Monday, September 26, 2011

extremely loud and incredibly close

My friend, Brett, and I drove out to East Lansing yesterday to see Jonathan Safran Foer speak. How great it was to hear him speak about the writing process for him because he had different views from most writers that I have heard before. Foer said, "Sometimes writing means just what it says. It doesn't always have some deeper meaning" (that is paraphrased). He also said that his characters, to him, are merely tools in telling his stories. They aren't real people to him. This struck me as interesting because most authors tend to let their characters grow inside of them--almost becoming real people--, and they feel a need to continue to tell more of their story.

What I think may have been the most important part of the evening to me, though, was the drive home with Brett. Other than kind of getting lost on the backroads of Lansing in the middle of the night in the rain, we had some great conversation. We talked about Foer and how he said, "Emotions and intuition are muscles that need to be worked." How true this is! We often don't allow ourselves to feel certain emotions (particularly sadness) because it doesn't always feel good to feel that way. Brett said something that I thought was beautiful: "Why should we deny ourselves to feel? Even if it is sadness, I want to feel something real." We talked about the importance of nurturing our emotions--even when that means allowing ourselves to feel sad.

It's nice to know that there are other people that feel the same way: Being on our own is not easy, especially being apart from our best friends. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, but particularly because I heard Foer speak last night, about this deep longing I have to feel connected to people, yet I feel constricted and unable to do so. Foer's book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, speaks volumes to this. His book tells the stories of so many people who want to communicate with one another on a deep level but all are unable to do so. My problem lies in the fact that I don't feel connected to that many people in this area. I do have a couple of close friends around, though, and I have hope that the Lord will guide me and help me to nurture those friendships with people.

scent memory

The sense of smell is the biggest recaller of memories. Lately, scents all over the place have reminded me of memories of my past.

On my drive to and from work every day, I pass by these water treatment plants. Sometimes, the smells remind me of India. In a strange way I am comforted by these scents that would normally cause me to bury my nose deep in the folds of my sweater, not because I like them by any means, but because they remind me of the back alleys of Jaipur and the side streets of Mumbai that we discovered while searching for Chimanlal Paper Company.

Every day when I walk into one of the fifth grade classrooms, a familiar scent hits me. Not until today did I realize what the scent reminded me of: Andrew Gehl and David Caplans's room in Wyckoff freshman year.

Many people in Grand Rapids have small bonfires in their backyards. I can smell these often as I bike around, exploring, and the smell always reminds me of Jamaica.

There is a certain scent that breezes by me occasionally that reminds me of the walk to Northway Primary School in Liverpool.

Good memories are a good thing, especially at times like these when you miss everything.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

for my friends

Sometimes, you don't realize how much you miss everyone and value their friendships until you have been away from them for a time and then reunite with them. I have some incredible friends.

The end of the school year was a whirlwind for me. With wrapping up student teaching, graduating, and leaving for India all in four days' time, I did not have time to think about the fact that I was saying goodbye to my best friends for a long period of time. While I have seen a few friends over the course of the few months that I have been back in the States, I have really not seen that many. I have a few friends left in the Grand Rapids area who are only a short bike ride away and a few still in Holland, but a majority of my close friends have moved away from Michigan--they are off in the world doing big and beautiful things. My friends are in places like Chicago, Seattle, Oklahoma, Ohio, Boston, New Zealand, Portland, France, and the list goes on...

This weekend I got to celebrate the marriage of two of my friends, John Rob and Lindsey Rebhan, alongside many of my best friends. What a glorious celebration it was! Not only did we get to celebrate together one of the best reasons to celebrate in this life, but we also got to reunite with one another. I am truly blessed with some of the greatest friends a girl could ask for. This is why it is so difficult to finally have the realization hit me this weekend that most of my close friends are far away. No longer can I walk down the street to my friends' homes, stop by to say hi to someone on my way home from class, or have spontaneous adventures. I now have to plan when I will see the people that I love most. I now have to save my money for plane and train tickets, gasoline, and eating out when I make visits. I have to plan around my full-time teaching position to spend time with my friends. I miss the ease of college life.

BUT...I guess this is growing up. You have to be intentional about keeping in contact with people. You need to make extra effort to see the people you want to see. Through all of this, though, I think you learn who's worth making that effort for; who you really desire to receive life updates on; and who will stick around with you, too. While the day-to-day might seem rough at first, at least we all have bright moments to look forward to. There will come more glorious days that we can all spend with one another.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

a joyous reminder

"My favorite part about school is reading and sitting and hanging up my backpack."
-a kindergarten student

ah, how sweet it is for a child to remind you that the simple things in life are the things to be happy about.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

weekend thoughts

The transition into living alone has been both a great one and a lonely one for me. While I have friends here in Grand Rapids, I only have a few close friends who have stuck around the area since graduation, and a few of my friends are still in school and have classes. I want to find a church community that I can connect with. GR friends: any young adult/church community suggestions?

Also, friends who live alone: any suggestions on how to combat loneliness in your new apartment?

The nice part about living alone is that I am finally finding "me" again. I spent the last two years trying my hardest to please others and be who I thought they needed me to be. That is no way to live! Now, I am forced to focus on myself. I am remembering what I need to be happy. This has been a nice time of restoration and recharging for me. I also love the freedom to come and go as I please.

Many times this week, I have jumped on my bike, and I spent an hour or two riding around GR, just exploring. I have discovered neighborhoods, coffee shops, and little shops that I would love to visit soon. If any of my West Michigan friends would like to join me on these adventures, you are always welcome! I would greatly appreciate the company!


Coming soon:
End-of-Summer updates
More India posts!
Thoughts on love and growing up