Monday, November 21, 2011

I used to want to be Brian Jacques.

I only ever seem to post when I have something very deep and meaningful and life-questioning to say. And that happens like every six months. Maybe less, depending on how exciting my life is, how busy I am, if I'm sleepy, and if I'm pensive. The mix of those four things has to be perfect for me to get a really thought provoking piece of writing up. And it's always something that I wrote late at night when I should have gone to bed. For some reason those are always the best.

It's funny, because I used to think I was the best writer ever when I was little. Like seriously, the next Charles Dickens, minus the man parts. Or Beverly Cleary, because I thought she was funny. Okay, who am I kidding. I wanted to be Brian Jacques. He was so exciting and entertaining and had like a thousand books published, and I seriously wanted to be him. Although I also kinda wanted to be a mouse, especially after reading his books, so my aspirations were pretty high.

So I would write these elaborate outlines for these crazy books, and wrote all of my favorite scenes and chapters for them. I had so many notebooks full of these kinds of stories. Unfortunately, I never came up for endings for any of them. I know that is supposed to be the hardest part, but really, Little Me?! You couldn't end a single story?!

Little Me (aka. future Brian Jacques enthusiast, because I don't think I could read quite yet)

Anyway, I digress. Like I said, I was convinced I was the best writer ever, in all of history, at least for my age. And then I went to high school. Most people might get the sense about this kind of humility stuff knocked into them, but not me. High school just more thoroughly convinced me that I was a great writer. I had ever grammar rule ever memorized, even if I didn't always use them. I took all these extra English classes and wrote cutesy emotional stories that my creative writing teacher liked. And I took Honors and AP English, and I did great. So obviously, beyond the shadow of a doubt, I was the greatest writer. I had proof. I mean, come on, if I could write in high school, I was set for life!!

And then I went to college.

Hillsdale College.

Now, I love Hillsdale College. But few other colleges will look at your youthful cockiness about how awesome you are and laugh in your face so loudly. Even the best of students have to work hard at Hillsdale, and even the best writers get mediocre grades on papers. And that's when I learned that I really wasn't the best writer ever... Fortunately, I wasn't terribly disheartened, because I had already found something I liked waaaaaaaaay better than writing stuff about Fairy Muffins. ART STUFF!!! And I call it that because I like to experiment in literally every branch of art I can get into. Crafting, painting, dry media, digital media, I will try all of it at least once.

Anyway, that's the long, kinda unfocused story of why I'm not an English Major.

PS. "Albert and the Fairy Muffins" was a short story about a bunny who found "fairy muffins" with his woodland friends one day. No, I don't actually know what fairy muffins are, but I'm going to go ahead and assume that if you ever read the story, you'll probably agree that all the forest creatures were on shrooms anyway, so it really doesn't matter. Actually, maybe you would just think that about me since I wrote it, but I swear, I definitely had no idea that "shrooms" could be anything other than a pizza ingredient at that point in my life. And well, that's pretty much the same.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I might be starting to get it.

Almost three years ago, I was a journal-er. I couldn't have a single thought without writing it down. I was just into my second semester of college, and I was so busy having an epiphany every day, I was sure I would never remember them all if I didn't write them down. It was a good habit, something to look back on and see how I've grown.

Since then, I have had less time to journal. Less time for epiphanies. Maybe less need for epiphanies. Who knows.

Either way, also about this time three years ago, I wrote a journal entry about my future. My future as an independent, secure woman.

That hasn't changed. I'm still independent. I'm more secure than ever.

However, that journal was focused about my future as an independent, secure woman, who would never be married. That's what I decided. I'd never be married. I could live and never be married and be totally okay with it. And in fact, I expected it.

In most ways, not much of that has changed either. But at the same time, I was writing that about a future secure, independent me that didn't exist yet. I was working up to it. My life was in flux then, in many ways. In many positive ways even. I was about to have a new sister, who in welcoming her into my family, taught me so many things about myself, about other people, about family, about God, and perhaps mostly about love. I was about to have my hip replaced, which at the time, seemed like the biggest, scariest thing in the world. Scarier than having a new sister after a life as an only child, scarier than anything I could imagine because I couldn't even know what it would be like and feel like once my surgery was all over. And I had just severed relationships that had emotionally and spiritually taken all the parts of me that I wanted to define for myself.

In all of that, I sat and looked back at this thing called "love," in the romantic sense, and I couldn't even fathom it. It was all so foreign, so unimportant to me at the time. How could I possibly consider that with everything else? Another person would have surely been an irritable distraction.

And then, through that summer and spring, so many things that I just described occurred. I did get a new hip. And I got a sister. And I loved her, even if I didn't know how to express it. I didn't resent her; I didn't feel cramped by her; I just didn't know how to tell her. It just felt like she was always supposed to be there. And I knew that, and I was fine with it, even if we were in very different places, and I would never quite get enough time to get to know her. And again I thought, who could have time for anything else? How am I supposed to contemplate something else when I have all of this to process?

And I went back to school, and my life carried on again. I got distracted, overwhelmed, and exhausted. I came home, and I recuperated. And I knew that this was my time to be just me. I knew this was my time to find me, to come into my own, all on my own.

And then something else happened, because God never works quite when I expect him to.

I met some one.

I met some one named Sam.

And I thought it was funny because that was my dog's name.

And I couldn't stop thinking about him.

We talked. And talked. And talked. And we listened. And we got to know each other. And before I knew it, I couldn't imagine life without him. Not that I couldn't live without him, just that there was a new fullness, a new level of existence that I hadn't even considered before. And I thought, and thought, and wrote, and thought more. And we kept talking.

As we talked, and as we were apart, something happened to me. I suddenly was my own person. The realization that I so desperately loved another person, made me even more aware of myself in a sense. It challenged me. It challenged my motives, my theories, my faith, my philosophies, my emotions, my tactics, and my desires.

I have always been an analytical person, striving to constantly understand. I don't take many things at face value. I have to figure them out. I thought I had figured myself out. But Sam made me reconsider everything. Oddly enough, in becoming attached to another person, I started to become the secure, strong, independent woman that I had struggled to find before.

And that made me love him even more. I started to understand that "being alone" isn't what defines some one, nor is "being okay" with yourself. No. You are ultimately defined by your love for some one else. Not just for your significant other, but for everyone; though perhaps it is most apparent, most easily and strongly felt through the one closest to you. You will sacrifice the most for them, you will receive the most from them, you will hurt the most for them, and you will be changed the most by them.

So when he asked me, merely a month ago, to marry him, and when I said "yes," I didn't feel weak. I wasn't giving in to anything. I was signing up for what will be the manifestation of most challenging and rewarding relationship of my life. I'm not too weak to be alone. I'm strong enough to be with Sam. Because let's be honest, he isn't just some one else. He is he most suited person in the world for me, and hopefully I for him. I am marrying the most loyal man in the world, and promising to make a lifelong commitment to him is not scary or foreign. It's the most exciting thing I have ever done.

I'm not done growing, learning, or understanding. I undoubtedly never will be. I am not the best at loving people, at being patient, or anything of the sort. I try to be better at it. But I am fully confident in the fact that I am can love, that I do love as best as I can, and that being in this place is not a weakness as I may have once considered it. Knowing and loving Sam has made me better.

Perhaps all of you who've been married for years are looking at this and smiling. Or perhaps you are shaking your head. Or perhaps my writing is convoluted, and you are just confused. But I hope we can all agree that I am on to something, even if I can't possibly understand the whole concept now. Until then, let's just agree that we all do want to be loved, but we are also meant to love, in whatever way we can discover. After all, isn’t God love? Isn’t that our very essence? I am simply blessed to have found it not only in my family, my friends, and my peers, but also a dear man that I intend to call my husband.

In case anyone is wondering, this was the original journal, from January 2009:
Everyone wants to be loved.

I think that's a pretty fair statement.

But you know that feeling? The one that aches when you see two people together being genuinely happy? The feeling that college girls sit around and pine for? The feeling that people my age plan their lives around? Their weddings, their children, their in-laws, and their old, wrinkly selves next to another equally aged person?

I'm not sure I've ever felt that. I don't quite know what it is to pine after some one I've never met. I'm not sure I want to.

I'm not saying that I want to be alone for the rest of my life. Everyone, whether they need it or not or would like to admit it or not, would like a companion.

But when I look at my future, I don't see Alyssa [Some one else's last name] with two kids, a nice house, and a man at my side. The thought isn't necessarily unpleasant. It seems to have worked quite nicely for a lot of people. It's just that, in even my wildest imagination, I can't see myself there. I try to put myself there, and my mind immediately goes in a different direction.

And it's not the suburban housewife thing. It's me, being with anyone, relying on anyone, and wanting to spend the rest of my days with anyone. It seems so foreign to me. It's not that I'm afraid of it. In fact, having some one to count on all the time would be nice. It's just that I don't want it? I can't quite form the words to express my exact point. But I'm hoping you get the general idea.

Therefore, I'm not a commit-o-phobe. But if I can't see myself having any future with any other person, why would I put myself and some other person through that? It seems like a lot of work for something that wouldn't matter for very long.

I don't feel that burning desire to find my future mate. I'm not filled with panic and dread at facing the future alone.

I wasn't scarred by some horrible relationship into thinking this way. In fact, I thought this was a possibility before I was ever in any kind of relationship.

I just feel strangely inhuman saying it out loud for once. After all, aren't we supposed to all be instinctually driven to find a mate and reproduce? Trying to explain such a feeling to most people is useless, and I often just get met with an uncomfortable chuckles or blank stares. I'm elaborating on something that is the complete opposite of what your mother's taught you as a child and what all human history has told us about the natural tendency of humanity.

Perhaps I'm getting a little melodramatic. I'm not writing off love and marriage for myself. I've just never happened upon anyone, real or fictional, that I've ever imagined myself being with forever. And for now, it simply seems beyond the realm of imagination for me.

Of course I'm young. I have my whole life ahead of me. I just don't think it would be so awful to be on my own.

I don't think I've done a very good job expressing my exact emotions on this. Fortunately, most of you already know my feelings on having children. I have a lot more I could say, but for the sake of people possibly reading this, I'll stay as concise as possible.

And as a precautionary statement, I have nothing against my friends who would like to find their husbands, have children, and be very happy in the normal sense of the word. In fact, I hope the very best for you, and I would like to be in your weddings.