Thursday, May 29, 2008


Five miles into the woods... on a trail that would extend 270-some more for the three boys.

We'd already gotten lost. Already had an injury. We were hot and tired and hungry.

And as we slowly climbed down the last leg of the trail to the campsite... we heard the thunder.

It clapped. The lightening flashed dimly.

We threw our packs to the ground. Pulled the tents and the tarps and the hammocks out.

But it was too late.

We heard the rain coming like an army of soldiers. Like a wall, or a wave, we were bent over the tent, almost having it completely set up. And it hit us.

By the time the tent was standing up, we were soaked down to our underwear.

Water was dripping down my neck, down my shirt. And I looked up at Liza, who was just as wet, and I started laughing.

What else was there to do?

Our tent was filled with water. Our bags were getting wet. Our shoes were squishing. No one could tell the difference between the rain and the sweat. All the grime was washed from my face.

We huddled under a small, yellow tarp with two corners tied to two trees. We held up the other corners with our heads, the boys took off their shirts, we put on hats... and we laughed. And shivered.

It was only 5:30. The rain wasn't stopping. And so we decided to grab our things and head back UP the trail to a cavern we had passed.

All I could think of was Moses. He wanted to see the glory of God and so the Lord protected him in the cleft of a mountain and covered Moses with His hand as He passed by....

Our overhang was probably fifty feet wide, thirty feet high, and twenty feet deep. The ground was covered in dry sand. And there was dry wood and boulders everywhere.

We rung out our clothes and put on dry shirts. The boys built a fire and Pat made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We dried our shoes out on the rocks around the fire, and pulled out the crank radio to try and see what the weather would be like the next day.

The sun began to set. The rain persisted. We laid down our sleeping bags and fed the fire. Two of the boys boiled water for hot chocolate, and cranked the radio again.

The only radio station that would pick up was one that was playing opera.

So the sky was black. And the rain was pattering on the leaves just outside the cavern. The fire was crackling and we were finally getting warm and dry. And as we were drifting off to sleep, the haunting sound of the opera music lifted around us.

Liza looked up and we all smiled. "I've never loved opera music so much in my life," she said. And we all agreed.

We all fell asleep then, as the radio slowly lost energy and the sound of the singing faded into the steady rain.

Words will never be able to express that moment.

A moment from a movie.

That made the whole, wet, difficult day worthwhile.

A moment that I will never forget as long as I live.

A moment, sheltered and protected in the cleft of a mountain...

Love you, Bye

On Monday we rolled out of bed and headed to Cracker Barrel for a last supper... or... a last breakfast. The boys piled into the mini van with their fort-some pound packs and we filled our bellies with pancakes and hit the road.

I hadn't adequately psyched myself up for this.

A month. No Caleb.

I was quiet on the ride to Tennessee, thoughts of what being without him would be like.

No emails. No phone calls at the end of the night.

The day before we had locked up the dorm building for the last time.

We had bought bungee cords and I had bought his last Chipotle for a month.

On Monday, after four hours in the car, we signed papers at Pickett State Park and drove to the trailhead.

We took pictures and laughed over the roaring noise of the seventeen-year cecadas in the trees above our heads.

And we shouldered our packs... and started hiking.

The next day, after rain and injury and getting lost and freezing during the night, we shouldered our packs again and set off on the trail.

This time... we would go two separate ways.

Liza and I would head back to the van.

The boys would head north on the Sheltowee Trace.

And so we stopped where the paths diverged. "What is it that Caleb always says before he leaves?" Liza asked. I laughed. "Loveyou,bye. Real fast like that," I told her.

I felt my eyes filling up with tears. And so I kissed Caleb on the cheek. Told the boys to be careful. Told Paul I'd come get them tomorrow if they needed me to...

Grabbed Caleb's hand and then turned toward my trail.

"Love you, bye!" I yelled real fast.

And we walked ahead.

I'll see him again in a few weeks.

I didn't adequately psyche myself up for this.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Of course it would rain today.
Two years ago it was raining too.
As I got my first tattoo and the world lost another young life.
Two years ago today was a Thursday.
It rained that whole weekend.

Today is Sunday. And it's been raining all day.
Today is also Mother's day. And there's one mother out there who is terribly heartbroken on this two year anniversary.
My heart goes out to her tonight.
I only wish the sun could have shone...

I don't remember who I was back then. I remember some thoughts I had. I remember waking up that third morning of rain to a phone call... that shut the door with an ominous thud. I was an eighteen year old with one semester of college under her belt, one tattoo, living on Long Avenue in a room painted purple. I was a little less than a year into a job that payed more money than I knew what to do with. But I don't remember what I wanted to do with my life. Or who I thought God was. Or how I felt about being alone. I remember being a peculiar person in a peculiar stage in life...

And in that regard, not much has changed.

I am twenty. With five semesters of college, and a degree, under my belt. Three tattoos later... each one represents another lesson learned. Another permanent fixture of my identity. I've lived in three other rooms since that purple one... and am coming up on three years in the same job (except the money isn't quite as sufficient as it used to be). The plan is to go the nursing school. I believe that God is in the wind, that He is good and merciful, and that the more I try to understand Him, the less I do.

Today, it is raining.
I wish the sun would shine.

Because I need some light to be shed on this darkness.

Because I still have no idea what I'm doing.

"Strange how hard it rains now. Rows and rows of big dark clouds. But I'm still alive underneath this shroud..."

I sat down here tonight in this coffee shop, by myself, to try and collect my thoughts. But I'm as creatively constipated as you can get... all the ideas, the thoughts, the contemplations are there. And they ar backing up... causing me discomfort. Part of my thought process, my decision-making process, my way of life is to get this stuff out. And it's not coming. It's only a matter of time before I remember how to use my words...

But tonight all I know is that it's raining.

What does that even mean?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A New Decade

I just turned twenty.
As I told my dad last night, it's only weird when I think about it.
Nothing feels different. I didn't wake up yesterday morning with a new sensation, or should I say 'feeling the loss' of my childhood.
But people tell me I'm old now.
And I laugh a little.
I've felt old for a long time.

In my old age... I still make endless notes when no one is looking at work. There are so many things that run through my head in a day. We concluded last night that its a genetic issue... thinking too much that is.

I've been thinking about infection.
Infection in the body. In the soul. In the mind.

How suburbs are not the problem; just as money isn't the problem. It's the love of, the attachment to, the use of (insert vice) that is a sin. The moment we begin blaming something inanimate for our downfall... the deeper we sink.

We need the world to quiet down. We need to slow down... to listen carefully. A lot is being said. We just don't hear.

We adapt to the rhythm around us. Whatever is playing in our ears... our bodies will eventually become in sync with. This is the method I rely on when I go running. But it's also the truth that is evident in our lives. The faster our bodies go, the faster our minds go. And our souls get lost in the shuffle.

Delicious ambiguity.

A man named Lonely.

I'm a college graduate.

We succeed and climb to the top. If we are smart... and wish to live long, fulfilling lives... we will go back down to the bottom and do it again. This is the scariest part of the journey. Requires different muscles, a different mentality. To start over, we must be humbled. And none of us have any interest in being humbled.

This week is an anniversary. Of lost hope, of heartbreak, of a horrible car accident. Amazing how time changes things. How people change. Next month my insurance premium will go down by 50%... this is the best change of all.

Out of these things... maybe one will spark an insightful post.

But probably not. There will be something new tomorrow. It is a new decade. I'm praying for new inspiration. New ideas. New vision.