Home for the Weekend

A six-year-old joined me on the couch at 7am this morning.

There is a green butterfly barrette in my water cup.

There are cardboard bits, three glue bottles (all dry), two glue stick, and a hundred paper and fabric scraps in the sunroom, because we’re making Barbie furniture.

The sink is full of grilled cheese and hotdog leftovers from lunch.

The three year old kissed me this morning, when I wasn’t paying attention.

The college brother biked 54 miles this morning.

And I’m home for the weekend.

~Natalia

Back Then When: Glendy Jumped

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August 2008.

~Natalia

Bullet Point Post: Third Day Junior

• Today was the fall version of the twice-annual try outs at work. One hour. Seven coaches. 60 kids. My last try out was a little one named Claire, who happened to be a week or two older than the little Larissa. I asked Miss Claire, as she pulled her pink goggles over her day-mussed hair, how first grade was. She shrugged, looked up at me, and said, “Well, actually, today was only my third day in first grade.” I told her that today was actually only my third day of being a junior in college, so I get where she’s coming from.

• Except she probably doesn’t have Systematic Theology four times a week, and I certainly am not reading Amelia Bedelia books and swinging during recess. Wish I was, though.

• There are so many things that I could include in this post that I’m really not sure where to start, or what to tell you first. It is partly this reason that I have not written until now; sometimes I think so many things, I’m not sure which thought train to follow down and commit to paper. And that’s not as impressive or awe-inspiring as it sounds, since many of my thoughts follow such threads as why have my Vitamin C drops been dissolving so quickly lately? And, I can’t decide if I should wash my yellow shorts before the weekend. And, the skin on my heels is kind of dry.

• Living as I do with a constant barrage of such highly interesting and developed thoughts, I’m sure you can understand why it sometimes takes me a long time to sort them all out for your reading consumption.

• Also, Pinterest.

• I went to the library today, for the first time this semester. It’s been awhile I suppose, because in the intervening months since I last visited that basement study spot, I apparently forgot that “library” is basically synonymous with “be silent”. So, of course, I went down there with Mar and I lowered my voice, in the kind of nominal way that you would lower your tone when your mother is on the phone and has given you a warning look, but has yet to inflict any serious or painful silence enforcement. But the library. So I lower my voice, but then we go around the corner to Mar’s study spot, and she’s putting her books down when I notice there’s a huge map of the Chicagoland area on the wall behind her, and I just spaced and slipped up and yelled out the first thing that came to mind, which happened to be, “Hey, Lombard!”

• Then I was real quiet, and a little ashamed, after that.

• I rode the train to work, as is my custom, and walked from the train stop to the pool, as is also my custom. This is the first time I’ve made said walk in a couple of months, and I was halfway between rackety tracks and athletic facility when I suddenly realized how quiet it was. It’s a city, of course, but it’s not Chicago, and there were no sirens, no bustle, little talk, and I just walked along the tree-covered road, listening to quiet.

• And actually, since I am three days into being a junior, maybe I’m already starting to catch onto a lesson I might still be awhile in learning. A lesson about talk and thinking, quiet and listening, and a God who speaks, who waits for me to listen.

• And outside, downstairs, the cars rolls past, crisp and fast in the midnight streetlights, and I’m beginning to wonder what I’m supposed to be hearing, listening to, right about now.

~Natalia

Communication

Communication is key, I’ve heard before. You’ve heard before, too, I’m sure. Important to build relationships. Important to hold onto relationships. Important for growth. Important for conflict, and steering through the resolution of said conflict. Important for fun.

That’s what they say, that’s what we know.

But communication has a feeling, too.

Sometimes it’s work, hard, draining. Sometimes it’s locking myself in a half-unpacked dorm room after a long day, because so much communication, so much building up and pouring myself out; well, it gets tiring.

Sometimes communication feels frustrating. Laying on a couch in the prayer lounge on the second floor of a dorm building five times that tall. Feet up on the side of the couch, slumped against the hard upholstered armrest, almost upside down. And my phone rests on my stomach, rising and falling deep, uneven, a little, with exasperated breaths that can’t quite still themselves because I’m just so irritated.

But sometimes, days like today, communication feels good, feels right.

Feels like sitting on the floor under the window, while the afternoon sun traces lines on my feet, on the papers spread in front of me. It’s the first day of school, and, fittingly so, the first step of a new roommate relationship. And I’m copying deadlines into a planner and she’s bent over her desk, organizing, sorting, rearranging her class schedule. And then, somehow, she’s scrolling Youtube and I’m standing on my desk, and we’re both singing because sometimes communication is loud and has a melody.

It feels like a hallway of open doorways, and Ellie Rose calls me Nataline, and The Neighbor Tanalie, and music plays from three different computers and we all move and breathe and run and yell in the same hallway. And it’s loud because three of us are talking at the same time, to the same people, and then we go to Walmart Express- Smallmart, Nelle calls it- and they can probably hear us laughing from the fruit to the paper towels, but we can’t stop, because, well, we’re just happy.

Communication is a Skype chat with the Jen, watching pixels move slow because: school wifi. But she’s there and I hear her voice and I watch her move, and that communication is long-distance, valuable, and hits me deep because that’s who I miss very, very much.

And then, almost in bed, my phone vibrates and that sweet cousin’s name appears on the screen, and I lie on my bed and we chat. And in that communication, the gap between California and Chicago closes over the airwaves and we catch up, and I hang up happy, thrilled, to have heard, to have experienced a slice of her life through that communication.

Because that’s what communication is: you in my life and I’m in yours, and we’re turning together in this up, down voyage of talking, sharing, being.

~Natalia

Is Peace

I told a wise friend,

rather a while ago,

that I can be very good at school,

when I need to be.

School:

classes at the same time,

homework always to be done,

a rhythm of life created in desks and pencils,

feels like routine

and normalcy

and safety.

Three things I’ve been looking forward to these past weeks.

But it’s a balance, a dichotomy,

because every fall that brings school stable,

bring challenges that I’d never master

and days that I just can’t make it

and weeks that drag by without seeming end.

And that’s when the routine swing of homework,

what feels like control to me,

is shaken, dusted away,

and what’s under all those tasks done,

all those problems solved,

is the God whose own strength

is what carried me through it all.

And school starts tomorrow, and I’m craving that school normal

something fierce right about now.

But I know at the bottom,

and the middle,

and the top;

really this whole life I’m careening through

is setting firmly on the firm patience, powerful strength,

and gentle hand

of a God who’s much bigger than

classrooms

and syllabi

and homework assignments.

And that, in itself, is peace.

~Natalia

The Missing Piece

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Photo taken January, 2013.

New Student Orientation is over.
My new roommate arrived this morning.
School starts on Monday.
And The Neighbor returned to school mere minutes ago.
The pieces are falling into place
and the beginning of school
is looking better and better.

~Natalia

Listening

I’m in The Roommate’s room.

Which is no longer my room, of course.

She’s two floors down, two doors over.

I came in here after an afternoon, an evening, of planning skits,

organizing games,

and yelling, clapping, cheering.

It is Freshman Orientation Week, after all, and we are having fun.

It’s a funny kind of line I walk,

because alone is a scary word, and I fight hard to avoid time by myself.

But flip that coin, and it seems I’m more an introvert every passing week,

and all these people, I roll exhausted into bed every night.

But right now, in this room, the window is closed

and the hallway is quiet

and the air conditioner blows constant, steady,

and I’m sitting here on this tall Roommate bed,

listening to the quiet.

~Natalia

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