Ineffability

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One week and a day ago I woke to another gloriously bright Sunday in Las Vegas. I went for my morning walk. Almost every person I encountered gave a wave or a good morning. As I walked I felt so happy. This new home was nothing like I’d expected.  I had the realization that I love it here. I love the scenery and the people. I love living in a thriving community where no community should thrive. It’s the middle of the desert after all. I realized I felt at home.

I realized I too am thriving.

The next morning I woke up to a phone screen lit up with texts. Sisters saying they were devastated reading the news, parents making sure I was okay. My heart racing, I immediately opened my news feed. Mass shooting…Mandalay Bay… hundreds injured… death and panic.

Just miles away from where I slept safe and sound, the worst mass shooting in modern American history had unfolded.

Last Monday is a haze in my mind and yet feels like yesterday.

Rob convinced me we had to leave the house. I agreed to drive to Hoover Dam. I don’t know why we chose this, but I knew just being around other people would be comforting in a strange way. I’d finally stopped crying when we got in the car to leave. As I’d been doing every few minutes, I refreshed my news feed.

Tom Petty. Fresh tears and a sense that my whole world was falling apart. To say Rob and I are Tom Petty fans in an understatement. I wanted to go back inside the house. I wanted to hide in bed until I could wrap my mind around the grief that had already been too intense. Rob didn’t let me. He went back in the house for the box of kleenex and we drove.

The rest of the day is cloudy. The rest of the week is cloudy.

Today is cloudy.

I grapple with so many emotions and thoughts over the course of the day. What kind of world are we living in? How are people that I know and love against gun control? Why did this happen? How do we heal?

Months ago I bought tickets to a concert at The Mandalay Bay. It’s thirteen days from today. I still don’t know if I’ll be able to go. I’m torn. Part of me doesn’t want to miss seeing a band I’ve loved for so long. This part is reminding me that I never saw Tom Petty in concert. I thought I had time. The other part of me is afraid. I’m not only afraid for our safety in big venues, but I’m afraid that I’ll be too emotional to even enjoy the show. Can I possibly enjoy a concert so close to where so many endured the most traumatic night of their lives?

The only thing I know for sure is how important people are. Your people. My people. Hold them close. Even in such uncertain times, we have each other.

 

 

 

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Playing Alone

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When I was a little girl I liked to play alone. In my mind, elaborate story lines and characters swirled. The only way they would go exactly as I’d imagined was for me to act it all out on my own with invisible friends.

My little sister didn’t like this arrangement. So, the only way I allowed her to play with me was if she said and did what I told her to. Every word out of her mouth was what I wanted her to say. Whether we were playing with dolls in our room, or running around outdoors playing pirates, she was my puppet.

One day we were sitting on my bed playing with our cabbage patch dolls. My doll said something to her doll and I waited for a reply. My poor sister looked at me helplessly and asked what I wanted her doll to answer. In that moment I realized I didn’t want my perfect stories anymore. I wanted the play to be spontaneous and unpredictable!

I think of this day often. I think of it every time I realize I’m let down, angry or frustrated at another human response (or lack of response) to something I’ve said or done.

Lately I see it all around me unfolding in the story lines of lives intertwined with mine. I see family relationships torn apart, siblings not speaking, children pushing away parents. I see friends pulling away from each other.

Maybe it’s simplistic of me to think it all starts with the common thread of expectation. Maybe it really is that simple.

We expect a very specific response to an email or a text. We have an idea of how a father should always react. We are sure a sister only says certain things. We hold fast to our picture of what real love is and when our love doesn’t match, we rip it apart.  We get so wrapped up in our own pre thought out ideas of how everyone else should be acting, that we lose the entire plot.

The plot is, there is no plot.

Without the freedom to be their very own human selves, we actually wouldn’t like our loved ones very much. We would miss the spontaneity it brings to our lives.

So what I’m wondering is if we can try to let go of our expectations? Can we allow our people to be flawed and love them anyway?

Nobody likes to play alone. Not even me.

 

 

 

 

Reaching

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Most of the time, my definition of strength is complete self reliance. Admitting I need help or attention…the epitome of weakness.

Life throws random difficulties at me and I respond by hardening my outer shell. Oh life, your parking tickets, rain, loneliness and depression can’t reach me in here. Nothing can get inside. I’ll even crawl down into this deep hole to hide from you. Nothing can harm me through my thick armor down in my dark pit.

Nobody can know I’m hiding so I smile bigger and I laugh louder. Distraction is key.

Eventually I remember I’m afraid of the dark. I don’t like being alone. I’m very brave and I’m very strong, but why wouldn’t I want my hand held? Why wouldn’t I reach out to someone who loves me and ask them to hold me up when I get too tired?

I’m still learning. I’ll always be.

But, I see my fingers stretched out in front of me more often. I see how this does not make me weak. Quite the opposite.

When my confessions are met with love and validation, when I’m bolstered by even one person who reminds me none of us are going it alone…. my heart opens and I know I’ll be okay.

And so will you.

Doubts

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There are days when I feel like all I’ve made are bad decisions. I take a raw look at my life and what I see is a mess.  I see a disaster so complete and so expansive that nothing could clean it up.

Then I look up.  I look to the sky for answers. If I’m lucky, the sun peeks through. If I’m extremely lucky, wild geese take flight overhead.

Lesson: Keep looking up. And if the rain is relentlessly falling, let it mix with the tears and wash them away.

It can’t rain all the time.

Can it?