tramping through Narnian snow

Last month I had the privilege to assistant direct a play by the name of Christmas in Terminal B with a local community theatre group. It was, overall, a beneficial and worthwhile experience, but it was also a real struggle since tech week landed squarely on my finals week.

Last year I spent threeish hours underneath a table in the makeup room of the theatre during finals week because that’s where I was mentally. That was without tech week for a show I was assistant directing—a show in which anything that could go haywire did go haywire.

Anyway…tech week saw me barely clawing my way to the rehearsal space, dark circles under my eyes, random economic principles and facts about European theatre spinning around in my head. The entire cast and crew were awesome at cutting me slack over missed cues and spacey moments, and were also great about letting me go early so that I could study or sleep or whatever that night required of me.

Marlo, our stage manager, even brought me a box of chocolates.

Not just any box of chocolates, mind you: one of the boxes that has a key on the lid so that you know what you’re eating.

“Life is a box of chocolates.”

I don’t know who said that, but it’s so true, especially when you don’t have the chocolate key. But I had it and it was great because I could avoid the coconut ones and the ones with caramel so chewy that it rips out your teeth.

But, you know, Finals Week cannot allow anything so blissful as that.

When I took the chocolates home that night, the box came open just enough in my backpack that all of the chocolates slipped from their cozy little nests and pooled at one end of the box. So much for having a key.

That’s kind of how 2016 and the first couple of weeks of 2017 have felt: there’ve been some really great moments (and some really gross coconut moments) but life’s shook the box up and I have no idea what the heck is going on.

2016 brought the blossoming of unexpected friendships and the completion of the first half of my oh-so-difficult college career. It gave me the most amazing experience of my life to date: Scotland; and it bestowed upon me the most pressing dream of my life to date: to get back to Scotland. It granted me my own room for the first time since Abbie joined the family back in 1997, and that’s been unspeakably awesome. I got to join a small group at my church in Abilene, and act in my all-time favorite venue, and help direct a show for the first time in three years. There were at least three amazing concerts that I got to attend, all of which I got to attend with one family member or another.

But 2016 also saw me wreck my sister’s/my truck, as well as the wreck of a couple of really precious friendships. It handed me a move and some really tough goodbyes, health concerns for my horse (though, really, that’s a yearly thing), and a feud with my sister that didn’t really start to get resolved until a month or so ago. And just college in general, with all its stresses and heartaches and people…all the people.

So now it’s 2017 and there’s a lot to unpack, but I haven’t found time for it amidst the tumult that is this year. I’ve changed my major from two down to one and I’m going to graduate a semester early because I Hardin-Simmons is crushing the breath from my chest and I couldn’t see how I’d have the air to make it to graduation unless something changed, so I made changes and it’s great and also terrifying. Dad’s got to find a job and my family might be moving again and it’s all so upside down and turned around that I can’t follow it anymore or even guess where things are going to land in the next week or so. I have multiple possibilities on the fire for the coming summer, and I’ve shuffled them all around and we’ll see how things fall over the course of this month so that I can make some real decisions. No idea where I’m going to be living this summer or—more critically—this fall when I’m back in Abilene for just one semester instead of two.

And all of that since January 1.

But January 1…

We started off the year gathered around a piano singing Auld Lang Syne. Me and my best friends in the world, just…together. Ha. Now I’m about to cry because gosh I miss them so much and plus I’m tired and also I haven’t cried recently so I’m about due for a poorly justified meltdown. But, yeah, it was fantastic, and then the day was together and laughing and more fantastic. Pretty auspicious start to a year, right?

2016 was a box of chocolates that somebody had shaken.

I think 2017 is feeling more like Narnia?

You know, because it started off magical, and then it’s gotten cold and snowy and wintery, but still magical, and eventually I’ll come out on top of this struggle and it’ll be good awhile and then the next books will come along and life will get crazy and hard again, but at the end there’s the Last Battle and we all come out all right and together again.

Can 2017 be Narnia? And can we meet Aslan?

Maybe. Maybe there’ll be a pirate adventure in here somewhere, and maybe we’ll get to the last pages and come together to sing Auld Lang Syne again, and maybe we’ll harmonize even more closely and hold each other even more tightly because of the battles we’ve come through and the Lion we’ve looked in the eye to see our souls reflected back at us.

I am terrified of 2017. But I think the Pevensies were a little bit scared too. So I think it’s going to be okay.

– Melissa
check out this music inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia

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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)