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"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy, permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." ~Jack London

Saturday, May 31, 2008


I have spent the entire day thus far in silence. I've needed it. Since the moment I woke up, I have done nothing but lounge around, reading The Namesake, listening to the soft rain outside my bedroom window, the occasional humming rush of a car passing by. It's been lovely, calming, quiet in a way I haven't experienced in far too long. Quiet enough that it is my own voice that rises to the surface, familiar and yet novel, emerging from an eclectic nagging assembly of advice and opinions, settling itself comfortably in the limelight. Quiet enough that I can think of no better way to use this opportunity of time, this moment, this life I've been given than to sit down and write. Quiet enough that I recognize the grandeur of this gift as it arrives.

It was surprising to discover that such an ordinary line could reduce me to tears. I was so struck by my own fragility. Which is not to say I couldn't have seen it coming. I've been on the verge of such a breakdown. I've needed it. The way I've needed silence. The way I've needed to distinguish my voice from all the others. But I wouldn't have guessed I'd find my release in a line about banana bread.

I remember distinctly the smell of it baking. I remember the way you would always make two versions, one with raisins, one with chocolate chips, one for school, one for home. I remember the way I sliced into the one you had left behind for us and saw the melted chocolate come oozing out onto the sharp blade. I remember the way, even as a child, especially as a child, I knew that leaving us the better, chocolate version meant that you liked us best. I knew how to spot these small gestures of love.

I remember too, the rotting bananas before they were used to cook. I remember the way they'd sit for days in that big blue bowl mom had found at some yard sale, the inside painted with colorful fruits, as though it could only have one singular function, one possible purpose. I remember how brown and mushy you would let them get, despite my protests and aversion to foods past their prime, my verbal acknowledgements of the arrival of fruit flies in our kitchen. I remember how you promised that their spoiled appearance would only make the end result that much sweeter. I remember how you kept your promise, time and time again.

I've been thinking of you a lot lately, as I've been moving into this seemingly more grown up chapter of my life. I've thought about calling more than once, about inviting you over, inviting you back in. I stop myself each time with a series of "what ifs" and "buts" and a haunting fear of regenerating a cycle of feeling hurt and let down. But recently I've noticed that voice quieting. And I've noticed another voice growing, a voice unfamiliar and yet reminiscent, a voice that sounds an awful lot like a girl who needs her daddy.

Today my roommate is at a memorial for her grandfather who died a year ago. Her dad wasn't around much and her grandfather took on that role. The loss was devastating. At the same time, her uncle is on his deathbed and her cousins are facing the loss of their own father. No matter how strained their relationships with him might have been, none of this could possibly be easy. None of this is pain that I could possibly understand. Not really. Not fully.

I think about what it would feel like to lose you. I will say this because I believe in the power and healing of honesty. I used to almost wish for it. Not because I was angry and felt you deserved to have your life ended. It was because I was hurt and didn't know how to move on. It was because at least death would have provided me with some form of closure. It was because it would have been easier to lose you to death than to lose you to anger or fear or the feeling of being unloved. It was because I thought I could handle the idea that you were gone better than I could ever handle the idea that you didn't like the person I had become, the person I am. It was because losing you would be different than feeling like I had been the one who lost you. Your death wouldn't be my fault.

But now, when I think about losing you, I think about all of the things that would go unsaid. I think about the way my own stubborn will and agonizingly over analytical mind have kept us from moving on, moving together, moving toward something better. I think about the way I have denied us the opportunity to even begin the healing process. And it makes me sorry. And it makes me sad. And it makes me miss you, even if it's just the idea of you. I know that I only get one of you. I know that is the kind of promise you can keep.

And, as lame as the analogy is, maybe you and I could be like the banana bread, Dad. Maybe I just needed to let our somewhat spoiled relationship sit and rot until it circled back round to sweetness. Maybe we can take those fragile mushy pieces of ourselves and mix them into something wonderful. Maybe we could even throw in a couple of our best chocolate chips.

Maybe you could spot this small gesture of love, and forgive me for the length of time it's taken me to get here, and understand why I've been silent for so long. I've needed it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Created Out Of Love

After a series of visitors yesterday, a slew of good conversations over good bottles of wine, we found ourselves alone in our basement, a little wired, a little tipsy, confessing our deepest secrets and hopes. I made us dinner. We watched The Office marathon on TV. We told each other everything. It's been so nice to connect in a way that assures me we will be friends forever, that moving in together was undoubtedly the right thing to do, that I have found another kindred spirit to add to the family that I have created for myself. It is a tribe created out of love.

It was in this state that we finally caved into the idea of a housewarming party. It's not that we hadn't wanted people over or disliked the idea of a party in our fresh new home, but rather, that the connotation of the term "housewarming" somehow implied us wanting gifts from people. And we don't. People even told us to register (an act I had always thought was strictly reserved for weddings) and neither one of us could bring ourselves to do it. Which is not to say that we are not grateful for the things we have received and the offers that have been made. We appreciate everything, more than words can say. It's just, the whole purpose of hosting a party has always been to show gratitude, to bring people together, to make them feel happy and cared for and adored. It is a gathering created out of love.

So while we sat together, trying to figure out some form of a guest list, it forced us both to consider the people that we really love. We excluded the majority of our work friends, waiting until our Fourth of July party to have them all over. That narrowed it down. Then we decided to hold off on family members (apart from a few siblings and cousins who top the list). That narrowed it down some more. In the end, we decided it would be mostly our friends. Melissa got her list down to eight. I got mine down to sixty.

And even though most of them probably won't come, knowing that my list had to include all sixty made me stop and realize how truly lucky I am. Not just to know them, but to love them, to be able to call them my friends. That my close inner-circle could never be confined to eight, that Melissa's couldn't go beyond eight, it just filled me with such awe for all that I have and sadness for all she had missed out on. I assured her that my friends would be her friends. She simply hadn't met the amazing souls I have been so fortunate to come across.

So how lovely to walk into the house today to find the magnificent gift pictured above waiting for me from dear, sweet Pen, who was ironically just writing about friendship yesterday. How amazing to know that this phenomenal woman who I haven't even met out in the "real world" took the time to reach out, to delight me with this token of eternal friendship. I accept the offer whole-heartedly. Thank you, beautiful friend. Thank you. How truly remarkable to live in a world where these kinds of friendships exist, where I can make my own family, where I can create my own kind of love.

A love different from the love that exists between parent and child, between siblings or cousins or nieces and nephews. A love that is not based on a shared bloodline or ancestry or obligation or default. It is a love built out of laughter and common interests and mutual respect. It is a love that we choose for ourselves, to give, to feel, to open ourselves up to. It is a love that I cherish above all else. It is the love I feel for you.

It is the love I felt for her while we poured our hearts out last night. It was that familiar comfortable love that I have been fortunate enough to have grown accustomed to. For that, I thank you. For knowing that you will adore her as I do, I thank you. For knowing you will welcome her into this tribe created out of love, I thank you. For being that tribe, that family I have created for myself, I thank you for that most of all.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Because We Never Finished That Conversation Last Sunday Morning

It's funny, I assumed I would have all of this time. I assumed once we were a little more settled in, all of these extra hours would reveal themselves to me over the course of each day. But that is not what happened. In fact, we're still moving. Sometimes it feels as though we will be moving forever. Every waking hour has been devoted to shopping and assembling and decorating and sitting in our basement, gossiping and bonding and creating that feeling of home. I am so glad and grateful each and every day to have found this sister I never knew. It's funny, the way things work out.

It's funny because the things I regret about my life are not the same as the regrets you have for me. All of those big decisions have been right for me. All of those big decisions have lead me here, to this point, to this house, to this joy. And it is those very decisions that have been the most difficult for you. You carry the weight of the paths not followed, the lives not lived, with more remorse and guilt than I will ever understand. Sometimes you feel like you have failed me.

I get that. I get that it is your job to protect me. I get that I can be impulsive and I get that that scares you. I get that it is out of love. I get that you want for me all of the opportunities you never had, and I get that at times it seems I have turned my back on them. I get that I have broken your heart more than once. I get that you don't want me to repeat your mistakes. I get that I am not on a "normal" path and I get that in a lot of ways, that's disappointing for you. I get that it is not easy being my mother.

But I have come to understand that it is not easy being a mother, period. Just as it is not easy to be a daughter, a woman, a human being. Life is tough. We concentrate so hard on trying to be better, on trying not to repeat mistakes, on trying to protect one another and ourselves from painful truths, that we forget to look around and acknowledge all that we have, all that we are, all that we have accomplished. It is impossible to protect me from everything and even if it were possible, I wouldn't want that. Not from you, not from anyone. I want the mistakes as much as I want the triumphs. I want to fall so I know how to pick myself back up. I want to learn more about who I am and what I'm capable of. I want to test the boundaries of my strength.

Because I want to be like you - strong and smart and independent. I know that you have always hoped that I would be more, have more, do more than you. I know that you have always hoped that my life would be better than yours. I know that is why it makes it difficult to support these decisions that seem so final, so settled. But the truth is, most of what I do is because of you, because I inherited a powerful mind and spirit from you, because all I ever wanted was to be my mother's daughter. My failures may feel like your failures, but my triumphs are also yours. My laugh is yours. My wisdom is yours. My sound mind is yours. My love of language is yours. My love of people is yours. My insatiable heart is yours. I am yours.

And I know that you will come here tomorrow and see this house and see me in it and understand everything in a single moment, the way you always do. I know that you will get it. I know this because I am my mother's daughter. It's funny, the way that means absolutely everything.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wonderful World

So I'm back. And despite the fact that I still need a router to have the kind of wireless freedom I've grown accustomed to, at least I have some form of internet connection, some means of reaching out.

I have so much to update, so many stories to tell, so many highs and lows to record. It feels as though each room of this new home deserves it's own entry, as does each adventure I've been on with my new roommate, as does each day I've woken up with a new sense of pride and purpose in my life.

Which is not to say that it has not been stressful. Most days I find myself at work wishing my mind wasn't a million miles away, decorating rooms and making lists of things to buy, things to do. Most days I have planned down to the minute. Most days there hasn't even been time to write.

But slowly, slowly, things are coming together. Slowly this place is beginning to feel like me, like us, like home. Slowly I lower my roots deeper and deeper into the ground. It is here that I intend to grow.

Never have I lived in a place so alive. The streets are never empty. In every yard grow beautiful, bright, bold, colorful flowers. Our neighbors have all gone out of their way to introduce themselves, offer assistance, welcome us home. I know more of my neighbors here than I have known in every other place I've lived, combined. They are always out gardening, or sitting on front porches, or walking around simply for the sake of enjoying our neighborhood. I have taken to joining in this practice.

So for the past two Saturdays and Sundays, I've woken early and just walked. No destination or real purpose in mind, just an exploration and chance to reflect on things, to breathe, to forget my long to-do lists. It's nice to have this time to myself. It's nice to have my mind so full of thought and yet so clear. It's nice to wander through these quaint little streets in our darling little borough and know that this is home. It's nice to feel home.

A golden retriever looks up from her front porch and follows me with her eyes as I walk by. Her gaze meets mine and we stand there staring at one another in perfect silence and stillness. She raises her long dark lips to either side into a smirk that I understand well. For a moment, we share this knowing smile. Yes, I nod in agreement, it is so achingly wonderful - this life, this world, this knowing. Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world. I feel my eyes swell with tears.

As I make my way to the top of the hill, I see him standing there. I don't notice at first. The dog has to bark before I look down to discover two steel poles where his legs should be. He doesn't even try to hide them under pants, but rather, allows the early morning sun to reflect its glorious rays upon them. They are almost blinding. They are almost beautiful, the way they glimmer and shine.

I think that what I should be feeling is pity, or sadness, or guilt that I should get to have these two legs to walk the earth while he has none. I think that's the appropriate reaction, but it is not what I feel. Instead I am consumed with an overwhelming sense of astonishment and gratitude for this world. That we live in a place, in a time, when a man without legs can climb to the top of a hill with his pet dog is an amazing thing indeed. That we live in a place, in a time, where anything and everything seems possible is truly remarkable. That we live in a place, in a time, when a young woman of only twenty-three can find herself owning a house she loves, working a job she adores, finding family in every person she meets is the very definition of perfection. Call it what you will - prayer, hope, optimism, foolishness - I love this place, this time. I love this life I am blessed enough to live. I love this world we are all blessed enough to be a part of. I exhale a sigh of awe every time I breathe.

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Monday, May 05, 2008


I am alive.

Sorry to have been so MIA!

I was hoping that I would be able to pick up a free wireless signal at my new house, but alas, no such luck, so for now I'm illegally using the computer at work at 5:30 in the morning.

I just wanted to let you all know that on April 30th, I officially became a homeowner and I am now busy moving into my new house, and future, and life. I'm sorry if I'm not around much for the next few weeks. I'll try to get my internet taken care of soon. I have so very much to tell you!

And I miss you all very much and can't wait to catch up on all that you have been creating while I've been gone.

I will be back soon.
I promise.