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Lost and Verdict-less

16 May

“Admit that adult life is scary because there is no clear path to success… Be grateful for the chance to be lost — it means you’re living your own life, because no one can make choices in the exact same way you can, whether they are right or wrong.”
– Penelope Trunk

I had a house guest last week. That house guest and I have had chemistry since we met in the dorms (and later, dated briefly) in college. Over the years, we’ve remained friends and largely ignored the lingering sexual tension, but I knew his weeklong visit to Atlanta would force me to decide once and for all whether we could ever turn that tension into something more.

As much as I love this boy as a friend, it took me less than 24 hours to realize friends is all we are ever going to be. Moreover, I was clobbered with the realization that I have built myself a stable little life — with my dog jumping on me to wake me up and only special occasions interrupting my Monday, Wednesday and Thursday night yoga sessions and my girly DVR settings (definitely talking Gossip Girl, all the Real Housewives and The Vampire Diaries — with no shame, thank you very much) — and I really like it. And I don’t like when it’s disturbed.

This realization comes on the heels of me beginning to understand just how petrified of commitment I am. I have always found pride in my independence, probably because I’ve always been so good at it. But I’m just starting to recognize how much comfort I find in it too. How much ease. How much stability. And ironically, the acknowledgement of this stability has me all kinds of torn up, because as much as I cherish my independence, I don’t want to fall victim to it. I don’t want to trap myself.

All of which amounts to me going over this little fear/independence dilemma of mine in my head for days weeks: Have I developed this level of comfort as a coping mechanism for fear of being perpetually alone? Or have I begun to genuinely let that fear go and thus, found stability within myself? Do I intentionally push well-intentioned boys away so I’m not vulnerable? Or am I just willing to have fun with the Right Nows while patiently waiting for Willing to Permanently Put up with Whitney’s Crazy? Am I walking in the right direction? Or running around, lost, in serpentines?

Then I read Penelope Trunk’s blog this week, from which the quote above is taken, and it reminded me that these contemplations are okay. It’s okay to wonder if I’m doing any of this right or if I’m just wandering in circles (Cue pundit: Not all who wander are lost, my dear.), if I’m completely off my rocker or just navigating the normal new-adult terrain.

I might be on the best path for me. I might be off the map. It doesn’t really matter. Because Ms. Trunk is right — being lost is far from the worst thing in the world. It’s actually kind of fun. Liberating. I mean, the lost-without-a-map road trips always yield the best stories, right? They tend to include the best music and friends, too. And really, I’ve been lost on a lot of interstates and highways (I really do have a love/hate relationship with I-10.), and I’ve never not made it home eventually.

Granted, I have no idea where “home” will be for me. But I think the scenery from here to there could be kind of great.


Twenty four hours after this was taken, Lauren and I were supposed to be home. Instead, we were still in New Orleans. Because, somehow, we had ended up lost on I-10 and halfway to Texas. I wouldn’t trade those eight extra hours — three days before I left for Europe, no less — with her for anything.

“It might be a quarter life crisis /
Or just a stirring in my soul /
Either way, I wonder sometimes about the outcome /
Of a still verdict-less life /
Am I living it right?”
– John Mayer, “Why Georgia”

Hold on Hope, Strength in Pain

1 Mar

“Little Miss down on love /
Little Miss I give up /
Little Miss I’ll get tough, don’t you worry ’bout me anymore /
Little Miss checkered dress /
Little Miss one big mess /
Little Miss I’ll take less when I always give so much more… /
Little Miss do your best /
Little Miss never rest /
Little Miss be my guest, I’ll make more any time that it runs out /
Little Miss you’ll go far /
Little Miss hide your scars /
Little Miss who you are is so much more than you like to talk about…”
– Sugarland, “Little Miss”

I’m in a rut.

I came to this realization last week, and while I’m certainly not excited about the revelation, I am confident that acknowledging it is the first step out of the hole.

Rut contributers:

I’m trying to figure out where I am in this convoluted job world. I know I’m on the precipice of something — I can feel it — but I’m not sure where or when or what. I adore the people I work with — I spent an hour and a half laughing hysterically with my three favorites at an impromptu happy hour on Friday (associated words include Pensacola, trailer park and one-night stands) — but I still don’t know how I feel about the company.

Baseball season starts in a little over a month, which means I need a new boy to be my standing date to Braves games. Jacklyn and I are making the home opener a single girls’ night, and it’s now festival season, so there are some promising boy-scoping events on the horizon. But I wish it were easier.

I’m in a blistering battle with my body right now. The eggs benedict and red velvet cake that accompanied my little cousin Thomas’ baptism this weekend scored some points for my body, but I punched back by resisting the third Firefly at Kramer’s and running 3.3 miles yesterday. So, finally, after two weeks, I’m winning the war again. Well, today, I won.

I’m back to desperately missing old friends. Which is not to say that I don’t love and cherish the ones here now. (Because I really do.) Maybe it’s the warm weather, or listening to my brother and his girlfriend tell stories about their weekends in Athens. Whatever it is, I miss calling or being called by Lauren at 9 p.m., getting ready together, making it downtown by 11:30 and seeing dozens of lovely, familiar faces out. I miss getting out of class early and heading to Knoxville for the weekend just because Jessica was free and I didn’t have plans. I miss walking into the boys’ house and flopping on their couch. I miss running to Maggie’s. I’m aware these bouts of nostalgia are inevitable and probably healthy. And I know I’m doing better — I miss everyone, but the ache has at least changed from debilitating to dull — but I can’t help but wonder if I’ll ever be able to create as solid a foundation of love and comfort as I had two years ago.

I don’t know the next jump out of the rut. I know I’ve made it out before, but I’ll be honest, it’s all been guess and check. And since the problem changes each time, so does the solution. Thus, I have to start reguessing from the beginning.

I’ve got three educated guesses, though: yoga, writing and fearless sociality. (Is that a word? Spell check says so…)

I want to start a daily morning yoga practice. Not a full class substitute by any means, but a short, calming session of sun salutations to start my day. The only problem is I suck at getting up in the morning (probably has something to do with writing blogs at 11:43 p.m.), so this is still a work in progress.

My head has been crawling with creative stories. I just need to get them on paper. (Screen. Whatever.)

It’s festival season. And (except for today) beautiful in Atlanta. My dog is in love with Piedmont Park, and I’m kind of a fan myself. I need to take full advantage of all of the above.

I’m in a rut. It sucks. I’m working on it.

“…Little Miss brand new start /
Little Miss do your part /
Little Miss big ‘ole heart beats wide open, she’s ready now for love /
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright /
Yeah, sometimes you gotta lose ’till you win /
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright /
And It’ll be alright again.”
– Sugarland, “Little Miss” (continued)

“It’s empty in the valley of your heart /
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk /
Away from all the fears and all the faults you’ve left behind… /
But I will hold on hope… /
And I’ll find strength in pain.”
– Mumford & Sons, “The Cave”

Two Prayers

2 Feb

“I don’t know where I’m at /
I’m standing at the back /
And I’m tired of waiting /
Waiting here in line /
Hoping that I’ll find what I’ve been chasing.”
— Jason Walker, “Down”

Graphic from Olly Moss.

For her:

“My friends from high school married their high school boyfriends /
Moved into houses in the same zip codes where their parents live /
But I, I could never follow… /
I’ve always found my way somehow by taking the long way /
Taking the long way around… /
Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else /
Maybe someday, someday I’m gonna settle down /
If you ever wanna find me I can still be found /
Taking the long way /
Taking the long way around.”

– Dixie Chicks, “The Long Way Around”

Don’t get discouraged. Don’t let the melancholy and loneliness distract you. You’re going to get out. You’re going to do everything you always said you would. It’s okay that it’s taking a little bit longer.

Don’t listen to those other voices. Don’t listen to their whispers. You’re better, stronger. Whichever path you choose, you’re going to do great. Be great. Don’t be afraid to take a chance on something crazy. That’s how the best stories start.

*****

For him:

“So you’re standing on a ledge /
It looks like you might fall… /
But you could have it all if you learned a little patience /
For though I cannot fly, I’m not content to crawl /
So give me a little credit /
Have in me a little faith /
I wanna be with you forever if tomorrow’s not to late /
‘But it’s always too late when you got nothing,’ so you say /
But you should never let the sun set on tomorrow before the sun rises today.”

– Nine Days, “If I Am”

I hope you’re okay. I hope you know that you’re going to be okay. I don’t know you. Not really, anyway. I know you can kiss. And I know you can steal my breath. But of the big things — the reasons you clam up, the lingering sadness, the self-doubt — I know very little.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be privy to these secrets.. That’s okay. But I hope someone is. Because even though you’re plagued with waning confidence, I see what you could be. What you will be. And it’s a beautiful picture.

I want you to know that you’ll make it. You possess too much effort and enthusiasm not to. As stressful as this path seems now, you’ll look back on it in 20, 5, 2 years and know that it was the best one for you. You’re going to have the successful, creative career you crave. You’re going to make some special girl blush every day. You’re going to have access to whatever you want.

I really hope I get a chance to tell you these things, to show you what I see behind the sorrow and stoicism. But if I don’t get to, I pray someone does. Because I think you’re worth it.

*****

Sleep tight tonight. You’ll both be just fine.


A Little Bit of Truth

12 Jul

A few months ago, Leanne and I went to see the Benjy Davis Project, one of those awesome, perpetually underground-ish bands that always feels like your personal discovery. Unexpectedly, the band that opened for them was great too. Southern, a mix of rock and folksy, with a touch of country, the songs struck me, so I immediately went home and iTunes-ed the hell out of them.

I like practically all of Sequoyah Prep School’s music, but one of my favorite songs — one that I cannot ever resist when it pops up on shuffle and have put on virtually every playlist created since April — is “Old #4.”

The chorus contains one of those slices of lyrical wisdom I crave and adore in my music — strikingly simple, yet somehow profound — and I have quoted it multiple times:

“Life gets hard, and life gets tough /
Sometimes you gotta find /
A little bit of truth amongst all the lies /
And know everything will be alright /
I know everything will be alright.”

While preparing for my annual Fourth of July family reunion trip, I made a supportive playlist I knew I would lean on while trying not to scream and curse at my dad, almost-stepmom or any other member of my extended family. “Old #4” made the cut. And then the trip made the chorus jump out at me even more than it already had.

My parents have officially been divorced for 10 years. The split holidays, money fighting, every-other-weekend plans have been a large and cumbersome part of my life since then. (Before then, really). They aren’t fun, but you get used to them. What I never expected was to discover, on a very regular basis, how severely that divorce has shaped me. It may not be the sole reason for most of my neurosis, but it is definitely a contributing factor.

It’s why I’m skeptical of marriage. It’s why I’m terrified of boyfriends’ mothers. It’s why I am as fiercely independent as I am and perpetually distrusting that a boy will be there when he says he will.

None of this is to say my dad is bad guy. He’s nowhere close. He’s an exceptional, wonderful father to be sure. But he’s not good with emotions. Or standing up to his parents for his significant other. Or, at least, he wasn’t with my mom.

Dad has grown in the last 10 years though. The bad part? In my mind, the only beneficiary of this changed man who is protective and affectionate and loving is his girlfriend of the last 6 years. (And maybe her daughters, too.) And going to the beach every Fouth inevitably brings back memories and feelings of how my mom used to be treated, the vastly different way his girlfriend is treated and the way I still feel like the motherless, alone girl, despite the fact that I graduated from college, got a job and am a full-grown legitimate adult. (What an awful, shivering sentence.)

Naturally, my dad is oblivious to how I feel. And I’ve never had the courage to call him out on it before. This year, though, in addition to pre-trip drama, lies and off-color remarks and even more off-color actions finally forced me into a tearful, final-night walk on the beach with my dad.

I can’t express how good it felt to get years worth of angst off of my chest. But that’s to be expected. Here’s the surprising little bit of truth I found:

I didn’t want or need anything else to come of that conversation (or trip, for that matter) other than for my dad to really hear me. The whole time I was stewing, I held some anxiety that the solution to my issues would be the dissolution of my dad’s romantic relationship. Or that I would never be 100% comfortable with any girlfriend he had. Or that I would never *really* be over my parents divorce. And while, I will no doubt continue to find ways my parents’ (failure at) marriage (and subsequent relationships) affected me, I know that they are happier apart and in other relationships. These relationships.

I realized, underneath all the other unresolved issues and pent-up emotions, all I really want is for my parents to be happy, and all I need from them is their love and respect. None of the other crap matters.

In other words, I found A little bit of truth amongst all the lies, and y’know what? I know everything will be alright.