Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Ripped Off Band-Aid

I drove by you tonight . . . as the sun was taking its final bow, nose to the stage, before completing its final descent in a yellow-ish haze that reminded my eyes what your cigarette smoke felt like. I drove by you . . . and knew it was your truck without having to see the house it was parked in front of, without having to see your blue pools of knowing turned on me, without having to see you at all. I knew it was your truck from its blackness - a black so deep it met me mark for mark on what we shared; I knew it was your truck from its license plate - it's been the same for a while now - through that marriage of yours, and the birth of that look alike of yours, and the nights I snuck out to allow you to sneak in; I knew it was your truck because of the bed - I wonder if whomever named the bed of a truck knew just what they were implying . . . just how much like a bed that truck bed would come to be.

I drove by you tonight . . . shortly after realizing I really might not have all the answers and proper timing for this life I'm living, for this heart of mine. I drove by you . . . shortly thereafter returning down the long and twisted history that has our names etched across its bodice. Shortly thereafter, I recalled the cold porcelain and its biting answers to my tears as I waited to see whether two lines would be drawn; shortly thereafter, I remembered the nicotine lacings of your breath whenever you drank from a bottle; shortly thereafter, I remembered the fallacies I cast to anyone who would hear - that it wasn't that bad, you knew what you were doing, you worked really hard; shortly thereafter I remembered how green with white-hot disappointment I became, that one night by the pool, when you were still attached to a ring and you wouldn't  put your lips on mine.

I drove by you tonight . . . and thought about how before now, before this time, I would have stopped and simply climbed into your truck, and you would have looked at me, and you would have known. I drove by you . . . recalling all the useless, wasteful no's I shot at you, with huntsman-like precision, only to say yes, okay, this is the last time; I drove by you . . . recalling the way your voice sounded when you sang along to the shaky, country radio station - and the whistling - I always was a little jealous of your whistling capabilities; I drove by you . . . recalling how your steep voice over a phone line, giving me no answers, was still not enough to clip this limping connection between us; I drove by you . . . recalling the last time I said it was the last time - I was over you, no longer getting under you, and there you were - still under me, this flesh, just go.

I drove by you tonight . . . then I unblocked you from that social media temptress and told you I hoped you were well - and I really meant it - I hope you are well . . . but I hope you miss me, too. I drove by you tonight - then I remembered how I made this decision - to walk away, to have the final word, to rise above this cyclical desperation we so willingly free fall into for each other; I drove by you tonight - then I took a deep breath, put my foot further into the gas pedal and shook loose the haze that clouds my vision and chokes my airways; I drove by you tonight - then said aloud to all the doubts swimming laps - I came out of the woods by choice.

I drove by you tonight and remembered the way you used to say baby and how I was the first girl you loved. I drove by you tonight and remembered all the panicky moments between feeling you and feeling terrified because of it. I drove by you tonight and remembered the silence that crackled response to my questions of 'why ,'when you picked up and moved, when you got her that ring, when you called to say it was over.

I drove by you tonight and realized I'm not saying what I want to say and meaning it, too, but . . . I drove by you tonight and knew I was one step closer to be able to drive by you and not look back just one -  last -  time.

I drove by you tonight . . . so I kept driving.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Lines of a Face, The Curves of a Highway

It was cold when I first laid eyes on you - the air bit with crystallized fire and my breath made feeble attempts at melting the frost on that giant window.

You were one among many . . . one in a large crowd, and I remember thinking, I remember wondering aloud, "how will I make this decision correctly?" I couldn't just return you if I changed my mind about the color of your skin . . .

It was cold that day; that day I chose you, one among many, and knew that I was going to be stuck with you - for better or for worse - isn't that what they say?

So you were mine, now. I was happy to show you off and share you with my friends and you were always perfectly willing to allow me to listen to music that fed my soul and eased the tension. There were even a few times you allowed me to bring someone else along . . .

You were brand new in 2007 and oh, man, did I think I had my life all figured out when you became mine; That curly haired boy with the blue eyes with amber flecks in them - I thought for sure he'd always be around. I thought for sure that when the time came and you were fully and completely mine, with nothing else owed to anyone, that there might be a ring on my left finger - that your external appearance would still be so shiny and new.

Little did I know, that as I was putting mileage on you, mileage began to be added on to me - I'm a little ashamed to admit it, really, that I didn't consider how all those miles, all those trips that seemed so worth it, would eventually devalue both our worth and our hearts.

I wish I could say that I treated your interior better than how I treated my own, but that would be a fallacy. I warped myself with caffeine and greasy, drive-thru food, and you became the wasteland and canvas with which the remnants fell to. There are still parts of you sticky with the syrup and time of my well-honed addiction.

To give voice to your exterior brings me a shudder of sadness - I had hoped to keep you as pristine and well groomed as when I found you, for as long as I could. But I suppose it is reasonable to say that what I allowed the world and the people in it to do to my canvas, you also became subjected to.
Like the scars that etch and snake on my skin, you have scars of your own - they're starting to change colors now - growing darker with time and each bought of moisture that is released from Heaven. Those scars are undoable, irreversible, non-negotiable - because of the heady costs that come with them, because of what it might mean - to make us blemish free.

Back when I first found you, picked you out in that crowd - I could have never have known just where we would go together, to whom we would visit with each other, or what the reasons would be for those visitations, for those other people. I realize, now, looking back, that while I was allowing mileage to be put on you, it was with every intention of forcing mileage onto myself.

In two days time you will fully be mine - your balding tires, dented door, and radio that always cuts off my favorite worship song right at the good part. It seems we have a history, you and I.

You hold some particularly scandalous secrets of mine - secrets that make me nervous about the world knowing . . . But you will be mine. We almost match, you know -

Your balding tires for those gray hairs I've discovered recently.

Your scarred surface for the scars I really do try to keep just under the surface.

Y0ur mileage - ever increasing - for my mileage, that has ceased, thankfully.

And that radio of yours, always bonking out just when I want to lift my voice to shout praise.

          But it's okay, I'll replace your tires and color my hair.
          And don't worry about those rusted dents on your side - the painful memories from
            our punctured wounds have given us strength - even if the world refuses to see it.

          About that mileage - keep taking me where I want to go and I'll start fighting to
           remember who I was before all those men told me who I needed to be.

          Also, whether you turn off in the middle of a melody or not, I'll still keep singing -
            voice flung high in quivering praise.

It was cold that first day I saw you . . . and the air is starting to get a bite to it now, as I get ready to pay you off. Who I was then is so far from where I am now . . . You've grown with me and aged with me and been bruised with me . . .

But like the four wheels that get me where I want to be, this heart of mine keeps restlessly seeking, too.

You may not be new or glossy with shine anymore, but what do these busted and weakened bones know about any of that?

This world may not choose us first or see us for who we really are, but the road will always be before us and the horizon within reach.

I'm just a girl, wishing to set the world on fire, one mile marker at a time.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

An Empty Shelf

There's this dull ache that sits right below my rib cage; occasionally it will strike with a hand of severity that threatens to rip the softened flesh of my body right in half.
For long moments of time, spanning over days of 30, 60, 90, I would convince myself of a diagnosis only to realize with swift assuredness that I am no doctor, just a silly girl in earnest search for calculated answers. I am still coming up short.

I used to sit on a leather couch and pick at the skin laying blankets next to my stained fingernails . . . 'and how does that make you feel?' repeating over and over in my ear and I almost wonder aloud if this is all it takes to have an office with leather chairs . . . merely to ask 'and how does that make you feel?'

I felt then, and I feel now, a dull ache - sitting right below my rib cage. Then - it was because I was in a relationship that wasn't filling me in the correct ways. Now - it is because I am in a relationship . . . with no one - and I'm not being filled in the correct ways.
But wait, what is it that I'm supposed to be being filled up with, again? And the dullness pulses stronger and then eases up.

I sit here, listening to the slow drip, drip, drop of the leaky kitchen sink and I remember a quote I once heard, "when people show you who they are, believe them."

Drip, drip, drop . . . what am I showing to people, exactly?

That I'm a girl born on a farm who is increasingly grateful for where she comes from? Likely not, as I am continually complaining about having to drive from this farm town to the city everyday.

Drip, drip, drop . . .

Do I show people that I love Jesus through my actions, with my words, in every intentional conversation I have? Likely not, as I am tired, worn out, scared, tired of being disrespected.

Drip, drip, drop . . .

That I am grateful for the people in my life, for the love that they bring and the wisdom they share? Likely not. Because I'm typically so anxious about messing something up that I end up . . . messing something up.

Drip, drip, drop . . .

There's a small ache beneath my rib cage - something seems to be missing - and what is it? and how does that make me feel? and . . .

Drip, drip, drop . . .

The ache seems to stem from the knowledge of a hard truth that lies in this world, this life, not being for the weak hearted, the easily intimidated, the faint of mind. But I know - staring in front of the reflection each morning and humming along to the radio en route and just letting my eyes flutter closed for just, one, second - that I am all these things - weak and easily intimidated and faint - until everyday I claim Jesus, until I show Jesus to everyone that I encounter, no matter how my heart feels.
Because who am I? To complain about a 45 minute drive to work when He had nails driven into His flesh - for me.
Because who am I? To whine about singleness and waiting when His one unanswered prayer to have this cup taken away from Him is the one unanswered prayer that saved my life.
Because who am I? Without a Father that loves me past all circumstances and actions.

I am weak hearted, easily intimidated, faint of mind.

Drip, drip, drop . . .

The dull ache is what will come to thrive if my life is lived outside of Jesus . . . the dull ache is simply a reminder that there is so much more to come . . . because He has promised a return.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

This Man I Knew

I used to be incredibly afraid of dying. Now, don't get me wrong - there are still many things I want to accomplish and experience in this life before I am called home to rest, but the fear does not lie in wait - prepared to bite and nip at the security that faintly comes in this world.

Anxiety is something that has plagued me for quite some time now - over minor things and raging over major things. Death used to be one of the minor things - because it wasn't a more pressing matter to me than to any other human living now - I do not know when it will come, or in what form, only that it will - it is one of the very few promises kept in this world, you know. So there I was, newly into my twenties and the fear of death was so overcoming, so overpowering that it became something I absolutely needed to be OVER.

There are still days I get frightened over how very much has been left undone - in the event that my next breath should be my last - but overall, a calmness has found a way to wash over me . . .

The morbidity of these thoughts is not something I am overlooking - I am aware that, at 26, being consumed with what I must do before I am no longer able to do it is, by and large, taking up a plethora of time in which I could be, ya know, doing all the things I need to be doing before the final minutes are upon me.

But days like today - anniversaries of the nature of this particular anniversary, make me think a little bit longer, a little bit harder, about the days I've yet to live - and have me questioning, well, just how many are even left?

You see, nine years ago today, this man I knew - with a beard so white, young kids in town would climb in his lap come Christmas time just to tell him about that new bike they'd be pining after - was called home, was asked to go rest high on that Mountain.

Nine years ago today, this man I knew - who always slapped at his knees when he thought something was irreversibly funny - was reached out to by the sweet and gracious Lord and was walked into the stars by Him.

Nine years ago today, this man I knew - who helped raise and shape and mold three girls, who became women I love and could not live without, was taken quickly, and without pain, lying next to the woman whom he loved since he was a Senior in high school.

Nine years ago today, this man I knew - who was a daddy to my daddy and his brother Jon - was ushered in to Heaven.

He loved without hesitation; he lived incredibly with integrity; he helped without question - he was my grandpy.

Rocky Top was his favorite song, and he loved to spin his Duff girls around on a dance floor any chance he could get - I can't say how thankful I am to have gotten to spin a couple times around with him on a long ago Saturday night . . .

So days like today, when the air just feels a little heavy with the missing, I wonder how many days I might have left . . .

To make a family like he did.

To leave a legacy the way he did.

To imprint the sound of my laughter on everyone's memory - just as he did.

Days like today, when it hurts a little to talk about him, it stings the eyes to even think about him - I am thankful for just one more day to love without hesitation, live incredibly with integrity, to help without question.
I am thankful to be the daughter of a man who was a son of the man who looked like Santa Claus and let the kids tell him what they wanted, of the man who had highlighters in the front pocket of those blue and white striped bib overalls, of the man who always called me Steffi, let me see him cry, and taught me about the clouds.

So while I'm still living this life I was blessed with, I will remember the way he lived and loved and attempt to model it the best I can; I'll cry a little every time I hear his favorite song, or any song with a fiddle, for that matter, and I will always pray a similar prayer - where his irreplaceable soul is concerned . . .

I hope you have miles and miles of field to farm, grandpy - tell Him I say hi. And, please grandpy, please -  save me a dance.