730 Project - 12.19.11. Steff, Mom, Cari. At Mom's house. Enchilada's (made from rice, beans, cheese, tomatoes, and a spicy sauce) with chips.
7 years agoSteffasaurus
December 17th, or, A So Needed Good Day
As far as I know, there is nothing particularly spectacular about this date. It’s just another ordinary day in a calendar year filled with other routinely ordinary days.
Or so I thought.
It’s amazing how when we wake up in the morning, despite our best intentions, we really don’t have any idea how the day is going to turn out. We may think we do – we may anxiously anticipate or dread things that end up being much more harmless than we expected; we may be disappointed or underwhelmed by those things that we had looked forward to with delight; we may even be pleasantly and unexpectedly swept off our feet by the abundant beauty, inspiration, love, and peace than we ever thought was possible by seemingly undistinguished moments.
Today was a perfect day in a year of imperfect days. And by no means do I expect you to find it especially extraordinary or impressive, beecause my small miracles, may not be yours; we may not share the same moments of joy; your simple pleasures and mine may be different.
But December 17th was good to me. And it was good for me.
And I so needed it.
Maybe it’s me, but any day that we can look back on and genuinely remember as being a “good day” to be who we are, to be alive, to be actively living life is good enough to make the “bad days” not seem so bad.
My sister – one of my best friends and love’s of my life – moved too far away from me in this past year. And I think we both can feel the strain. Not just emotionally, either: for me, at least, it sometimes feels as though a part of my physical self is being uncomfortably stretched in a way that alternatively aches and feels liberating (because, I know she needs space to grow as a person – and if there’s one way to do it, running away to a foreign country certainly helps. Trust me. I know a thing or two about doing that. Selfishly, though, that still doesn’t stop me from hating the miles between us.). She hasn’t been back home much. And the first time she did come to visit for a couple weeks during summer, the time we had together was a little awkward. She had changed so much, it was a little difficult to try and race to keep up. For the first time ever I wondered where I fit into her new life, how I would evolve or conform to be a part of it, and whether or not I would contribute anything important to her life as her “big sister” ever again.
But the bottom line is that when a person can give and receive love to and from you unconditionally, when a person can make you laugh right from the deepest depths of your soul, when you share so much private history with someone . . . very little can get in the way of a relationship like that.
And very, very little has ever gotten between her and me.
Her coming home for the holidays may have been the number one thing I was looking forward to, especially since I was having a tremendously difficult time feeling festive. I was absolutely delighted that I would be able to spend an entire day with her when she first arrived back in town – that, in and of itself, was the most amazing gift I could have ever hope or asked for. And I had an idea of how I wanted to celebrate this very special season with her, what I wanted to do, where I wanted to take her, but I had no idea that it was going to turn out better than what I had wanted.
I picked her up and we collapsed into a loving embrace, breathing the familiar scent of each other in, before leaving for our grand adventure out. We quickly picked up where we left off, falling back into our witty banter, quips, and intelligent conversation.
She was openly chatty the entire car ride – and I just soaked in the beauty of it. It had been a long time since I could just listen to her voice – still girlish in some ways, yet raspy from years of cigarettes in others - listen to her speaking freely about any and everything. I didn’t say much, but that was as it needed to be: sometimes it really is more important to just stop and listen, because it can be just as meaningful.
When we got into town, we stopped for coffee and I coerced her into getting something other than coffee. Trusting me, she got a peppermint mocha latte and loved it. “This was not nearly as pretentious or confusing to order as I thought it was going to be!” she exclaimed, slurping on her drink while I felt the tendrils of warmth of my own cinnamon dolce latte with soy milk-no whip cream-no toppings expand throughout my own torso. It was nice to see her open and receptive to new things – that may have been part of the glow I was feeling internally.
My gift to her was tattoos: matching wasps on our left arm in honor of one of our favorite songs about siblings that have been through a lot, are best friends, and have been separated for one reason or another (no, I don’t feel the need to expand on this: I’m intentionally being vague, because this is between me and her). We have each had some exceptionally bad experiences with tattoo artists in recent memory, and I was excited to introduce her to my new one: someone who invoked calmness, was genuinely honest, had a reassuring presence, and was both surrounded by and exuded a clean, positive energy. As she sat in the chair getting tattooed in a black hoodie, her graham cracker colored hair falling in her face, she looked over at me with tears in her clear eyes and said, “This might be the most relaxed I’ve been all year.” And for me: that moment . . . that beautiful moment of sitting in an art studio, in my favorite town, with one of my favorite people, in what felt like a totally peaceful and organic moment, sharing an incredibly meaningful and permanent piece of work on our bodies . . . made my already good day perfect.
continued in comments . . .
7 years agoSteffasaurus
730 Project - 12.15.11. Steff. At home. Nachos w/ a Caribbean twist: tortilla chips, topped with a jalapeno-bean spread, mango, and avocado.
Posing, Posing in the Distance; Posing, Posing With My Arm
7 years agoSteffasaurus
Those Christmas (Un)Feelings, or, Powerful Stuff
It’s Christmastime again.
I know this, because a calendar tells me so. Because stores are advertising for it. Because people have begun to wish me a “Merry this” and a “Happy that,” and they ask me what I’m doing for the holidays this year.
So, I know its Christmas.
I know it, but that doesn’t mean I feel it.
Christmas is a spectacular time to be alive, especially when you’re a Christian. What’s there not to love about . . . well, love? Which is entirely what the season is about: we were so loved that a baby was born for us purposefully to grow up to die for our sins. All because He loved us.
That’s powerful stuff right there.
But I’m worried for myself. I’m worried for the one’s I love who seem to be going through the motions of the season effortlessly. I wonder if they’re actually feeling the holiday in their heart and soul, or is it just a cognizant thing to them as well? Maybe they’re just better actors than I am, or maybe they really do feel something I’m not.
And if it’s just me “unfeeling,” than I’m especially worried.
I can’t figure out why I’m having this strange disconnect mentally from emotionally, though. I’m not “celebrating” any less than I have during past holidays. And sensorically-speaking, I’ve done everything and more . . .
My house is decorated with all my favorite things, including the crèche I received when I was first born, a stunning poinsettia, and a very large tree with quite a lot of character (it might be my most ill-behaved fir, yet). I see Christmas, but I don’t feel it.
There is an undercurrent of pine in the air. And whenever I visit my parent’s house, I’m enveloped in the scents I’ve especially come to love at this time of year, like baked goods and cinnamon. I smell Christmas, but I don’t feel it.
I’ve listened to all my favorite songs (I even got to hear actual carol singers on the street!). Alright so I’ve avoided one or two because they make me especially emotional, but still . . . I even have jingle bells on my front door! I hear Christmas, but I don’t feel it.
Gingerbread men? Check. Muddy buddies? Check. Soynog? Check. Dinner menu ready? Check. I taste Christmas, but I don’t feel it.
I’ve tried to think back on Christmases past. Have I ever truly “felt” the season as it was happening? The exaltation, the wonder, the fellowship, the worship, the thanksgiving, the holiness, the love: did I embrace those glorious emotions letting them permeate through me, through my day? Did I recognize and celebrate, not only the breathtaking moments of the season, but the ordinary moments as well – those which are small miracles in and of themselves, and while they go underappreciated all yearlong, seem to be magnified and undeniably beautiful during this season of tenderness and appreciation?
Or did I simply get swept up in the unsurprising yearly flood of obligatory yuletide merriment, expectation, anticipation, the unavoidable angst that accompanies both, and traditions which are becoming so traditional, so repetitive in nature that they’ve actually begun to lose their meaning?
I don’t remember.
I do recall that last Christmas was one of the best I’ve ever had. There was something in the air - some sort of undulating, unconditional joy between every exchange, every interaction that was had. It was truly a hopeful season. And maybe I just felt this way, because I was in such a good place in my life – professionally, financially, romantically, etc. - that all I could see was the beauty in everything. Absolutely everything. But, even more gloriously in the background of everything my significant other was becoming a faithful man, submitting his heart to the Reason we celebrate Christmas. And that’s possibly the best gift he could have given me . . . given himself . . . given to us.
I’m one of those people who habitually get the post-Christmas blues. And I know why: despite my attitude towards the humanity (which is generally a pretty negative one, because let’s face it – we can be quite wicked creatures), I really do want love for us all. I think loving and being loved is healing, comforting, and empowering. And during Christmas it just always seems that people are a gentler, more thoughtful, more loving version of themselves. And I hate that everyone reverts back to their darker shades as soon as the annual celebration of the birth of Christ as come and gone. Why can’t these feelings be sustained all year long? Is it really that much more work to be compassionate and kind then to be self-serving and bitter?
continued in comments . . .
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