An Open Letter to my Townhome

31 May

Dear Townhome,

It’s time to say goodbye, dear friend. It’s been a wild ride. Moving in here wasn’t easy. Not just because my adorable crazy, friends wouldn’t heed my careful warnings about moving the furniture, and our first moments together involved a pile of wood that was once a bookcase.

I’ll never forget that week of The Great Move of 2013. It seemed that moving across a small parking lot should have been the easiest move of my life. That assumption didn’t account for the emotional weight of leaving behind more than just a house. I was moving out on my own for the first time in nearly a decade. I was freshly divorced, new to a high-stress job, and swallowed up in fear and self-pity. Carrying those boxes was like carrying all the weight of my world turned on its axis. I broke down crying in that tiny parking lot more than once, the old home looming at my back and your façade waiting patiently for me to climb to my feet again.

It’s so fitting that you, dear Townhome, should be a literal reverse reflection of the home I was leaving. My life was that way. All the same, and all backward.

I like to think you’ll miss me a bit, too, Townhome. You’ve been the most intimate witness to the chaos that has been Year 1 PD (Post-Divorce). Your walls saw the best and the worst of it. As I pack the boxes and begin to carry my belongings away, a year’s worth of memories overwhelm me.

The hours spent sun bathing on the patio, reading everything from young adult fiction to post-modern theology. The scoldings I gave Porch Dino when he tried to breach the threshold of the back door.

So many out-loud conversations with no one at all. Finally learning how to pray out loud.

All the dancing. All the dancing till I cried till I laughed, a heap in your floor. The Ben & Jerry’s fueled crying on the floor. Mine and others’. The comfort we all gave each other here.

The dinner parties and movie nights. The overnight guests. The love and laughter of so many beautiful people. The fellowship. The magic.

So many Marco’s pizza deliveries.

The spiritual awakenings under the stars and in the shower.

In so many ways, I finally grew up in this house. I learned to take care of myself physically and financially, but also emotionally. I learned what it means to be an adult. To be autonomous and independent.

I tried dating again. I quit dating again. I lived an entire year on my own, not bringing home a single boy to you. You haven’t known me long, Townhome, but that’s a first for me. And it was. So. Good.

I changed my future, Townhome. I found my solid footing and my purpose.

You were my proverbial security blanket, Townhome. You gave me the comfort of personal space, something like a clichéd cocoon while I sorted out, “What is life?”

I’m ready for a new adventure, Townhome. I’m so sad to leave you, but I am so excited for the next phase. A floorplan of walls that share nothing of the life I had before, but will be filled with the mementos of all that has happened and give space to create all that will come.

When the hired movers (because you taught me to learn from my mistakes, Townhome!) have carried all the wood and cardboard through the doors, we’ll have one last crazy dance, Townhome. I’ll laugh and cry on your cool, wooden floors. And then I’ll move along.

But don’t worry, Townhome. I’ll be sure to write. You taught me how.

Be the rest.

16 Apr

These remaining commandments don’t a full post each make, so here’s a brain dump of the rest:

Be impressed.
I’m a typical Millennial: well-educated but entitled, tech savvy but tech-addicted. I was lucky enough to be born in a time when modernity made anything possible. A dream like seeing a man walk on the moon is a foregone conclusion. My generation expects to hang the moon. Miracles of science don’t seem like miracles – I expect the miraculous.

But, my God, what a terrible way to live. How can I find a purpose for myself if the world seems decided and even the new is no longer exciting? Jaded. Bored. Apathetic.

So, I’ve taken a commandment to be impressed. God created these amazing, evolving creatures who themselves create. Clever creatures. We can still amaze ourselves, if we’re willing. It’s simply a matter of perspective, and I imagine most of you already know that. Looked at from the right angle, the world is full of magic.

 

Be mindful.

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

Be silent.

“God is silent. Now if only man would shut up.”
― Woody Allen

Be grateful.

“Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means that you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back.”
― Anne Lamott

Be Sara.
The hardest thing to be has always been me. One day at a time, by practicing gratitude, faith, and love, I’m hoping to find a way to do just that.

Be brave.

12 Feb

To be brave is not to be without fear. You know this, yeah? It’s to act in spite of your fear. To brave is to endure, to act with courage.

My earliest memories are fear. Paralyzing fear. The fears that gripped my gut the most include: thunderstorms, the dark, monsters under the bed, and giants. My first childhood home was perched on a sort of cliff and I had recurring nightmares that giants would come climbing toward my bedroom window that overlooked our steep back yard. Our car once broke down about a block from that same house and I remember being frozen in the back seat as I smelled the rain creeping in. I couldn’t imagine my mother would get us safely home before the lightning struck. But I didn’t really have a healthy fear of death until my 20s. These childhood fears, much like my adult fears, were rarely of the outcome of the danger scenario but of enduring the danger. I thought – I think – I can’t possible bear this.

My parents taught me to “put on my brave shoes” and march through the fear. Stomp the spider. But my fears only morphed and amassed themselves into greater, more gut-wrenching terror. My brave shoes seemed lost or ill-fitting. Maybe one on, one lost under the bed with the ghouls.

The terror grew inversely with the danger. As I became better equipped to care for myself, as more securities were provided for me, I only became more frightened of what I might lose or what I might not be able to hoard for myself.

I have made a number of major life decisions on the basis of fear, for better or worse. Graduate school, job for job, marriage, divorce, town for city for town; spiritual, emotional, and financial debt growing along the way. The weight of it crushing me.

So, I’ve been making a choice recently to be brave. To accept that I am afraid but to endure the fear and fake courage. To act in spite of my gut and because of my gut, and to keep moving my feet firmly along the road when the way is clear but every fiber of my being is begging me to stop, give up, crouch, and hide.

And the more that I endure, the farther I carry the fear heavily on my back, the more my muscles tear and heal and grow and mold around the weight. My posture straightens and I become strong. My diaphragm stretches and makes way for a power greater than me to move in. God nourishes my trite little soul and greatness becomes possible.

By giving up the fight against the unconquerable fears I am granted reprieve.

I become brave.