Sunday, August 7, 2011

*sigh* Here we go again...

I've started to blog and stopped and started and stopped many a time, and lately I've found that's a pattern in my life with a lot of things. So here we go again...
In general, my life is good. I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful baby boy. I will, God-willing, have a new job soon and things will hopefully be looking up in the way of finances. But I'm not happy. At least not in the way a person should be happy. I have happy moments and I can have fun, but overall, there's a lot of numbness. I have been on a medicaiton for a few months that makes me extremely lethargic and makes me gain weight (yeah, that's what I need). I have made an appointment to change it, but of course, there's the month-long wait to get in. In the mean time, my husband has told me that I haven't been myself in a very long time. I used to be motivated and energetic and I haven't been for a couple of years, at least. So then I started thinking maybe I should be seeing someone on a regular basis. So now it's about therapy.
To make a long story short, what I've realized is that I have allowed depression to be my crutch for not dealing with issues I have. What's funny, is most people I know do it the other way around; they use their issues to avoid dealing with depression. Anyway, my "issues" that I want/need to address are: an unhealthy relationship to food (an addiciton, if you will), an addition to TV because that is how I escape the constant motion of my mind, the reluctance/unwillingness to finish things I start, a HUGE fear of rejection...etc. There are so many things I want to do, but never start, or if I do, never finish. My mind is constantly running (which also has to do with anxiety issues I need to deal with) and I actually picture myself doing many things but never do them. I will sit on the couch and literally picture myself cleaning the dining room table off, but I never actually get off the couch to do it. I have wanted to start blogging, I want to finish my thesis, I want to clean my house, I want to start an opera company, I want to write a book... but none of it will ever get done if I don't address the core of what's stopping me. And I honestly have no idea what that is, but I'm hoping to find out.
So here's to starting a new journey to "find myself". I know that sounds cliche, and my husband gave me some quote last night that basically said finding yourself is useless or unnecessary or something, but I really do feel lost. And as far as my husband goes, he tries, but he just doesn't get it. He wants to fix it, and he can't and I don't want him to.
In my heart, I know my values and what I believe, but I don't know what I want. That may seem selfish (as my husband said, in our situation, does what you want matter? He said this with a disclaimer and it was not as insensitive as it sounds in writing) but yes, it does matter. As I told him, he's a father, a teacher, a brother, and a husband, but he also has his own thing. He goes out and gigs at least once a week and that's all him. I need to find what is all me. The thing that sets me apart after I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, etc. The thing that's just me and is all mine.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I am a mess of emotions today. It was one of those days where I just didn't want to get out of bed and face life. On more than one occasion this semester I have wanted to just drop out of school. Not because it's hard or I can't do it, but because I don't want to do it. But that would be stupid considering it's my last semester of classes.
I just don't know what to do to bring myself out of this funk. I have so much to look forward to, and yet I can't seem to look forward. As I said in my last post, a lot of people have passed away in the last year. None of them were immediate family, especially nothing like it being my own child, and yet everyday I think about them. I don't feel like I have a right to grieve like this and I feel guilty for even saying it because I know two mothers who have to deal with the fact that they lost a child everyday, and I have nothing like that grief.
Then again, there's the whole pregnant thing. These hormones can take a flying leap anytime now. I can literally go from laughing to crying in seconds.
LifeTeen has been stressful and I guess that's not helping matters. I feel like I contribute a good portion to that group, but there are people that live in the past or step on people's toes that we contend with. Our retreat is coming up this weekend and as much as I know it will be a great retreat for the teens, I'm already planning in my head what certain people will do to piss me off. LOL Worse yet, I'm planning how I will react. Isn't that awful? Then again, ask me in 5 minutes and I'll feel differently. For God's sake I feel like Sybil.
On the good side of things, I quit my job at the bank. WOOHOO! I am also getting more students. So hopefully the lack of money from the bank won't be quite as painful. I'm looking forward to spring as well. I think part of my funk has been the lack of sunshine, so I'm looking forward to sun and taking walks outside. My big plan for exercise took a nose dive, as did my plan to eat healthier. I took the "eating for two" theory to a whole new level.
I need to somehow have a daily reminder that I can't live like that. I need to take control now because God knows I've learned that life can be taken in a flash. And I don't want the reason I go early to be that I didn't take care of my health when I had the chance.
Ok, enough whining and feeling sorry for myself. This is Sybil, signing off.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The best laid plans...

I realize it's been a while since my last post, but my friend, Sarah, inspired me today. ;-) It has been a tough year. I'm not talking about 2010, but just the last year of my life. Granted, I got married and that was the most wonderful day of my life, but it seems our life after that was filled with funerals for people who died too young.
In July my friend, Nicole, lost her battle with cancer. In September my nephew's mom was hit by a drunk driver in a Wal-Mart parking lot. In November my friends Sarah and Darrin lost their little Henry unexpectedly. In January an old friend, Laurie, also lost her battle with cancer. And two weeks ago 4 of our teens were in a horrible car accident, and we lost Natalie. After Natalie's death, I freaked out a little, wondering what was going to hit next. Amongst all this sadness, Jonathan and I found out that we're going to have a baby in October, but I didn't believe it. Despite the multiple (yep, I took 12) pregnancy tests along with the blood test from the doctor, I still didn't believe I was pregnant. My thought was "bad things keep happening, so this won't last." I know it sounds pessimistic and a little pathetic, but when things happen that don't make sense, it's very hard to be rational about them.
On Thursday of last week, I had my first ultrasound and my worries were laid to rest. There on the screen I saw my tiny baby whose heart was beating 182 beats a minute. I'm a musician and have heard a lot of beautiful things in my life, but nothing compares to the sound of my baby's heart. As wonderful as it was, I am still struggling to believe in the good. Don't get me wrong, I'm not moping around every day waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I have a constant and secret anxiety about the bad things that will happen next. I have so much to look forward to and all I can do right now is place everything in God's hands and trust Him.
On Friday I was having a conversation with my manager at work about God. He doesn't really know what he believes and he was questioning me about how I can believe. He said that he thinks the people who "believe blindly" and believe in God for comfort in grief are weak. I looked at him and said, "Matt, I've had a lot of bad things happen in my life. But I don't believe in God because of them. I believe in God in spite of them."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Witness talk

A couple of weeks ago I gave my first witness talk at Lifeteen. I seem to find that the more I work with Lifeteen, the more I grow in my own relationship to God. It really is an amazing thing. Anyway, I've been meaning to post my talk. It was planned only a day before Lifeteen. I was actually supposed to be planning a couple of weeks in advance for my Life night, but my friends Sarah and Darrin lost their little boy Henry that week, and so my priorities were elsewhere. So a day before my Life night I got together with my youth minister to try and figure out what we were going to do for a night that revolved around choices and beliefs, and trying to get the teens to vocalize what they believe. We decided we would split them into groups and have four stations, and one of those stations was my witness talk, which means, yes, I had to give it four times. It was very hard for me to open up to the teens, but it ended up being a very rewarding experience. So here is what I said:

I want to talk to you tonight about my choices and my beliefs, and how my choices have affected my beliefs. Like many of you, I was brought up in a Catholic home. I went to church on Sundays, and when I was your age, I decided to get confirmed. My mom gave me the choice of whether or not to get confirmed, but I felt it was something I should do, so I did. It wasn't because I felt some great connection to God, but because I felt I should do it. I don't feel that it made my relationship with God any better and I still didn't feel a huge connection to God or the church.
Around this same time in high school I began to deal with clinical depression. This only had an affect on my relationship with God when I would get really down, and then I would get angry. I hardly ever prayed, but on my worst days I would blame God. My biggest question was why. Why me? Why do I feel this way? If you're so great, why do I feel this way? If you healed all those people why can't you heal me? If you LOVE me SO much, why can't you take this away from me? This isn't love! God answered me, but I never heard him.

After high school I moved out to Maryland for a year, and while I was there I met a guy. I fell in love with this guy and he had no interest in God, so neither did I. It wasn't that he was an atheist necessarily, he just really didn't care if there was or wasn't a God. I became so wrapped up in him that I forgot all about God. Everything I was, or thought I was, was identified in Jeff, not in God. And it didn't matter that he put me down on a daily basis. It didn't matter that I spent hours getting ready for a company Christmas party because I thought he would finally tell me that I was beautiful, only to have him say nothing when I revealed my new outfit, hair, make-up and nails that I had worked on all day. It didn't matter that he made fun of me for my weight. And it didn't matter that when we would argue he would hit me, or throw me down the hall. It didn't matter because he loved me. And he was the only one that was ever going to love me, or so I believed at the time. He loved me, so the abuse didn't matter...and neither did God.

Finally after five years with him, I came to my senses and moved back to Wisconsin. I still did not feel I had a relationship with God, and I rarely prayed. Even so, I found myself surrounded my religious and spiritual people. It wasn't that I was looking for those types of people, I just seemed to be drawn to them. This was especially true when I went back to college for music. The majority of friends I made there were people who had good relationships with God. One of those people in particular was my husband, Jonathan. Jonathan and I were friends long before we dated, and he had a fairly good relationship with God. We would often discuss God, along with other "meaning of life" conversations.

Almost two years ago, while I was living in Milwaukee, I started to have trouble with depression again. I didn't have health insurance so I couldn't afford to see a doctor or be on any type of medication. I had never felt pain like I did then. I was sad and exhausted all of the time, and I do mean all. I lacked motivation to do much of anything, including going to school. It got so bad that one night I called up Jonathan and I said "I love you, and thank you for being there for me, but I'm not going to be here tomorrow. I've decided to end my life. But it's okay, because it's not going to change anyone else's life. I'm just in too much pain and it doesn't make sense for me to stay here. "

Jonathan talked to me for hours that night. He told me of his love for me, and of God's love for me. I again questioned that. "If God is so great and loves me, why is he letting this happen to me?" It was during this discussion that I heard church bells being to ring. It was spring and my windows were open, and the parking lot of my apartment building shared the parking lot with a church just behind my building. But in the two years I had lived there I had never heard church bells. I immediately thought it was God's way of mocking me, which made me more angry and more determined to end my life. But Jonathan somehow convinced me to get through the night and let him call me in the morning. In the morning he called me, and about 10 minutes into the conversation I heard the church bells again and I began to cry. But this time I wasn't crying because I thought God was mocking me, I was crying because I could feel God's arms around me. I have never felt so loved in all my life. I knew that He had been talking to me and holding me for a long time, but I had pushed so many people away in my life that I included Him, and I wasn't willing to listen for the answers he was giving me.

I found out later that spring that someone had donated the money for church bells at that church, and that Saturday and Sunday that I heard them were the first times they were used. After that night, I waited to hear them everyday and have since loved the sound of church bells.

This is not my way of telling you to wait for some sort of sign from God to fix all your problems, but this is my way of telling you to trust Him. He is there, and He is listening and He loves you! Hand him your struggles and he will take them. He may not take them in the way you expect, but He will take them. He will always catch you when you fall. We put our trust in Earthly things and not in God, and then we are hurt when that trust is broken. But God is constant. Your trust in Him will not be broken. Be willing to listen to what he is saying to you.

This is also not to say that I don't still struggle, because I do. I have bad days, and there are things that happen that I don't understand, and I go back to questioning God. Last week one of my oldest friends lost her three-year-old son, Henry. He was such a beautiful and joy-filled child, and he was my friend. When he died, I wanted to know why. I know that Henry is in Heaven, but why did he have to die. Why do my friends have to go on living without their son, and why are so many of us left with this hole in our hearts? But I realized that asking why isn't for us to do. There are times when we find out that answer, but more often then not, we don't find the answer. This is not because God is cruel and won't tell us, but because we have Earthly brains that can not comprehend the vastness of God's Kingdom. And God has reasons for things that we can not fathom.

Faith means sometimes believing before understanding. When Henry died, I had to have the faith to know that he was with God and God had reasons for his death, even if I don't understand those reasons.

What I want you to do now is take a piece of paper and write down something you struggle with. No one will read this paper but me, and don't put your names on them. I am going to read these and I am going to make you two promises: the first is that I promise I will read these and pray for each and every one of you. The second is that if you take your struggles to God, He will listen, and He will always catch you when you fall.

The struggles that the teens wrote down really were amazing. They opened up to me, because they knew they could. I was God's instrument that night, because as sure as I'm sitting here typing this, I'm sure God was reading those papers with me. And I have faith that He was holding each one of those teens in His arms, just as I have faith that He is holding Henry high above us until we can see him again.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sometimes God literally smacks you in the face...

Have you ever seen an episode of a show where someone gets overly worked up about something and another person slaps them across the face to calm them down? I'm particularly thinking of Will & Grace right now, but fill in any appropriate show you like. Well Sunday night God decided I needed that smack in the face...

Some may know and some may not that I lost my job at the church. Here's a little back story. Our church has a program called Lifeteen. It's an international program that some Catholic churches have and some don't. The point is to have a service that's a bit more contemporary, followed by a "Life Night" that is educational and yet social. Teens tend to get bored at regular service and in a classroom, so for the sake of retention, we want them to enjoy what they're learning and have a say in their faith, instead of just going through the motions. Anyway, about 10 years ago when I moved back from MD, I wanted to be part of the Life Teen band. I was told by the director at the time that I couldn't be in it, and I should join the choir. A lot of things happened between then and last year, but because Jon played for the band, I found out last August that their director (who had changed since I had been interested) was leaving and they needed a new director. It didn't take long before I got the position.

I was ecstatic. Little did I know how hard it would be. I worked my a$$ off to make the powers-that-be happy and finally last spring ended with a great group of people. We blended well, and better yet, we had become very close. However in June I was told that I was being replaced. Not because of anything I did, I was told, but because they wanted the person who had been doing the choir for years to take over. Long story and not worth the details, but needless to say, I was crushed.

Then in August I was faced with a decision. Even though I was no longer employed by the church, I was still part of the Core Team. The Core are the mentors for the teens that run the Life Nights, go on retreats, and, as our motto says, "Lead teens to Christ." This is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had, but I had to decide if it was something that I could continue doing at a church that I felt had really done me wrong. On top of it, I was offered the music director position for the youth Mass on the other side of town. The same position, just a different church. After a LOT of praying and discerning, I decided not to take the position at the other church. For a lot of reasons, but mainly because I did not want to leave the teens and the Core Team that I was so involved with last year. In addition to great teens, the Team surrounds me with people who teach me on a weekly basis, pray with me, and aren't afraid to show their honor for God.

Last week was our first Life Night. I knew it was going to be hard to be sitting with the teens during Mass watching someone else do MY job, but as our youth minister put it, I took a leap of faith. Well that Mass was harder than I thought. Every time a new song started it was something we had done the year before (our church isn't terribly open to "new" stuff, even though the stuff they do is contemporary), and I would start to cry. I literally felt like my heart was breaking. The thing I kept thinking was, "I just wasn't good enough." To put salt in the wound, both the director and the liturgist told me how much they still wanted me to sing with the group, but once the director found out I couldn't make it to rehearsals, she wouldn't let me. But she WOULD let someone sing that she knew, but that wasn't a member of the church, never attended Life Teen Masses, and also wasn't at rehearsals. I know that music like the back of my hand, not to mention I have 3 music degrees...I think i can handle blending in. Anyway, it was very hard and by the end of Mass I was not only questioning my decision to stick with the Core Team, but I was questioning my abilities as a musician. Thank God Kayla (another Core Team member) sat next to me and gently put her hand on mine from time to time, just to let me know she was there.

Our Life Night on Sunday was a social for the Packer/Bear game. This is what we usually do for the first LN so that teens can get to know us and each other and vice versa. Basically it was a hall full of kids yelling and throwing candy. At one point I was a little overwhelmed and went out in the gathering place, and Kayla came out shortly after. We both needed a breather and Kayla mentioned that she thought some teens had gone outside and perhaps we should check on them. We went outside and found three girls and one of them was on the phone. I jokingly asked, "Oooh, is it a boy?" They said "Yes, but it's not good." Apparently she was arguing with her ex-boyfriend she had dated for over a year. They have been broken up for 4 months, but still talk every day. As you can imagine, at the age of 16 it was all very dramatic.

After getting off the phone with him, he then called one of the other girls, who proceeded to argue with him. She told him he should stop by as he said he was going to, but that he wouldn't be able to talk with his ex alone. She hung up shortly after that saying that she was annoyed with him because he said he wasn't coming but instead was going to go home and use his dad's shotgun. I didn't know a lot of the story, but what I did know was that, regardless of whether or not the intentions were real, this kid needed help. The girls seemed to think it was no big deal because he had said it before. I asked the ex to call his parents, but before she could he pulled into the parking lot. I asked the girls to go with Kayla while I talked to him.

I kneeled down next to his car and told him that I had heard a comment that he made that I didn't like having to do with a shotgun. He immediately started crying. When I asked him why he made the comment he said he had no reason to live and that he kept screwing everything up. I assured him that he had many reasons to live, even if they weren't evident to him right now. We talked about things he had done "wrong" and I explained God's forgiveness and why these things were not the worst thing in the world. He talked about how mean his younger brother is to him and I explained that words are the only power a younger sibling usually has over an older sibling. I told him that I saw a lot of myself at 16 in him. I shared with him some of my battles with depression and some of the lessons I've learned because of those battles. I then asked him to pray with me, which he did, and we prayed for God to take his pain away. We prayed for him to know that God loves him and gave his only Son for him, and for us, so that we will have no more pain. We prayed that he will know that he is surrounded by people who love him, which isn't always easy to see. I prayed that he knows God is not ready for him yet and that he still has a lot of living to do here on Earth. I didn't think about anything I said, it just came out of my mouth. His parents called while we were talking, and he told them what was going on. Thankfully they already had knowledge of his depression and had him on medication and in therapy and knew the seriousness of the situation and came to pick him up. When they got there I didn't say much, just told him to remember what we talked about.

After he left I went back inside, completely overwhelmed but in a good way. Kayla had told Matthew and Steve, our youth ministers, what was going on. When I walked in Matthew said "I can't talk to you long because otherwise I'll cry, but I have to say this: Do you think God wanted you here tonight?" Well that was all it took for me to cry again, but this time it wasn't because I was heart-broken or envious of a position, but because of the overwhelming feeling you get when God literally works through you, or as I like to say, smacks you in the face. The events of earlier that evening and the sadness it brought me were wiped away. I knew I was supposed to be where I was and that I had made the right choice.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Ok, this post is not going to be as dramatic as the title might lead you to believe. I am the hypocrite here, and only because when I find a moment and remember to click on blogspot from my favorites column, I am disappointed if there have been no updates from friends. And yet I haven't posted since December of last year.

So where to start. This last year has been a combination of wonderful and not so great. May 16 was indeed the best day of my life and I wouldn't have changed a thing. Even though the weather was cold and windy, it was sunny and didn't rain which was all I cared about. The number of people was perfect, the garden was gorgeous, and I felt like a queen for a day. The minister did his sermon on the passage from Ruth that we chose, which was our favorite. We both cried, our parents cried, other people was awesome. One thing not many people were able to see was that there were two ducks, a male and female, standing at the fountain behind the minister the whole time. I thought that was neat. The reception was great as well. I wish I would have gotten to spend more time with people, but I suppose that's how any bride feels. We have yet to get out our thank you cards, but they are coming!!

I am now married to a wonderul man that makes me feel loved and safe on a daily basis. Like any couple we have our heated discussions, but because we were friends before we dated we seem to be able to really talk things out. I can tell him anything and vice versa. The best part is that not only does he love me, but I KNOW he loves me. He does so many things for me, and not just things like making taco dip for my work cook-out (which he did last night) but little things like putting my water bottle in the fridge when I forget. Things that may not seem like a lot by themselves, but all add up to the fact that I'm with the person I was supposed to be with.

My family has had quite the time lately as well. My cousin, Amanda, moved up to Wisconsin and in with my mom in June. She is originally from Indiana and was tired of the city she was living in and its limited resources. The city, Richmond, is actually where our parents are originally from. Amanda's mom is the only one that never left. Anyway, she's living with Mom and working for Strategic Fundraising and I just really like having her around. We're the youngest of all the cousins, and most of the others are quite a bit older, so she and I were always close.

Our oldest aunt, Auntie Jo, had surgery last month to have a knee replacement. My mom went down and stayed with her husband who has Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and can't stay alone. (I all of a sudden feel like I'm writing a Merry Medical Christmas letter...don't feel bad if you have no idea what that means). Shortly after that both Auntie Jo and Auntie Trisha (Amanda's mom) were in car accidents on the same day....what the crap? LOL Only fender benders and everyone is fine.

Anyway, when it rains it pours. On July 21st my friend Nicole passed away. She was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme (the same kind of tumor Ted Kennedy had) in August of '08. She went through chemo and radiation and then was trying Avastin. She was a fighter and never gave up the belief that she would beat it, so it was a shock to find out she had passed.

The day of Nicole's funeral also happened to be the day of the Coldplay concert. Her funeral was in Milwaukee and my friend Jo and her friend Zane were nice enough to let me ride with them to the funeral, and then we met Gina and Amanda after the funeral to go to the concert. Adam and his sister Naomi also met us at Alpine. As usual they were awesome and we had a blast. It seemed weird to be attending a concert on such a solemn day, but in a way it also seemed to be a celebration, which is what her husband asked of us.

The summer has absolutely flown by and I've gotten nothing done that I planned and have seen people about 5% as much as I wanted to. I lost my job at St. Raphael's as the music director. It was taken over by Karen Dean which, according to her, has been in the works for a few years. (thanks for telling me) I'm actually ok with it though. In fact, when the east side parishes asked me to be the director for their teen mass, I turned them down. Granted it was less money, but it wasn't about that. Jon and I plan on starting a family soon, and we've enjoyed the lack of stress that the summer break from the Lifeteen band has given us. So I decided just to stick with being a frontline member of the Core Team and I'll occasionally sing with the band. Having a relationship with the teens and leading them in their relationship with God is really the most rewarding thing about LifeTeen, so I'd rather stick with that.

In October Jon and I will be moving into a duplex. We've kind of had it with having neighbors whose balconies are only 75 feet from ours and being able to hear their loud parties and kids crying. We've never had an issue with our immediate neighbors being loud, it's always the people in the building behind ours. Anyway, the duplex has a full basement for the music and recording equipment as well as our treadmill, and then there are two bedrooms upstairs. We also have a deck and a small fenced in backyard, and we've already picked out the colors we want to paint the rooms. All in all, I'm very excited about it.

Well I think I've rambled on enough. It's a slow day at the bank and today is our golf outing for work (windy and 60 degrees). It should be a good time, but it seems like we haven't had a weekend with a billion things going on in a while. School starts the week after next, and then the week after that LifeTeen starts, so it's going to be another busy year. I guess that's all I have for now.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

'Tis the Season

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day of 2008. What a year!

Our Christmas ended up being a little different than I've ever experienced. As mentioned earlier, we did Christmas with Jon's family on the 20th. We went over and opened gifts and had dinner and spent some time playing games with Jon's parents, his older half-sister Ginny and her husband Nathan, his older half-brother Ed and his fiancee Jen (as of August 1st of 2009 there will be two Jennifer M. Leahy's) and his younger brother Mike and Mike's girlfriend Nikki. A great time was had by all and we were bushed when it was all over. Here is a picture of all of us in front of the Christmas tree.

We decided not to go to Indiana this year as we usually do because there was a family reunion this summer, and apparently it took my aunt quite a while to recover. My mom and her siblings are getting older now and too much celebrating really takes it out of them. So with the wedding and everything, we figured it was best for everyone to stay home. I really missed it though. When we go to my aunt's house, which isn't very big, everyone sleeps either in the same room or in rooms nearby so that everyone wakes up around the same time. During the waking hours it's constant chatter, usually between my mom and her sisters. (Can you believe that even I can't get a word in edgewise?) Even in years past when we haven't been able to get to Indiana, Christmas has always been celebrated on Christmas morning. This year, however, Linda was going to be at her brother's Christmas Day, so we did Christmas on Christmas Eve right before Jon and I sang and played at the 10pm Mass. We had fun, but it seemed a bit short and rushed. Gina and Vic were there too. Linda got Jon and I tickets to Wicked which we are very excited about. We wanted to go but couldn't afford it, so this was a great surprise.
All of this meant that Christmas Day was just Jon and I. While I missed my aunt's and celebrating with all the family, it meant a lot to just spend a quiet day with Jon. We started out by going to church and then came home and I napped while he watched the Christmas Story DVD I had gotten him. Well actually, I and the two cats on top of me napped while resting on Jon as he watched the DVD. Despite that lack of excitement, it was a great day.
And as New Year's Eve approaches, I am amazed at the mysterious ways in which God works. Parts of this year have been heart-breaking. Linda's cancer and my being unemployed for 3 months took a toll on my spirit at times. But moving back to the Fox Valley and getting engaged to a man that I am desperately in love with makes the heart-breaking moments bearable. I have re-connected with friends that I had lost touch with. I especially enjoyed the time that I have spent with Sarah, especially since we didn't talk all that often while I was in Milwaukee. I am grateful to have had her company, as well as many trips to the zoo, to keep me distracted from hard times.
And then there's the fact that Wendy is singing with us at LifeTeen. It is funny how music has brought so many important people into my life. Going back to high school where I met Deb, Sarah, Julie, Ryan, Greg, etc., to choir camp where I met Wendy, and finally to college where I met Jon. And now it all seems to have come full circle.
When I have time, I write stories about my life. But instead of writing them from my point of view, I write them with pronouns and no names. For some reason tonight I am reminded of the first of these stories I wrote. It is about my first kiss with Jon. It is called "The Blue House," because so much of the beginning of our story took place in the shabby, blue college house he lived in when I met him. You don't have to keep reading, I just think it's a fun reminder of how the rest of my life started.
The Blue House
The beginning is murky at best. One could argue that it started during the music literature class they had together in which she swore she hated him for playing devil’s advocate. Or perhaps it was later that spring when he showed up to the birthday party with his roommate, the one who was actually invited. Then again, she wasn’t interested and he was engaged to someone else, so how could that be the beginning? No, it must have been the following spring - May 14th to be exact. The night she attended the end-of-semester party at The Blue House where he lived. She went with friends, again intending to be with the roommate. The roommate who had nothing but a need for comfort and a slight physical attraction. That was really how it started. They were a part of the same “unrequited love” club that spring, each pining for a friend of the other. She doesn’t really remember when they started spending a lot of time together. It was some time after her birthday party. He came over with the roommate again. There was a card game, a lot of liquor and a mutual connection. They didn’t talk much that night. He called her a cunt, she made him drink a tumbler of Schnapps, but that was the extent of the conversation. Even so, they shared a connection of loneliness; of wanting something they couldn’t have.
She would call him on the phone. “Let’s go for a walk,” she would say, and he would agree. They would talk until four in the morning about what to do about their prospective regrets. She would often go home and think about her new friend and how she felt bad that he felt bad. She would think about how she was glad to have a new friend, but she was not attracted to him at all. There was nothing there and she couldn’t imagine there ever would be something there. She didn’t want him to feel like she was using him to get to his roommate, but then, let’s be honest, they were using each other. June 15th was an average day. She went to her camp job, building forts, cooking food and keeping 60-some children entertained for the day. He had not started his construction job yet. When she came home she called him. “Let’s go for a walk,” she said. “Ok, meetcha halfway.” he responded. They walked down the street past the park they had been kicked out of a few nights ago. They walked around the curve in the road and turned, ending up at the school. They played like five-year-olds for what seemed like forever. They played on the swings, climbed the apparatus that looked foreign to both of them, and pretended to cross the monkey bars, even though their feet were on the ground.When they were done, she didn’t want to go home yet. The thought of sitting in her room, alone, filled her with anxiety. Thinking back, she doesn’t remember the details of the movie they watched, or if they even watched a movie. They seemed to have a talent for filling hours of time with conversation without a single awkward silence. When the hour neared midnight, she felt the pressure of time again. “I should go home, I have to get up early,” she complained. As they had done so many nights, they climbed into his minivan, a highly sexy car for a 22-year-old college guy, and he took her home. He was always the chivalrous type and insisted that she not walk home alone. He pulled into her driveway and put the car in park. Driving home never meant the night was over, for they always seemed to have more to say. After a few more minutes of conversation she leaned over to give him a hug. “I love you,” she said, intending the most innocent of compliments. “I love you too, you’re a good buddy,” he responded as he patted her on the back. Within that five seconds of exchange she felt a wave of panic rush over her. Something was off. Something in his tone, in his words, in his actions, stated more than he had intended. “Did you just really call me your buddy?” she asked. “Uh, yeah,” he answered nervously. “Ok, to me that says that either you have more-than-platonic feelings for me, or you think I have them for you and you want to make sure I know that you don’t.” she said. (She was known in their circle of friends for being unabashed in stating her thoughts.) “Well remember when we talked about my roommate only having a physical attachment to you, but not an emotional one?” he asked.“Yeah,” she answered with hesitation.“Well, I have the emotional attachment.” he answered.It was then that she realized that it was not just his attachment, but hers as well. “Get out of the car,” she said, “we need to talk about this.”They went to the porch and discussed the landslide that had just hit them. It didn’t take her more than five minutes to realize she had the same feelings for him, and had had them for quite some time. But what the hell was she supposed to do? He hadn’t been out of his engagement for all that long, and she had a friend that had feelings for him. You just don’t do that, and yet her heart had already started to take over the negotiations. She sat in a chair on the porch and he idly leaned against the porch wall. She stared down at her elbows resting on her knees, her hands clasped in front of her. When she looked up at him again he was smiling at her.“What?” she asked.“You’re pretty,” he answered.Right then she felt like she would explode if she didn’t touch him. She stood up and walked the three feet over to him and threw her arms around him. Her body felt like it was on fire, and she wanted time to stop. She didn’t want to worry about anything, or know anything, she just wanted to feel this moment. After a 30-second span that left her world spinning, she stepped back. They agreed that they would talk more tomorrow, although by then it was tomorrow. He promised to call when he was done with work. She walked him the 50 feet back to the van in the driveway. They stood staring at each other and maybe it was just the combination of the late hour and the light from the lamp post, but she swore he looked different. As she continued to stare he took both her hands in his. He leaned over and kissed her. For her it was the kiss that every girl dreams about after seeing their first black and white happy ending. He was gentle and sincere. It was, perhaps, the most romantic moment she had experienced up until that point. They both were completely vulnerable. Then he got in his van, smiling, and drove away. She climbed the stairs to her room in a fog of disbelief. What were all these feelings she had? Were they real? Were his real? She hadn't really felt this for someone in five years, and she wasn't sure what feelings to trust. She was excited and scared, but as she drifted off to sleep she smiled at how much she didn't know.