Leaving for Florida

On a jet plane.

I leave this week, and the barrage of emotions have pushed me to numbness. Happy? Sad? Excited? Anxious? This love has taken its toll on me.

Two bridal showers, and one to go in Florida. We’ve been especially fortunate, because friends and family have been incredibly generous. A friend will not say never, because the welcome will not end. It’s cool to love your family.

The wedding is on june 1. We thought the temple would be busier on a Saturday, and I don’t know about you, but I like having Saturdays free. Gotta get down on Friday.

Plans are well underway. invitations. Thank-yous. Photographer, dress, suit; reception, food, cake. I wonder what’s in a day.

Honeymoon’s going to be a roadtrip down Florida. Memories of my childhood in the car with my future, my now sitting beside me. The summer comes marching in with heavy boots on, kicking along the blacktop, sidewalks of A1A.

I remember how angry I was two years ago, having broken up with New York, moving to Provo in the dead of winter, having no desire to socialize, to make a lot of friends.

Is love alive?

That’s why I’m going to Florida.

My relationships have saved me. The reassurance, the encouragement; knowing when to leave me alone has confirmed that loneliness was never a problem. Happiness was never a problem. I learned early how to starve the emptiness and feed the hunger.

Living the spring of May. Loving it all.

I know when I’ll be back again.

Songs quoted:

John Denver, “Leaving on a Jet Plane”
Maroon 5, “This Love”
Michael W. Smith, “Friends”
Feist, “It’s Cool to Love Your Family”
Rebecca Black, “Friday”
Tori Amos, “Baker, Baker”
Patty Griffin, “Florida”
Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles, “Winter Song”
Indigo Girls, “Watershed”

A Year: Inventory Time Again

The anniversary of my leaving New York City is this next weekend, and I can’t believe I’m still whining about transitions. I’m profoundly disappointed in myself.

I have a lot to be grateful for, no doubt. I’ve made a few good friends here, which is more than I could have ever expected.

I have teachers who really like me, who open up a phenomenal world of thinking and writing, and through their perfect balance of scholarship and passion and faith, motivates me to just keep going.

There’s always the church, its trueness, God at its helm, directing with an exalted balance of omniscience and omnipotence and love. Despite who I’ve tried to be or what I’ve done, this too, keeps me going.

Technology lets me remember family. My family has grown in the past few weeks, and I now have four new siblings, with in-laws and 10 nieces and nephews.

Hopefully these things can bump my attitude out of the shadows, and I can learn to be happy where I am. Hopefully these things will trump my bitterness about feeling left out and removed from everyone else’s lives. Hopefully these things will help me accept how friends and family are moving on, because I should be able to keep up anyway, right? No one has any excuse not to share what’s going on with one another.

Not wanting to share is different, though, which I can completely understand. Regardless of these things, I’ve managed to alienate myself from people I love and consider my best and closest friends. Even with the technology, the distance makes it more palpable. I’ve managed to create a comfortable little pocket of misery, and I’ve never felt more alone, and of course no one wants to be around or hear about that.

So what do I do? Do I behave like a proper Mormon and fake it ’til I make it? That should be an easy enough thing to pick up, as hardly anyone here makes it apparent that they’re suffering or having any difficulty. And I get that living the gospel helps makes life easier to deal with, but it does not cover up the hard knocks.

I’ve also found that not a lot of people like to listen (anymore). They say they’ll always be there; they say I can talk about anything. It’s not true.

Choosing friends has always been one of my strongest points. Knowing what they need; figuring out what they can offer me.

Thanks to those who sent concerned texts or emails or facebook messages this past week. I know I normally don’t privatize my blog or turn off my facebook wall or lock my twitter account, but I just got overwhelmed. Thanks for noticing. It really means a lot.

Back to the drawing board.

It’s not a bad thing. That’s the beauty of the gospel, the potential to progress, the ability to heal after life knocks you down, leaves you tender and with a few bruises.

I’ll get through this.

Time for another round.

Coming upon 2:30AM

I’m wide awake. We’ll see how I hold up tomorrow.

Digging through my archives, only because anniversaries are coming up, and I’m inhaling nostalgic dramatic irony. I don’t know that I know that deep emotions have diffused through the vents, triggering flashbacks and near-forgotten feelings of goodness and greatness and inspiration. Except, I know that I don’t know.

I wrote the following on April 10, 2007. My life, like many lives, works in cycles, and this pattern really hasn’t changed that much. What I experienced and learned then definitely applies to now. I could have made it easier on myself by kicking and screaming less. Stubbornness dies hard.

The intensity tapers as life goes on, in varying degrees. The people are different; the transitions suck. Relationships aren’t as much intense as they are weird; they are dis-tense, and the wordplayer in me morphs that into distance, which is the obvious space between me and these other people who don’t seem as kindred – we don’t want to get too close. They notice it too.

Old souls in high school aren’t the only ones. In fact, that phase of life has thoroughly prepared us to spot one now, a mile away; years later, or maybe a few hours. We recognize a certain gentleness and power, a familiar warmth in the countenance; a subtle thawing, like the conversion of winter into spring. Then, the intensity picks up again. You know how it goes.

Another transition comes along, and we haven’t forgotten how much it hurts to say goodbye. And that was 13 years ago. Or even last week. The key is to cherish it as much as you can presently, even if it means an unbearably poignant departure. The key is to cherish it as much as you can presently, even if the thought of goodbye keeps sneaking in on your forethoughts, which bear the trite truth: there’s no such thing as goodbye.

The key is to remember that you are old souls, kindred spirits.

When you do part ways, the key is to be so happy and excited for your friends, so grateful for your paths crossing, that you cry and cry and shudder and hiccup and snot everywhere and pray and cry yourself to sleep; so that eventually, you can look back fondly at all the good times, and giddily anticipate a sweet, joyful reunion. Every single time.

Intense.

This was part of an email I sent someone a few weeks later, on May 6, 2007:

I’m feeling kind of burnt out right now, life is kind of hard.  Seminary and work and studying and being social.  And not just being social, deepening these social ties.  The Lord has really blessed me with little extra pockets of time and energy to get things done.   It would be nice to have a break, though.  Some down time.  Soon.

While right now feels like one of the longest transitions of my life, it’s nowhere near as severe as what happened three years ago. Maybe it just took the semester thinking I was getting my feet wet, then realizing my complete submersion. Maybe this is where all those dreams of breathing and thriving underwater make sense.

Then I look at friends – really strong friends – who are making great things happen for themselves. I regard their faith and fortitude, and they encourage me. If they can do it, so can I.

We’re doing it together, yeah?

Some Christmas Thoughts

I’m supposed to be working on a talk for Sunday. I’m also supposed to be writing a toast for a friend’s wedding reception. But I just keep thinking about the past couple of days I spent with friends and family. Then I consider the past ten weeks I’ve been able to spend with these loved ones. I play a scene over and over in my head that hasn’t even happened yet, but will happen early Monday morning. It involves my mom and brother and the airport and, inevitably, tears. Gentle sobs catch in my throat now as I think of it.

Change is constant. Christ is constant, because he has endured all change, for all mankind. His birth and life and resurrection carved an example, forged a path for us to follow. A steady, strong, strenthening path. A clear, comforting, consistent path. It instills hope and fosters peace; it carries love. This love is unfailing; it inspires and uplifts and extends beyond mortal might. I’ve felt it especially here in Florida and from miles away. We are children of God. Stretched out still, Christ’s arm reaches down from the firmament and relieves my soul, teaching me all that I must do, so that I can grow from the change that awaits me, so I can continue to be grateful for friends and family who so ably and amply … love.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

In the Spirit of Everything Sarcastic

People, I skipped church this morning. Like, I woke up late on purpose and avoided the three-hour block.

But, I did attend a meeting. I walked the block from my apartment building to the church, opened the door, traipsed right in, said hi to a few people. Church had just ended, and people gathered to socialize in the hall. It’s kind of like a street fair, except without all the haggling and strange-smelling food.

I saw a fellow committee member and he led me into the room where we’d be meeting. We started off with the formal pleasantries, hi how are you blah blah, then he went right in with, “So, where’s your head with moving and school and are you still thinking about it?”

So I told him.

Then other committee members trickled in and maybe they caught wind of our conversation, so they basically asked the same questions, one at a time, as if they were standing in line. What? You’re what? Really? When? You haven’t?

I was in a room with four other guys. And I was trying to answer all their questions. I wondered where the other woman on the committee was. Whatever.

Then other people saw me sitting in this room and walked in, because the meeting hadn’t started, and they started asking me questions – the same barrage of questions – and I looked to the guy sitting next to me, questioning the situation with my eyes, and he said, “Everybody knows.”

Of course everybody knows. Of flippin’ course.

I mean, one guy, he mentioned that I hinted at something on twitter, and I forget that people actually follow me on twitter, and if I’m posting something on a public forum, even if it is a bit enigmatic, it becomes public knowledge.

And it sort of started at girls’ camp a few weeks ago when a friend said, “So, May, I heard this rumor …”

I haven’t necessarily been dodging the issue. If people approach me and ask me what’s going on in my life, I will answer them directly. And I’ll provide details, how many depending on how comfortable I am with the people.

But, when people I’ve told nothing to come up to me and start inquiring about my life plans, I’ve had a little trouble coming to terms that people talk. I attend church, belong to a community where people share their lives with each other willingly. Word spreads. It’s not that I’m not trying to keep a secret, per se, but I like to deliver my own news.

I don’t know if that’s too much to expect. Maybe I know that it is, and while it’s not a good reason to skip church, that’s a big part of why I skipped church. So maybe I should just dispel all the hearsay so that I can have my Sundays back:

Everyone, the rumors are true.

But you already knew that.

Connecting Introductions

The nostalgia level in me right now has gone way beyond obnoxious. Maybe that’s why I keep asking people to guest blog for me: It strengthens and deepens connections. So when I think of you, the bursting of my heart will be that much more powerful. Also, I respect your writing, and your appearing on my blog is a great honor. Please stay tuned: I might ask you next.

I thought I’d give a little background on tomorrow’s guest blogger, Sarah.

Instructions:

Click on this link
Read it
Minimize the window
Come back to finish reading this post

So, that’s what I think of her, at least on her birthday in 2007. And maybe now. 😉  Below are some of her words from 1994. I don’t have any current samples, and she doesn’t have a public blog, but once I broke out the old notebook from our senior year, and once I reread what Sarah wrote, I knew her thoughts would more than suffice. It’s kind of a personal letter to me, but this really showcases her thought process. Fine, she was 18 years old, but she still maintains tightness and integrity in her writing. She’s thoughtful and poised and sensitive. And honest. Today, she’s a wife and a mom and a yoga instructor and a cake decorator, so her post tomorrow might pertain to her current life, but she’ll still be Sarah. The following is only an excerpt – the beginning of the letter, because it’s A Very Long Letter and she might be ticked that I’m even using even a snippet – but it’s enough to form a pretty dang great impression of her. (You might also get a sense of some of the vocabulary words we learned back then.) This letter speaks to Adolescence and Transitions and especially Friendship. Something she wrote 15 years ago, not long after we introduced ourselves to each other, is an apt introduction of her to you, here, now, when it still could apply. It still does. Used without permission, of course. 😉

***

May – Where can I possibly begin? Although it’s only been a little over a year that we’ve been close friends, it seems like a lifetime, yet at the same time a lifetime does in no way seem long enough. I can’t remember exactly when we started to form the bond that has developed into such a strong relationship – I just know that somewhere along the line, because of the crazy AP English class with Mrs. Faircloth (and of course Study Hall), we really connected. I remember you in tenth grade, when you sat all the way across the room (alphabetical order) and I thought you were so incredbily quiet. We were these naive, timid sophomores in a class dominated by Juniors and Seniors. I don’t think I said more than two words to you that year, and I regret it.

But then we went on to eleventh grade and our lives were changed forever. Little did I know what a difference you would come to make in my life. I began the year with a lot of misconceptions and I was extremely judgmental. I began sitting with you, Jenny, and Becky in lunch, and then we began having those long talks in Study Hall, and I started changing. It’s funny, those times in Study Hall when we talked about stupid things our brothers and sisters do, about our most embarrassing moments, about the toys we played with when we were little – they seem inane on the surface, but they were the foundation of a really strong system of communication between us. We felt comfortable, the six of us, sitting in that blue room and simply being open; being honest. I realized that you are incredibly compassionate, patient, dedicated, honest, and loving somewhere along the line, and despite the short time I’d known you I felt I could trust you. I respected your intelligence and admired your entire person – time was no factor in my decision to allow you to see me. But I didn’t just let you see me, I let you help make me – I chose to make you a part of my self and some of those qualities I so loved in you started to become my own. You taught me infinite things – patience and a true desire to listen [are] just two of them. I noticed how you benefitted from stepping back and taking in life instead of always having to be at the forefront. You are so observant. You had an instinctive understanding of me and the way my mind operated. At the end of last year, we got so close because we realized what a strong connection we did have and we didn’t want to spend a whole summer apart. We didn’t want to become estranged, but we should have known that with a connection like ours, that was not possible. No lapse of time or distance could deny the structure we had already built.

Fanning the Nostalgic Flame

This blog is nearly as old as my time here in New York City. It has become a decent body of work; it’s an okay chronology. I was never this diligent in journaling during any other part of my life, and I’m so glad to have developed the habit.

I revisited the archives this morning, as I tend to do, with “Hometown Glory” at least semi-permanently stuck in my head, and stumbled upon an entry from April 10, 2007. I’ll copy and paste it here. A friend of mine had just moved from the city the week before, and I had a really hard time with it, crying on the train, on my way to my therapist’s for an appointment, and I had cried all the way back home, gotten ready for bed, and gone to sleep. Emotions bombarded me, and the following week this post happened:

***
Depth X Height X Intensity

In high school, friendships tend to go deep, fast. You’re in many of the same classes, even extra-curricular activities. You spend your spare time together. Factor all that in with what it means to be a teenager: self-discovery, learning critical thinking, drilling into everything’s deeper meaning, even if it doesn’t have one; hormones raging; angst flying. Identifying with Rand or Salinger or Hemingway or Dickinson; Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, Sting, Tori Amos. It’s a pretty intense time.

Not everyone has the same experience. Some coast along until they get to move away from their parents. Others live those years with moderate intensity. Others still dare to push, to challenge the limits of their very young characters. Paradoxically, these are the old souls, the kindred spirits.

These were my peers. We didn’t wear our hearts on our sleeves, per se, but I know we had angst, though not the destructive kind. We jammed and cruised and tossed some ideas back and forth and flicked others away, like lint. In the classroom, in somebody’s living room or a porch or a trampoline; out at a park, in the car driving to nowhere in particular, or perhaps coming back from bowling or eating.

I wouldn’t trade those times for anything in the world. I’d die first.

The intensity tapers as life goes on, in varying degrees. The people are different; the transitions suck. Relationships aren’t as much intense as they are weird; they are dis-tense, and the wordplayer in me morphs that into distance, which is the obvious space between me and these other people who don’t seem as kindred – we don’t want to get too close. They notice it too.

Old souls in high school aren’t the only ones. In fact, that phase of life has thoroughly prepared us to spot one now, a mile away; years later, or maybe a few hours. We recognize a certain gentleness and power, a familiar warmth in the countenance; a subtle thawing, like the conversion of winter into spring. Then, the intensity picks up again. You know how it goes.

Another transition comes along, and we haven’t forgotten how much it hurts to say goodbye. And that was 13 years ago. Or even last week. The key is to cherish it as much as you can presently, even if it means an unbearably poignant departure. The key is to cherish it as much as you can presently, even if the thought of goodbye keeps sneaking in on your forethoughts, which bear the trite truth: there’s no such thing as goodbye.

The key is to remember that you are old souls, kindred spirits.

When you do part ways, the key is to be so happy and excited for your friends, so grateful for your paths crossing, that you cry and cry and shudder and hiccup and snot everywhere and pray and cry yourself to sleep; so that eventually, you can look back fondly at all the good times, and giddily anticipate a sweet, joyful reunion. Every single time.

Intense.

***

Needless to say, I’ve found some old souls, kindred spirits in New York City. I’ve been blessed enough to get to know you, to have been found worthy to be a part of your lives. Some of you have left recently, and I didn’t get the chance to tell you how special and incredible you are; how much I miss you. I have hugs reserved specifically for you. Some of you will leave with the next outgoing tide. Some of me will go with you.