Monday, September 26, 2016

On a Case of the Butterflies

I am a big believer in butterflies. The ones lying dormant in the lining of your belly - waiting, just waiting, for a reason to explode into thousands of quick, tight movements. You know the ones.

When's the last time you had butterflies explode in the pit of your stomach?

There was a time in my life that I was convinced only boys could provide those butterflies. I remember the first time I ever went to a movie with a boy... his name was Taylor Bryan. He was tall and blonde and had blue eyes I wanted to coast in for the rest of my life - way before I ever understood the fundamentals of 'the rest of my life' or that heartbreak wasn't just something they wrote about in songs. We saw She's All That and I remember his pinkie finger grazing the top of my hand and I. thought. I. was. going. to. explode.

Because there's just nothing quite like getting your hand held for the first time. I've held many a hand since then - I actually really love holding hands, in transparency - but no other hand holding moment has ever lit my skin on fire the way his did in that darkened movie theater (where my mom was sitting two rows back, chaperoning.)

And then there's your first kiss, right? You watch people on TV and in movies and they're locking lips left and right and, because I came out of the womb analyzing, I could not stop thinking about my first kiss. The hand on the face and the swelling music and let's hope I can figure out how to breathe when all this damn magic is happening without snotting on him.

There was no swelling music. And if I remember correctly, our hands were both at our sides because we were sweaty pre-teens who had no clue what they were doing. But good LAWD it was magic, if I've ever felt it.

So for most of my high school and college career, it was boys who gave the butterflies. And then a four year relationship ended and a season of singleness set in and I spent, am still spending, hours and days and months slowing admitting to myself that butterflies from a dude are cool, but there's a whole lot I'll be missing out on if I keep waiting for the next swell of them to erupt over some guy who wears flannel and knows how to maintain a beard.

Who said a girl has to be confined to butterflies in her ribcage because someone wants to know what her mouth tastes like?


I have this print on my wall in my living room. It was one of the first things I ever bought for myself as I was moving into my house in Dayton. It's a dictionary page that has a ribcage stenciled onto it in black and white and just beneath the ribcage - where the proverbial belly lies - are colored butterflies. I remember scanning Etsy, looking for art for my new, all my own, home and when I saw this particular print, I obsessed over it until it arrived in my mailbox. It remains one of my favorite pieces in my entire house.

I think at first it was aesthetically pleasing to me, but the longer I live here - within the mustard yellow walls where I burn cinnamon candles year round - the more it becomes a reminder of what I should be expecting, what I should be looking for, for my life to be.

I believe this life should be a continual case of butterflies.

When I get to sit on my back porch with wine and a book to devour, my skin should rise with goosebumps.

When I get home from work and Addy is waiting at the door for me, my cheeks should hurt from smiling at her joy.

When my brother texts me at 8.30 at night and says, "hey, stepher," elation should be written on my hands.

I spent many years getting lost in people who told me I was pretty and wanted time with me - sometimes for all the wrong reasons - and my joy sprung from that. That girl - the one who waited with bated breath for his attention or affection - she didn't know the dirt in India was going to one day be what beckoned to her heart.

She hadn't yet figured out that the crinkled pages of a brown Bible would center her in a way nothing else could.

She wasn't aware that a road trip with the oldest friend of her life, on a random weekend in October, would make her dizzy with excitement.

She didn't know. She couldn't have.

There are parts of me that so badly want to go tap that girl on the shoulder and tell her to say yes sooner, get out of that relationship faster, get on more planes - now, now, now - because she is missing out. Because life is happening while she's stagnantly waiting.

But timing really is everything - I learn that more the more time I spend breathing on this planet. And I think she had to figure out how to get out from under the thumb of thinking she needed to need someone in order to be someone.

Hey, guys? We are someone. Right this very minute, each one of us is a someone. With dreams worth fighting for and injustices to raise our voices over. We, each one of us, is a someone. Who get to travel, who come to understand that time zones don't matter when a heart feels home for the first time in a life. You are a someone. With hair that needs to be let down and a right to believe that you're worth it - even if every fiber of your being says you're wrong. Hear me, now. You are worth it.

We are a someone.

And you don't need a mortgage or a baby or a husband or wife to be so. You don't need a passport or a full tank of gas or the job of your dreams to believe it.

You don't have to have it all figured out. And you don't have to be happy every second of every day.

You are a someone. 

What's giving you butterflies these days, love? If it's a relationship, then I am so thrilled for you. But I think we all need reminded that there are corners of this world that have our names stamped on them - and they are just waiting to be discovered by the lens of our eyes.

There are corners of this world with your name drawn on a back, dirt road just waiting for your feet to plant down.

There's a song waiting to be heard and a book that's worth the reading.

There are pieces of yourself, parts of your life, waiting to become known by you.

I hope you find them.

I hope you sit down in corner coffee shops by yourself and become acquainted with her.

I hope you drive too fast down an unlined country road and learn to laugh with him.

I hope you discover new flavors and sounds, unwrap foreign colors and flirt with wearing them around for a while.

I hope you get a little lost trying to decipher who it is you were made to be.  And when you leave behind the skin of who the world told you you should be, I hope you feel something ignite within you.

I hope you come to realize home is relative, family isn't always blood, and that you are good company to be around.

I hope you choose yourself.

I hope you know you are someone.

I hope you learn how to chase the butterflies.

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