Fern Fiction.

The fern was in a pot about the size of a bowling ball, but its leaves reached out into every direction as if trying to escape. I was carrying it down Carnaby Street from my flat. Now it’s just Stacia’s flat.

            Maria’s was my favorite coffee shop at the time, and as I passed by it I tried to peek in the windows to see if there were any open seats. An empty table caught my eye, and that, combined with the increasing weight of the fern in my arms, forced me in the door.  

            It took a second for my eyes to adjust to the dim lighting of the café. As I was blinking in my hazy surroundings, I realized I had been crying. But my arms were heavy and my head even more, so I drug my feet over to the only open seat. I dropped the fern on top of the high table and then dug the heels of my palms into my eyes. The low murmur of the café engulfed me with the sound of quiet chatter and the clinking of cups on saucers.

            I opened my eyes to a small pile of potting soil on the table. A fern? That’s what I took? Three years of shared memories, shared expenses, and shared living quarters and all I took was a fern? I pounded the table with my fist. The plant shook with the force and I noticed some of the its disorderly branches had spilled over onto the table next to mine. I followed their reach to see a young woman with soft brown eyes that were washing over me apologetically. Quickly I swept the ferns off of her table, hoping she hadn’t noticed my lack of consideration, knowing she had.

“I’m so sorry,” I said as I brushed off the fallen leaves that now littered her table.

“It’s quite alright,” she said, meeting my eyes.

“No, it’s not,” I replied, “How could I be so careless?” My eyes fell back onto the table in front of me.

“It’s fine, really. It’s just a plant,” she said, her hand reaching over to touch the tabletop.

“I mustn’t be so indiscreet, “ I interrupted her.

“Just a few fallen leaves.”

“It’s falling apart.”

“Now look,” she said, her hand left the table and motioned toward the window to the right of us. “It’s just reaching for the sunshine.”

And with that, I raised my head from its stupor and looked toward where she pointed at the window. It was true; the sun was shining in on us quite radiantly.

Realist

I can’t lie. I am a realist. Which in certain situations may come off as pessimist. I don’t believe in fairy tales, I don’t believe in “happily ever after”. Because the truth is, life gives the bad along with the good. I’ve seen too many poisoning relationships to be blissfully ignorant. I’ve watched too many heartbreaks to leap blindly. I’ve heard too many lies entangled in compliments to openly believe. I don’t want a prince, I don’t want a chick-flick romance, I don’t want the love story that everyone else is after.

I want a best friend. I want something so easy to fall into that I couldn’t ignore it if I tried. I want to finally feel at home. I want to believe someone cares what I have to say, cares what I’m feeling. I want to finally, truly believe and let it resonate in my soul, that someone actually thinks every piece of me is okay. And that most of me, most of me is beautiful. I want a real relationship, one with more good than bad.

Thoughts from 30,000.

“I wanna go home,” I said to my brother as we continued shakily through the air. As I turned away a tear, unkempt, traced the frame of my freckled nose.

We were halfway through our flight from Shanghai to inland China, and for the third time an elderly Chinese man had let himself into the cramped airplane lavatory to smoke a cigarette, causing all of us to indulge in his cancer stick with him.

Uncharacteristically I let the tear fall from my chin. I decided I didn’t care if my little brother saw me cry. But one tear later I stopped myself. No use crying over something that can’t be.

I realized then that I wasn’t sad because I missed home, or even because I was uncomfortable and frankly concerned for our safety on this flying matchbox. No, I was homesick for a childhood passed. One filled with innocence, or at least selected ignorance, fresh cut grass and watermelon, a four-pawed protector and friend, unguarded smiles, and just enough time to live in the moment. I was aching for a time and place that could never be for me again.

I think that’s why women want children. In abandoned moments, before thinking better of it, that is why I want children. To give them a childhood like mine– even better– and longer too. A time where laughter is constantly ringing through your body, buzzing just below the surface, always eager to present itself. When nothing is shameful or forbidden and singing and dancing follow close like shadows behind us, and often catch up just in time for a few ballads of ecstasy. And eventually, a time when young love comes to life in an unexpected occasion and hollows out your insides. 

No, even at 22 one can only look back fondly, and often somberly, at such beautiful, magnificent, outrageously golden moments that still singsongingly call to us uselessly to come back to them. 

Your Chapter.

There’s a story in the Bible of a girl named Esther. Through a line of somewhat random events, Esther ends up becoming the Queen of her country. Esther was married to King Ahasuerus for only a short times before trouble came. The King’s most trusted official deceived him into passing a law to kill all the Jews in the land. Little did the King or his official know, Esther was a Jew. She knew she must do something, but going before the King uncalled for often resulted in death, even for his Queen. Esther was speaking to her cousin one night and he said some very frightening, but encouraging words. 

 

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” 
Esther 4:14

Examine your life. What were some of the times when you felt hunted, like the Jews? The times where you felt like everything was out to get you. What were the times where your life seemed hopeless?

Name ém. 

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 I don’t think that life is a rolled dice. I don’t think this all happened by chance. I believe in a strategic God. The God who placed us intentionally in the time, place, and with the people in our lives not because he “eeny-meeny-miny-moed” it, but because we have a purpose there. 

I’m sure many of our stories are aching, tender, and raw, or infuriating and exasperating, or even confusing and desperate. These may be tough chapters of our lives to open up. It’s infinitely easier to keep these pages closed and collecting dust. But I would like to suggest that God placed you in that book, chapter, and line “for such a time as this.” 

Telling your story isn’t easy. You have to be useful, scrappy, and original. But I believe the most useful and original device you will ever have is your story. So, take the easy way out. Leave the book on the shelf. Or.. pick it up. Share it. Your story and your character could create some amazing things and affect so many other peoples’ stories. 

p.s. Esther single-handedly stopped a genocide by telling her story. 

Gutting

This week I’ve been working with my grandparents, gutting and remodeling their new lake house. Every day, working to some background music with just me and my thoughts I’ve been able to clear some mental space. But just like remodeling a house there are so many steps. This is a collection of my lake loft life lessons.

Nothing is ever beyond repair. Through years of use, houses have endured beatings and bruises. Storms threatening the walls to collapse and trials from within. Much like a heart endures. Chips in the paint, dust in the corners, even signatures behind a cabinet, these things all make the house what it is. Now sometimes there is a lot of dust and dirt and grime in our hearts or in our homes. It can be overwhelming. But it’s essential to remember that these areas can always be visited, cleaned, and restored. But never forgotten, for they make the house what it is. The scars and chips in the walls give the house its character.

Secondly, when gutting a home, you have to decide what to keep and what to let go. Just like my mind, over the years this house collected its memories. The owners had drawers upon drawers, from floor to ceiling full of what I’m sure to them were memories. But any outsider could see it was past time to let go of these objects and create some breathing room. The truth is we don’t need to hold onto these things, they don’t make us who we are. The memories will always remain, but sometimes the objects that trigger these memories need to be let go. We will always remember the past, it made us who we are. But we don’t need dragged back by our collar by something we should have given up. Sometimes, we need to make space in our lives for change, for new things. And sometimes we just need to empty ourselves. Carefully leave all the extra baggage on the curb. Sit down in a quiet room, and decide how we’d like to decorate our own walls.

And lastly,
“Gutting- definition n. – to extract major or essential parts of…”
Think about that. Gutting a house. What about gutting your heart and your mind? Not the gory ripping veins from body fiber, but taking out the main subject matter of your heart and mind. We’ve all been there.  We’ve all had to try and forget what used to be an “essential part” of us. We all know how intense, how agonizing a process it is. It takes forever to reorganize the material in your brain. Taking what used to be top priority, at the front of your mind, and forcing it to the far edges until you feel it’s gone completely. Continually moving stockpiles until they are situated just where you wanted. A grueling process for the heart and the home.

Remember, gutting is the hard part, but redecorating can be invigorating. 

a pinch of encouragement, a dash of inspiration, and a sprinkle of hope.

Almost every morning I leave the apartment for class at 8:30. Recently, I’ve tried to rouse myself out of bed and leave ten minutes earlier. Why, you ask? Because I have become
inspired.

If I leave my house at just the right time, I have the privilege of seeing one of the most magical moments. Every weekday around 8:35, a man, about 50 years old crosses the bridge. He is grandfatherly, but still young spirited, with a short graying beard, light steps, and cute black rimmed glasses. Unlike many here in Spain, this man walks with a smile, which was what first caught my attention. But that is just the beginning of my magical moments.

The sunrise is much later here than at home. So at 8:35, the sun has just stretched over the buildings in Sevilla. Most people are briskly walking, heads down, rushing to their already busy days, but not this man. Every morning, he walks about halfway across the bridge and then stops.. He turns and takes in the beauty of the sun over the buildings, the clouds reflecting in the water, and the skyline that I’m sure he’s seen for years. But then comes my favorite part.
He smiles, pats his heart, and keeps walking.

This whole ordeal only takes about 10 seconds, and others may not understand, but that man has become such an inspiration for me. Taking the time every morning to be thankful for another sunrise, stopping and making up his mind that today is another beautiful day, and although he doesn’t know it, he is reminding everyone else to do the same. He has taught me that I have to take the time every day (often times more than once a day) to remind myself that this is a beautiful life I’m living, that I have the opportunity to see, and do, and be something beautiful.

Today, was the first rainfall in Sevilla. It was damp, dreary, and overcast. Like every other morning I tried to leave a little early to see “my magic moment”, but I started worrying the closer I got to the bridge. Because of the clouds and the rain, the sky wasn’t very beautiful, you couldn’t see the sun at all, and the water looked sinkingly green and grey. I saw him walking from the other side of the bridge, so easy to pick out his happy stride from the herd. What would the old man do when he turned to see the disappointing view? I’m glad you asked.

He turned.
And looked.
And looked some more.
Searching the skies for about twice as long as usual.
Then he smiled, patted his heart, and continued walking.

At first I didn’t know what to think of this moment. Was he disappointed by the view? Why did he stare for so long? What exactly was he thinking? Of course, I can’t read his mind, but this is what the old man taught me today.

When you turn and you find yourself surrounded by dreary sky, when the view isn’t as inspiring as it was yesterday or the week before, when the clouds and the road look dark ahead, keep looking. When things seem ugly, keep searching for the beauty in your skyline. It might take you a little longer, or much longer, but there is beauty to be found in any and every situation. Even if it’s just that tomorrow’s forecast calls for sunshine. How beautiful that we have tomorrow to look forward to.

So smile because you’re able,
 pat your heart ’cause you’re still breathing,
and keep walking forward. Image