the split second before you jump off.

when you graduate from college, everyone says, congratulations.

we’re so proud of you. congratulations. good job. congratulations.

except for the one person who told me, congratulations. and I’m sorry.

and that, I think, is the best thing anyone could have said.

you see, people keep asking how it feels.

how do I answer that?

I smile. I say, it’s exciting. I say, it’s crazy. I say, it went by so fast. I say, it doesn’t feel real yet. I smile and I nod as people talk about internships and careers and next steps. I smile and answer the four-hundred-and-fifty-sixth question about what I’m doing next year.

I don’t say, I don’t know how I feel. I don’t say, I want to go back already. I don’t say, I have no clue what I’m doing, not today not tomorrow not ever. I don’t say, please stop asking me that question.

because it feels like a lot of things, at all once, and also nothing. because it feels like all of my feeling are a jumbled mess of kite strings, flown by a child who doesn’t know how to handle the wind. because it feels like I am a child who has been handed a kite, but no one told me how to handle the wind.

how does it feel?

it feels like the split second before you jump off the swing. you’ve already shifted your weight forward, un-stuck your bare skin from the rubber seat. you’ve pulled your arms out from behind the chains. peak of the arc, the height of your playground parabola. and then, in one instant, there is both a fear-filled longing to stay on that swing and a rush of adrenaline that fills your veins in preparation for the flying. it feels like that, terror and thrill mingling in your mouth and leaving a bittersweet taste on your tongue.

the short answer, I guess, is that it’s complicated.

I keep hoping I can sort it out, maybe I can untangle it all. maybe, I can work out these feelings, pull apart the happy from the sad and figure them both out.

but I can’t, because it feels both happy and sad.

this graduation thing, this next-stage thing, this life-changing thing. it’s rough. and it’s hard and it’s good and it is growing and hurting and mourning and creating.

congratulations. and I’m sorry.

maybe we’ll hear it.

sometimes, I wonder why.

why I keep doing this. why I keep pounding keys and scribbling sentences.

(or, lately, why I don’t. why I let the pen site idle and the laptop screen is a tv show, lately, instead of words.)

yet I still cling to this title, this word. writer.

why? why? why do I scrape the inside of my soul for words? why do I sit frustrated when they are gone? what, really, have I even got to say? what can I contribute?

because there are a million girls like me out there. girls with a laptop and a blog and some words.

I’m nothing special.

I have no miraculous healing, no adversity overcome. I do not have a sensational testimony for you. everyday girl. everyday struggles. everyday grace. I’m nothing special. and it feels, sometimes, like shouting into the abyss.

are you feeling like you’ve read this post before? maybe. probably. I’ve probably written something like this before.

cause see, that’s just it: I’ve really only got a few things to say.

but the things I want to say? I think that, just maybe, they are worth repeating.

you are beloved. you are worthy. you are cherished. you are brave. you are strong. you are chosen. you are beautiful.

that’s it. that’s all I want you to know. that’s really what it boils down to: you, darling, you are loved, to infinity and beyond, by One who made you, One who died to know you.

and every post I want to write is just that. over and over. in slightly different variations. in multiple shoddily-constructed metaphors. because you, you need to know. it and because I am writing to myself just as much as I am writing to you, and I need to know it too.

I’ll just keep shouting the truth. over. and over. until that truth is the blanket we wrap around ourselves when the night gets chilly, and that truth is the first thing that crawls through your mind when you wake up, and that truth is the truth. the truth you know. the truth you go to.

I write because of the truth. I write because I need to find the truth. I write because I need to remember the truth.

and maybe, that will not get me a book deal. that will not get me followers. I will be just a girl with a laptop shouting into the abyss.

but I will be shouting the truth. over. and over. and I hope that maybe, you’ll hear it. maybe I’ll hear it.

learning softness.

allow your stomach to soften.

I’ve been doing some meditation lately. It’s been crazy in my life, days rushing by without time to even open my agenda to keep track of what’s next. Long rehearsals and performance weekends, so many hours spent in the dressing room that it feels like I’ve never left. The scramble of final projects and final papers and final classes and final days of college. Graduation, not so much on the horizon as a few blocks away. Not nearly enough hours of sleep. Let’s just call it busy.

so, I meditate.

and I don’t really know anything about meditation, but I know that I need to do something to find a little calm or else I will absolutely lose my mind. like any good Millennial, I turned to the internet for information. There’s a website that does simple guided meditations. You select your preferred nature sound effects, the length of your meditation, and get ready for some mind-body centering in front of your laptop.

the soothing voice tells me to close my eyes, to assume a comfortable but correct posture, to let my palms rest on my thighs. To feel my back pressing against the wall. To release the tension in my shoulders. To become aware of my breathing. and then,

allow your stomach to soften.

I’ve heard it many times by now, but it still catches me by surprise. I obediently allow my stomach to soften, and then have to stifle the urge to suck it back in.

no one taught my body how to be soft.

this world, it demands hardness from my body. chiseled calves and sculpted arms and rock-hard abs. stone, this world requests. let my body be made of stone.

my body, it is flesh. but still I try, try for chiseled and sculpted and rock-hard and am surprised when I am told allow your stomach to soften and then suddenly, my body takes up more space than it used to.

and there I sit, feeling my back against the wall and my hands on my thighs and the rise and fall of my chest, trying to hold awareness of my body in my mind, and acutely aware of the extra inches of my stomach.

allow your stomach to soften.

the soothing voice tells me to be aware of my body, alive and present in this moment.

and so I am alive and present, accepting the extra inches and learning softness from my body.

alive and present and soft.

teach me how to root myself.

I want to be a tree

(solid

rooted

grounded

steady)

I want to sink my feet

down deep

in the earth

and stand

unmoving.

but I

am a bird

buffeted by the wind

fluttering after

shiny things

never

staying

still.

I want to be a tree.

I want my shade

to be a refuge

be a place of peace

I want my presence to

be an exhale

for you

but how can I

help you

breathe out

when I can

barely remember

to breathe in?

somewhere

somehow

my soul forgot

that the rise and fall and rest

is not just for lungs.

I want to be a tree

standing witness to

the rhythm of

days blending

seasons slowly shifting.

but I

am a squirrel

hastily burying nuts

trusting not in tomorrow

and then

forgetting

where I left them

facing the future with fear

frantic

I want

to be

a tree.

teach me

how to root myself.

but if I

for now

am a bird

I will find a branch

and cling tight

hoping that the heartbeat

(solid

steady)

of the bough

will bleed into my bones

and still

the racing

in my chest.

magical.

I’ve always like magicians.

I know it’s tricks,

sleight-of-hand, clever props, mirrors,

fast talk, misdirection.

but still,

I love it

(in a slightly aloof manner,

if I must be honest,

because something tells me

that I need to be too cool

to like magic shows.)

I like to believe

that onstage,

the impossible can be possible.

that dreams can be real.

I am perfectly willing

to suspend my disbelief

(even though

I should know better)

and let you fool me.

I want

at the same time

to both know

how it’s done

and to not know.

and maybe it’s

not real

because it’s just tricks

and it’s up there under the stage lights

but does that make it

any less real?

 

——

reviving my 31days tradition of one-word-prompted five-minute poetry. thanks Shelby for my word.

bigger things.

I want to take wire cutters to the fences.

I want set them on fire, to light them up, up, up, so you can’t put it out. I want to see flames licking at the edges of the dry boards that have been keeping me in here and the world out there. I want to watch them burn.

I want to yell and scream and shout.  No more. No more lies, no more second-guessing, no more doubts. No more not good enough, not skinny enough, not brave enough, not strong enough.

No more.

No more fences.

But really?

I’m more likely to light the match and then watch it burn out in my cupped hand. I’ll lean against the fence, climb up the rails to watch the sun set on the other side. I’ll skirt the borders, but I won’t even get close enough to let the barbs tear my skin.

Because the fences? They make me feel safe.

It’s safe in here. I know where I stand, at least. I know my place. I know how far my arms can reach.

But.

People have been whispering words about dreams. and keys. and burning.

and I want to grasp more than my arms can reach.

and I want the fences gone, gone, gone.

and I want out.

I want out.

and not having fences? oh, it scares me.

I’ll you I dream of wide open spaces but really, I dream of cozy places and a chair that knows my curves. The night sky makes me feel insignificant, and fields as far as the eye can see just make me feel lost. and I wonder if I’ll ever find my way out.

but I think – I think – I’d rather be wondering if I’ll find my way out than wondering what’s on the other side of the wire. I think I’d rather be feeling small than feeling trapped. I’d rather try.

I want bigger things.

and I don’t really know where to get there. I don’t know quite how to set the fences on fire, how to find myself in the wide open, how to handle it when all I want to do is rebuild the fences and lock the doors and hide.

but I know I want bigger things.

and I think the wanting? the wanting is a good place to start.

 

———

inspired by a story sessions prompt. these ladies, they whisper about wings and roar love.

the light gets in.

somebody left the gate open.

can’t you see? they’ve all been saying.

it’s. right. there.

that open gate.

but this girl, she don’t see.

she can’t see.

she hears them shouting at her,

something about an open gate,

and wings and keys and flying

but she’s still trying to stand on her own two feet

so why all these words about wings

and open gates

when all she can see is the walls.

she gave up on looking for the cracks long ago

but somehow

the light still gets in

there must be a way