Last Day in Memphis

On my last day in Memphis, I spent the day being mentally and preparationally productive, but the only concrete evidence that I did anything was a load of laundry.  Eventually Mallory came home, though, and she and Jenna and I went out to eat at Casablanca, a Mediterranean restaurant with the MOST delicious tea made from Earl Grey, ginger, sage, and honey.

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After dinner, we went to the Rec Room, which is a massive warehouse turned into a game center.  Katelyn joined us, and we played foosball and 80s arcade games.  It was especially great, because most of the games were free.  I would never have spent real money to practice Donkey Kong, but when it’s free, I can waste ALL THE TIME.  I hated Ms. Pac-Man, liked Donkey Kong, and loved Galaxian.  Not that I really got all that good at any of them.   Continue reading

Post Office Visits and Neurotically Healthy Arguments (A Busy Day, Clearly)

Yesterday I spent the morning doing an online fundraising meeting, and my coach encouraged me by reframing my need ($9,000) as needing just eight people to donate at $100/month.  That’s so doable!  So…anyone want to donate $100/month for just one year?

I met Ashley at her apartment around 11:00.  She was my Craig 3 sister during my freshman year of college, and she’s always up for a reunion, which I appreciate.  She and her husband Stephen recently had baby Adeline, so I got to snuggle her a little bit before passing her off to her mom.  “In just a couple years she’s going to hit the bratty stage,” Stephen said.

“That’s when I start liking them!” I said.  Stephen looked at me strangely.

“Tricia is the friend who I’m trading babies with.  I’ll raise both of our kids until they’re five, and then Tricia raises them until they’re teenagers.”

“Pretty soon you’ll be mine!” I cooed, squeezing Adeline’s toes.  Stephen continued to look alarmed, I don’t know why.   Continue reading

Concerts, Conversations, and Girl Time in Memphis

I’ve now spent two nights in Memphis, and it just confirms that choosing to hang out with Mallory is always the right choice.

When I arrived on Saturday, we caught up for a couple hours, then met up with Katelyn, who as a cat named Chesterfield who immediately let me hold him and then purred really loudly when I started petting him! !! !!  Katelyn is also great.  No, really, I like her a lot, and the three of us went out to dinner where I discovered I like her so much because she is a lot like me: she’s an INFJ who loves Vancouver and nanaimo bars, which is enough for me to consider her my soul twin.   Continue reading

Rooming with the Hughes Family

The summer after the Union tornado, I lived with Jennie and Dusty Hughes.  At the time, they just had one kid: baby Hannah.  Now Hannah is speaking Latin and reading The Hobbit, and three more kids (Seth, Micah, and Jonah) have joined the family.  They’re my Jackson family, and they always make me feel totally welcome, despite the family habit of peeking around corners to stare at me with owl eyes.  This tradition is, I feel compelled to mention, always initiated by the parents.

I also got to spend time with Bill and Sally Smith, Jennie’s parents.  They were dear friends and pseudo parent/grandparents at Woodland.  Since they moved to Jackson, I’ve only seen them at Jackson parties.  The last four days, however, I got to have lunch at their house in a nice one-on-two conversation, and they stopped by the Hughes house every so often.  It was nice to feel like they were just….around, and not so distant as to need specific visits.

But back to the Hughes family.  They’re so weird, and I love it.  Jonah, the youngest, toddles around on his own, content to move chairs and eat grapes and drive toy trucks.  Continue reading

Reconnecting to My College Life

On Thursday I spent the afternoon at Union University.  I’ve visited the campus a couple times since I graduated in December 2009, but it’s always been on a weekend, so I never got to spend significant time with people from my school days.

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This trend almost continued.  I went to the Alumni Services office where I worked for three years, and four of the three desks were empty.  Offices surrounding the main area were full of people I didn’t know.  Luckily Sally was still around, and we sat and talked for an hour about how all the other staff that I knew had left for one reason or another.  It was pretty depressing, honestly, and I was sad to have missed the chance to see Katrina, Stephanie, and all the others.   Continue reading

Deep Thoughts at the Parthenon (in Nashville)

I left Stephanie this morning, which sucked, but I went immediately to the Parthenon in Nashville, which helped.  It’s 80 degrees and breezy, so I walked around in the grass holding my shoes.  I stuck in my earbuds and let the “Finding Neverland” soundtrack convince me that life is magical, and my life is beautiful.  I enjoyed the feeling of perfect contentment that comes from a perfect moment.

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Last night I had dinner with Kyle (a friend from my church youth group days) and his wife.  We discussed being no-longer-Baptist, and some of the more mystical reasons why we don’t fit in the denomination that raised us.  He said his pet theological theory is that while taking Communion, time and space collapse.  In that moment, you’re taking the bread and the wine with all believers around the planet and throughout time.  More than that, you are experiencing Jesus’s death on the cross each week while you take the elements – not that Jesus dies again and again (his love and power is such that it’s only necessary once) but the act of Communion is otherworldly.  He dies as we drink and eat, and we are saved.

Standing at the Parthenon, I kept thinking about time and space collapsing.  Granted, this facsimile is not the same as the one sitting on the Acropolis in Athens.  But as I walked its corridors and touched its pillars, I felt like time was collapsing.  I’ve circled Greece for so long.  It was the first place I went when I left the United States.  I returned two more times.  I love its history and its mythology.  I reconnected with Greek friends, who offered me a job, and soon I will make Greece my home for a year.

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Standing in Nashville, Tennessee, staring at Greek friezes on a remade Parthenon halfway through my road trip to raise funds so that I can live in Greece and stand in front of the first Parthenon, time and space collapsed.  God’s ways are mysterious and scary, but so good.  I can’t wait to take this next step and see where it takes me.

Paddleboarding and a Reunion in Atlanta

Waking up yesterday on the lake was one of life’s simple pleasures.  I opened the blinds, and looked out to see the sun high above the water (sleeping in is also one of life’s simple pleasures).  Stephanie and I ate breakfast with her family, then she taught me how to paddleboard.

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For those not in the know, paddleboards are bigger surfboards with a greater ability to balance.  You’re supposed to stand upright on them, propelling yourself across the water with an oar, looking a little like Jesus on a Segway.  My comparison to Jesus is intentional, because watching Stephanie navigate gracefully over the water looked like some kind of supernatural miracle.  And I very rarely experience miracles.

Since I can barely swim in an ocean with high buoyancy levels, I knew death was immanent if I fell off the paddleboard.  On went my lifejacket, and then Stephanie helped me kneel on my paddleboard.  I moved forward with my oar, and she praised me very highly, like a child taking their first shaking steps.  Like a child, I blossomed under her praise and stopped sitting on my heels, balancing on my knees instead.

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Life on the Lake

I enjoyed another slow morning at Aunt Sue’s apartment, although this time it was bittersweet because her being at work meant I wasn’t going to see her again.  I’ve so much enjoyed getting to know my family members, but I just don’t come through South Carolina or Alabama that often!  I hate that I might not get to see them again for a long time.  This is the avoidant personality’s dilemma – loving more people means more pain, so why love more people?  Because they’re SO GREAT, I can’t help myself.

Those feelings got buried, however, because at 1:00 I headed to see Stephanie Broach!  She’s staying at her parent’s house in Birmingham, and it was immediately easy to be together.  Too late, perhaps, I realized that we’d never really hung out one-on-one in Dallas, but after a day together, I wish we had!  She showed me a book of famous letters (like King Darius and Alexander the Great trash talking each other in the most epic prose), and then we drove two hours to her grandparent’s house on Lake Martin.   Continue reading

A Slower Day in Alabama

I’ve been on the road for eleven days.  I’m enjoying it immensely, but I was craving a break.  Luckily, I am staying with my great-aunt Sue for two nights, and she works during the day.  I got to sleep in, lounge around lazily during the morning, then use Starbucks’ wifi in the afternoon!  I didn’t have to talk to anybody, do anything, or pay attention to traffic.

Aunt Sue is a wonderful hostess.  I woke up to notes on the counter encouraging me to eat everything she owns and also use the Steak N Shake gift card and $20 she left for me.  I LOVE BEING SPOILED.  She also bought a bunch of smoothie ingredients because Grandma told her I like them, so naturally, that’s what I ate for breakfast.   Continue reading

Connecting with Family in South Carolina and Alabama

While I was planning my road trip and living with my grandparents, they told me about two relatives who lived along my route. As a second cousin and a great aunt, I’d seen them at funerals over the years, but I couldn’t say I really knew them. When I reached out, though, they quickly agreed to let me stay with them for a night or two. Family is cool like that – you’re tied together in a web of responsibility and affection despite being practically strangers.

Bill is my grandpa’s nephew.  He and his wife Diane offered to let me stay with them in Spartanburg, SC.
Sue is my grandma’s sister.  She let me stay with her in Alabaster, AL.   Continue reading