Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I wrote this blog this past April after attending the wedding of two of my favorite people in Austin, TX.  I never posted it because it seemed too silly and sentimental. Right now, I could go for a little silly... and sentimental.

I recently attended a wedding. I haven't been too up on weddings in a while. I honestly think the last wedding I attended was a friend's from high school, and I didn't even actually attend the wedding. I made it just in time for the reception, and that was the best part...because there was free wine and frozen daiquiris.

I grew up in the church, a church that taught me that my ultimate goal was to find a husband and have children...and raise them in the church. How would I mark the beginning of this, my real life? With a wedding, of course!

There would be a ceremony, beginning with the bride walking slowly on a plastic white "carpet," announced by some pop song. The rooms (sanctuaries) were usually white walled with beige or sea-foam carpeting. This part of the wedding, the ceremony, would last no less than forty-five minutes, almost, if not as long as, the length of a church service.

The bride and groom would light a candle together, or pour sand into a jar (ridiculous. RIDICULOUS) to represent their unity. Then, they would kiss, and it would be time for cake.

Cake was as much as one could expect from the grand reception celebrations. There was also punch and sometimes cookies. The "party" would take place in the fellowship hall, filled with long tables and folding metal chairs, lit by the glare of magnificent florescent lighting.

The bride and groom would cut the cake, throw the bouquet and...the garter belt (but not really a garter belt) to the single men and women, and then they would run out the doors to their limousine, and disappear into the exciting new world of doin it...together.

And it was sacred*, and it was beautiful*, and clean* and pure*, because anything more would be...SIN.

I don't want to shine the WORST light on this. I know many wonderful people who did the best they could with such ceremonies and have had a grand time of marriage. The important part, I'm sure, is the marriage, not the wedding.

The wedding I attended last week in Austin, TX, that joined my close friends, NAY, bestest friends Carol Alexander and Matthew Falkenberg, was all of those things*, as well as one of the most beautiful sins I have ever committed.

I know. That's a really big statement to make. Like, that's huge and sentimental and shit. But I don't know how else to describe it.

We ate and drank and...indulged...and swam, and danced, and sang, and drank more (and indulged), and danced and sang more than I may have ever done.

It was pure and beautiful and even sacred, but not because it was religious. It wasn't.

I think somewhere along the line, we may have forgotten who...what....God is. God is Love. And that is huge. It's bigger than religion..s.

Matthew and Carol were married by our wonderful friend Devin, who recently married his precious husband, McKenzie in our nation's capital so that they could be transferred together when the Marines sent him to Japan. So that he could be with his family, with the man he loved.

And I cried.

I've been thinking a lot about love and about family, extending those definitions to the people in my life that I've used to redefine my tree. I lost hold of my concept of what it meant to belong when my ideals were challenged way back (you may know the story). I eventually found that loving the others in my life could fill the void left by the rift in my belief system. I took love away from the romantic notion and found it in everything.

But I forgot that the romantic notion was also real, and I've been rolling my eyes a lot over the years.

When my heart was broken for the first time, I wailed to my mother that The Bible (which states: Love never fails) was wrong. She always says she did a bad job of raising me (which isn't a nice thing to say to a daughter, MOM), but my mother hit the nail on the head that day when she answered, "that verse isn't talking about people, and it's not talking about marriage, it's talking about God."

It's hard for me to think about, "God" without thinking about "Love." I try to remind myself that it's not okay to equate God with the people who say they represent...IT (close your mouth, parents). The verse is talking about love. And I know, I'm waxing spiritual like I fancy myself some sort of prophet. I don't. I've believed in that all encompassing God-love for a while now, but I haven't necessarily believed in that romantic love.

I do now. Again. A little. At least. Finally. Because it's the same damn thing, or it should be.

I found love after knowing Matthew and Carol for less than a year. I chose them as my family, and Devin and McKenzie too. Since then we have grown together and apart. We have moved closer and further away, and last week, we met up again, with others in our circles, and we ate and drank and danced and sang. We celebrated love and commitment, and we laughed together as we acknowledged the inevitable hard times.

I know I'm too sentimental. I know it. I wish I could be funnier right now. But I can't. I'm a damn love-sick fool, and I don't care who knows it.

It may seem easier to follow a predetermined path for your life, to try your damnedest to make all the pieces fit so that you can float by with as much ease as possible. But there comes a time when you have to grow up.

"When I was child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, but when I grew up, I put childish ways behind me." (I made this one my own...meaning, I took out the gender specifics) (gender is a structure, not a real thing. Kill your idols).

There is no guidebook for your life, and there is no way to plan for your future, even with a 401K and a savings account with a great interest rate (if that even exists!). There is only you...and the people you love, but it can take a while to see them, to find them.

"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (that's just straight up NIV, kids)

My friends, the people that I love, have taught me to love in every way that one can, and through those lessons, they have inadvertently helped me to continue my hope in the greater love, the omnipresent love, the love we forget about that calls us to put away the self and serve the other. There is no greater task. There is no job that trumps our responsibility to love each other. 

Matthew and Carol, if you're reading this, you are part of the team that taught me that love still exists (even the sexy kind!), and holy cow, what a feat. You guys are like...not just a piece of the pie...but the whole pie. And I wish you the absolute best. I hope, when it's hard, when part of the pie seems to be missing, that you remember the rest of the pie still waiting to be eaten. I also hope this metaphor makes sense. 

Now, I say with confidence, to anyone listening, it's true, "Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away." 

And nothing else matters. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Blues is Just a Cicada in Your Beer

The sound of the singing cicadas begins in the morning and grows stronger and louder as the summer sun reaches it's place, first in the noon sky, and finally again as it reaches the horizon in the west. It doesn't matter where I am when I hear them, their song instantly takes me back to Memphis.

It took a while for me to understand how it felt to have a nationality, but it took me no time at all to know what it felt like to come from a place. I realized where I was from, and the part it would play in my life, the first time I crossed the bridge over the Mississippi River into Arkansas. I sat up on my knees in the back seat of my parents' car and watched the skyline rise and fall as we disappeared into the west. 

When I left for the first time to live in another place, all I could think of was the river and the Mississippi Delta, the slow gate of the inhabitants of area code 901, the bitter idealism, the weeping of the music, and the mysticism on every street corner. 

Memphis took me in, although she was not my birth home. She raised me and sent me on my way. When I came back to her, broken and lost, she took me in, put me back together, and made me see who I was, maybe for the first time in my life. 

It was most certainly the people that colored my life in the bluff city, but we were all under the spell of her dark magic. 
A few days ago the Cicadas in Chicago stopped singing; however, they are still present. I see their shells lying along the grass in small, neatly trimmed lawns. They leave them, their old selves, behind as they continue to migrate.

Go back in time and find the shells I have left behind, those I continually leave in my wake. I don't know why, but I keep moving, running once I've found it too difficult to keep singing.

When I returned home to Memphis after learning to teach English in Europe, meeting Liam, falling in love with the world outside my home, the Cicadas were in full force, flinging their bodies into violent flights, and singing at the top of their...lungs(?).

One found its way into my beer at a house party in midtown. I was drinking someone's home brew. It was sweet and malty. Not the Cicada, the beer. The Cicada leapt from the shadows and into my beer. Just as quickly as its body landed in my beverage, it had flung itself out and on to the next Solo cup. I kept drinking the beer. My friends made that beer, which means they put their passion into it.

The times when the Blues have come into my life have seemed like little lifetimes within themselves. I feel like I'm walking down a dark tunnel, tense and certain with a twinge of doubt that the light will appear...eventually? The darkness always seems relentless, like the song of the Cicadas.

I know that it isn't. I know that life is difficult, that it doesn't really get better or easier. But I also know that I can handle it because I am stronger than even I realize...or will probably ever admit to myself. It's easier to make friends when I'm weak than it is to keep them. I can chase everyone I know away in a matter of minutes when that particular bad dream shows its face (The Blues...stay with me, guys). The ones that don't run are infinitely amazing to me. The ones that stay with me and hold my hand when I am THE WORST at holding hands, those are the people I hope I never lose.

I know I can't keep flinging my body from one beer to the next; thus, as I continue my travels, I have stopped running home. I would love to return more than I can say, but I will never rise from the ashes if I keep packing them up and dragging them to Memphis with me. I know that phoenix metaphor is pretty dramatic, and I'm a little embarrassed about it, but it sounds kinda cool too, and I don't want to be afraid of the overly sentimental if it gets the point across...or just...like...affects someone.

I'm in a tough spot right now, but I'm not alone, and despite my urge to continue to run, I've got to stay here and finish this beer. I'm pretty sure my friends made it, which means...

Oh, HI!