Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How do I start off a letter to someone that I've missed everyday for nearly eight years? To someone who won't ever even read the letter? To someone who took a little piece of my heart, a fraction that I'll never get back?

Hi, mama.

Happy Birthday.

Wow, you'd be 50! That's half a century. I'm sad you never got there, but I'm determined not to make this about what you didn't accomplish. After all, 42 is quite the accomplishment. Not at all what we strive for, but a milestone we'd all like to reach. Lasting 42 years in this tumultuous world is a lovely achievement. See, mom? I've accepted it. I can joke about it. You instilled in me the traits it would take to be able to do so.

I'm a lot different than I am last time you saw me. I imagine that just as you are frozen in my mind as a beautiful, wise lady with crow's feet and laugh lines and a youthful shine in her eyes, I am frozen to you as an eleven year old little girl with frizzy curls, thick glasses, and buck teeth. (C'mon, mom. You can admit that I wasn't the most blessed child). But, I can look back and see what you saw in me- those characteristics of the fighter I would be, those things that came from you. You saw the girl who could chatter all day long, making friends as she went. The one who couldn't dance or sing but did both everyday anyway. The persistence, the perseverance, the fight. I needed those attributes. But physically, I am not sure you would recognize me. I just look different- grown up. I grew up, Mom, without you.

The hardest part about losing you was everything. You were my world. Your mistakes were nonexistent in my eyes, although I did toy with idea of being angry at you; mostly, I just missed you. At first, I almost felt oddly lucky. Everyone was paying such attention to us, and after all, we'd had a fight that day. I didn't even care that you were gone. About a week later, I realized that I had lost the most important person in my life. And I started crying.

I wouldn't stop for three years.

Mom, it was so hard. I wish that my story went on to say that everyone stepped up, but most people had lost their footing. Dad forgot that he was supposed to be taking care of us half the time, and left us in the care of Mary Anne. I don't know, Mom, if you would have liked her. She was crazy and psychotic and she made my life a living hell wuite often, but she had some good attributes. Give me some time, and I'm sure I could remember what they were. After I got over the initial shock of how quickly Dad was moving on, I relished having a mother again. I soaked it up. But her craziness got in the way and it made me miss you even more. You were a little crazy, but you loved me enough that it didn't matter.

One Halloween night, Laine finally saw how the woman was truly a little insane, and she told her to leave. But Dad was in jail and so that left me and Emilee with a nanny named Robin and broken hearts. But, Mom, you shouldn't worry. Because Chris and Lori stepped in.They picked up the slack, and after awhile, I moved in with them. And I think you'd proud of what they did with me. They put me in public school and taught me all the important things about life, like how to treat people kindly and have a relationship with the Lord and clean a bathroom and save money and get to where I'm going. Next time you see them, say thank you. They did the most beautiful job; sometimes I wonder if maybe they did a better job than you would have, but then again, I have faith that you would have stepped up, too. But I guess I'll never know. I appreciate the way things work out; I thank God everyday for taking you, and I know that sounds crazy, but MOm, it was the right thing. And so you should know, I've accepted it.

That doesn't mean I don't miss you. Sometimes the ache is so deep that my chest actually hurts and it makes my throat hurt and I have to breathe deeply to keep from hyperventilating and then, I have to lay very still in bed to control the breathing. It gets rough, sometimes. But mostly, I'm okay. I think of you every single day, though. I don't want you to think you've been forgotten, because you haven't. I long to talk to you, even if just for an hour, to hear your voice, and to know what you think about all this. I want you to hold me, to rub my back, to murmur soothing things when I've had a hard day. When I see my friends with their moms, I get this wistfulness that consumes me. It's gotten easier over the years, but that's still the hardest part: watching everyone else have (and take for granted) what you'll never ever be able to get. Sometimes I fantasize that this was a trick, that maybe you were kidnapped, or that you ran away, but that at any time, you'll return home. But I don't suppose that would solve anything, just create more mess, huh? I guess things worked out for the best.

Mom, I love you. I am proud to say that I am a lot like you. I can make people laugh, and I take care of other people, sometimes. I am a good listener, and oh, I love to talk! I have your eyes, I think, and I love it. I love being like you.

Happy Birthday.


Friday, October 23, 2009

This is who I am.

Well, of course, I should have known that I wouldn't have posted very regularly. My life took a turn, a brilliant leap. It's as if I had been waiting in line all of those years and then with graduation and a summer after, it was my turn to get on the roller coaster, and that's where I've been ever since, flying through this, trying to figure out if I should put my hands up and scream or hold on for dear life. And although it's a wonderful place to be, and although I know I'll never get to be here again, so I might as well throw my hands up, that doesn't take away the fear that sets in when I realized I left my friends and family behind, on the ground, to watch me soar.

So, you see, I've been dealing with alot. Now, don't take "dealing with" as "dealing with." These two months (nine weeks! nine weeks?!!?) might have possibly been some of the best two in my life. The only other ones I can remember being this wonderful were those two months before graduation, when anticipation and excitement and pride began to set it, but alas, they were only preparation for these months. When Chris and Lori and Callie dropped me off, I had to be at lecture for Alabama Action at 4:30 (some place I did NOT want to go). Although my excitement about the whole thing was barely containable, dread began to set in as I watched the clock. I kept thinking to myself, "It's okay. You still have four hours, three hours, two hours." It was 10:15. 11:39. 12:57. 2:22. We moved quickly, cleaning and unloading, and setting up, and trying to make this place feel like home. Then, they knew they needed to go, and I walked them to the parking lot (perhaps the worst mistake I made). See, I walked them there, and I hugged them, and I teared up a little, but then I turned away. And they drove off. I did not look back, but as I headed back up those unfamilar steps to this unfamilar room, with all of these unfamilar people, I began to sob. My shoulders shook as loneliness took hold of me and squeezed me. I went to lecture that night, and came home, and ate some beefaroni. I was certain that this wasn't going to work out for me.

But then. But then.

Then, I went to dinner- against my gut instinct, which told me that I should just go home to my beefaroni. But, regardless, on Monday night, I went to Mellow Mushroom and sat down with a group of girls that I had never met, that I was certain weren't for me. And Janie Parker sat down across from me. You might say the rest is history- now would be a good time for that cliche to save my fingers some exercise- but I shall tell the story for whomever wants to here and for myself, when I am old and grey. Janie Parker sat down, wearing a dress that had more colors than a Crayola box of 64, and she introduced herself, and ten minutes later, my loneliness started to creep away. We competed for words as we talked; I don't even remember about. Gracie sat next to Janie and Lauren sat next to me. Heather was on my left. We talked and talked, and we became to realize that God is powerful and wonderful and that He takes care of us. He gives you what you need before you even realize you needed it. He's one heck of a God.

Now, I'll go ahead and say the rest is history, because we've been somewhat inseparable since then. And, although Janie remained my best, I have met more wonderful, beautiful people than I ever could have imagined as I sat crying into my beefaroni those months ago. But I am not even sure that is the most wonderful part about college.

Callie says I have changed. I know it's true. I am not who left home two and a half months ago; I am not the girl who cried all the way up the stairs.
I am the girl who will introduce herself to anyone.
I am the girl who exercises an hour a day.
I am the girl who spends hours at the library.
I am the girl who will enter a discussion in the middle of Bible Study or the classroom.
I am the girl who will make appointments, and meetings, and write them down in her planner.
I am the girl who calls home every three days at most.
I am the girl who cleans the bathroom, the dishes, and her room on a regular basis.
I am the girl who praises God with every breath.
I am the girl who looks forward to church, even though she doesn't have to go.
I am the girl who rocks a meeting with her dean.
I am the girl who makes mistakes on a daily basis.
I am still, however, the girl who loses nearly everything (I'm not sure how I have anything left :(..)
I am the girl who eats healthily.
In fact, I am the girl who hasn't had sweets in two weeks.
I am the girl who gained ten pounds, and who will lose them.
I am the girl who takes the scenic route.
I am the girl who dances, and sings, and runs anyway.
I am still the girl who will give you the silent treatment, though.
I am the girl who can eat cereal for dinner every. single. night.
I am the girl who doesn't care about her hair or if she's wearing makeup anymore, and who will wear tshirts and sweats most days.
I am the girl who loves to dress up.
I am the girl who only has one black high heel.
I am the girl who will wear a cat mask and ding-dong ditch the President's mansion.
I am still the black-and-white loving girl I always was.
But I'm different. Better? I like to think so. I like to think I've matured and grown into something that would make my mother proud. I like to think that although my mistakes are so many (traffic ticket! green dress! overdrawn bank account!), I am learning and learning and learning. I do know that my mistakes will probably never be any less, just different. But the saddest thing is to make the same mistake twice (unless you do. It's okay, just a little ridiculous.)

This is my college life. This is my adult life. This is who I am, today. Is that okay? I think so. Maybe I'm more independent than I ever realized I could be.

Does this mean that I don't get homesick? No.

I didn't at all those first few weeks. My life was fast-paced, and this whole thing felt more like a few weeks at summer camp than my new life. But every now and again, now that this life has become mine, I feel it take hold, and I long to be back. Back on live Oak Drive. Back with my family, with my old friends. Back in the library. Back at my computer. And so, I put on my purple plaid pajama pants and I watch tv, and I feel a little sorry for myself. And it passes.

It's a good life.