I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ve actually been enjoying the in between. In the time since I’ve graduated, survived the holiday season without ending up in a mental institution or becoming morbidly obese, and moved gracefully into the new year, I’ve been doing all the things I just haven’t had the time, energy, motivation, or perspective for in (really) the the last 5 years. Granted, I do suffer some insomnia and anxiety about not yet being employed, and on some obsessive level I fear that I’ll be living in my parent’s house until they throw me out on the street and I set up camp in a cardboard box in an alley (funny, the voice in my head that says these things bears an uncanny resemblance to my father’s), but most of the time, I’m calm and optimistic. And exceptionally cheerful!
Some of the cheer is coming from the feeling of checking things off my to do list. No matter how much of a free spirited flower child I become in my old age, I will always love the feeling of writing a To Do list on sorority stationary in pink marker and crossing off each item as I complete.
Go to Whole Foods for Organic Turkey Breast. Return pie pan to Crate and Barrel. Work out! These first couple weeks of the year have been great for crossing things off the list – and crossing off the big things I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. I scrapbooked my summer in California and one of its accompanying road trips – hundreds of pictures are now cropped and compiled into two beautiful albums. I’ve gone through much of my wardrobe, inventorying superfluous pieces and identifying what will need to be purchased once I am gainfully employed. I’ve even taken on the big beast… Cleaning my room. Now I don’t just mean picking the clothes up off the floor and throwing them in the hamper or putting the shoes back on their racks. I’m talking the big guns – pulling the bags and boxes and piles out from closet shelves and under the desk and everywhere else – taking them apart, discarding most of their contents, and sorting and packaging the rest away in colorful tubs and crates.
It was actually a rather emotional experience – I suppose I should have expected as much, but I confess even I forget that the things that have been scrapbooked can fill me with feeling again. It was surreal going back and reading notes written by friends and lovers, teachers and family members, and finding scraps that used to mean the world and now you can’t remember what they ever meant. I laughed remembering the good times I’d forgotten (or at points, wondered if ever even existed), teared up at the foreshadowing of the futures of certain relationships, and had my heart fill with hope when I saw the artifacts that reminded me that I was once a woman bubbling over with joy and selfless devotion.
I threw away a lot of things, and probably most importantly took apart what was once a very important box. It was something between a Hope Chest and the box that Cher helps Tai burn in Cluesless (the one with a romantic mix tape, a towel, and a number of other tremendously meaningful meaningless things about a boy). I was taking it off the top shelf of the closet not to be burned but certainly to be repurposed. I threw out paper napkins, ribbons, feathers, and then kind of things you wouldn’t want a future lover or your grandmother finding. I saved the prom pictures and letters, figuring one day when I have a 13 year old daughter who asks me about my first love I may want them, and following the sage advice of that stupid word song about Sunscreen we all loved in the 90’s. (OK Baz, I will keep my old love letters and throw away my old bank statements.)
In one of my favorite entries from my old blog, I remember writing about cleaning my closet. It was in undergrad circa sophomore year when my head was akin Vietnam circa 1969. Struggling to keep myself afloat, I remarked on the importance of cleaning the clothes off the floor before you go digging through the closet. I have, infact, spent the last several years at most cleaning up the clothes off the floor (sometimes not even managing that – apologies to roommates and friends). But now that I’ve finished the marathon of education and have a second to breathe, I’ve got time to venture into the closet.
I realized the significance of this when I mentioned a few things to a friend of mine. I had already told her about the purging of excess and fairly inconsequencial memoribilia, of dissecting “the” box that was long overdue, and other things about my monumentous cleaning endeavors. I also mentioned a thought I had while looking at America’s favorite place for news and anything that matters – Facebook Newsfeed. Tangentally it is funny, isn’t it, how a person can see the wall exchanges between two other people? Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg we can all be intimately involved in eachother’s relationships without even trying. I mentioned this as she was somewhat drunkenly acting as my GPS (“GAHHHH turn LEFT here NOW! Sorry!”), and said a friend of mine (whom I might once have called a flame of sorts) seemed to be very much involved with someone else. And happily I suspected. She quieted. I’d been thinking recently about this and was positive, and resolved.
See, I’ve been praying a lot over the last several months. I pray for a lot of people, different people who I love that need it at different times, but there are two people in particular I’ve been praying for consistently and often. They’re two people who, like me, I perceive looking hard for something and never quite finding it. People whom contentment alludes, as a result of their own actions or simply the peculiarity of the universe. And often I’ve prayed, fumbling over my own words, for their happiness. I confessed I couldn’t begin to know what that would look like or mean or who would be there or what they would be doing and where (if anywhere) I would be (a rare admittance of my own lack of omnipotence), but I hope they got there and that they weren’t alone. I prayed for the one I used to keep in the box and I prayed for the one I only know now from the Newsfeed box.
The truth is, I think my prayers were answered. From what I can gather through all the normal channels of communication (brief exchanges, hearsay, Zuckerberg, deductive reasoning) they seem to be happy. Really, that’s exactly what I wanted with the utmost sincerity. And what could possibly be better than knowing that two people who you have cared so deeply about are happy.
What she said stuck with me. She was silent at first and then responded that I sounded healthy. She then blurted an abrupt LEFT HERE!!!, but even after we turned the corner the word was still hanging there. Healthy. I haven’t been worthy of being called healthy in a long time, but in fact, that’s exactly what I feel. That’s the reason I’m cheerful and optimistic, energetic and hopeful, and that I can’t help but smile every single day (and some days all day) even as an unemployed 23 year old living in my parent’s house in a foot of snow in January in Michigan. I’m thrilled that so many of the people I care about are happy and am almost equally excited by the amount of happiness this brings me. Finally what’s inside of me is healthy enough that I can do what I love about all things – to give it away.
“He who has health, has hope. And he who has hope, has everything.” – Proverb