Tag Archives: young adult

Traveler’s Thoughts

“Wake up,” a small voice whispered to her from inside.

She was on a bus from Seoul, Macklemore in her ears, ministering to and prodding her as she thought about her life. Her eyes were closed, but she was hardly asleep, as it had been one of those weekends where you’re forced to spend too much time with yourself and so you’re half-resting, half-thinking but mostly just trying to block it all out.

Eyes shut, head nodded, breath slow, she tried to slip into sleep or to lose herself into the lyrics of her latest obsession.

That was the thing about her, and it was one of the many things she had tried to leave behind when she moved across the world: she dove headfirst into anything. Even a rapper–if it was raw, if it was real, if it touched her, really touched her,

then she was obsessed with it.

It was part of what made her feel alive,
but lately she was less into feeling alive and more into saving face, which she guessed was a great thing since she’d moved to Asia.

But when she got to Korea, she found that the rumors were just lies–that the Koreans she’d met were just as direct and honest and real, or else as infuriatingly indirect and into covering their own asses, as any people from the U.S. she’d ever met, and so she spent a decent amount of time thinking in passing about how marvelous/disappointing a thing it is to be on the other side of the world and yet feel like your life is exactly the same, almost.

That was when she allowed herself to think at all,
because she mostly just allowed herself to be pulled along, mute and complicit as she tried to make her pace in life fit what seemed to be everyone else’s.

Mostly, she just wanted to be different.
This time, she wanted it to be different from before.

She had understood when her new friend had remarked in passing that most of the types who settled overseas were running from something; she recognized that quality in herself, although she didn’t admit it at the time because she mostly wanted to live and breathe only surface things, and avoid emotional honesty if at all possible.

And perhaps unsurprisingly in fulfilling that mission something inside of her had fallen asleep, and she found herself for the first time in her life with no direction, no motivation, and no real goals for the future. The thought that had started with “enjoy your achievement” had taken root and sprouted as “you have arrived–the hard part’s over,” and she found that her mind, her passion, her creativity, and her heart, exhausted from years of exertion, had collectively decided to take a nap.

And none of this might have even mattered if it hadn’t been for the hours she’d spent on her couch by herself–something that always showed her immediately what was inside. When she was at peace, it was her favorite pastime, nothing but her, Netflix and her Kindle. When she wasn’t at peace, she would watch coming-of-age movies about life and love and wonder why it was never her, and then she would remember all the times she’d got it wrong, and those things collectively would start to break down her fences.

And so she sank into the luxury seat on the bus trip back from Seoul and she listened to Macklemore because it was the first thing in a while that made her really feel, and she closed her eyes to fall asleep, but something inside her told her it was time to wake up.

And she wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but she pictured herself with a cello and knew that was the first step; for 10 years her cello had been her extension of herself and she had carted it with her everywhere, even if she almost never played it. Its presence reminded her constantly of a part of her that she would always seek to cultivate, but when she left for Korea she had locked it in storage,
a metaphor of she ever knew one, looking back.

And so she decided that it starts with a cello and it would probably end in the place she was always running from, because it seemed her greatest obsessions, heartaches and losses shared a core with her creativity, her vision, her own unique movement and flow through life, and apparently it was time to go back to that place again.

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26

Forgiveness,

I think,

Means giving up control.

I say this because it has recently been brought to my attention that I am not a very forgiving person. And by recently, I mean this past summer. And by brought to my attention, I mean that I have been experiencing situations involving forgiveness and they have shown me to myself.

I have had multiple situations involving friends where we have left FURIOUS at each other, and then some time later the relationship seems to repair itself–usually, they extend their hand in a display of forgiveness of some sort.

Through these multiple (no seriously, multiple) situations, I have slowly developed the ability to look at myself and my reactions in relation to them and theirs.

Were we both angry?

Yes.

Did we both feel that we had the right to be angry?

Yes.

Did we both say fuck it and write each other out of our lives forever?

Y–wait. 

No.

That was just me.

I realized something on the drive home just today and that is that I am a control freak.

Pause for laughter from everyone who knows me well.

Yes,

need like to be in control of things.

Take, for example, my upcoming semester schedule.

I am doing my Practicum (student teaching) through a place that, up until about 3 hours ago, hadn’t let me know what dates and times I’m expected to be there with my mentor (outside of stuff like “just plan to be there a lot).

This. Was Driving. Me. NUTS.

It wasn’t the fact that I’d have to be there a lot. I’m fine with that. 

It was the fact that I didn’t know my schedule–I couldn’t plan how I was going to spend my days; I couldn’t RSVP to any meetup activities; I couldn’t give my boss a for-sure work schedule; I couldn’t get a set-in-stone mental picture of the requirements of my weeks–I felt like I didn’t have any control.

And somehow, this idea of control jumped from my schedule to my relationships, where I realized that in them, too, I need like to be in control.

But perhaps for someone like me, who has been hurt a lot in a variety of relationships from a very young age, being in control of relationships means being the one who controls all of the negativity, since somehow my understanding of relationships apparently hinges on the fact that they are fundamentally things that have the power to hurt you very much.

So for someone like me, who believed that she must hold all the hurt cards because she must be in control,

Forgiveness was not really possible. 

And being forgiven was not to be trusted.

Which makes being forgiven a very curious sensation. 

OK.

Downright uncomfortable.

The first thought is always suspicion. “What the fuck is this person texting me for like we’re cool? Is this some kind of trick?”

The second thought is…well…suspicion.

“I don’t need anyone’s fake forgiveness. I’m going to hold onto my anger even tighter now because they need to be punished.”

The third thought is pretty much confusion.

“What the hell do they keep calling for? Are we friends for real?”

The fourth is something along the lines of begrudging acceptance. But beneath it is still suspicion.

“Well OK. Long as they keep playing nice I’ll play nice. But I’m out at the first fuckup!” (in these types of situations, fuckups can be either real or perceived).

I realized this past year that I was holding onto these grudges in these situations as a way to maintain control of a relationship that I was in some way hurt by, and that I was withholding forgiveness in these situations as a way to try to punish the people involved for hurting me.

Sometimes this works and you can manipulate someone into being your emotional footstool.

Me,

Try as I might,

I just suck at manipulating folks. I think I am just too damn dramatic or something, I don’t know. It doesn’t work like that for me.

But on the drive home today, I thought about all of the relationships that are repaired around me every day. Relationships that happened between people where people were hurt, 

But they somehow worked it out,

And I asked myself why, years after the relationship went in a direction that I found to be hurtful, do I STILL have some people blocked on my facebook. And why I continue to block out people who I feel have hurt me.

And I realized the answer was control–if I couldn’t control a thing going “right,” then it would be wrong on my terms. 

 And then I realized that seizing control of a broken thing to that degree completely removed from it the option to heal itself, 

Like it were a garden that didn’t blossom and so in my anger I dug up the seeds and roots and put them in a jar in my closet,

Instead of just leaving them in the ground,

Turning them over to the soil and the rain,

As I go about my days.

 

 

P.S. I’ll be 26 in a week. I think this is what I learned this year, and what I will take with me into the next.

Midnight Wit

 

There is this, like, women’s Christian blogger/tweeter named @heatherlove that I follow, and I really like her mainly because I like the way she talks. I like her voice (y’all writers know what I mean).

And my absolute favorite thing about her is that she calls all men that you know you’re not going to marry “randoms.” I think this is freaking brilliant, like epiphany-level shit. Yes. Let’s distinguish. Not every motherfucker you meet or date or whatever deserves a name.

As my guy friend D would say, first of all, no guy is special.

But beyond that, some of these mofos are just downright not that important or memorable. And it doesn’t have to be about liking them or disliking them, it’s just about that feeling that you have about someone before you cover it with other shit like “oh but I like him”; it’s just about that initial feeling that instantly tells you “oh this fool is temporary.”

That, my friends, is what constitutes a Random, or rando as I like to call them for short.

Randal the Random if I’m trying to be funny.

Anyway I said all that to say that tonight I was talking to a random on fb and he was saying that he couldn’t sleep and I told him to do something productive. He goes “I can’t.” I ask why.

“Because you’re not here with me.”

At which point I had to pause and ask myself two things: 1) does this rando know the meaning of “productive”? and 2) do I want to call him on this?

Well maybe because earlier this week I was pretty damn rude to a guy and thought I perhaps didn’t have to be so rude (left in the middle of a hangout sesh bc he wouldn’t rub my back [it’s not that simple, but so what if it is it’s not that hard to rub a beautiful woman’s back and anyway what was I doing in the middle of a hangout sesh that should have been a date ANYWAY]), I decided to take the elegant route:

Me: …productive? haha not REproductive, productive (in my mind: fool).

Situation: diffused. And I’d like to think I made a difference in his life. Which ironically would have made our conversation pretty damn productive. For him.

Pause.

I am soooo much better when I am writing. Face-to-face interaction is just waayy too immediate for me.

 

The Awesome List

So ever since that movie came out, I’ve been hearing a lot Bucket Lists. Everybody has one and it’s a really common question to ask folks on dates and whatnot now. But I’m not bout that life. I don’t particularly care to have a list of things that I need to do before I’m OK kicking the bucket (wait–kicking a bucket might just go on my awesome list). 

Instead, I have a list of things that are awesome that I want to do. It’s called The Awesome List, and it’s not really a list. It’s just stuff that I’ve always wanted to do but never done for some reason. I feel like it puts awesomeness into the forefront of my mind, rather than death. Or buckets, which really just make me think of mopping and leaking roofs. And death, mopping and leaking roofs all suck.

It’s really quite contradictory. 

I don’t know. After the semester ended, I got really down. Like really really down. Like friends were calling my mom and coming to sit with me in my apartment because they were concerned about me down. Thank God it was like the week before my Central America trip, which was able to snap me out of that downness with the power of awesome. Though I can see it in my pictures from the first half of the trip, by the end of Belize I was back and I was surfing a wave of awesome.

And that was the start of The Awesome List. And so far since I’ve been home I’ve gone skydiving, tubing, tango dancing and made a super cute video. Next up is the gun range, white water rafting, jet skiing, surfing and zip lining in Costa Rica. Plus I went with my mom to a flight lesson I got her for Christmas, which was also really awesome because she loved it (so of course a flight lesson of my own is also on The Awesome List).

I know everyone is different, but for me this Awesome List just serves to make me feel so good and have such a good time that it reminds me that what I’m dealing with isn’t the only thing out there. Plus, I don’t want to be one of those old people who is skydiving for the first time because it’s on their bucket list–I want to be one of those old people who is wearing a squirrel suit because I’ve been skydiving THAT many times because for me, awesome is a lifestyle, not a one-time thing.

I’m just saying. Now is the time to be who you’ve always wanted to be and do what you’ve always wanted to do.

Customer Service Makes Me Want to Steal

A while back I was at Target and I saw some awesome fluffy purple slip-ons made of sweater material. It was maybe like two weeks ago and they were clearly the last pair in the store. It was an awesome find. I inspected them and realized they had no tag, no SKU number and no price. A little voice crept into my head, probably the same one that urges on my other crazy thoughts, and told me to steal them. It told me I could wear those shoes out and, aside from looking pretty crazy, there would be absolutely no consequences. I told that voice no; I am a functioning member of society and I will take these shoes to the cash register and persuade the cashier to let me legally purchase them for no more than $5.

Well.

I get to the register. As I already pointed out, there was no SKU number, tag or price, so they couldn’t look them up. I told them to just ring them up misc and I’d pay $5. What should have been simple turned into me waiting at the register for more than 10 minutes as they attempted to look them up, called the manager, etc.

I left sans shoes and wishing I would have just stolen them.

Today I went to the corner store and, OK, my main reason for it was to get a handful of the (free!) plastic forks and spoons they have sitting in a basket. But I didn’t feel right about just taking the spoons–I figured I’d better buy something to make it a little less tacky. So I go and gets me a coconut water because I am a sucker for all the latest health trends, and I makes my way to the register.

Crickets.

There was nobody there.

I could hear someone shuffling in the back and I called out “hello” a couple times. 

Nothing.

Finally, I focus my attention on the two employees who were on the floor doing inventory. Eventually I caught the eye of one and she finally rang me up.

All I could think was “I could have put this coconut water down and walked out with my spoons OR stolen the coconut water too and gotten away with either!”

I am TRYING to purchase things legally–why are these people making it so hard??

These are the times…

Here are some random moments of the past week that I thought were noteworthy:

Sitting on a plane next to some guy who was telling me that I absolutely need to go to Dubai; that the water at Virginia Beach is nauseating; and that I was right in suspecting that my ex husband (can I call him that if we were annulled??) would ruin my life because he had no established credit.

Coming out of the club and seeing a sausage wrapped in bacon with grilled jalepenos and peppers (no I didn’t get it–one of my deepest regrets)

Realizing beyond a shadow of a doubt that one of my absolute dealbreakers is getting along. If we don’t get along you’re getting cut (Thanks for that one, Matthew. I couldn’t have done it without your blood pressure-raising ass)

Seeing an older black gentleman reading to a lady I can only assume is his wife on the plane…it was just such a sweet, loving moment.

Having a homemade pizza party with my friend K and getting the rum punch right finally!! (The good times from Belize are still a-rollin!!)

Bringing back SoCo and Lime…..and then putting it away again (that drink is strictly Undergrad, and there is a reason. But oh, the memories)

Being able to encourage a friend

Taking a long walk with my Jamaican neighbor listening to him tell me about his open marriage and the quickest way into a lady’s panties (make her laugh) (guards up!) and try to slip in slick ish into the conversation in Patwah (which I think I have finally convinced him that I actually do understand)

Saying a few sentences in Patwah myself! As ‘im would a say, “encouragement sweeten labour”

Tonight’s tequila taco party followed by a night spent on the town in a sequined red dress; red lipstick; and high heels which I am going to try my good gosh darndest not to fall in (wedges are practical but I’ll save my practicality cards for my 30s)

Tomorrow’s skydiving

And realizing that, man, these are the times, you know? These are the freaking times. For all of my worrying that I’m ruining everything all the time, I’m doing it. I’m travelling and going to school and making good friends and amazing memories with those friends and this is what it is, you know? I’m 25 and I’m making a mess of some things but overall I’m living and I’m learning and I’m slowly starting to leave these vagabounds alone and I’m finding my voice and I’m questioning things and I’m deciding things for myself and at some point all of these experiences will shape me into a competent human being.

Womanhood, Manhood and Arbitrary Self-Definition

There is someone very close to me who is struggling to figure out what it means to be a man. A black man, specifically. He is approaching his mid-twenties, and his relationships with his family are strained. He did not get the guidance he needed in a sufficient amount as he was approaching and passing the critical ages where one begins to define oneself. As a result, now, he has molded himself into what he thinks it means to be a black man based on the very negative environments where he has encountered them. 

Nightmarish, indeed.

And we who love him and haven’t given up on him are left wondering whether this can be undone; whether or not it is too late to deconstruct the image of the black man as he understands it and separate what he thinks it means (fighting; aggression; anger; drugs; alcohol abuse; thugging) from the fact that no matter what it means, this meaning is arbitrary as it pertains to a person defining himself.

I was laying here tonight, in bed, freaking exhausted from Guatemala, thinking about this young man, when it hit me that just as he thinks that being a black man means being angry, violent, indolent, etc., I think that being a woman means having a man. That is how I define womanhood. Whenever I encounter a man and fail to make him love me, I don’t see it as que sera sera, I see it as a fundamental failure in my foundation as a woman; someone will be around shortly to collect my vagina.

But,

If I can look at this man, who I love so much, and see that the definition of the black man that he is trying to emulate is completely arbitrary (besides very damaging),

is it also possible that this definition of womanhood that I’ve gathered and imprinted on my heart and self-esteem, that a woman is someone who can always get any man, is equally as arbitrary (and also pretty damaging)?

Yes.

I think I will have to work on redefining my womanhood as it pertains to me, and I will have to divorce that definition of men. And although this may seem nigh-impossible, seeing as how the woman-man dichotomy has been emphasized everywhere for generations, this does not make it any less arbitrary. Just as how stereotypes/images of black men as angry, violent, aggressive, indolent have been around for generations and are also completely arbitrary as they pertain to how one individual young man struggling to figure out who he is in this world defines himself.