to you, my __________

I miss you today. With the swirl of holiday joy about me, your absence is keenly felt.

But who is ‘You’?

You on its own is just an empty pronoun.

You are the ‘friend’ who wasn’t, who I had to walk…no, run away from but who still haunts my thoughts at unexpected moments. And I wish things had worked out differently. And I wish I could just text you to say, ‘hey.’ Safe doesn’t mean easy. Safe doesn’t mean desirable.

You are that feeling of absolute abandon, when the game ceased to be a game and became life and somehow that skinny child was a horse and somehow I really was a world famous horse breeder and somehow we really did win all kind of ribbons and trophies and acclaim without ever leaving our corner of the yard. Growing up has had its benefits. But imagination free of self-consciousness was pretty great too.

You are four legs and a mane and a tail and all the mass of muscles in between. Kind eyes and soft nose and a shoulder to cry on. You’re an idiot, and you’re afraid of everything, but this semester has been so long without you, and the three days until I see you again seems an eternity, and there’s a little pang in my heart when I know that you haven’t missed me. Not really. But there will be adventures together in the next month and I’ll pretend that another goodbye isn’t in our future.

You are laughter in the safety of camaraderie, that feeling of belonging among people, of simple blissful rightness. The too-late nights and the afterward wondering if we’d squeak in by curfew. The radio volume that should have deafened us but only made us giddy. I keep hoping I’ve tasted something here akin to our friendship. I’ve found friends, but not friends; not soul-siblings.

You are someone I’ve never met. Someone Mom used to tell me will love me more than Daddy does—and that’s gonna be pretty hard to accomplish. And let me tell you what, Christmas-time of all times reminds me that you’re not here. Don’t believe me? Listen to any Christmas song. If it’s not about a baby in a manger, then nine times out of ten it’s about you. You may not be All I Want For Christmas, but I do miss you, somehow, deeply, despite your unfamiliarity. And some days I look at the mess of me and wonder how you could even exist, how I could have a future that involves a ‘me’ being united into a ‘we.’

You are the stars. Pure and simple. A galaxy-filled sky to lose my eyes in and whisper my fears to. The campus is too bright to find you here. And Colorado was too full of…other things. I don’t even know what exactly. But I miss you and your light, and I’ll try to carve a bit of the next month to come and reacquaint myself to you. Do you remember me? Or have you been watching me all along, hiding in a seemingly dark sky?

You are my best friend. And texts and phone calls and Skype don’t begin to do our friendship justice. You remind me to keep my chin up and somehow know when my eyes fill with tears. Even though you shouldn’t possibly be able to know. You hear all my schemes and nod with silent willingness and get dragged into all kinds of mischief. Your loyalty blows my mind and pushes me to be a better person. And I don’t know how our story ends, because life seems intent on keeping us in different states for a while. But I know that someway it’ll all work out. I cling to that. I cling to the God that brought us to meet each other. And twenty-eight days is just enough time for us to get into real trouble.

All in all, I miss you. Achingly much. I guess all the emotions of the end of finals and the end of this semester and the idea of being home in just a few days decided that they wanted to express themselves in tears of longing. But I feel better. At least a little better. Even with the missing still there.

Maybe I’ll get to see you again. And maybe I won’t. Maybe sometimes there’s no room for maybes. Maybe I need sleep.

You seems such an empty pronoun.

But it’s so much more than that.

– Melissa

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Joy to the World

It’s been a good week, and as of yesterday I can officially say that I have made it through a semester of classes—I still have finals to take next week, but that’s not really the same as classes, so I’m calling this a victory regardless of what anyone else has to say on the matter. So there.

The weather this week has been lovely, mainly classes have been lovely—except for Tuesday when I ended up voluntarily singing out of the blue in Bible class to help out a professor who’d forgotten the words to the song he was halfway through singing to illustrate a point, and also got pulled to the front of the class in Speech so that the professor could give a blow-by-blow of my somewhat embarrassingly-high A to the class—and I haven’t hated people all that much.

Highlight of the week (maybe of the entire semester) was definitely reading the cast list posted yesterday to find out that I had been cast in my first college performance!

Adding even more substance to the joy this knowledge brings is the background of longing for the stage that I’ve experienced ever since my last not-directed-by-me-or-performed-in-our-itty-bitty-drama-club performance all the way back in April of my Sophomore year. Two and a half years is a really long time for a dramatist like myself to go without blinking into spotlights.

Of course, being cast in a show has brought with it the typical two-sided extreme of emotion that basically anything elicits from me: I am so overjoyed that I can hardly function and at the same time I feel so inadequate and insufficient that I just want to crawl under something and cry.

How is it possible to have a superiority complex and an inferiority complex at the same time?!

I dunno. It probably has to do with the fact that God knows that I am so prone to trying things on my own and that it takes crazy contradictions like these to get me to retrain my eyes on the only constant my life has ever known: the astounding love of my Creator.

But, yeah. The last couple of days have been emotionally turbulent.

Another highlight (not quite as high, but still great) was getting to see HSU Opera’s performance of ‘The Magic Flute—Abridged’. The performance was fabulous.

Let me be the first to say that I don’t know that I could typically sit through an opera. However, this one was (as I said) abridged, plus it was in English and was on a level that kids could understand—meaning that we uncultured people could understand it too. The costumes were bright and fun, the singing was great and not overmuch, and the whole thing lasted only forty-five minutes.

Yay, HSU opera!

After the performance there was still a set to strike (even though this show wasn’t the theatre department’s) and out of the goodness of my heart—and the sheer boredness of nothing else to do—I stuck around to help the shop workers with the strike. It only took us less than three hours, and it was honestly perfect.

‘Why perfect,’ you ask?

‘Don’t you have a blister on your finger from this ‘perfect’ strike,’ you skeptically wonder?

It was perfect because not-so-shy but very-introverted-and-almost-antisocial Melissa only had six other people to deal with, and one of them she already knew quite well and a second she’d worked with before. I can handle small groups, and it was great to get to immerse myself in a group of theatre peeps without feeling like I was drowning.

Tonight I get to go to a theatre party.

I am not nearly as excited.

Because there will be a lot of people in a small space.

Yay people.

Life could be so much worse, though. I’ve had an entire semester to have all (or at least a good number) of my insecurities pointed out to me, and I’m rather inclined to believe that I’ll be ready next semester to start vanquishing my foes. (The ones that are fears, that is. I’ll be very careful to avoid attempting the vanquishment of any humans I am inclined to consider foes. I do, you see, have some sort of self-control.)

All that to say, I’ll be acting, I’m excited, God is good, and it’s easy to remember all the reasons to be joyful.

Oh, so one last aside that made me smile, Sierra smile, and definitely amused some random gentleman yesterday. The two of us (Sierra and I) had to make a run to Walmart to pick up food for the party tonight, and as we were walking up to the store, I started singing. If you know me, you know how this goes: I take a common song and switch out the words until I’m singing stare-worthy nonsense completely seriously at the top of my lungs.

Last night I happened to pick up the The Band Perry line ‘If I die young, bury me in satin…’ (I don’t know what song this is from; I only know the chorus, and even that is iffy.) But I switched ‘satin’ to ‘cotton’ and went on to describe (in song) why this was a necessary choice. Sierra rolled her eyes as she has learned to do, but the man we were walking past cracked up laughing.

Maybe I’m not famous (yet) and maybe I do sometimes feel like my voice has an extremely limited impact. But I got the accidental opportunity to bring a smile to someone else—how cool is that!?

I guess my point is two-fold:

  1. It is probably a very bad idea for Sierra and I to be allowed to hang out together, because nonsense happens quite a lot and I sometimes fear for the safety of the world.
  2. Don’t be afraid to be yourself—however weird that might look. Someone might need to hear you singing about cotton or watch you waddle like a penguin down the sidewalk. You do you (to the extent that it glorifies your creator).

That’s really all I’ve got for you today. But in the words of Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber: “Remember, God made you special, and He loves you very much. Goodbye!”

– Melissa
(If you need music to dance to, check this out!)

giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! Okay, so it’s several days late. Be thankful for your blessings every day and all that jazz.

The reason for my belated posting is that…well…it was Thanksgiving. And I was busy hanging out with my beloved family of weirdos. You think I’m exaggerating? We had a Turkey Bowl in the snow and the eight year old was expected to tackle my mother. (Yeah, that rule did get changed. But still.)

I feel like I used to be a lot better at mental multi-tasking. Maybe I was just better at mentally checking out. Either way, I’m finding that time spent with my family becomes time that I’m not thinking in blog posts or texting friends until all hours of the night. I guess it comes down to the ‘you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.’ To anyone still in high school: don’t take your family for granted; before you know it you’ll be living a six hour flight away and get to see them once a month if you’re lucky.

Instead of Thanksgiving being a homey affair, we (my aunt, family, and I) congregated in the little town of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Pagosa Springs is a tourist trap, desirable for the “healing” properties of the natural hot springs for which the town is named.

Fun facts: the hot springs in Pagosa Springs stink and the closest Walmart is an hour away until they open the one they’re currently building in town.

No family is perfect, mine included, and we did our share of wanting to kill each other, but we also had a boatload of fun. We drove half an hour to Wolf Creek Pass to play in the snow on Thanksgiving Day, which is where the Turkey Bowl took place and where we got the family picture that is going to be vying for a spot on our Christmas cards this year. We drove two and a half hours (plus the detour to Walmart in Durango) to Four Corners, and we all got to straddle the four states that meet there: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona.

I’m not sure if I’ve been in Utah other than that experience…hmm….

Anyway, Four Corners was fun, but if you’re planning to go I’d suggest you wait a few months and then hope and pray that they’ve finished construction on the bathrooms they’re working on because…whew…that portion of the experience was an assault on the olfactory sense.

My sisters, Mum and I got to go window shopping around town yesterday, which was fun for all. Well, the youngest sister had slightly less fun, because she really prefers the concept of shopping to the concept of window shopping. But she found an, um, unique card she’s planning on giving my parents for their anniversary next month, and that pacified the buy-something bug in her to some extent.

Basically, it was just fun to scamper about gigglingly with my favorite girls again. I’ve missed mocking clothes and offering to buy each other atrocious knick-knacks together.

And then we scampered off to see Mockingjay Part 1—Grace read the first of the series early last week, we watched the second movie on Thursday, and she had no idea what to expect going into the movie, so it was hilarious to watch her freak out over the plot. I’m not going to offer a review for all of you, but let me just say that even the very limited use of ASL onscreen (I think they used a grand total of five signs) absolutely made up for any variations the screenwriters may have made from the book’s plot.

All things said and done, good and bad, it really did balance out to be a wonderful extended-weekend.

But now (as in when I wrote this; now it’s this today’s tomorrow) I’m on the road back to the dorms. (My aunt’s driving, people. Stop assuming that I’m stupid enough to try driving and blogging at the same time! Yeesh!)

Not my favorite situation.

However…it’s just twelve days until I see family again, and only a few days after that until I’m back home with the rest of the gang and my friends and my horse. Twelve days of Christmas.

I suppose I don’t have overmuch to say tonight. I’m definitely not feeling overly philosophical, nor even overly emotional. I just know it’s been awhile since I updated the blog, and so wanted to check in with y’all and remind you of the value of those oftentimes insane people you call brother or sister or mom or dad or aunt or some nickname that has such a complicated back story that you don’t even try to explain it to strangers.

I’m sure I’ll be back with updates sooner than later, especially as the chaos of finals ebbs and flows and I procrastinate by finding “equally important” things to do. I’m really good at that.

Until then, though, enjoy the Advent season (there really is no other good phase for the awkward little bit of time after Thanksgiving but before Christmas is truly just around the corner…) and enjoy your family and enjoy life.

Oh, and also learn American Sign Language, because it is a beautiful language. (That’s got little to do with anything, but I just happened to think of it and I tend to type whatever I think. You’re welcome. And I do mean it about learning ASL.)

– Melissa
(insert every Christmas song ever imagined here)