Wednesday morning, maybe even Tuesday night, homework rules my mind. Empty time loaded with assignments, trudging through to-do lists both academic and otherwise. Sitting in class, eating, on the train, I can’t truly focus because a brain that’s spent every waking hour planning my next move, next assignment, doesn’t just stop on command.
Chapel, class, meals, and sitting. I shouldn’t be sitting anyway, no doubt. Reeling, reeling: what’s next? What are my goals for this morning, tonight, before Sunday?
Work and outside commitments, time for conversation with friends, too- Heaven forbid I’m a total hermit. Mind’s going, going, and I’m balancing the tightrope between just about making it, and crashing through deadlines, last-minute scrambling to get it together.
But Kat’s downtown for the morning and I’m gloriously free. Mind says no; I’ll not think about to-do, about due by Monday, due by Monday, due by Tuesday. Turn that off and enjoy time with a friend God placed in my life before I can remember and who He’s determined to keep in my life. I don’t always recognize a great gift when He’s dropped it into my story, and I don’t see immediately how truly wonderful Kat time is, until hours in.
Lunch on the other side, the lake side, of Michigan Avenue, and maybe Kat’ll head back to the suburbs; back to the school she calls home. But they’re setting up for the Christmas Light parade and more and more people are filling the slick city sidewalk and no, what if you stayed just a bit longer?
So back to the room and sitting on my bed, squares of light warm and clean on the floor, on the wall. She reads, I write, and God whispers normal and breathes peace over the pair. There’s a bond of time and trust between us and it’s easy and comfortable to sit and do homework together. Country music (she taught me to like it) hums out of my computer and we work, swapping occasional stories as the sun moves ever so slightly and the clock slides towards 4pm.
Project complete, assignment over, there’s a study break in there, too, and we’re close together on the bed, pulling the computer back and forth from my lap to hers, clicking through YouTube, Facebook, and more.
Study break, parade, and we grab coats and ding, elevator downstairs. We’re blocks from Michigan Avenue, and an hour early, but people are thronging to that Magnificent street. Hearts pumping happily, we step briskly through crowds and past sweet cheek babies bundled in strollers.
Sun sets and parade’ll start in a bit or two, and we’ve found a spot along the street where we can see the street… more or less. Two women with dark hair, three little angels with them, stand directly in front of us. The smallest child, slick black hair pulled into a messy ponytail, has my attention before she even makes a noise. But her mother hoists her up and the little one’s at eye level with me now and shy black eyes look me over before turning away.
People are packed in all around us; three rows deep in front and five rows deep behind. Conversations flow and build on every side, and a parade marshal standing in the street is leading the wave among the crowd. I can hear so much, see so much, but the baby child next to me is exclaiming in Spanish and her words hit the Mexico ache in my heart like few things do. Parade marches on, and Kat and I, we exclaim and yell, taking pictures of Mickey and Minnie Mouse and cheering exultantly when the lights on the trees all around us click on in an instant.
Parade, Christmas, lights. Kat, pictures, music. We’re pressed tight together, everyone in this crowd, and it only gets worse when we pull away and begin to move south, to the river, to the fireworks. But there’s a thrilling kind of excitement in so many people together, moving and living and celebrating.
And there’s fireworks, too, and we sit on a ledge by the river, thousands upon thousands of people all around, and watch colored fire explode amongst skyscraper after skyscraper. There’s so much there to celebrate, to enjoy. And I do.
And all the time, the sweet child’s voice rings in my ears, and the tug of Mexico pulls on my heart hard. Missing is sweet and terrible and red and green explosions of beauty over the river and suddenly, I think of a story that Hermana Tere told me about forgetting to pick her cousin’s daughter up from a doctor’s appointment. And life can’t be easy for a moment, can it?
Because homework comes relentless and it’s such a wonderful night and my heart breaks with emotion I can’t, or won’t, give name to, because it’s a multi-ethnic city and Spanish rings soft in every place I look. There’s a conversation of nothing but Princess Bride quotes in my text messages, and hot chocolate party in the lounge, and everything in me fights the homework I must return to now.
Every piece of my life demands more of my attention than I can give it and I feel like a puzzle divvied up, yet underneath it all, there’s a foundation- there has to be a foundation. Because God gives only what He can help me handle and He is sovereign and His will is perfect and my heart’s long since rubbed raw because a part of it is left in Mexico. But maybe that’s supposed to be.
Maybe all of this is supposed to be.