Wednesday, June 17, 2015

On Letters and Patience

I am not a patient person, it is a virtue that in almost all aspects of my life I do not possess. But when I write a letter I have patience. Because when you put a letter in the mail there is no smoke signal that goes up the moment the recipient reads it. Sometimes you get some sort of recognition that it has been received via txt or email or Facebook message, but for the most part when you drop a letter into that blue box and entrust it into the hands of a postal carrier you are completely letting go of it. You assume that it will make it to its final destination. But even in today's world of tracking numbers and planes there is still a chance that it might just get lost along the way, that a gust of wind might pick it up off that pile and it will go where the wind takes it never to reach its intended recipient or it might just sit in the rain for a bit too long making those pen strokes bleed together into an illegible blue mess. And even if it does embark on the journey safely, it is really a toss up as to when it will arrive. Because that depends entirely on where it is going, which mailbox you put it in and if you made it in time for the last pick up of the day, and what day of the week you mailed it out on. It could be a day or so or it could  be many, perhaps even a whole week. Then of course there is the off chance that the recipient isn’t even in town so then who knows when they will open that letter. When I put a letter in the mail i let it go. I forget which words i wrote down. I forget what its intended purpose was. I relinquish all control and I put my faith in the US postal service and i hope that it makes it to its final destination in one piece. I believe that whoever receives it will appreciate the words that i wrote, that they will mean something, but i expect nothing in return. I do not expect a note in return or a thank you call. When you write a letter, your part of the story ends the moment you put it in the mail. And there is peace in that.

Email is an entirely different story. In this world where so many things are instantaneous when I hit send on an email I expect it to take no more than a minute to get to you. I expect you to stop in your tracks and let go of whatever you are doing and to sit down on a park bench (because in these kind of scenarios there is always a park bench) and i expect you to soak up those words (however silly they may be). Then without a moments hesitation i expect you to write back and until i get something back i will obsessively check my email for hours and days and weeks. Why is an email any different than a letter? Just because an email sends instantaneously and magically travels through space and time to arrive at your inbox that doesn’t mean that your inbox is open or that you aren’t busy or that it doesn’t get lost among the clutter mixed in with the sales ads and bills.  The difference, for me at least, is that when i send an email, i don’t just want to send mail one way, what i am really grasping for is a conversation. A history of back and fourths where a screen gets transformed into a coffee shop and you don’t seem so far away. I want a white mug and afternoon sunlight and to hear the laughter that my silly rambled out words caused. I want to know that anything can be said and that you are right there. I want to feel that we aren’t separated by thousand of miles. I want time and space to fade away and for us to be connected to the right here and right now. I want community. 

Why not pick up the phone you may ask? Well because the phone isn’t what it once was. To me calling someone feels like i am inconveniencing them, because the phone isn’t stationary it is just as fluid as they are, it goes everywhere, it is in movie theaters and Sunday services and family dinners and silent walks through the woods in search of solitude, it is now a part of our moments, good and bad. I would hate to interrupt your moments. It use to be easy you called and either someone answered or they didn’t. But now, most often than not phone calls are an interruption into ones daily activities. And frankly it just isn’t the same. 

So I write letters. I send them out hoping that they are treasured and that they matter, that they bring a tiny little brightness to someones day, like running into a friend you haven’t seen at your grocery store. Because what i have found about letters, is that it does not matter how many you send, they are always unexpected.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

On Being Home, Wherever That May Be

Sometimes you are doing just fine and then you are sitting in your coworkers office and tears start streaming down your face as you talk about college and all the things you miss about it and the ocean and California and your family. Sometimes you just don’t realize that deep down in those far away parts of your heart and soul you are so desperately missing home. You are pinning for something that you haven’t even allowed yourself to think about. Because it is oftentimes easier to just not even go there, because when you do that’s when the days get tough and the clouds come out and you are just wondering why you live in this awful good for nothing city on the wrong side of the country…because lets be real the West Coast is most definitely the best coast.

Hours later you will be reminded that this city isn't so bad. That you have built relationships here. That there are people who have come into your life who you care deeply about. That there have been adventures and joyous occasions in this city. That there is a church that you love, one that makes you eager for Sunday mornings and those few moments of peace. That this is the place where national decisions are made (or more often than not just argued about) and at that is really cool. That you love the rain and the snow and the falling of the leaves that comes with the change of the seasons. That although you would prefer the world to be black or white and good or bad, that it really isn't. And a little bit of your heart has come to call the nation’s capital home despite your best efforts at disliking it.

And that is okay.

Because regardless of where you were born and raised the place where you are should be home. You should embrace it. You should learn the names of the streets in your neighborhood and find a favorite taco place and get involved in your community. You should make friends and host potlucks and find a park to enjoy a Spring picnic in.

And when you really truly miss it. You should fly west. Because that is okay too. Because embracing a new place doesn't mean you have let go of your past or your history. It simply means embracing the place where life has currently taken you. It means building a life and a home right where you are. It means being present in the everyday and looking forward and not hiding in the past. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Holding on to the Night

Somedays are glorious and wonderful, leaving you grasping for just another moment, just one more glimpse of the sunset, room for one more piece of cake, or just another few minutes chatting with a friend. Some days are quite the opposite they drag on unbearably slow, seeming almost never ending and painfully dull and agonizing. I have a very hard time letting go of the day especially when one has been very good or quite bad. A wonderful day leaves me hesitant to fall asleep knowing that it is likely that the next day will not present me with the magic and wander of the day before. I hold onto it tightly refusing to give into the need to sleep and accept the rise and fall of the sun. Bad days leave me full of anxiety that the next day will just be a repetition of the disappointing day. I hold onto that bad day just as tightly as the good refusing to accept another drull day one without excitement or joy one that feels ordinary.
In these moments late into the evening when the outside world is dark and quiet and I should have drifted into slumber hours ago, I stay awake. I refuse to let go. Even when I feel my eyelids drooping and I slide further under the covers to escape the nighttime chill I refuse to accept the uncertainty of the day ahead.
Sometimes this means that I just snuggle up with a book, reading by flashlight just in case my mom decides to make the cross country trek simply to check and see if I have fallen to sleep, other times I simply let Netflix autoplay the next show in the series or I watch Pride & Prejudice (the A&E version of course) for the millionth time, continuing a late night love affair that started in St. Louis at the age of 5.
But recently I decided to spend that time where I refused to say goodnight to the world, reading the Kinfolk cookbook. I sat and flipped through the pages of people opening their homes to share with the world a meal that meant something special to them. Meals shared with friends, passed down from generations, sprinkled with fresh ingredients and cultural heritage. Instead of being weary for the next day it made me excited for the days to come. For when the weather changes and when the sun stays out just a bit later. For fresh grass and afternoon rains. For old friends and new recipes. For mismatched plates and a room full of laughter. I fell asleep with a peace that there are better days ahead, days filled with joy and celebration of life and food. That the good stuff is all just down the road and that makes all of those icky days just a tad bit more endurable. It makes drifting off to sleep accepting that tomorrow will bring what it chooses that much easier.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

To Be a Writer

I recently had a conversation with a friend about what it means to create, to be a creative. In today’s world it is easy to take up an artistic hobby, we are surrounded by so much beauty and by so many platforms to share it on, but oftentimes that want to create is met by skepticism both from ones self and the world around you. Can I call myself an artist if I am just painting random colors on Sunday afternoons for no one to see but my cat? Can I call myself a dancer if my stage is the aisles of a grocery store? Can I call myself a musician if I only know two cords and can’t play an entire song? Can I call myself a writer if I never publish a novel?
I love to write and if you ask my mom I am quite good at it. At work I actually spend 90% of my time writing. I write blog posts, recipes, letters to CEOs, actions alerts, and reports. But am I a writer? No, I am a campaign coordinator (a title that most definitely encourages creativity...). I spend my evenings writing letters and postcards to my dear friends. Does that qualify me as a writer?
What if I am a writer solely based on my love of the written word and my profound yearning to put paper to pen and to form sentences, oftentimes with misspellings and grammatical errors.
Just maybe this could be the space for that. Maybe I will never have a blog with tutorials on how to make feathered lampshades or one that is a monetizing opportunity. Maybe I will never publish a book.
But maybe this can be a space where magic happens. 
Where creativity flows freely and once a week I post a picture from my Instagram account and I write. I write the words that I didn’t say to anyone, the words on my heart, and the words that came to mind when the sun was shining and the wind was blowing and all was good. I write about how I feel about knitting or my latest obsession or those memories from college that are so embedded in my mind that I relive them constantly, because there is something so joyful about laughing in Trader Joe’s over my absurd need to buy so many cans of black beans. What if I write about growing up and growing old and how hard it is and how wonderful it might just be? What if I write about my fears and dreams and joys?
What if this place is where I write things that I believe in? Where I write in my own voice. Where I am not censored by organizational speaking points and ways of talking. Where for a few minutes the world isn’t dark and depressing and I am not surrounded by the discouraging reality of the global food system. 
What if this space becomes a place of freedom where the expectations of the world do not matter? Where the pressure to be perfect doesn’t exist?
Where I can be a writer not by profession but simply by passion.