onbruisedknees

"Tell your story. Tell it on your bruised knees if you must, tell it at the risk of madness, scream it at the top of your lungs." –Andrew Lam

Category: OLs

Quarter-life Crisis

I’m having a quarter-life crisis. You’re laughing, aren’t you? Teaching for only four years made me feel I’ve lived a lifetime already, so I’ve decided to retire a few months shy of twenty-six. I’m just kidding. I haven’t even started doing all I dream of accomplishing. Writing a book or three. Earning my MFA. Owning a café. Building a house. Teaching at the university level. Seeing more than a tiny speck of the world. Raising a kid or three with that man I love. Am I too late? Too early? Too old and too young. Cursed in-between. Where do I go from here? Which of those dreams are in God’s big-picture plan? On my back-and-forth Illinois road trips, I’ve noticed this quote on several church signs: “When life knocks you down {during your quarter-life or mid-life crises} and it’s too hard to stand—kneel.” Oh, bruised knees. Makes sense. ❤

Is a lack of passion and purpose worse than stress and busyness? It’s a question I ask often while on my bruised knees and can’t figure out if not teaching is a relief or not. I saw my students and friends at my Memorial when I went home. I hadn’t felt that kind of love, that fullness of joy since…my last day there in January. They just heard the laughter and endured my too-tight hugs—allowed me to indulge, saw me get caught up in the flourish of excitement and find my heart again that I had hidden in the halls. And reminded me how much I adore the sound of “Mama.”         

That door has been closed for you, people tell me again and again (and again).  But I wait at the door and ask, seek, knock. Maybe I don’t want to move on. Maybe I just want to keep that memory sacred. My students (should I stop saying “my”?) just saw the smiles. But my tears came later. In the quiet. After the crowd. (Ok, fine, I cried for five days—the whole visit, especially while holding my new baby niece). Tears slipped down my cheeks again at the University of Evansville when several students (and a dear education professor) gathered on campus to show me all they’ve become. I’ve never been so touched or so proud. So stricken by the beautiful full-circle of time and life and learning. Yes, those side-by-side homes of Memorial and UE harbored a lot of stress and a lot of busyness. But I had a whole world built right there on Lincoln Avenue.

I’ve been thinking about money a lot lately and if you know me, you know how uncomfortable money makes me. I know it would have made more sense to take a more practical, inexpensive educational route. Perhaps a debt-free educational route would make those other dreams of mine happen a little quicker. It would make more sense if I were doing something related to my degree. And perhaps I would feel less guilty in my marriage and more vibrant around a friend’s bachelorette party guests (mostly holders of doctorates) instead of pale and tired and old and sad and a little purpose-less. But.
But.
I will defend college. A real college experience. Knowledge and lessons and inspiration and fun and support and incredible teaching and becoming. See, something happened to all of us in that place. We became us. So although I’m vice president or some officer of my high school class, I’d rather suffer cruel and unusual punishment than attend another ECHS reunion. Just kidding. There are actually about five of you from my class I’d love to see. But it’s the mention of the university’s Orientation Leader reunion that makes me vibrant again. Because they know the soul of me. They understand the whole of life, the leads to….leads to….leads to. The circle. Oh wait, the We Care circle.Makes sense. ❤ They know how attachment feels. About stepping stones. And adventures.  And helping whoever you can and loving as much as you can along the way. They know that BECOMING YOU was the biggest hurdle, and you can’t put a price tag on climbing over that kind of hurdle. The process involves a lot of falling, a lot of bruised knees. Victorious bruised knees that come with stories to tell. And I will tell the stories. Because in my quarter-life crisis, telling the truth of the stories is the only thing that feels passionate and purposeful enough to me. And when it comes to circles, what seems like the end is really only the beginning.    

65-88

65. My classy grandma Mabel and feisty, kind-hearted grandpa Earnie
66. the surprise gift of a sweet summer dress from my mother-in-law that makes me feel special (I plan to wear it with my cowboy boots).
67. little pick-me-ups, like new yellow shoes, that make me feel sunny

68. pretty old quilts and the hands that made them

69. gerber daisies

70. strangers who became friends who reach out to me when I’m being weird and unfriendly
71. my one friend who is my person, who gets my weirdness, and who knows I’m not actually unfriendly
72.  HIS VISION
73. cool evenings on the stoop with Jovie and Josh

74. pretty, colorful, preppy prints

75. My barn (it’s not actually mine; I just call it that) that says “To God be the Glory.” Amen, yes?
76. my latest best discovery which I slather on every inch of my body (and smells awesome):
coconut oil
77. coconut shrimp. and lobster and crab legs. and plans to go to Maine someday and eat the same.
78. husband hugs. I feel like I’ve loved him for a thousand years. and would love him for a thousand more.
79. walking into a middle school now and feeling like a celebrity (waves, excited hellos, invitations to sit at every table). yet when i was a middle school student myself? the cafeteria terrified me.
80. asking a special needs kid to teach me sign language. i remember….about five words. but he loved being the teacher.
81. warmer temperatures. thank you, thank you, thank you.
82. knowing we get to visit home soon and having lots to celebrate there
83. seeing pictures of my beautiful ladies and dashing gentlemen from memorial’s prom. so grown up. and feeling like their mama again. all proud and teary-eyed.
84. OL memories. realizing just how much they created me. I wrote about it in an article that will be published later this month. Remember how we sat for hours duck-duck-goose style? you made me feel, for the first time, like i was more than an awkward timid ugly duckling. i want to look all of you in the eyes right now and not say anything. and make you understand how much you are still a part of me. that was my becoming.
85. hearing from my sis
86. art.
87. words. words are an art. ❤
88. the fact that I’m not steering the ship. but also the fact that the ship is not left in harbor. that’s not what ships were meant for.