The End of In-between

Tomorrow in-between ends.

Well, it’s two in the morning, so I suppose today in between ends.

Still.

Tomorrow afternoon I will begin orientation, and then after a week of orientation and symposium, classes will start.

I know that I’m about to feel big things and make important discoveries in my life. I know that things are about to get real, and though it doesn’t always feel that way, I know I’m not going home. I know that things are about to get fast, and possibly rough. I am ready for a rollercoaster.

Currently though, things are pretty slow. Time stretches behind me lazily, tranquil spots in the river just before things pick up. These past three weeks feel now as if they’ve taken months. Perhaps it’s the months of anxiety over them finally paying off, perhaps it’s just the distance I feel between a night three Saturdays ago and here. Physical distance, sure, but emotional distance as well.

Though I feel far from where I was three weeks ago, honestly where I was a little over a week ago, I couldn’t begin to tell you when it happened. Though, I suppose these things don’t happen all at once. I haven’t done much, strictly speaking. I had an interview and met a couple people, went to a poetry slam and watched a lot of TV, but I wouldn’t call my days crowded. I’ve been sleeping a lot, and spending an extraordinary amount of time alone.

Three…two, hell, even one year ago I couldn’t possibly have handled the amount of time I’ve spent alone this week. Right now though, I think I’m really enjoying it. Not only is it the freedom of doing whatever I feel like doing, it’s freedom to really notice what I’m doing.

One of the rituals at Preterm is that once a year you pick a card from a basket that has written on it an affirmation or bit of wisdom. My actual card is hiding somewhere in things I haven’t quite looked at yet, but my first one said something like “I choose to enjoy the process”. The magic of the cards was that you always got the one that you most needed.

These days, I love things that take time. Things that give me time to think, time to experience whatever is happening for me, time to just be. This is…new.

I’ve never been someone with much fondness for long term projects. I’m given to distraction so thoroughly that sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the number of thoughts I’m having at any given moment. At various times I have been one of those people who can’t seem to refrain from looking at her phone through a meal out with friends. I am an everything all at once sort of girl.

Or so I thought.

But you know what? I love eating Pho. I don’t just mean I love the food Pho (I do, it’s great), but really that I love the process of eating Pho. I’m sure people exist who can eat Pho quickly, but I am not one of them. I’m sure people exist who can text or read while eating Pho, but I cannot. When I eat Pho there is nothing else. Me, soup, and my thoughts – and precious few of those because I am mostly focused on the somewhat difficult task of eating soup with chopsticks. I like staring at the sky while I wait for my bus, and watching the world happen while I get to my destination. I like the time to notice. Noticing that I recognize the bus stop near my apartment more easily, that I’ve stopped feeling so anxious on the bus – less like someone might notice me and realize that I don’t know how to ride a bus. Screwing up using my keys less, and being more used to the constant presence of other people in public. It’s gradual right now, but I’m noticing myself changing. Not that we aren’t all constantly changing, just that this time…the slowness and the nothing-else-to-do-ness of it all makes it easy to see, and the huge-life-change-ness of it makes it hard to miss.

What’s amazing in all of this, the slowness, the in-between-ness,  the Pho, all of it, is that I always feel like me. I feel like me in a way that I have only gotten glimmers, moments of before. Like I’m me on purpose, instead of by some collection of weird accidents and other people’s decisions. I know I’m no less a product of weird accidents and everyone I’ve ever known today than I was three weeks ago, but today I feel like I’ve arranged the things that have been thrown at me my way. Like I gave up on trying to paint a landscape and painted the abstract design I’d rather look at.

So, I go to start the real shit in a good place, but that’s not to say I’m not scared. Each of these great experiences comes with a large dose of concern. I love who I am now, but I can sense that it’s changing, I love noticing the changes as I become more myself, but like I said, things are about to get fast. I don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t know who I’m going to become, but I suppose I do know that I’m doing it on purpose.

At my birthday party in April I spoke with a friend of mine who was on his way across the country to a meditation retreat that won’t end until December. He lives in San Francisco, so as he left we talked about that we would see each other again once he got back from this. We expressed excitement about meeting each other as whoever we will be when that time comes, and hope that those people will like each other as well as we have on our past few meetings. Now, I also feel excited/nervous about meeting the person I’m going to become, and I think the awareness of that it is happening will help.

As I get ready for this beginning, I think it’s appropriate to say a little prayer. A prayer of thanks for who I am and who I will be, for the experiences that have got me this far and the ones that haven’t happened yet. A prayer of hope that I will continue to notice and be present for my life, to orient myself towards what feels most true and correct for me, to keep living the life I mean to have instead of the one someone else means for me to have.

This is the end of in-between.

Reflections on a Summer: The Night Before

So I guess that it’s Thursday, and I guess that in 24 hours I will be on a plane on my way to California. I guess this is happening, and in the often used words of me that’s…weird.

When I set up the countdowns on my phone, there were 100+ days left until this move. There were five events before it, and the soonest of those was something like 20 days away. Then Katie got married and it was wonderful, and she was happy and we were all happy for her.

Katie's Wedding

Katie’s Wedding

I started spending a lot of time with my friends, because I knew the end was coming, but I didn’t have to pack yet, I just bought tickets and made reservations. Then General Assembly happened, and I started this blog and summarily ignored it in the chaos of the past two months.

Me at GA

GA!

General Assembly was amazing and gave me so much energy and courage for this journey, along with a bunch of new relationships that I look forward to growing as time goes on.

20 days later, I went to Summer Institute, which was also wonderful.

SI!

UU Society Cleveland at SI

I reconnected with old friends and made some new, I did what I hoped to and broke out of my shyness a bit, telling someone else’s joke at an open mic and preaching about abortion at Young Adult lead evening vespers. Those moments, sharing my honest self with people and having them hear it and find something resonant in them as well…those are amazing. Those are transcendent. In many cases, in this case, they are also often incredibly fleeting.

As I was riding a wave of good feelings at Summer Institute, I found out that my Grandpa was dying more immediately than we had anticipated. I was told that he might not make it until I got home. He did, but only just. I came home on Saturday and he passed on Sunday evening. Though I had plans that Sunday evening, I stayed with him and with my Mom. We held his hands and sang to him, though he had not been responsive in days, and stayed with him as he died. I’m thankful to have been able to be there for him, as he had so often been there for me. I am thankful also for the opportunity to share some of my spirituality and my religion with my family, and that it was helpful for them. When my Mom and Aunts could no longer think of songs from their childhood hymn books to sing, I sang a couple from ours. When Grandpa passed and we stood in a circle looking at each other with loss and confusion, I offered a prayer that a friend of mine from church had sent me. It went like this : “Beloved one, you are dead, but you are not alone. We are here with you, the beloved dead await you. You go from love into love. Carry with you only love. May our love carry you and open the way. May the air carry your spirit gently. May the fire release your soul. May the water cleanse you. May the earth receive you. May the wheel turn again and bring you to rebirth.” At Grandpa’s funeral, I offered words of remembrance for the man who gave so much to me, and to all of his 8 children, 21 grandchildren, and 23 great grandchildren. I was overwhelmed by the amount of love that my community showed me during this time, with friends sending positive thoughts on facebook and coming to calling hours. I remembered how lucky I am, and what wonderful people I have in my life.

With Grandpa

Grandpa, Me (right) and my cousin Ceci (left) when I was about 5

Time sped on. I went to work for the last time. I moved out of the apartment I had lived in for over a year, and briefly back in to my parents’ home. I began to say my actual goodbyes to the people and places that have been my home for so long. I spent an amazing weekend with dear friends, celebrating life and love and community (and also whisky). I cried often. I cried when they gave me a book about whisky which they had all signed, and again at 3:30 in the morning when I was the only one awake, walking around my house seeing some of the people I love most packed wall-to-wall and asleep. I cried when they left the next day.

<3

Friends ❤

It’s a strange feeling I’ve been having the past couple days. There is sadness, there is loss, and I do cry…but it’s not only that. It is not pain like grief from death or the end of a relationship, though it is pain. It’s not the pain of endings though, not only at least. This pain is growth. It will be uncomfortable at times, but the growing is worth it. As are the possibilities.

I’ve been watching this Ze Frank video linked to me by a friend a lot lately. I get stuck on different parts every time I listen to it, but I will always come back to “Warts and all, let’s start this shit up.” I may be a little scared, and this may not be easy, but I’m doing it and it’s going to be amazing. So let’s go. It’s time for a new adventure.