bit with the crickets outside and all. It's not quite time for the AC to be turned on just tonight, I'll sleep to their song.

Maybe they're welcoming me back again.

The Reflection of a Beautiful Boy--

My nephew loves mirrors. He’s only one, and has always loved looking at his own reflection, marveling in the smiles and laughs that this “friend” on the wall is always mimicking back at him. He absolutely delights in it, and no matter what kind of tantrum or trauma may be going on, putting a mirror in front of him will always make him smile.

One of my favorite things about doing this with him is the way he will recognize the person holding him before realizes his own reflection. In many ways, it is the other person—not himself—that serves as his realization that he is looking not at someone completely different, but simply him. He was around seven months old when he first turned toward me, away from the mirror, and leaned forward and peeked around, looked at me, and grinned—just checking to see if I was the same person he was seeing in the mirror. His face, looking around at me with a tentative smile while I hold him, was one of utmost innocence and fascination at the simple realty of his and my own existence.

As he grows into toddler-hood, he is becoming more and more cognizant of the world around him and is growing wise to the mirror trick. We all stayed at my parents’ house this past weekend, and at one point, during a “But-I-waaaannnt-to-dive-headfirst-down-the-basement-stairs-and-I can’t-believe-you-just-stopped-me” fit, I picked him and carried him toward our old friend, the mirror.

He laughed, and we laughed together. At ourselves, at our presence here and now. And then he leaned forward and peeked around. As his little face appeared before me, with that inquisitive and inquiring look that I know so well, I was struck by that moment and how quickly those moments go by. How soon he will understand all about mirrors, and how much our reflections will both change.

Those we love often serve as our best kind of mirror. Not only do they reflect our harsh realities and our lovable flaws; they peek around the corners, checking to make sure we are still really there—that who they know and love is still intact. In many ways, they are the ones that serve as our most accurate reflection. In our daily lives, we may see ourselves in a distant way, removed from who we are as we put on make-up, quickly fix our hair and run out the door.

But only when those we love take the time to hold us in front of a mirror, do we really stop to notice our reflection. And no matter how much it may change, they can always peek around and see us. If we are fortunate enough to have those family and friends in our lives that take the time to remember to lift us up from time to time, we are lucky.

I am lucky, indeed, to have that beautiful boy, four gorgeous nieces, two nephews and a multitude of family members that continuously hold me up to the mirror and remind me of my own reflection. And even luckier still to have friends to help me figure out what it all means, and to love me through my own restless wanderings. For it is their reflections—and not my own—that serve to remind me of all that I am.

Coming Back

It's been so long since I've blogged that I didn't even know how to post anymore. Seriously.
I just spent a little time re-reading a few of my old entries (which is sometimes not a good idea!) and find myself amazed at how far some things have come. How far some things are left to go. In so many ways I am different, and in others, exactly the same.

I've been in my job for nearly two years's the longest I've ever been in any job (which seems insane) so I'm a little proud to be reaching that two-year mark. I just got a new apartment in Lexington, and I'll move in August, so I guess I'll still be here for the next year, provided I don't get some random opportunity and I break out of the lease. But, at least it's something, some sort of commitment as to what I'll do for the time being at least.

I've gone back and forth a million times in the past months about whether or not to move a few miles down the road, move across the country, or stay where I'm at. I decided in the end, unless I KNOW for sure that I want to live in Somewhere, USA, I don't want to pick up my life and start over, yet again. I want to feel in my gut and my heart that it's the right decision before I make such a big step again - each move I've made, I've felt so certain that it was the right choice that I could simply not do otherwise.

I'm desperately seeking that same certainty in many aspects of my life.

To blog about something real, and not just give a bland update on my life, I want to talk for a minute about friendships. I recently read something in a book, in playing off that popular saying, that said "When God closes a door, He opens a box of girl scout cookies." I don't exactly love cookies or sweets (allergy to chocolate as a kid didn't allow me to develop much of a sweet tooth) but I do dig me some Thin Mints. So this was a good analogy, I thought, and I find myself thinking about that phrase in recent days.

I'm a major fight with my mother, and stepfather. The details are not such that I will delve into on this blog (although maybe at a later date), but the point is that this is a long and storied relationship, littered with hurts and anger, and often led to me feeling like roadkill as I desperately sought to pick up the pieces of my family, while trying to begin to form the pieces that would make up my own life.

However, this more. This was, as a friend put it, the tiny crack that broke the windshield and I'm feeling a fundamental shift in my overall thinking. They will not do this to me again. I will not be made to feel this way, be forced to forge my way through a marriage that isn't my own, or be the weapon that is used to throw at someone else at the expense of the other.

Never again.

I don't choose to let many people into this side of my life. It's frought with tension for me, and often, I don't want to color people's opinions of these family members of mine before they even meet, if they ever do. This time, because it's on a level more significant than ever before, it's on my mind more than ever. And thus, more people are beginning to be let into the fold.

Instead of dwelling on the bad things, I'm going to take a minute to appreciate the boxes of girl scout cookies that God has opened for me through all this. My father who loves me unconditionally and wants to tell me all the time. My stepmother, who in sensing my deep hurt, felt something change inside her toward me. My friends who told me they loved me for the first time, and another who never forgets to remind me every day. The ones who are outraged, the ones who protect me, the ones that hurt with me.

I thought about old friends the other day, while talking to my best and oldest one. And I was reminded as to why long-distance friendships, the ties that bind through it all - good times and bad - are the ones that can often emerge as the most true. In the simple fact that this person is NOT in your daily life, and does not witness your daily messes and hurts, joys and triumphs that shape you as a person, they can keep hold of who you are at your inner core - what makes you tick, what your soul looks like.

Think of a kid that you love that you haven't seen in a year - the kid looks drastically different to you, and you can see instantly the effect of time and space have done to that child. They have changed in appearance, skills and personality traits - but you love them instantly and intensely anyway, because you know them.

I am so lucky. I have girl scout cookies galore in my life, and God never ceases to amaze me sometimes when he hands me a new box. Doors are being shut for me. Maybe some for good...but I'm doing my best to hang on to those blessings that I do have, the instincts that I have and the faith that things will be alright in the end. And that's all I can ask for.