Open Letters pt. 4

Friday, September 14, 2018

June 19, 2018
I've had some words on my mind for a few days. It's feeling very much like fall. Schedules have shifted. People have turned their attention to putting one foot in front of the other instead of skipping around in summer mode. I've been wearing hoodies and leggings and drinking hot drinks every chance I get. The light is changing. The first of the leaves are falling. Summer of 2018 is settling into our memory banks. 

It was a good summer. I've got to get things worked out to share with you here. Until then...Let's get to another round of letters.

Dear Ghiddu,

I still don't eat the crusts of my sandwiches. You were the only one I could convince to cut them off so I didn't have to bother eating around them. Did you know that? I do eat some of them, just not the last two corners worth.

Dear Roald Dahl, 

One of my favorite library moments happened yesterday and I owe you for it. It was a quiet day. Kids are back in school, the tourists have gone home for the season, and the youngest moms haven't discovered the role the public library plays in their sanity yet. I was out in the stacks doing some shelf reading when I heard the familiar back and forth between a grandfather and his grandkids. They were looking for something and didn't know how to find it and he didn't either and so he was trying to encourage them to ask for help. For whatever reason, an adult behind a desk is SCARY. But, a woman hunched over in front of a shelf is always approachable. The little girl came up to me while her grandfather looked on and I said, "Can I help you find something?" She told me she was looking for Matilda. My eyes lit up! 

I got up off of the floor and said, "Oh, that's exciting! Do you know what today is?" She didn't, but I made sure to tell her so that she would...I told her about how it was your birthday and we walked over to the shelf where your books are kept and at the last second, I realized that Matilda was in after all even though it was out of place. 

I placed the book into her hands and she proceeded to wander around the library following her little sister with her nose buried in your book. That alone would have brought me joy, but the fact that it was happening all these years later on your birthday made it mean even more to me. 

Thanks for writing. Thanks for heading out to the little shed in your backyard and pulling out your yellow pad and keeping your pencils sharpened and spending so much time in that armchair. I don't know if what they say about you and children is true, but you've given us all so many hours of enjoyment. You've taught us to be honest about what scares us and you revealed the ugliest parts of us so that we can see how foolish it is to be ugly and mean and rude.

Thanks for giving me that moment with that little girl. And for all those hours in fourth grade when my teacher introduced you to us. 

You had a gift and you didn't keep it to yourself. We haven't forgotten  you and I'm not sure that we ever will. 

Dear People, 

You're all breathing your sighs of relief over how cool it is outside and how perfect it is. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!? It's cold. This weather is perfect cozy up inside with a bowl of soup and hot bread weather. A nice Indian Summer COULD be on its way and I'm just going to warn you. You'll complain about how it is and I'll be soaking up every last ray of sun that I can. It's going to be winter before we know it, so let's welcome all the sun and warm days we can. K? 

Dear 28,

You're here and so far you've been nice. Welcoming you in was special. Looking back on 27 made me realize just how much you have to compete with. The year behind me was one of my best yet in terms of growing and facing things head on and learning to be okay. Can you do me a favor and bring on more of the same? Be gentle about it, but I'm ready. 

I hope you've got a lovely weekend ahead of you! Do you have any plans? Tell me about them, will ya?

Look Who's Here

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

July 21, 2018
It doesn't take much to make connections in this world we live in. It can be as simple as a drawn out conversation in an airport or as complex as running into the same person over and over again before finally introducing yourselves. These kinds of meetings don't always lead to becoming friends who stay in touch and who are a part of each other's lives, but they do breed familiarity. 

You greet one another by name. You wave when you see them in traffic. You send out an email or a facebook message a few times a year to check in with the ones who live far away just to check in on them.

This sense of community is rooted in God, who is in Himself, a community. He invites us into that community and He means for us to be builders of community among the people we come into contact with. 

One thing I've become aware of here in this city full of transplants is just how many lonely people there are. Unlike the farming community I grew up in where everyone was related to someone and saw the same 200 or 300 faces every single place they went, this place is full of people who come here knowing no one and who find that it's really really difficult to get people to commit themselves to one another. 

I've met old people and young people who share this sentiment. Some of them are single, some have young families, some came with a spouse. Some are self proclaimed hippies. Some are conservative Christians. Some are outdoorsy and some are content to sit in front of a computer screen for hours on end. They're all unique, but what they have in common is this longing to know and to be known. They want friends and they want to meet people who want friends and who are willing to BE friends.

And, let me tell you, I get it.

I've spent more time alone since I've moved here than at any other time in my life. I grew up seeing the same 25 people every single day for 10+ years. 15 of us did everything together...We at lunch smashed around the same table, we played during every recess, and then after school was over we looked for any reason to hang out. After those days were over, I found myself babysitting for the same families over and over again and working at the coffee shop and at my Dad's office which were both havens for the regulars that came in week after week. The ranch was a community of its own where the people who ran it become a second family to me. I developed friendships with people back in my hometown and during my time in Massachusetts that STUCK. Living at home with my family meant that one way or another, I was never alone. I was always connected and almost always in the presence of at least one other human being.

Then I came here and I was surrounded by strangers. We all started doing our own thing and those familiar faces were all so far away that staying in touch with them became nearly impossible. I felt disconnected and alone and it left me super unsettled. You know this...I've spent three years writing about the ins and outs of this whole process. 

When I was in SC last month, my brother and I were out one day. I looked down the street and all of a sudden I realized that I was looking at a familiar face. The face is familiar because of blogging, but it was familiar all the same. I yelled her name and when I realized that she couldn't hear me over the traffic, I kept yelling and started running up the sidewalk toward her. When I got her attention, it took her a second to place me...There we were, having a chance meeting after so many years of being blogging friends, it was hard to believe...We hugged and smiled and shared our awe at the fact that this was actually really finally happening. 

I've been looking around lately with that same awe. There are so many patrons at the library that I greet by name and that I know little bits about. There are neighbors that have become friends and who running into means it could easily be hours before I make it back to my own front door. There are people who look for me at church and who are disappointed when I'm not there.

Three years ago, they were all strangers. Now, I can't help but look who's here and smile when our eyes meet.