I remember exactly what I wore. There’s a picture around here somewhere, taken at Winchells on a warm Friday night at the beginning of May. I was wearing green, and I had just turned seventeen. Friends who were like family were visiting from Georgia. I remember kissing his shoulder and getting caught. And after dinner we went to a tucked away park after dark and played for hours on the swings. We were breaking rules and being silly and we thought we were adults. We thought we were in love.
That was ten years ago.
The letter I got from my mom yesterday put to words an almost imperceptible longing in my heart. I am looking for an end. And I am looking for a beginning. For years now, I have been living in the very middle of things. No discernable beginning or end, the hardest parts of each story have melded together like one long breath. Contractions. Like contractions at the height of labor, during transition, there’s been almost no pause between the intensity and the pain, not nearly enough time to catch my breath.
I am looking for an end. And I am looking for a beginning.
There have been some beginnings. Some newness. I hold on to the newness, the freshness, as long as I can. Cherish it as a new memory and a promise of growth and change. But on the hard days when all the pain blends together, regardless of how meaningful, I still find myself needing a reminder.
There is a story here.
For years since Africa, since passports and risking and chronic illness, I’ve lived my life on this continuum of story. For years we’ve trusted the story.
I am not a passive trust-er, however, and have built more than I’ve trusted. So the mantra has changed.
My tribe has quietly had to change the words they use to encourage, because even on the good days, the injuries of repetition and these hollowed out spaces are sore.
There is a story here.
Damn it, if it’s not even a good one.
Sometimes change is gradual and quiet and has to be this way because otherwise we pay too much attention and we will resist it.Quick change brings pain and my deepest heart wonders if we aren’t being spared of that right now. So we are quietly growing over here. Pushing through the soil, breaking shells, climbing tresses, turning our faces to the sun, so we can bear some fruit.
To the seventeen year old in the green shirt, riding in the big truck with the boy who by next year would be gone, I would say,
One day you will turn twenty seven. And you will have done a lot of things and been a lot of places and witnessed a lot of miracles. You will have created a brand new life. And you will have built one too. And the people who love you will call you a fighter. The people who love you will call you a survivor. The people who love you will call you an encourager. And your son will call you his best friend.
It’s a good story.
If only because there is a story being told here. Right now, even in the quiet lulls. Right now, even at the height of the contraction.
Because we know what comes next.