Homesick

You make me homesick

You white hills and lonely trees

You farms and fields and far away beauty

Homesick for white hills and crop stubble, for lonely trees and sunset silhouettes, for farms and fields and far away beauty

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You make me homesick

You gravel roads and country lanes

You homes and hearths and clean-made beds

Homesick for gravel roads, for country lanes of dirt and dust, for home and hearth and a clean-made bed

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You make me homesick

You starry skies and fresh snow

You belted hunter and big dipper and great bear of the night

Homesick for starry skies, for fresh snow and glittering frost, for the belted hunter and big dipper and great bear of the night

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You make me homesick

You smiling baby girl and little boy with shy hugs

You friends that stand and hug and fit just right

Homesick for a baby girl who smiles in my arms, for a tall boy and his reluctant hugs, for my father who stands and hugs and I fit just right

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You proud cities and crowded streets

You highways and horizons and roads to everywhere

You make me homesick

Homesick for places you are not, for streets no longer mine, for highways and horizons and roads that lead everywhere but home

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I am homesick

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Homesick for all that does not exist

Homesick for the home I cannot find, for the people we no longer are, for the sun on the horizon that used to be

Homesick for the lonely tree that is not mine, gilded by winter frost and cut down by summer lightning; those autumn fields that grow yellow and red before someone else’s eyes; the great bear of the night that waits beyond the fringes of this city’s greedy lights

Homesick for the easing of the ache for better things, homesick for the final turn in the lane when the prodigal comes home, homesick for the promises too great and glorious to be found in the dust and stars of this place

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For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

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A Short Story

Once upon a time there was a girl. She waited years and years to go to college, and found out that she loved what she did while she waited. She got a little older with wonderful people who loved her better than she loved them back and who she knew she’d miss terribly once she left. But she packed her things and her favorite bear and went away to college with a few white hairs and too many suitcases. She wondered if she would regret what she was leaving behind: the sky and the stars and books and Interstate and Friday morning meetings and children who hugged her in church and a little office that let the sun in every afternoon.

But the people who loved her gave her coffee and a computer and never stopped praying for her. And she came to the city, where there were too many buildings to see the sun and more lights than stars. There were yellow taxis and cardboard signs and a few trees that barely had enough leaves to shed in the fall.

She sat down in a tiny little dorm room and realized that she’d still be waiting here, too. So she sat in big classrooms and little classrooms and found out that she loved what she did while she waited. She got a little older with wonderful people who cared for her better than she could care for them.

And the city was kind to her. The city gave her bright yellow doors and clean stone houses and a place to run by the lake. The city gave her its best views and its biggest Christmas trees. It gave her trains that rocked and rumbled and spilled out its passengers into all its corners. It gave her a church with small children who hugged her every Wednesday night and whispered in her ear about birthdays and secrets. The city gave her memories on dirty escalators and worn stairs and scary streets.

And she wondered, with small guilt, if she loved her former sky a little less because the one she loved now had skyscrapers and billboards and broken windows instead of forests and fields. She wondered if she would be happy back in the place with quietness and books and the sun in the afternoon.

But she couldn’t love the city any less, with its tarnished beauty and need for kindness. So she decided she would have to love both. She decided that the love in the waiting was a gift, a gift that could only be corrupted by the mistaken need to compare it to something she could love no less. So she loved her city where she could only sometimes see the sun, and she loved her country where the sun was brightest. And she recognized God’s love best when she chose to love what He gave her.

And she was happy.

Letters From An MBI Student – 11/30

Dear Family,

Thanks for letting me come home for Thanksgiving. I would have hitchhiked my way, but it was nice to see someone actually show up at the train station before I fell asleep with my luggage.

Home felt pretty good this time around, and I think I figured out some of the things that make it feel like home. That’s such a strange word for me, and I’m still figuring out what that word is hard for me to use, but I don’t have a better substitute. So here are some things I realized about the place I call home. Warning: it’s about to get sappy. It’s Christmas and it snowed today and…ahh, strings of lights or not, it was always going to be sappy. So.

Home is where you plop down on the kitchen floor and laugh because you’re too tired to stand or think or do anything other than be some sort of emotional. And because it’s home, you don’t wake up the next day and wonder how laughing hysterically has affected your reputation.

Home is also where you can chase people around trying to be affectionate to them and they may not want it and you don’t care if they do or not. You’re not doing it because you met that person on your dorm floor who likes hugs and you feel like you should probably encourage them; you’re doing it because it’s family and you’re so darn glad to see them. And it’s your sister, whom you haven’t seen in an eternity and your brain doesn’t have interesting words to tell her how much you love her so you kiss her instead. Or try to.

Home is where you fall asleep in total silence. It’s where you realize for the first time why people use white noise machines, and you feel so sorry for them and their lives of perpetual noise.

Home is where you can see the stars instead of stoplights. There aren’t crosswalks to watch for and pedestrians to avoid running over. The only red lights at home are the ones on your car when you pull into the driveway too fast. And you don’t care that the neighbors will probably have an opinion on that at the Christmas party, because you’ve done it a thousand times before and this time you’re not in a hurry because you have stuff to do; you’re in a hurry because inside is home and family and more interesting things than speed limits.

Home is where you yell at the dinner table and throw peas and eat an entire pie yourself. It’s where the world’s best food is made with more love than that house can hold. Home is where you wake up feeling guilty for sleeping in so late but your mom made you coffee and the day begins with a little sip of heaven.

Home is where you sit and crochet and don’t fidget about the homework that you brought back because home means rest and peace. Home doesn’t give peace, but it creates the space for it. And then God and the love of family fills it and you take it back to school and find the energy to power through the last three weeks of school.

I’ll probably not be as retrospective about home as soon as I leave my cozy place beside this Christmas tree. I’ll probably not be as gracious when I tell you about Candlelight Carols rehearsals. I’ll probably not be as enthusiastic about home as soon as I start writing that paper I’m avoiding.

Oh, well. At least you know for now.

Maybe missing you,

~Rae

Letters From An MBI Student – 10/10 – postscriptum

College is also hard because my dearest friend, coworker, confidant, shoulder-to-lean on, giver of my favorite hugs, stubborn, caring father is 130 miles away with my mother, my everlasting cheerleader who makes the world’s best coffee and demonstrates a level of grace and compassion that I can only hope to touch someday. Not too far for a phone call, but yes too far for a hug. They don’t make them the same here, Dad.

Homesick

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Some things you can’t go back to, some things need left alone
Don’t mess with a memories of a life passed on
Oh the tumbling reservations at the heart of my mistakes
Oh some things you can’t go back to cause you let them slip away

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I don’t wanna be a witness to a path that’s overgrown
I don’t wanna see this house not be a home
‘Cause time has taken toll on what we couldn’t see
No I don’t wanna be a witness to the end of you and me

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How am I gonna make each moment better than the last
How am I gonna make it better if I can’t go back

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Oh the tumbling reservations at the heart of my mistakes
Oh some things you can’t go back to cause you let them slip away
Oh some things you can’t go back to…

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“Can’t Go Back” – Rosi Golan

Tell The Truth Tuesday

Full of randomness today.  Here’s the top 5.

1. It’s 80 degrees outside. I don’t know whether to be excited or confused because apparently it’s summer already? What happened to spring?!

2. Only two weeks of classes left. Whew. I can make it. Although it’d be helpful if my professors weren’t so trigger-happy with their quizzes and homework. I know I’m going to receive gargantuan finals in all my classes next week, so could you maybe lay off with the assignments this week? Give me a little time to prep? Please?

3. I drove back to my hometown (again) this weekend. I love everything about my weekends at home, although it’s still hard to have everyone ask when I’m coming back, as if that is still an option. I’m not sure if they truly believe that my move was on a whim or consider it a possibility that I’ll break my work and school commitments here to return.

4. I’ve started trying to write short stories (again). I’ve been on sort of a writing break for a lot of this semester, and I miss it terribly. So of course I’m writing again, with classes and end-of-the-school-year commitments breathing down my neck. Brilliant me.

5. Maybe it’s just the weather (full moon?), but drivers were crazy this weekend. Phone numbers on paper plates and shirtless college guys hanging out of their jeeps to leer on Interstate, gangsters in souped-up Cadillacs trying to chat at the stoplights (no, I don’t roll my window down on command), and prepsters trying to drag race in front of the mall (Okay, so it was the prime racing spot in the city and famous for what happens after midnight, but even still: I drive a 14 yr old wagon with the engine power of a sewing machine. Do I look like I’m interested?!).

What’s up in your life?

“Can I have your number?”

So, I’m single. A functioning single. I own a car, work a 40hr job, pay my own bills, and have my own life. Hey, AARP even sent me a card the other day, 20some years too early.

I suppose I could say that I enjoy being single. I do, to some extent. I can come home from work and change into my unpresentable-in-public clothes and waddle around in slippers and a blanket during the winter. I can pull out my mod podge and make stuff in the evenings. I don’t hover by my phone. I have time to invest in my family.

(I’m not saying that people in a relationship aren’t allowed to do those sorts of things…but I like to think that my overconsumption of hot chocolate is due to the fact that I am single and have nobody to answer to.)

I’ve been single for forever. Or a long time. I don’t despair until my grandparents remind me that they started dating when they were 14.

This last weekend I drove 6 hours back to my hometown, to attend a friend’s wedding. I saw a lot of people I knew from when I lived there. I delivered well-wishes from my parents, I made awkward small talk with old acquaintances, I stood at the back and hid from the bouquet, I laughed, I danced…and I met someone who lives in the state I do now. Only an hour an a half from me. A fellow Heartland transplant who is a fabulous dancer and may or may not have asked for my number.

He was nice. Very ordinary, very nice. I really enjoyed the dancing, despite my ineptitude and/or lack of experience with it. And I was pleased to have found someone who lived where I did. I was no longer the girl from somewhere over there.

He asked if I’d mind if he called me. I said no. Why not? I’m young, single, available…

We ended the conversation about the same time the cha cha slide started, giving me time to start questioning myself in between “one hop this time!”

Maybe I should have given him the wrong number. Maybe I should have said I was already in a relationship. Maybe I should have–

But why the insecurity? It’s not like I’ve been burned with previous relationships. He was a mutual friend of the couple that I knew well. He’d been the groom’s roommate in college. There was no reason not to strike up an acquaintance.

But, to be completely honest, I’ve never really dated anyone. Sure, I flirted. Sure, my name was joined with someone else’s in high school. But I always felt older than those around me. The boys I knew were too immature. And my last and post high school years were spent dealing with my mom’s thyroid cancer, a traumatic family move, and a chronic illness of my own. I spent a year getting sick, and have spent every day since then dealing with the aftereffects.

So I didn’t date. I was too mature, too busy, too preoccupied, too sick. Always an excuse.

So what’s my excuse now?

Insecurity. Fear of rejection.

I used to know everybody. To be able to walk into a room and reach out and talk to anyone there. But I started closing in on myself during my junior year, during the move. Then I got sick. I was confused over my failing health, I was out of my comfort zone, I was fighting for my old life back. I stopped being certain of myself.

By the time my health began to recover, I was in that awkward zone after you’ve graduated high school but no one considers you an adult yet. I started work, full-time. I got to know my coworkers, although the friendships there were gradual. Daily interaction and some of the friendliest people known to mankind eventually overcame my insecurities. Work is now my comfort zone.

Going to the wedding wasn’t the first time I realized my insecurities. But it was the kicker that reminded me that I am insecure and I don’t need to be. I have not given any friendship a chance unless it is shoved in my face on a daily basis.

I know who I am and where I am going. This second-guessing that I have with every relationship–male or female–is an attempt to dig away at me and who I am. And I have encouraged it.

So, honestly, I think I’m okay if he calls back. I think I’m okay if he doesn’t. I enjoyed the wedding, I enjoyed the dance. I appreciated the flattery and I like the idea that someone is interested. But I refuse to be afraid of myself and others.

So let’s hang out. Let’s grab coffee together and see if we jive. Let’s share our homesickness for our hometown and see how we look in non-wedding attire. You might never call back. You might deem me too short once you see me minus the 3″ heels. That’s fine. I’ll go home and wrap myself in my blanket and drink hot chocolate. And then tomorrow I will gather up the courage to ask another new friend to a movie. And we will talk and laugh and I will be okay if she doesn’t like me. Because her approval is not a stamp on my forehead. His approval is not a 4F on my life. They do not determine my worth.

So then, if at the end of it all I’m still single and friendless, I’ll just find another wedding to go to.