Tuesday, October 31, 2006

my heart is in the bathroom.

if you grew up in a house of girls like i did, you know there's very little that's considered "personal" space. a room can be entered on will (except during those times a door must be locked to avoid a sister who's either trying to bite or scratch your arm or whose chasing demands that you find safety behind closed doors), a phone conversation can be interrupted, and a bathroom can be equally shared no matter what the purpose of its occupants.

i love that. i love when god provides me with the kind of friends that go to the bathroom with the door open. i suppose i think of it more now because for the first time in a long time, i just don't have that.

i talked to my old roommate kat on the phone tonight. and she makes me miss chicago so much. right now, home is not where my heart is. this apartment is great, and i'm so grateful that god provided me with an affordable option that's clean and near my sister and brother-in-law and that i'm thankful that i get to share it with a great girl. but it's still not where my heart is.

my heart is in chicago , walking west on waveland home from work, listening to ryan adams' "friends" on my ipod. it's sitting on our front porch, grilling out with erin and kat and lucas. it's meeting erik for drinks at the hopleaf and talking about life. it's eating breakfast at mitchell's (it will always be mitchell's even if its name has changed) with my favorite waitress deborah talking about her bad back. it's drinking stella at guthrie's, playing connect four and ordering pizza in for me and kat while we wait for erin to arrive. it's taking the el downtown and watching people interact out of the corner of my eye. it's sipping kat's strong, bitter coffee in my mug on the way to clark to catch the #22. it's in my old neighborhood, my old office, my old house.

what prevents me from mourning this loss is that i am simultaneously looking forward to a new home for my heart. i'm eager for the day that my heart doesn't feel like it leaves when he does at 12:30 in the morning when a simple goodbye takes much longer than it used to when we were "just friends." i could go on .... for your sake, i won't :)

so my heart feels like it has two homes, and neither are right here, right now.

i could probably pray something good and right like, "god help me to be content with the here and now." but instead, i find myself saying something more like this:

"god, i want a friend who keeps the bathroom door open."

i know people grow up and mature and get more private. i know weekend retreats like the one i had in august where all of us girls giggled into the night aren't as likely the older i get, when sleep is precious and necessary to a degree i haven't needed since my mom put me down for naps. i know we have less time for each other as we make more commitments, take more classes, pile on more responsibilities.

maybe i'll never get that intimacy again, when someone's day was so important to share that the power of the bladder couldn't stop her from continuing her story. for the first time in my life, there aren't girls angling to get closer to the mirror to apply mascara or moving me out of the way to spit toothpaste in the sink. there are no moments when i'm telling a story in the kitchen and have to sit in the hallway near the bathroom to finish up while erin pees (i was trying to avoid the actual word, but it is what it is, people). it's those little things that - when the drama disappears - i discover at the foundation of my relationship with my girlfriends.

i guess this was really just to thank you, kat. for our conversation, for your friendship, and, well, for leaving the bathroom door open. i miss you.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

true of false: penicillin is to sickness as quilting is to writer's block

i think i have writer's block. or at least i've been using that excuse for awhile. but it's a valid one. i've been thinking about everything lately, analyzing some thoughts to death while others go completely unattended. i'd like to say i'm slowly getting a grip on everything, but then i wonder if i have to knock on wood and there's not much wood near where i'm sitting and i'll get sidetracked if i get up to go find some.


i've been trying to find more time to journal because i realize i've got nothing to put out here if i haven't gotten the big load of stuff down on paper. i've started at least a dozen blog drafts, but never find the ambition to finish them in words. i end up typing a bit, then closing my eyes and imagining the rest coming to an end through a canvas i've painted in my head. i haven't found that words are working for me lately. maybe i should take up painting. no, painting's not me. i try to pretend i'm a mark rothko, but i'm really not. or i am, and then i just wonder what in the world i'm trying to say through my splotches of color. i'm sure mark's saying something, but i'm only really saying "look, i can make thick, straight lines of color." my curved lines look like chapter one of drawing horizons for dummies, so i don't try them anymore.

i've thought about taking up quilting recently, after realizing that knitting may never be an option for me (i can't knit. i tried once years ago in an attempt to prove to myself that i'd make a good mom someday, but i failed miserably. it's too hard for people like me who want to do everything perfectly the first time). but somehow quilting seems possible. or maybe it's because my mom has finally decided to say goodbye to all of our baby/kid clothes. when i was home a few weeks ago, sarah and i took a look through all of our old clothes - nkotb t-shirts, hang 10 shorts, oversized camp t-shirts, all that good 80s stuff - and sorted out what we wanted to keep. she was looking for future baby clothes (that's a trend setter for you; only fashion people in the know understand that what a baby wore in '77 could pass for hip and cool for a baby in '07); i was looking for a way to remember my childhood and decided quilting would be my best option.

of course, i have no idea how to quilt. but the idea of putting something useful together all the while remembering my childhood seems like the kind of project i want to invest myself in right now. i'm not sure if what i'm feeling is an identity crisis, but telling a story of my childhood through old t-shirts sounds just like the kind of artsy thing a non-artist at a lack for words should do to figure herself out as she is now.

maybe i'll stop at the library on my way home tonight and pick up quilting for dummies.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

my email from anne

i could never live in portland. or seattle. or anywhere that rained really frequently. unless i had been born and raised there, i think living there would be disastrous for me. i'd have to survive solely on their coffee and music scenes ... okay, so maybe it wouldn't be a disaster for me ...

it's rainy like portland here today. and after trying to take down 3 really, really bad cups of coffee at work, i felt the weight of the day come down on me.

thankfully, i'm finding that i work with a loving staff (how many people can say that?). i don't know whether she noticed me about to break or if someone had brought me to her attention, but my boss soon dropped by my desk and asked me to pop into her office where i promptly divulged into tears: what am i really doing here? do i belong? is there room for me?

why i cry so easily is beyond me. it's a clear sign, perhaps, that i'd make a terrible actress. i feel rather transparent at times like that, and have to fight off deep and wide insecurities when i leave that person with whom i've just been so revealing.

this afternoon, i received an email from an old coworker who was responding to a note i'd sent out to my address book about this new position i'd taken at church. anne and i were pretty close at work. she's much of the reason i fell in love with my old job. i remember coming in for my first interview and hearing her before i actually saw her. i hadn't yet walked around the corner but i could hear this honest laugh and the jingle of the bells on her long, hippie-ish skirt. anne had beautiful, long, dark brown hair. she didn't like to wear her shoes in the office. she and i bonded over the fact that we both had moms who were spanish teachers. we loved music and talked about how much we'd like to go to see austin city limits or bonaroo. even though she was in a much different life stage with a husband and two kids, we liked each other.

i always felt i was honest with her about who i was. she knew i was a christian, and i appreciated her interest in her jewish heritage. we genuinely liked each other.

her e-mail today expressed how truly happy she was for me in my new job. but her next paragraph was a surprise:

I visited the church's website. It looks like quite a busy place! Although I have to admit a strong knee-jerk reaction to anything mission-like. I strongly believe in freedom of religious thought and in the beauty of religious history and tradition. Missionary efforts if not to erase local religious culture, traditions, and history, then to, at a minimum, significantly and permanently alter them. They approach their constituents from a position that their religion is superior to others - that their way is the right way. This attitude, quite simply, has been used to justify innumerable atrocities over the course of human history - all in the name of God. Furthermore, no God I can imagine would support a one-size fits all, my way or the highway, approach to "redemption" or simply being goodliness. I've always been puzzled as to why more religious groups wouldn't be interested in providing services and resources free of "religious" charge to the recipients.

Wow. Didn't mean to land on that soap box. I know that you are a very respectful, honorable, and ethical person. And I completely respect your religious conviction. And know that you, of all people, have a great deal of respect for others.

Her e-mail makes me sad. It makes my heart break. I imagine Jesus hearing this, and before everything, thinking about how much he loves her, and then his heart breaking over all the pain that missionaries have caused in His name, and then, then when she says, "no God I can imagine would support a one-size fits all, my way or the highway, approach to 'redemption'" that he would think, "is that what you call My sacrifice?" And then does His heart break again, wondering if she is too offended by "religion" to talk to Him herself? Who will love Anne beyond religion?


Back in the office, my boss listened to my questions as I gasped for air between sobs. She nodded sympathetically. And she affirmed me, told me I was wanted, told me she wants to help me succeed, told me that she's excited about me being here. Told me I belonged as I am.


I want to say the same thing to Anne. That I like her as she is. That I'm not trying to take anyone's local culture or her traditions from her. That I wish to God Christ-followers had a better reputation than the one we've got hanging above us, a neon arrow listing the innumerable atrocities the church has committed in the name of God. That I think her friendship has enriched my life. And that whether or not she believes it, I think God wants to love her to Himself, that He wants to bring her freedom from religion, that He enjoys her and wants her to have life in abundance.

Jesus, sometimes I wish you'd just reveal yourself to the whole world in person again.