living with goodbye

Ugly-cry was definitely not on my list for this weekend. But a man and his dog happened:

(For more of their story, Moon wrote this in The Inertia.)

The little wild child in me wants to live out of a truck and see the world. But I might die a little since it’s hard to receive mail on the road.

I’m living through a goodbye right now: maybe permanent, maybe not. Either way I feel like I am losing something: a friend, memories, a future.

Maybe growing up isn’t so much about how I can tough out the goodbyes; I’m not sure what it is about, though. Not yet.

reblogged: Love Poem No.23, by the beautiful due

AND THEY SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.

     While this gladly refers to the
friction of our bodies on one another
     it also points to a more magical union
listed under the heading: Mystery.
     Because we’re one we share everything,
maybe not completely but in part.
     Like if you’re happy, I am sort of too. And when
I’m angry, so are you, if only just a bit.
     This doesn’t mean we’ve lost our individual
selves but rather found one plus one can equal one.
     So if you get cancer one of these days
rest assured I’ll have traces of cancer too.
     Medical tests won’t reveal this because
such things are not designed to show the soul.
     And if I should slip into dementia then
since we’re one I just bet you’ll misplace
     a few thoughts here and there as well.
I apologize in advance if that last example
     should befall us. If so, please tell me the
stories about the two of us because
     they could remind me who I really am.

copyright, Trey Ratcliff, http://stuckincustoms.smugmug.com

copyright, Trey Ratcliff, http://stuckincustoms.smugmug.com

a time to heal

When I was twenty I had my heart broken in earnest. And my mother wrote this for me. I think having a woman like her as my mother is one of the reasons I have grown resilient and grounded, but not hard, because being tough and hard means that I would be closed off to the world and the people around me, and there would be no exchange between the world and my human-hood.

寒,

Han,

这个时期不容易度过,很难。人们在一个“关头”的初期与中期,常常强烈地感到:这不行,过不去。那么就让神来安排这个周期,求他怜悯。

This is a rough time, hard to tough through. When we first encounter a crisis, or even during its midst it’s easy to think, I can’t do this. Then allow God run the course of the crisis; we ask for His mercy.

人心是可以体验人心的,就像提到疼痛,人会知道那是什么。我不愿意看到我的孩子经历任何的伤痛,身体的与心灵的。可是我更不敢让我的孩子没有痛感,那是一种恐怖的病症。

Humanity can attest to another humanity as one heart to another. Like pain, to which every person has been acquainted. I don’t want to see my child go through any sort of pain, bodily or mentally. But even more so, I don’t want my child to be desensitized to pain because that would be a frightening anomaly.

生命中难免会有这样的经历,我们不欢迎也不喜爱却难以回避,它不期而至,它让我们难受,它让我们成长。我们不愿意与男/女朋友分手,然而初恋失败的发生率很高。有一句话说“初恋时我们不懂爱情”,我们却以为我们懂得。

It’s almost impossible to be spared of heartbreak; we neither welcome nor desire them yet they are inevitable, arriving unannounced and wreck havoc. Heartbreaks cause us pain; cause our growth. We never want to break up with those we love, yet the fatality of first loves is not infrequent. It’s been said that we don’t understand love the first time around, even when we think we do.

女人经过痛苦的分娩生出孩子;茧子通过痛苦的蜕变羽化成蝶。蜕变是痛苦的,蜕变是必经的。

A woman bring a child into life through pain and likewise through metamorphosis, a chrysalis becomes a butterfly. Metamorphosis is agony and metamorphosis is necessary.

难以割舍,说明你是个有情有义的孩子。忍痛割舍,证明你是个认真负责的孩子,对自己负责,对他人负责。

You have a hard time of letting go because you are dedicated and committed. You let go despite of your own suffering because you are responsible and respectful. Respectful of his decision and your own ontology.

我们共同感受到神的无限与绝对和一个母亲的有限与相对。但有一点,是母亲的“绝对”:母亲永远与你同喜同悲,母亲这里永远是你“回来”的地方,永远在这里等候,永远为你预备。

We both see the infinite and absolute love of God and the inept and finite love of a mother. Yet there is one thing that I give you without reserve, one thing that is absolute: I will always share your pain and joy, you will always have a place to come home to. I will always be waiting for you, ready for you.

母亲

Mother

Gallway, Ireland. By Abby Kroken

Gallway, Ireland. By Abby Kroken

the inexplicable ordinary

This is a story of no exceptionality. It is ancient and it is born anew every day, every time I draw a breath. This is a story of the ordinary, the sometimes tediously mundane. It is a story of a boy who left and came back as a man, and a girl who, while the boy was gone, grew up a woman.

How do we explain fate? Coincidence? How do two dust particles become tangential for an ephemeral moment, an instantaneous eternity?

He always remained an enigma, a dichotomy, like the way light is both a continual wave and an explosion of particles. His humanity and hers touched briefly in the blossom of a single summer’s day. Does the brevity detract from the sincerity in sharing your souls?

And she still doesn’t know if she was in love with him, or her idea of him, or perhaps, because he was the kind of person she wanted to be.

When the Eurus wind took him to another land she resigned in her heart that their life stories will have no more common plots. Even the most potent disappointment is diluted by the passing of time, and she grew up and he grew distance in her mind, as a line on the yellowed pages of her memories grows fainter with each dance of the seasons.

Then he came back.

He came back and she realized that in her starry-eyed dawn of womanhood, she loved him as her hero, a set of ideals. But now that he has returned she realized that her hero is just a man, a man who, while away, has metamorphosed from his not-so-distant boyhood, a man with his dreams and insecurities.

He came back with the Zephyr wind but she was leaving. She was leaving for a land that beckoned her and a life that she has been growing toward, fighting for. Has she become who she wanted to be? Then what becomes of him? What becomes of them?

He held out his heart and touched hers. Ember inhaled and fluttered into flame. For two seasons their humanities breathed in the same spirit and together recited the names of the constellations. We are a divine comedy, she thought, and comedies parody our tragedies. We learn to say the right lines at the right times and it’s a bit dehumanizing. Whose applause am I vying for?

He did not realize how his heart was the offering for hers, and she was no longer the girl he remembered. There is a strength that he has hitherto only seen from a distance, and a quiet confidence replaced the childish timidity. And he discovered, with a note of amusement, that her resilience has bore the fruit of stubbornness. The woman that grew from the girl he remembered is no longer a child.

But he knew that she was leaving and he, to his surprise, found his heart growing into hers. Two trees entwining into one. He has never given his heart to anyone. Not completely. And now he watches himself entering a rebirth, terrifying and beautiful.

She was leaving and he did not know how exactly do two humanities remain tangent for an eternal instant, an inexplicable now.

This is an ancient tale, the ones that hunters tell around a fire while the stars breathe the night away. No one really speaks the ending out loud, at least, not the wise storytellers, because the end is the beginning.

Photo credit: stockvault.net

Photo credit: stockvault.net

there and back again

Disclaimer: the following contents contain information processed through suboptimal brain function. The author is not responsible for irrational aphorisms, improper grammar, and general nonsensicalness.

I am writing this from the southern quadrants of the Canadian-United States border. One of the slew of reasons I have not updated anything since my last post in Canada is that school crashed in full-force 60 hours after I parked my car in Durham, North Carolina at the end of a 13-hr driving day, and since then my brain cells have contemplated spontaneous apoptosis a dozen times over.

A bit of catching up: since posting about my previous Visa interview, I was able to successfully interview for my student Visa the second time around, on August 19th. Technically speaking, I was not any more or less eligible for the Visa the second time around, since my student status is still in good standing, and I have no questionable intent that might jeopardize my successful term at Duke.

This illustrates my trip since leaving Milwaukee on August 7th:

Plus or minus 5% in mileage for when my GPS decided to be coy.

After I posted about my situation while in Canada in mid-August, people in the States came together and made contacts for me to stay with the local Pastor’s family. So I was an unwilling, yet not homeless, international bum for about two weeks’ time. I really can’t tell you how much difference that made, to be with a family who took me in without a moment’s hesitation and treated me like I belonged there.

And now that I am recalling on the ordeal—can I still call it an ordeal even though I matured and grew from it, more than I could have ever imagined?—I can’t quite capture everything anymore. These moments, the marrow of life, are so real when they were taking place that, once they have passed and “normal life” inundates me, I find it hard to describe them with all of their realness intact.

I haven’t really written much about spirituality and my personal beliefs up to this point, because like relationships, those things are sacred to me and I, perhaps out of selfishness, want to keep them private. But sometimes, a trip to Canada to confront one of my deepest fears, and to be rendered helpless, then delivered, makes me think that perhaps, my faith isn’t just mine, but it’s a story. And we are storytellers, and we are dreamers of dreams.

I wrote to a friend about my recent journey, there and back again, and I think sometimes, life is about reshaping everything you know. Rarely does a traveler returns from the journey unchanged:

“[Speaking of spiritual fire, and the transformative power of trials.] For me, the struggle had been trying to feel worthy by what I can do and accomplish. I associated my worth with my immigration, where I only feel worthy if I can prove my worth by being granted to stay in the United States and build my career that I can call my own, and not realizing (not fully, at least) that I have inherent worth with God, regardless of what immigration rules dictate, or what country decides I can contribute to their workforce. So my personal test by fire for the past decade, and now the fiercest this time around, was God taking a firm hold of my entire heart and being, of what I cared about the most, and taking it out of my hand, and asking me do you trust Me? do you trust me THIS MUCH? And I realize this even now, just a few days after the “ordeal” (since it usually takes me a while to recognize His work), that He knew what I needed, what had to happen for me to grow and mature spiritually, was to cut me to the quick and lay me open so all of my internal demons stood before God and I had to surrender everything I thought I could handle.” 

And I’ve been there and back again and it’s already a struggle to remember that journey, of the people I have met and the roads taken and the battles fought. And I am a bit frightened that I would forget what it was like and what it all meant, because I want to remember. I want to remember my story and tell it someday. And I am frustrated because there’s been hardly a moment to think because a mere two weeks into graduate school I am forcibly suffusing my brain with biomechanics and anatomy and I am about being ready to

I may or may not have already thrown stuff.

So I am sitting down at last and writing; it’s a start, at least, and I hope after a few reams of pseudo-sensical rambling I might begin to tell you a story worth hearing. Because being there and back again, and being here now, I don’t want to let the busyness of life dilute the essence of it.

The beginning.

P. S.: Adding to my no small list of to-do’s, I went online to check my phone account and waiting for me was my monstrous roaming bill.
P. S. S.: For school we’re using MacBooks and being a PC’er I am super discombobulated with all of the Ctrls and Alts and Apple signs being in different places. I feel like a cat after the house has been suddenly remodeled and I keep running into wrong corners.

reblogged: when it is all new, a letter to hilary, by Preston Yancey

Preston Yancey is one of those people who give me hope that being mildly lost at twenty-something is alright, and this trying to cobble together some sense of life, this doing the best I can with the continuous now that I have, this often tedious shuffling toward Jerusalem, is all worthwhile, and that there is joy in this land of in-between, and that we can create something of beauty along the way. Preston Yancey is also one of those people who make me sort of bubble with envy, because my writing isn’t as sharpened and well-oiled, and that my words cannot divide sinews and tendons. Not yet. After going through my customary crush on competent, eloquent, and ever-so-quirky boys such as Preston Yancey, I am very glad that he has found someone who makes him inexplicably happy. 

WHEN IT IS ALL NEW, A LETTER TO HILARY

July 25, 2013

Lake Gaston Sunset. Photo credit: Jackson Rollins

Lake Gaston Sunset. Photo credit: Jackson Rollins

 In what seems like another world now, with so much space between, Hilary and I used to pass digital letters back and forth to each other on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I smile at those days, smile half, over the way I was falling in love with her after every tumbled word without quite realising it at the time. Retrospect is a powerful thing. We now mark a series of new letters, back and forth, Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can read Hil’s letter that I’m responding to here.

Dear Hil,

I debated about this letter, which has something to do with the reason why it took me so long to write it. (We won’t talk about how I didn’t write you one last week, because as you know I was in your kitchen making you a birthday dinner, among other things, so I’m holding firm on not being guilted for missing a letter, even if it was the second time it’s happened in the year of these exchanges.)

I debated because you and I care a lot about protecting our story, about preserving the intimacy of us and the love we have, about keeping the online at a distance from that and giving only what is truly beneficial and, often, even then holding out. There are some things that once they have been spoken are no longer, and so much of us and our story is hidden in the thin places of self and space and time–it seems injustice to try to root it.

But today I want to pull back the curtain a bit, bring out a bit of that story for the sake of others. We talk often about how we don’t want other people to hear the story of us–meeting online, letter exchanges, flying across oceans and crying in airports–and think of it as the ideal, as the thing that they wish they could have, because every story of love is its own sort of extraordinary that really only the two people right in the tangled midst of it can understand. This is not that. This is not an attempt to loudly convince anyone of the love or the uniqueness or the wonder of it, but a sort of promise to those who have not found that sort of love yet.

You went running in prayer that day because you had read the draft of the third chapter of my memoir and you ached to have been in the story at that point. It was full of memories that would never be quite yours, would be shared but only in the after and experienced only in retelling. You felt the sting of not being rooted with me yet, as I had felt the sting writing it out and marvelling at the chaos and uncertainty that it all was, in a field with another girl who wasn’t you and could never be you, trying to make a bastard love blossom that would fade as quickly as it had been imagined. I told you that night on Skype that you were there and not there, that when I wrote those words with the honesty I could bring to the page they only flowed that way because you were there with me, somehow, in the magic of retrospect and reweaving.

It’s not the same, I know. It’s not the same as having been there or having haphazardly journeyed it alongside. Never mind the dreams we conjure with one another about what would have happened had we met then somewhere on the east side, with your red wine and my bourbon in an old bar that still had a coat room with a clerk that could be tipped well. Never mind all that, because the sting of being there but not being there is real and is not, I know, unique to us.

So what is the point of this? Pulling back the curtain enough? It is a promise to you and to those still waiting, that there is newness with you that is not like anything else. To hold you is to have never held someone before. To kiss you is to have never before been kissed. To brush our hands together or lean into you or take coffee from your hand in the midmorning at your kitchen table where we are at home in a still point of our own fabrication, that is to have never before known touch, pressure, or gift before.

Memory plays us like fools, pretends that we have a hold of it when what we have is a farce of our own design. But love makes us fools in a brave way, teaches to overcome memory’s trick with the firmness of words, vows, that are spoken in those gestures long before they are said aloud–in the hair elastic I wear around my left wrist, in the way you tilt your head when you look at me, in the crystal sugar bowl and the slice of lime.

I wanted to put somewhere public something of a promise to those who wonder if it can all be, truly, wonderful. I wanted to tell them that it can. You simply have to realise the wonderful comes not in the loudness of a story but in the quietness of it, in the way that you thought you knew so perfectly and so truly exactly what it felt like to be seen, to be kissed, to be loved, until one morning in the midst of the ordinary a woman looks at you from across the room and you realise what poetry must be, what it is to feel the vault of the earth in tilt, what it is to fall in love over and over again until you believe that you could still time if you only hold your breath just long enough.

Because it is all new. And it keeps being new.

Love,

P

reblogged: When you think your love story is boring

original post by Lisa-Jo Baker, 22 July 2013. 

“My love life will never be satisfactory until someone runs through an airport to stop me from getting on a flight.” ~Teenager post of the week via the Huffington Post.

He drove us all home 18 hours over two days.

Three kids and hundreds of miles and potty breaks and princess pull-ups, the car covered in the markers I’d bought for window art. Turns out the soft beige ceiling of a mini van makes a perfect canvas. Rainbow swirls color the door panels and there are goldfish crackers crushed so deep into the seats that they will likely be there come next summer and this same road trip all the way to Northern Michigan and the lake that his family have been coming to for decades.

He’s never run through an airport for me.

Three times he’s held my hands, my shaking legs, my head, my heart as I’ve bared down and groaned a baby into being. He has run for ice chips and doctors and night shifts and laid himself low to help me hold on through the hard rock and roll and push and pull of labor and I’ve never drowned holding onto his hand.

There is a rumor, an urban myth, a fiction, a fantasy, a black and white screen cliché that love looks like the mad, romantic dash through airports for a last chance at a flailing kiss.

And then the credits roll.

And the lights come on.

And we must go back to our real lives where we forget that love really lives.

When you think your love story is boring via lisajobaker.com

I threw up so hard and fast and often one night in a farmhouse in Pennsylvania that I couldn’t stand come morning. He moved over and out and gave me the bed. He went out for crackers and soda and mind numbing games to keep the three kids occupied and away from mom.

I looked in the mirror and there was nothing romantic looking back at me, but around the wrinkles in my eyes, the parched, white cheeks, there was the deep romance of being loved beyond how I looked.

He’s never run through an airport for me.

He’s gone out for milk at 10pm, he’s held our children through bouts of stomach viruses and told me there is nothing about his kids that disgusts him. He’s carried us on his shoulders when we were too tired or too sad or too done to keep doing the every day ins and outs that make up a life.

He’s unloaded a hundred loads of laundry and put the dishes away.

He lays down his life and it looks like so many ordinary moments stitched together into the testimony of a good man who comes home to his family in the old minivan, the one with the broken air conditioning.

It undoes me every time to look around and find him there, having my back in the day to day and the late night into late night and then next year again.

He’s run a thousand times around the sun with me and we hold hands and touch feet at night between the covers even when we’re wretched and fighting we’re always fighting our way back to each other.

He’s never run through an airport for me.

He runs on snatched sleep and kids tucked into his shoulder on both sides of the bed.

He is patient and kind.

He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

And we come running to him. When the battered white minivan pulls into the driveway his children trip over themselves, their abandoned Crocs and the pool bag to be the first to open the door and spill out their day into the hands of the man who can catch them.

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He’s never run through an airport for me.

This ordinary unremarkable love walks slowly every day alongside. One step, one day, one T-ball practice at a time.

One permission slip signed, one Lunchable, one school play, one art project, one Lego box, one more night time cup of water delivered at a time.

This ordinary love that wakes up with bad breath and crease marks on its cheeks and is the daily bread that sustains across time zones and countries and cultures and the exhaustion of trying to figure out how to be a parent and a grown up and somebody’s forever.

And this is a love life – to live life each small, sometimes unbearably tedious moment – together.

To trip over old jokes and misunderstandings. To catch our runaway tongues and tempers and gift them into the hands of the person who was gifted to us.

He lets me warm my ice cold feet between his legs and the covers at night.

He has never run through an airport for me.

This is love with the lights on and eyes wide open. This is the brave love, the scared love, the sacred boring, the holy ordinary over sinks of dirty dishes and that one cupboard in the kitchen with the broken hinge.

to love at all…

“[…] is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

― C.S. Lewis

Giant's Bleeding Heart, Photo: Abby Kroken

Giant’s Bleeding Heart, Photo: Abby Kroken

an open letter to future brides

I am sick of yakking about immigration and you’re probably sick of hearing it, so this is not a lamentation about immigration.

I go to a lot of weddings, as in, I can weigh the wedding invitations/save-the-date’s/Thank You cards I receive each year in solid kilograms. And with the wedding season upon us, here are my gratuitous thoughts from being a professional wedding attendee:

Dear woman,

You are engaged. Congratulations. I hope you didn’t sprain any fingers mass-texting all those exclamation marks. Some of your friends are having irregular heart palpitations over whether they will be picked to be in the bridal party, and your betrothed’s friends are probably thinking up excuses to sidestep such a fate.

Anyways. The Big Day usually takes forever to arrive, even though there are a quadrillion things that needs to be done beforehand. So, here are some tips which might help you during the full-time job that is called Wedding Planning. Because one can only schedule in so many crises into one’s calendar.

Before I start, here’s a thought: the wedding is only one day. Okay, including the wedding rehearsal, it’s two days but hey, compared to the number of days until death us do part, two days are not worth stress-induced increase in cholesterol and premature white hairs. Unless you are marrying for fortune and plan to ax your spouse in less than 48 hours post-nuptial, then yes, yes do freak out, but also consider calling your psychiatrist, and maybe also forewarn the local police force. 

But ALL of the family/friends/colleagues are going to be there!, laments the I-wanted-an-intimate-ceremony-but-we-have-to-invite-a-legion-lest-my-mother-disowns-me brides. Then do read on.

Let’s start with the planning part. Your bridesmaids might be the most giving and obliging people to ever tread this earth, but please, keep the glitter and/or ribbons to a minimum for your invitations/save-the-dates/wedding programs. Especially compound-tied ribbons, because those who have to tie them will secretly hate you.

photo credit: Pinterest

photo credit: Pinterest

Please print your wedding bulletins/ceremony details/piece of paper with all of the names in a font that is legible. I am sure Vivaldi and Vladimir Script and Edwardian Script and Palace Script MT exude the elegance that you and your betrothed undoubtedly encompass, but the wedding attendees would rather be able to read your parents’ names, or those of the wedding party.

Moving onto the wedding day. I haven’t been in the men’s shoes, but having been a bridesmaid and maid of honor, the women’s attire deserves some thought. If your bridesmaids are of different statures and/or body types, it is advisable to make sure your bridesmaids feel comfortable with how they look. Same goes for shoes: a fabulous three-incher may look great with a petite woman, but will be statutory torture for a heavier woman. One good compromise that I have seen: the bride decides the color palette for the wedding and the bridesmaids choose the attires that work best with each of their body types. Remember that these women are (hopefully) people who have been your support group who gave you a ride at 2AM because you didn’t want your creeper date to drive you home and joined in for wine slushy after bleaching the mold off your wall and shared their commonwealth of feminine products in your emergency. So be kind.

photo credit: tumblr. com

photo credit: tumblr. com

And extend your kindness to those who work to make your wedding special. In particular, musicians are not slaves. The best advice I have heard from a professional wedding musician regarding compensations for our services: “Call the plumbers and request a team of four. Ask them to drive in Friday rush hour traffic to your fancy location, work for two hours to get the lay of the land, and ask them to come back on Saturday and work from 2 to 5, then from 6 to midnight. We will take half of what they charge you.”

Also, unless you are fine with having a semi-comatose cellist by the time you reach the altar, Canon in D may not be  the best selection. Or you might have an angry cellist, like this one.

A few notes on the reception. The first dance and subsequent dances of  the reception should be short, and if possible, eliminate some of the wedding-party only dances, since those can be especially awkward for the wedding party couples. Chances are, these people in formal-wear probably only met each other at the wedding rehearsal, so there will be lots of attempted chit-chat on the dance floor. Multitasking in constipated penguin suits and corset dresses bodes ill.

photo credit: tumblr. com

photo credit: tumblr. com

Speaking of the wedding rehearsal, hold off on the alcohol the night before the wedding. Not only does alcohol make you retain water, and therefore more challenging to fit into your attire, but even the most stunning Vera Wang or Armani do not go well with a hang-over.

Other miscellaneous, but potential stress time-bombs: favors. They are time-consuming to make and most of them end up in the trash anyways. Honestly, very few people care about them. So skip the trinkets entirely and instead, come up with some form of entertainment at the tables: cross-word puzzles on trivia of you and your betrothed, or provide random assortments of LEGO pieces.

A word on flowers, photography, and video-recording: shop around. If you would like to have a memorable event, hire someone who’s experienced. Ask friends for referrals, look at the vendor’s packages and samples from past clients. Do your research. 

Prepare an emergency toolkit that contains the following items: clear, double-sided tape, small sewing kits, and safety pins. Also, pack extra boutonniere pins because no one javelins those flowers on correctly the first time. And actual first-aid kits when someone’s aim is off. And lots of facial tissues. Actually, consider having the flower girls hand them out instead of rose petals.

I’ve only touched upon a few things, but the general rule of wedding planning comes down to being a gracious host for people who are making considerable efforts to see you joined in matrimony. Modern opinion might insist that you as a bride gets free reins to behave as you wish, but a wedding like that usually becomes a chore, rather than a celebration, to attend.

So, congratulations once again, and may your marriage be as resplendent as your wedding day.

photo credit: tumblr. com

photo credit: tumblr. com

what are some of your favorite wedding stories? what are the “I wish I knew” things that you’ve learned from wedding planning? feel free to share your insight on the art of wedding planning in the comments section. 

reblogged: Preparing to Let Go of Your Kids Starts When They’re Born, by Al Andrews

a fitting post for father’s day. originally published on 14 June 2013, on The Storyline Blog.

The day he was born, I walked outside with my tools and began to dig. I wasn’t sure why I was digging. I simply knew I must break into the hard ground to make it something it was not.

I wasn’t digging a hole. Rather I was preparing a smooth surface, free from obstacles, small and large. Daily I tore into the ground, breaking rocks into small pieces, cutting down trees, and tearing out roots that would find their way to the surface again. Sometimes my boy would work alongside me, not knowing what we were building or why, but glad to be with me and a part of the task.

I don’t remember the day I realized we were constructing some sort of path. Perhaps it was when I saw that it was not deep enough for a foundation and too long for a garden. The path was wide and never meandered. It was smooth and level.

photo credit: juanofwords.com

photo credit: juanofwords.com

There were difficult years, particularly when hills had to be cut through. But time and patience saw them open wide and finally welcome the path as an old friend.

A few weeks ago, a little more than eighteen years after I began this project, I realized what it was. It was when my eldest son began to gather his things in boxes. And one by one, he placed them at spot where my work began. His belongings were all there – his instruments, his books, his trophies, his mattress – stacked up at the path’s starting point. As he stood there, tall and manly, he looked down the path beyond its end and toward the horizon, bright with the morning son.

Then it came to me. There before us was a runway, wide and long and smooth. And he, with an eager heart and a long wingspan, was ready for takeoff.

This morning, we will load the truck and Hunter will be moving into his own apartment. For the first time in all of his years, he will be leaving to return only for visits. While my grief is profound, it is overwhelmed by gratitude for his tenure with us and with hope for all of his adventure-filled flights to come.

I can hear the pilot’s voice, “Ladies and gentlemen, prepare for liftoff.” It is a voice I have dreaded since the day he entered this world. And it is a voice that I embrace for all that will be his.

-Al Andrews, a grateful father