Monday, August 26, 2013

That Girl: Do You Remember Her?

Somewhere, deep inside of me, an eight year old girl still lives. That girl who would stand on the deck of her house and wish the Rockies would stand up and trade places simply because they were bored. That wild horses ran loose in Elk Meadow. That hot chocolate is a summer drink just as much as a winter drink because it snows sometimes in July, even if it is melted by noon.

The third grader who insisted to her teacher that turning the notebook sideways helped her write; ridiculous right-handed bias against a left-handed student. That fourth grader who read the Hobbit, albeit in a month, and the Fellowship of the Ring and White Fang a year later, despite the insistence of her teacher that it was above her level and she did not want poor quiz scores to lower AR reading levels.

That girl who got an 18/20 on those reading quizzes and who was reading near college level at twelve. Who created her own world and its heritage in middle school and began the first draft of her first novel at age 13. The girl who fought through an eighth grade year of stupid boys  and numerous sick days to get her only 4.0 GPA for her final quarter. The girl who moved six times across the country and around the Pacific Northwest.

That girl. The one who despised page limits. Who railed against an average vocabulary and people who did not think. After all, it's the new sexy. The girl so bookish, she could lose herself for hours and read hundreds of pages, if not a whole book, in a day. Who tried her hand at romance writing and found she was good at it, despite having no personal experience to draw from and still does not.

That girl.
She got lost a few years ago.
Put down her pen.
Dropped her books.
Forgot the view.

You see, she fell in love with different stories. The wrong stories. She went against her nature until she suppressed it so completely. She loves people now. She loves their stories. She loves their lives and how they live it. She got involved in the mess. She became defensive of people, but never learned to be defensive of herself. She fiercely loves her friends, even when they do not fiercely love her. She enacted the traits she read about, the old-fashioned character that melded her upbringing.

She has learned the hard way.

Life is the same as the books she read. Full of danger and bravado. But no safety.

She has seen love in books and in life and rages at the discrepancy, wondering how people who know what it feels like, how they could present it as it is not. Who would do that? Who would tell them to do that?

She sees the epic quests. They are full of dragons and gold. But the dragons are not defeated. The gold is not reclaimed. It is becomes a constant fight in the singular.

And now she sits here, typing this, wondering at the girl she once was.
Wondering at the little girl I once was and how the things have changed.

And yet...some things have not. For I still remember pieces of her.

I still am one of the biggest Anglophiles you will ever meet. God Save the Queen!

I may not drink hot chocolate in July, but hot tea, any time, with milk and honey, of course.

And every week it seems, my book collection grows. Just today I added the complete and collected Sherlock Holmes as well as Kavalier & Clay. My time for reading goes down, but my book stacks in front of my shelves and boxes in the closet and garage are ever increasing. I have little time to just curl up and read, but when I do, God help you if you disrupt me.

I do not write any more, or have not since that one day, nearly three years ago. The words escape my head, my creativity in the throws of an extended drought. I know, though, that they are there, for I continue to write, just not like before, not like I used to. It may take some time, years even.

One day, I am sure of it. Perhaps I will be laying in the grass on a blanket, leaned against the chest of the man I love or with a child I would pull a star from the heavens for and it will begin again. The words will pour out, as if from my fingertips and I will not be able to stop them. And that first novel all the way back from 2004, it will find itself finished with a period, or possibly a question mark as its final punctuation. And because it was that child who gave me the words, it is those words I will read every night before they sleep until it is finished.

Yes, there are things about my eight year old, my twelve year old self I wish I could reclaim.
There was a lot of innocence in being that young, even with how much my family moved.
But there is one thing time has given me that I am thankful for and it is this simple:

If you had asked my eight year-old, boy chasing, insanely flirtatiously confident self if I was to be married I may have laughed at you and said boys have cooties, but I would like to think yes, if I could get past that. My answer has not changed. I am no longer insanely confident nor aware of flirtation, but I no longer think men contagious. If you had asked my twelve year old self, who fought with her little brother constantly, if I would have children with my husband, she would have flat out told you no, that children and siblings are the worst sort of thing you could inflict upon your self and the world around you. That answer has been completely replaced. Perspective changes everything.

And yes, do I fancy the idea that my Anglophile self will be rewarded with a husband with a fantastic voice and accompanying accent? Yes, on days I am truly ridiculous. Ordinarily, a great voice is more than enough and that designation is not strict, but must be earned.

I do not know how else to say it.

I am 22 years old...almost 23.

I freely admit that the sooner I get married, the better we all will be.

I also admit that it will probably have to be arranged, because I have no idea how it will happen.

I am massively introverted, regardless of how conversational I can be.

I spent years having the introvert beat out of me with constant demands for my attention. I am now fighting to beat the extrovert out of me. It does not belong in the dominance it has achieved.

In the future, any stories I write for my children or grandchildren or great grandchildren, I wrote solely for them. Publish something I write posthumously and see whom I haunt until eternity comes.

That girl. Do you see her now? Do you remember her, even a trace of her?

I remember that girl. She is still there. She is not gone. She is still me.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Greatest Lie

I find myself at a loss as how best to explain myself tonight.

It almost undoes me to admit it to myself let alone other people.

Since May I have had conversations with a man I met at one of my best friend's weddings in the middle of April. We have conversed about many things:
* our love of food--particularly regional and ethnic
* we have shared music back and forth and have common favorites
* we both love insane Youtube videos and ridiculous, stupid jokes, particularly puns
* He is intelligent and driven
* He doesn't take himself too seriously, but knows when to be serious...I think
* He is family-centric
* I can see him fighting to pursue God
* He has the fortune of being able to combine his great loves with his studies and his job
* I know where he spent one of the best months of his life
* I have seen him handle a stressful situation with multiple attention demands and not lose his head
* He knows exactly how to tease me and turn me a color of red you may never have seen before
* If he had to chose another name, I know what it is
* Seeing him only twice this summer, one planned, one by luck of the draw, made me excruciatingly nervous for absolutely no reason. Spending time with him and talking with him was as easy as breathing.

What am I trying to say with all of this? As if the first part of this was not entirely laser-lighted, I have a crush on him I cannot seem to get a rein on. The worst part, as my radar is worth nothing when it comes to this sort of interaction, I have not the foggiest if there is even mutual interest, despite others suggesting there is grounds to believe there is. Besides, what man would talk exclusively to one woman for such an extended period of time?

And you know what lie the Deceiver whispered in my ear at church that Sunday, at the end of July, as I sat next to this man in question? He slithered onto my shoulder and hissed at me, "Silly, Sheridan. What were you thinking? You believed a man like him: popular, tall, and handsome would actually find something equally appealing in you? How ridiculous. But I know, he's exactly your type: the athlete, the one all the girls love, handsome, smart, from a good family, with your ever pressing and ridiculous requirement: a Godly man, especially one who treats the women around him with respect. He is exactly your type, historically. You are forgetting one small, but crucial detail: You have never dated your type. Your type has never liked you back, not that they have said anyway. What makes you think he is any different? Oh, my hell, you are so predictable. Well, sweetheart, let me burst this bubble of yours now, as you have, clearly, gotten ahead of yourself.

"Shall we examine the facts that sit next to you in this exact moment in time? I think we should. How long have you know him, three months, almost four? If he were interested, would he not have done something about it now or at least come to see you in the Springs? Not necessarily, you say. The whole long distance thing, an excuse, but then let's evaluate this then shall we? Let's describe him: 6'8", muscular build as he still maintains a fitness regimen, even if it is not as rigorous as his basketball days, sharp features--the jawline--and what other preposterous way you put it: underlying facial architecture--and the blue eyes. Of course, how could I forget, as if you were not so utterly ridiculous, his left-handedness made him even more attractive to you. You see how unfairly tipped the scale is, though, my dear? You are a foot shorter than he is and while you are not ugly or fat, you certainly do not really think you have what it takes to stand by his side. You are plain at best and while you are a runner, you have done so infrequently this year that you are far from tone and you know he looks every inch it. And you have seen the girl, his ex. Sweetie, time to step out of the clouds, plant yourself on the ground. Your type is out of your reach. You and the basketball player. Or the Navy pilot. Equal vanity points. Equally outlandish matches. Why would he choose you? Just think on that. What in anything that has happened suggests he will choose you?"

It is amazing everything that can be said to your heart and mind and spirit in the space of a few seconds, even sitting in church. We think the church is sacred ground against the enemy, that we cannot feel his effects within its walls and he should be burned by even attempting something. He is more crafty than that, unfortunately. He has convinced the world He does not exist, why should a building stop him? What are physical barriers when space and time mean nothing to him? He will attack your soul just as soon as attack your body. And do you want to know what that feels like? It is a wedge that drives itself between you and the subject of the lie. It left me feeling agitated and worried the entire drive home and at points throughout the day as to whether I had done something wrong by sitting with him. What finally ended it was taking a moment and screaming at the lie and telling God over and over I did not believe it and then deciding to do something I had learned weeks before: communicate, ask instead of dread, face the truth and move forward. The man in question confirmed that I had believed a lie. He was glad he got to see me before I left the state and that we had not gotten to engage in what will be, I am sure, a quickly escalating prank war (when it happens).

I forgot, consumed by the lie, the foundation of all of this, regardless of whether or not he likes me in return: he is my friend. We can laugh and joke and tell each other how badly we want a drink without the other beating down and instead saying, "I can recommend a good tap room." The Devil does not get to have the last word if you do not let him. Let him call me names like bookish and plain, I was told bookish is a fantastic word that is not said enough. Who is plain now? I see the world through a different set of eyes than he does, yes, but that does not make me plain or not good enough for him, as the Devil may want me to believe. In fact, it might make me excellent for him in more ways than one. Perhaps that is what Lucifer knows, how we are together, perhaps he fears what even something as baseline powerful as a friendship can do. Why not fray the edges while I sit and worry and destroy it myself out of fear? Oh how he loves to whisper such silly little things. If only they did not reek of his own agenda and fears. We are more powerful together than apart--believers in communion with each other.

After all, if the greatest trick the Devil ever played is convincing the world he does not exist, how much damage would it do to his lie, to see believers calling his bluff? His web of deceit. Battling past his utter bullshit. It sounds to me like we might be exactly his type and he does not like to lose.

For us, it may begin as recognizing a single lie.
For him, it is the beginning of the unraveling of the fabric. I am not sure he believes in loose ends.

Monday, August 12, 2013

To Him...I Believed You Impossible

I saw this little snippet tonight as a share from a girlfriend's Facebook page and it stopped me cold, dumped freezing water on my head, and then watched me stagger from vertigo. And I lie here on my bed processing more and more that final sentence, the one that hit me hardest: "But to me, the most important thing will be that you are falling in love with me, despite my thinking that it is impossible." It has put me on the edge of tears because it has exposed a deep-seated fear I have about you, my husband, predicated entirely on the foundation of a lie.

I believe your love for me impossible sometimes...or most times, if I am truly honest. I pass unnoticed to many, if not all guys, from where I am seated. And I am just struck with how that can be. Everything I learned at Focus this summer goes against all of this. Our relationship, you to me and me to you, is a reflection, the closest reflection this side of life, that exists to mirror what my and your relationship with God should look like individually. One spouse to another. God to His creation. Bride to her Bridegroom.

And yet, you love ME. You love my stupid jokes and how puns make me smile. You love how I turn an unseen shade of red whenever anyone, but especially you, teases me. You love how I cannot help but sing with the radio--EVERY song that I know--which may be all of them for hours on end, depending on the station. You forgive the fact that my enjoyment of crass humor will probably be my one way ticket down to the inferno. You may share it. You may have reined it in.

You love me despite the fact that our bed, no doubt, has at least one day's outfit laying at the bottom of it. And just because I stripped it off and changed into something more comfortable upon returning home from work and not because it was strewn there after some fun. You love me despite the fact that I do not always know when I have taken teasing too far. You love me despite the fact that I drive well over the posted speed limit and hopefully have not yet had a speeding ticket in the time we have been together, or perhaps you were in the car when I got my first one, and it took everything inside of you not to burst out laughing while the officer was writing me up and it made you love me more--even if I was upset about you laughing at me.

And you know what else? You love a most ridiculous woman. TV commercials and movie trailers can reduce me to tears. When I hear Rascal Flatt's cover of Life is a Highway, I have a strong impulse to dance, but not just anywhere--in the kitchen...around the island...with my dog, Pepper, who has probably passed since marrying you. I cannot seem to finish a full glass of beer, even in good company for two hours, but can take my shots like a champion. Although, maybe with you I can, if drinks take longer than two hours and I am not driving. I have books coming out of my ears and continue to collect new ones, even before finishing the old ones. Do we have a library yet? And despite being an excessive introvert, I really do not know as often as I should when I should simply shut up and stop talking.

You love me despite the fact that I know I have questioned it, like I am right now. You love me despite my frustration that the camera sees everything except for me the way I imagine God looks upon His creation. You love me despite the fact that I have been cynical about love and how people show it. Somehow you overcame my opinion of that in how you treated me. I wonder what it will be that makes how you and I relate different.

You love me even though I oft communicate better in writing. We must have broken down major communication barriers or taken it slow enough that they simply stepped aside because we did not try to pummel through them. You love me enough not to have rushed me, I pray especially in the physical touch arena. I am skittish and frazzled now even thinking about it. You should use that to your teasing and flirtatious advantage.

But you know what matters most about this quandary realizing this about your love for me? It exposes the fact that by even questioning the fact that you love me despite all my annoying little habits and married me in light of the little ticks and greatest flaws I have, how often have I disqualified God's own love for me on the same grounds? How often have I accepted the love I believe I deserve, not the love God tells me I deserve? Not the sacrificial love He has given me?

If I have believed even your love impossible, what then, have I believed about the Father's love? I have not even married you yet...I do not even know if I know who you are and look at what you have taught me about love. Look at what our LORD revealed about Himself by means of a relationship I have yet to experience even a taste.

Can you even imagine that love?

In this moment, I finally see a glimpse of it.