Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dream. Try. Do Good.

I am officially a wayward son.

My time at North Park has heartbreakingly come to a close. It all hit home when I had to fill out my (final!) medical form for the Peace Corps and the line for ‘Occupation’ stumped me.

I looked over at my mom who was waiting expectantly to rattle off the exact dates of every vaccination I’d ever received in my life. She had all the answers for when I had my last dental x-ray, pelvic exam and eye appointment. She wasn’t expecting what I asked.

“ Mom, what is my occupation?”

I had been filling out ‘Student’ for the last 4 years. The Christian education I had just finished wouldn’t want me to lie. I was now a graduate, with no plans for another month. What to do?


Professional Unpacker:

As this was my final move for a while, the ninth in 5 years, it was a high stress move. I expressed to my very frustrated mother yesterday, that I wasn’t intentionally being a high maintenance pain in the ass, but I wanted everything in its place when I came back from Africa. As such, I’ve been up to my ass in an only child’s amount of excess. Where the hell did I get so many books? I think I might have an intervention coming up soon.

Party Girl:

While there is a certain frowning upon that many adults will get when reading this, I urge them to remember that I am a 22-year old recent college graduate with a very serious job on the horizon. You can bet your bottom dollar there will be top dollar drinks being had for all this next month. I plan to spend it in the sun with my friends, not entirely sober.

Peace Corps Volunteer:

I wasn’t technically one yet, but the flight arrangements were made. The checks had been sent out and President Obama had stamped a letter thanking me for my commitment to our country. It was feeling pretty real to me. I was down to the wire, to the point where my suitcase was open with some things already in it, my departure from all I know on the horizon.

Boy Meets World Fangirl:

Much to the delight of the handful of girl friends I have, I have slipped down the treacherous slope into Boy Meets World. Never having watched it as a kid, I slid quickly into the world of true love that rarely irritated me (which for a show about teenagers is high praise) best friends whose bond I eerily understood and parents who reminded me a lot of my own. Before I knew it all seven seasons were stacked sloppily by my DVD player and I was laughing at the Feeny call late into the night.


The most honest answer for me at the moment, yet something I hadn’t been since I was 15.  The word unemployed, although unfortunately becoming more ubiquitous as time goes on, was never something I wanted describing me. I would have to add a line underneath assuring them that I had a job on the horizon, I promise. While honesty has served me well I the past, pen poised, I couldn’t do that this time.

Truth is, there were a lot of things I was doing right now, but none that the doctor wanted to hear about. You never know when your requisite bout of existentialism after your graduation is going to hit. Mine was between trying to remember who invented the polio vaccine (Jonas Salk! Take that college) and where we were going for lunch.

I ended up putting Student. I may not be in the city, tearing my hair out about student teaching or drinking an alarming amount of coffee with my friends, but I was still learning. I was sitting on the steps of my childhood home, smelling the air that I would recognize anywhere and waiting for the rest of my life to start. I was learning how to be patient, and enjoy where I am today.

“Believe in yourselves. Dream. Try. Do good.”
            ~Mr. Feeny 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Necessity of Parallelism?

So, I'm far from complaining, because I get to embark on a 2-year adventure after graduation, but dating lately has been more of a spectator sport than anything else. Having made the choice long ago that I would never inflict a long-distance relationship on some poor unsuspecting fool, or a guy for that matter, I’ve been sort of laying low.

I’m secretly glad I can RSVP no to the thousands of weddings that are happening this summer. “No, sorry, I can’t make it. I’m moving to Africa.” sounds exceptionally better than “No, sorry, I can’t make it. I don’t support dumb choices.”

I suppose not so secret since I’ve just shared it with 6 million of my closest friends.

Anyway, my writer-honed skills of observation have been finely tuned lately and I'm posing a question to you all- do you really think that opposites attract?

I mean specifically people that have nothing in common but each other. Like, could I ever date a guy who hated to read, or to browse in bookstores for hours? Could I deal with that but also deal with a guy whose whole video collection consisted solely of anime? Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it’s just not my bag.

How many of these things can you get over and still have a functional relationship? Is it enough to have similar demeanors? If we’re both pretty mellow, can we be accepting of the differences?

My mom and her boyfriend have been together for quite a while, enough that at this point jokes about being an old agoraphobic couple are becoming redundant. They sit together every night and take turns, him watching soap operas with her and her watching Swamp Brothers with him. 

Is it the next level of maturity to be in a relationship where you transcend the sort of things that might have mattered when you were younger? When I was in high school, I doubt I could have dated someone that wasn’t into the same things I was because there wasn’t much else to talk about. There wasn’t much life lived. But as you get older, does it become more about the person, less about what you have in common?

Based on the type of guys I seem to attract, can I expect there to be yearly trips to both Comic-con and Disney to appease us both? For eternity can I take pictures for my guy geeking out over meeting Iron Man if he’ll hold my hand through Wishes? Is that the promise you make when you get older?

I’ve learned that you can’t choose who you fall in love with. But you can choose to make it work. My hope is that as long as you can go to bed at night after watching either Lord of the Rings or Aladdin, both people can still feel like equals. I guess I can rest my beer on a crate of comic books if the guy will still rub my feet and ask about my day. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Love, like Caprese Salad.

I’ve always been a firm believer in easy. Not that the way that would make parents and teachers feel like I have no ambition, but that some things shouldn’t be difficult. Success isn’t necessarily easy. Wearing down a publisher won't be easy. The actual process by which I will succeed won't be easy. But the writing was always easy. Writing always came naturally to me. In the rawest form of the bigger concept, the root was easy.

But when it came to relationships, to falling in love, I always believed the entirety should be easy. I feel like they shouldn’t be complicated. If you ever decided to fall in love, it should make sense. I never was a game player. I have no patience for playing hard to get or any of the other infuriating ways that we piss each other off. I believed that when you like someone, you let them know. And if they liked you back, you dated. Simple.

I don’t think that they should be byzantine. If you love each other, things shouldn’t be knotty. You shouldn’t make each other have to worry. You should be comfortable and secure with the other person. You don’t have to worry about what they’re thinking or read too much into their actions. You don’t have to worry if they’re attracted to you. Your communication is constant, but not taxing. Not that problems don’t happen, but you are calm enough to discuss them. You know and accept the other person so that when trouble happens, you get through it together. Simple, like Caprese salad.

I always rolled my eyes at couples that had too many problems. The evenings when my friends would fret over cold drinks about this or that, ensuring that they were going to need Botox before they hit 25, I never told them that the best relationships that I’ve seen aren’t complicated. And I don’t think they should be.

Despite my admiration for Shakespeare, we can choose to disagree about this. I think that the course of true love should always run smoothly. 

So why is it that while my brain knows this, I still find myself overthinking relationships? Is there always going to be one person in your life that you're going to break all your rules for?

I really enjoy being smart. That sounds conceited but it’s the truth. I’ll never be a great beauty or the fastest runner or be mistaken to have any kind of patience. However, I know I'm smart. And usually that’s enough for me.

But then there are those few times when my heart gets sick of being the less used organ and goes rogue. It’s out in the world without its only defense, the boss- the brain. The world is no place for a heart on its own. It makes uninformed decisions and then when it comes back, tail between its legs, your brain has to work overtime to forget all your heart saw when it was gone.

Is it ever possible that the right relationship isn’t always the easiest one? That it ever is the one with all the back and forth and mind changing and heart-wrenching hurt and forgiveness and ambivalence, holding in your emotions, an upheaval of emotions, not even knowing what your emotions are half the time? That you should have to deal with aspects of yourself that drive you crazy on any other person?

I’ve lived my life through what makes sense. I observe and draw conclusions, but don’t always live them. Sometimes that doesn’t matter, but in something like this, can you ever really know without experiencing it? Or is that just self-indulgent? Is that just an excuse to do what you want despite reason?

I so desperately want to be like Thoreau or Paul or Spock- smart intellectuals who don’t desire a relationship. And when my brain is in control, I'm almost there. Logically, I don’t think relationships make sense. But that doesn’t keep my heart from peeking out every once in a while, wondering, just maybe, if the boss had it wrong all along.