Sunday, 28 September 2014

I make the moves up as I go

This secret was reposted on PostSecret today as one of the 'Classic Secrets', and it really made me smile. I started visiting the PostSecret site weekly (on Sundays, when Frank updates the page with a selection of the secrets received that week) almost without fail back in 2008, and this is one of the first secrets I ever saw. Seeing it again this morning made me smile so widely, and coincided with a post I'd been formulating for the past week or so. I thought I'd go ahead and write that post now - not that I believe in signs but, you know, it was a nice coincidence.

This past year has been spent in so many wonderful ways, like having an intermittently amazing view while riding a roller coaster that was, of course, going up incredibly high and dipping so low to the ground it made you wonder if you could avoid hitting it right until the last moment.

I write this sat opposite my roommate/sister/bestie at our kitchen table, surrounded by our furbabies and both working on our laptops (accompanied by a delicious glass of red wine, of course). She just sneezed, which caused me all kinds of complex emotions (three times is more than enough, Jess), but other than that, I am utterly content. The evening has been spent with her and my Neldie Chris, with those two working on some lesson plans for Chris' English class while I faffed around online and tried to win a fight with my computer. Jess and I are about to watch the latest two Doctor Who episodes back-to-back and then I am getting an early night after a day of initial laziness, followed by 3.5 hours of gardening and a two-mile run.

Reading a Grimm fairytale to us.

Live-tweeting to Chris' teacher Twitter account as Jess reads.

So I guess this post is about the most simple thing: I'm happy. I'm truly, deep-down, still-me happy, and although I still have my elevated anxiety and inability to slow myself to anything lower than about 100 mph most of the time, I sense not just recovery but a joy that I thought I might never have again. I feel more myself than perhaps I ever have - I know I can cope with almost anything thrown at me, and I know I have the love and support of some of the best humans in existence, across the globe. Life is full of amazing, simple, everyday, extraordinary things, and I get to celebrate that every time I wake up, because that's who I choose to be, and who I am. I have no idea what the future holds (who does?), but I feel able to walk forward with a huge grin on my face and, at last, able to live up to what my cardinal reminds me of: to be rather than to seem to be. I couldn't be more grateful.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

You choose to stay

Today has felt like Fall outside. It's been cool, and the storm that drowned last night cured the air of its stifling humidity, so it's been clear too. The pathetic fallacy is something I'm really appreciating, as I feel like this past month I've been breaking a fever and, finally, I'm out on the other side, cooler, and able to recover (yes, it's one of these sentimental posts - bear with me). 

The timing, then, could not have been better for Jess and I to finally get our matching tattoos, representing strength, happiness, and looking forward. We've been planning this for a while (specifically a few months, generally probably since she verbally accosted me upon our first meeting because of my natural British propensity to eat Baked Beans for breakfast - we were fast friends). A while back, Jess gave me a Giving Key, on which the words 'LET IT GO' were inscribed. She has a similar key that reads 'TRUST'. These are lessons we both have to learn, before paying it forward and passing the key on to another who may be in need of inspiration to achieve the same. It was this that was the original inspiration for our shared tattoo design.

The design.

On top of that, and the symbolism that keys open doors, represent taking charge and making choices about which doors to open, we wanted to include love and music. Over this past year or so, Jess has held me up with unrelenting strength, unconditional support, ferocious loyalty, and encompassing love (and I hope I have done for her even half of what she has done for me). Love really is key to life and being able to say 'I lived', in whatever guise it comes. And then there's music: whether it's silly playlists, dining room dance-offs, waltzing in the Wine Vault, or (our favorite) seeing our best-loved bands perform live, music has been a keystone of our friendship. We managed to find a design that Tom at 510 Expert Tattoo could work with to include a heart and a treble clef.

Jess sitting like a champ.

The pièce de résistance is the placement. Obviously the designs match, so if we are together then you can see that Jess and I share a tattoo. But she has hers where my Claddagh is (on my inner right forearm), and I have mine where her 'Fiction' tattoo is (on her left inner upper arm).
Both finished tattoos (me on the left, Jess on the right).

Jess is like a sister to me. Even if I had the words to explain just how wonderful having her in my life is, to share a house with her, to know she always has my back about anything (from not having enough Gatorade in the house, to knowing when I need JAMMIES and cuddles, to knowing she'd gladly junk-punch anyone who even thought about hurting me), and to be able to express just how amazing a woman she is that's unrelated to our friendship, I don't think I could do her justice. She is so totally her: a whirlwind of facts and rambling, of joy and turbulent thoughts; a brilliant writer and thinker; a spontaneous and hedonistic explosion; a fierce and fearsome protector; an affectionate, vulnerable, and loving heart; and a woman who has no idea just how special she is.

The morning after.

I'm so Instagram right now.

Love is the key. And we have it.

The British were here!

I have been quiet on the blogging front for the last fortnight for all of the best reasons: I was, as described in the last post, surprised by my dearest, oldest friend turning up at our house party at the end of August, and then was treated to the company of the one and only Martha for the last week as part of her America tour of Fall 2014. She departed for Atlanta today, and I am now sat on my sofa surrounded by my dogs, a half-full glass of wine, and relative quiet apart from the low buzz of Jess' TV and intermittent sleepy puppy sighs. I am, as ever, sad to see people leave, but feel very comforted knowing how at home I am here and, consequently, how wonderful a thing that is to share with those from my home-home when they do visit. Happy memories of their sojourns abound, and I'm currently in a state of peaceful reminiscence.

If you'd like to see what it looks like when I'm rendered speechless, please enjoy this video as solid evidence of it actually being a possibility. This is Tim's arrival, as recorded by my dear friend MG Josh.


Any further updates can be better done in photo form, so here are some of my favorite shots from the last couple of weeks: on the lake, at Not Just Coffee, walking home from the Wine Vault in a rain storm, at the Diner, at the Wine Vault (again), Bojangle's with Tim, fun clothes with Martha and Jess, more Wine Vault, Diner and cards, lunch at Cassie and Lesley's new place, and Good Food with Martha and Loren.

What a couple of weeks!

Monday, 1 September 2014

It's the only way to be

This weekend - and it's not over yet, what with it being Labor Day weekend here in the US and thus a 'bank holiday' - has done something to me. In fact, I think it's the past few weeks, this past week, these past 72 hours. I know enough now to never jump the gun and assume I'm healed or that happiness is going to be a constant. I've also learned that that doesn't lessen one's happiness while it is there. Finally, I've learned that I am, definitively, a happy person capable of a level of joy that's frequently equivalent to delirium. And I like that girl.

Yesterday, almost all of my best US friends and a surprise landing (quite literally) of my oldest, closest friend from the UK - all organised by my roommate/wife/sister - were at my house to share in the general joy of life being less stressful knowing that I can, for now, remain here relatively peacefully, in the city I now call home. I can't even begin to express how much love, happiness, warmth, and magic abounded. There simply aren't words for how lucky I am to exist in the same space and time as these wonderful people, and it keeps being shown to me over and over how much I have to be grateful for.

Tomorrow I get to go do another of my favorite things: be silly-happy on a boat, listening to loud music in the sunshine, swimming in a lake, eating great food, drinking delicious wine, and all with some of the best people on the planet (I'm pretty sure I can prove that somehow). I'm about to burst, I swear!

These days I have a far greater awareness of the temporary, but I'm starting to see that that's not necessarily a bad thing, and it certainly doesn't change who I am fundamentally. You can't know what's going to happen; you can just try to live up to the tenets you set for yourself: be kind, take care, spread joy, love each other. The future's never certain. Who's to say how it goes? All I know is I'm back in the world again.