Sunday, September 21, 2008


Let me begin by apologizing for not blogging in like...a month. I've been really busy. I've inflicted too much work on myself. I'm working through day at a time.

This weekend was a very important weekend for me. Some might say that attending your ten year high school reunion is a milestone. I say it's a right of passage. I spent weeks commenting, "My ten year high school reunion is in three weeks (two," By Friday I was a bit of a mess. I was wired, calling my friends and babbling about how I didn't know what I was going to wear. I got a hair cut. I went to target, was very unsatisfied, went to Old Navy, was even more unsatisfied, back to Target, EVEN MORE unsatisfied...AGAIN.

It's not what I expected. Going back to Harding was less of an anxiety than I had decided it would be. I don't know how to describe it really. I don't know how to make it make sense. I forgot how many people in High School loved me for being exactly the way I am. I think I felt so much in high school that no one understood me, and that's probably true (I still feel like no one understands me), but I had forgotten how many people were truly interested in and fascinated by the things that I did and thought. I had forgotten that, despite the regular nonsense that goes on in the private school bubble, we had all learned about love in the same way. We had all learned how to love each other.

I was amazed at the love that poured out of me this weekend. The love that stretched far beyond the pain and confusion that I have struggled with during my twenties. A love that recognized the same confusion and disillusion. I suppose there's a reason we have a ten year high school reunion rather than a five year reunion. Five years after high school, the realities of being in your twenties have just started to beat you down. Ten years down the line, you're not quite there yet, but you've gotten comfortable with the amount of strength it takes to get up in the morning. And it's finally okay to look back and have a little laugh at how young we were, and how big the world seemed. The distance between everyone you knew then grows over the years, but in the light of where you've all been, and where you're all trying to be, it's necessary to reach out and remember how easy it is to love.

I spent the end of the night at Chris Haley's birthday party. He gave a speech. He had a hard time trying to say it. But I knew...there is so much love. We have so much love to give. Even when we feel like there's nothing left...there's so much.

I'm trying this thing. I'm trying to share the love. I'm trying to decide to be happy. In 2006, I woke up every morning and tried to decide to forgive myself. This year, I will wake up in the morning and try to decide to be happy, and to love. Regardless of who loves me back. There's plenty.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Yesterday I went for an hour long walk. It was fantastic. I've never enjoyed walking quickly as much as I do now that I've lived in London. One hour of walking=loads of head clearing. Lots of remembering. One day in the summer of 2005, I was in Italy, camping on a family campground in the countryside outside of Florence. I was on my own, save for the Kiwi couple I met at the train station with whom I played cards almost all night the night before. I was sitting alone in my "cabin," and it was terribly quiet except for the occasional German kid yelling at his sibling. I was crying. I cried out break the silence. I cried for myself, but not for my losses. I cried for the overwhelming sense of being totally and entirely alone in the world. My ideas about love and family had fallen apart after twenty-four years. It's hard to explain. I had no connections, nothing to hold me down, nothing to hold me close. So I cried because I didn't know who I was any more. Because I had forgotten.

Here is what I have remembered.

I am
Nancy Caroline Allen
Daughter of Martha Lois Nevills
and James Anthony Allen
Born in Hickory, North Carolina
Raised in Memphis, Tennessee
Grandchild of Minnie C and Ruth
Student of Music, Theatre, Literature, Language
Teacher of English, Writing
Resident of Abilene, Dallas, Shenandoah National Park, London, Pilsen
Citizen of United States of America
a child of God

I give thanks for those that have taught me how to see the world
how to laugh
for those that have challenged me
for those that have taught me sacrifice
those that have taught me perseverance
for those that have loved me
for those that have stretched my heart harder and further than I ever imagined possible
I am overwhelmed with the love that has been stuffed inside of me, all the way up to the top, pouring over...terrifying...satisfying...infinite.

I am grateful for the fear that life has instilled in me...and also for the fearlessness that living requires.

Yes, I believe we are shaped by our memories. My soul is covered in fingerprints, and as much as I would like to polish some of them away, they remain. The years behind me are imprinted from the inside out...the rings of a tree, immovable. I remember when the scariest thing in my life was trying to figure out how to light the gas heater upstairs at my grandmother's house. I didn't. Instead I found as many blankets as I could, and I buried myself beneath them. I have never been alone. I woke up hours later to the sound of the gas feeding the blue flames. The clocks ticking. Old pictures in old frames smiling down at me. Who does that make me? A piece of the bigger picture of my complex and fascinating family...unconventional...indescribable. And not just blood.

Yes. Pain gets deep down into the cracks and crevices, and sometimes I cry like a baby. Sometimes I sob. I am grateful for the pain.

Finally, I give thanks for words. There are too many and never enough.