waiting for the sunrise

Observing what type of ads Spotify chooses to play amuses me greatly. And I get lots of chances, because living at home with a collection of musical individuals means that I end up hearing several different mixes.

For example, for a while the Spotify account connected to my mom’s facebook account was convinced that she was the target audience for ship stations. Like, when you’re running your own business and you need a convenient alternative to going to the post office all the time? It was super weird, because every other ad seemed to be about that, and no one in this household has any need to meter our own mail.

My Spotify is currently a mix of career advancement opportunities and higher education plugs, hair care, and jewelry advertisements. Spot-on on the one hand, but way off on the other. I don’t even have a boyfriend to elbow meaningfully when Jared is advertising their latest collection of Valentine’s Day diamonds.

So, thanks, algorithms. I now feel more single than ever.

Life lately has been full of a lot of music and a lot of choosing to smile. Because the past month-and-a-half of my life has not worked out at all the way I’ve expected. Despite plans to the contrary, I am still living at home. Despite plans to the contrary, the only construction projects I’ve undertaken are the tiny meaningless ones that I sometimes do on a whim when the family’s all gone from the house. (I built shelves where there used to be a trash compactor, and now my poor dad tries to close the cabinet every time he passes it, except there’s no door to close… Whoops.)

It’s been a rough month.

How does one get through a rough month?

Well. It takes a lot of music. It helps if your favorite artist releases an album full of joy in darkness. There might be a playlist full of the songs that quiet your soul and refocus your trouble mind. You’ll have to dance sometimes, wild and abandoned and unobserved, because it reminds your soul to dance. Sometimes you’ll hate driving because it means that you can only throw one hand to the heavens in worship if you’re going to keep holding onto the steering wheel.

It’s going to take some friends. Sometimes they’ll be close enough to wrap you in a hug, but most of the time it’s going to be their words that carry you. Because you’re alone in a town full of strangers, and as much as your family loves you and you love them, there’s nothing quite like your peers who’ve peered into your soul and identified with your struggles. Late night phone calls will get you through and coax laughter from your aching chest.

It’ll probably take some art. If you can create for someone else, so much the better. But there will be paintings. Videos. Sketches. A rabbit hutch that looks like a castle, the one you’ve been dreaming up since you sat those long afternoons on a carriage in the middle of Main Street, Mackinac. And bake. Bake a cake and cover it in the messiest layer of frosting ever, because art is a little abstract sometimes.

Keep your chin up. Maybe you’ll eventually learn which seat at the table is yours? (But probably not, because it’s constantly changing based on who’s visiting whom and who has rehearsals for what tonight.) Perhaps someday you’ll learn how to not be terrified navigate the six-way death-trap-of-a-stop-sign when you pick kids up at the end of the school day? (Who are you kidding; that thing is a nightmare and always will be.)

Most importantly, dear one, cling to your great God tighter than ever. He’s still here as he teaches you to wait, still here as he teaches you to listen. There are still great plans for your future, even as you sleep in a corner and scavenge the garage for dresses to wear to the church that you can’t make yourself fall in love with. Keep looking for his fingerprints on the messy canvas of your days—you’ll find them; I promise. Keep a prayer on your breath.

It’s alright that this time of life is hard; it just means you’ll come out stronger.

It’s alright that tomorrow seems uncertain; it just means you can focus on today.

It’s alright that plans change and things don’t seem to work out. It’s alright.

The sunrise is going to be spectacular.

And in the meantime, Spotify will keep mixing up a steady dose of hope and diamond ads.

– Melissa

 Life feels fragile. God is not. (A Spotify Playlist That Refuses To Embed Correctly…)

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this place cannot be Home

Do you ever focus on the things you most would like to ignore? The facts that are most unrelated to reality or the most likely to cast reality in a dim light?

I do. All the time.

Like, I almost just threw my phone across the room and nearly burst into tears because my fingers had the great idea to pull up my calendar app to see how long it’s been since I didn’t spend every evening alone in my room. Why borrow that pain? Why not focus on the days where I’ve had really great days and come home to happily curl up on my futon to recharge because I was peopled out and didn’t want company?

I’m actually an optimistic person. I think. I see the best in people and events. For the most part.

Yet negativity is such an easy spiral to get sucked into. And you try to work through it on paper, because that’s the easiest way for you to figure things out, and it just gets worse. You work yourself into a frenzy and you can’t wrap it up because you don’t know how. You can’t scream at the people who have broken your heart because a public attack doesn’t allow them to defend themselves and that’s too innately infair. The fear is spread out on the table but goes unaddressed, and all the pain of the semester is documented like the video I took of the filth of my kitchen this afternoon.

I want to scream, but even my paper scream gets swallowed.

Because as much as I want to scream, I’m afraid to be heard.

Because if I am heard, someone might say something.

And I don’t think I can believe their love.

It’s not that I feel unlovely. It’s that I feel unseen.

Like, I think you could love me if you knew who I really was, but I don’t want your hollow allegiance to this mask that I wear. The mask that I am so ready to set aside if you ask.

Ask me, and I become real and vulnerable. Heck, you don’t even have to ask. Just notice the freaking mask, raise an eyebrow, and I’ll slip it off with a sheepish, ‘you caught me, but are you sure you’re ready’ kind of a smile.

So why wear the mask at all, if all I want to do is take it off.

Because when people don’t bother to see the mask, at least they’re not ignoring the real me.

Does that make any sense? I know it doesn’t have to; I’m just writing what I feel. But still. Does it?

When we play hide and seek as kids, what’s the goal?

It’s to be found.

If you leave a kid in hiding for long enough without finding him, he’s going to get antsy and eventually reveal himself. Maybe not give up his hiding spot, because the other goal of the game is to be the best at hiding. But still. Being found is central.

Plus I don’t think I even started out hiding. Sure, I started out college painfully shy and crazily overwhelmed. But I did come out of that shell. I did make an effort to meet people. To see them.

I even think it’s safe to say that I’ve seen people. I’ve found them, whether they were hiding deep or were wandering around without a hiding spot.

And not everyone’s going to be a match, I get that. Not every friendship becomes a David and Jonathan.

Actually, most friendships won’t be David and Jonathan.

But, like, could we actually be friends? Could we take the time to consistently see each other, rather than just off-handedly noticing each other once in a while?

I am so. Freaking. Lonely.

And I am so tired of feeling guilty for feeling lonely. I am tired of the arguments with myself over whether I am allowed to be disappointed by people’s behavior or whether it’s my own fault for expecting more of them than was realistic. What does friendship really mean? Is friendship, at its most basic, noticing when someone’s hurting, or is that something deeper than just entry-level friendship? Is my definition of friendship just way out of sync with reality? Are we really even friends, or are we just friendly acquaintances?

I know that I’m no model human. I know that I aggravate the heck out of people and I come across as aloof or as clingy far too often, which is ridiculous because those are pretty much opposites. I don’t always play well with others, and you probably won’t find a more opinionated person between here and the Rio Grande, but I do try. And I do care.

And if I didn’t care, then no one would have the power to break my heart.

It is the end of my second-to-last semester and I am ready to get the heck out of dodge.

I am ready to be back with the people who truly see me.

This semester I have sung. I have laughed. I have danced for joy in the sunshine and the wind. I have smiled at people and they have smiled back at me. I have embraced others and felt their arms enfold me in return.

Even so, at the end of the day every day, I still end up here. In my room. Alone.

And the thing is, it’s kind of too late for you to join me to make it all okay again.

Because I don’t believe you. Not anymore.

In 225 days, I graduate, and then I’m gone. Because this place—this dynamic—can’t be home.

– Melissa