Category: Personal (Page 1 of 43)

PLACES I STOPPED ON THE WAY HOME by Meg Fee

Places I Stopped On The Way HomeI link to Meg Fee’s blog occasionally, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned her ebook. It’s a short collection of essays about life and love in her 20s in New York City. It’s about home — leaving it, seeking it, creating it. Some of the essays started as blog posts on her site; some are brand new. All were thought-provoking and enjoyable to me.

A few notes from my reading:

“The female doesn’t want a rich or a handsome man or even a poet, she wants a man who understands her eyes if she gets sad, and points to his chest and says: Here is your home country.” – Nizar Qabbani

Those aren’t Meg’s own words, obviously, but it’s a good thesis, so to speak, for everything that Meg does say. And the qualities that she’s seeking in love and in a partner? I have them, with Andy.

I’m not sure how I got so lucky — between him and my parents — but I know what a difference it has made in my life.

The best people I know are comfortable with failure, willing to hang out in discomfort. They aren’t interested in looking cool or terribly concerned with fitting in. They understand the value of listening and are willing to apologize and admit wrong. They are engaged in the very active thing that is fighting for the life you want, and fighting for the love you think you deserve. And at the end of the day, when asked what they bring to the table, they know the answer.

This is the type of person I strive to be. Some days I succeed, some days I don’t. But hopefully the don’t days are getting fewer and farther between.

Occasionally I am rendered breathless by how much there is to look forward to.

I probably cry an average of once a day about something terrible that has happened in the world. And I worry. And I rage. But in spite of everything, there is still hope, joy, goodness, and endless possibility. That’s what we live for. That’s the how and the why. That’s everything.

And now, many months after I originally read and saved Meg’s words, that’s what I feel when I place a hand on my growing belly, and my baby girl moves inside me.

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Promise

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Kitchen moments

My mother showing me how to peel a cucumber, slice it in half long-wise, and scoop out the insides with a spoon.

My señora filling a bowl with fresh cherries from the market, swirling them in water, massaging them clean.

Plates stacked high around the sink, empty wine goblets and juice glasses, the remnants of Thanksgiving waiting to be boxed up for next week’s leftovers.

A tray of chocolate chip cookies warm out of the oven, and the boy who liked me eagerly sampling one and proclaiming it delicious. (Only later would I discover that I had mixed up baking powder and baking soda, turning the cookies to rocks within the hour.)

Two friends and I back from college, eager to play adult, preparing a meal for one of their families, laughing and chatting while the radio sings softly in the background.

Alone at my aunt and uncle’s house, with a glass of orange juice and handful of Hershey’s Kisses beside me, laptop flashing a blank screen, deadline looming for my sophomore fiction class.

Baking banana chocolate chip bread for the first time, nervously following the recipe (double-checking baking powder versus baking soda!), and marveling at the magnificent treat I made all by myself.

Baking banana chocolate chip bread for the third time, realizing I am missing a few ingredients, and improvising with a bottle of Sprite.

Sitting on the wobbly wicker stool while my mom cooks dinner, steam rising in the air, oil sizzling in the pan.

Peeling a cucumber, or filling a bowl with cherries, or watching my husband bake mini key lime pies for a work event, and imagining the kitchen moments my future children will remember, the images and feelings that will come unbidden to them during the smallest of daily tasks, even so many years later.

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Roxane Gay and writing about oneself

“Having a Heart, Being Alive” by Roxane Gay

I am a fiction writer who stumbled into writing nonfiction. Though I had written a handful of essays as a younger writer, I spent most of my time writing stories and trying to lose myself in the lives of imaginary others.

I also resented how as a woman, it seemed like to write nonfiction, I had to savage my own life to find stories people would be willing to hear. I wanted to keep my stories to myself.

When I began to write more essays, I thought carefully about the choices I would make in exploring myself. What parts of my life was I willing to expose? What parts of my life was I willing to share? I didn’t want to simply bare my pain and have that be enough. At the same time, I was tired of carrying my past around, unexamined.

Why do these explorations of myself matter? How do I make them matter? How do I make my words more than catharsis, more than mere excavations of pain?

I’m still finding my way to the answers to these questions.

There are never going to be universally satisfying answers to these questions. That’s okay.

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The gift of being loved

For my 30th birthday, Andy gave me an incredible gift.

Every day for an entire year, he wrote me a postcard. That’s 365 postcards. 365 days of commitment. 365 love letters, random thoughts, amusing poems, fond memories, doodles, notes of encouragement, and more.

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I cried when I realized the scope of what he had given me. The dedication and discipline that it took. The thoughtfulness. The tenderness.

He never missed a single day. He bought postcards from all over, sometimes even when we were together, quickly sneaking them to the register while I was browsing a different part of the store. He made time for his project — for me — during business trips. He even managed to write these postcards while we were traveling to and from Taiwan, never mind that we were together on planes and in airports for 36 hours straight each way. I had no idea.

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It took us about 5 hours to read all of the postcards once. We’ve started going through them again, savoring this round, marking favorites. It’s another level of joy and love that we’re getting out of this gift, together.

This is what people mean when they say it’s the thought that counts. This was not an expensive present, but it’s worth far more than any dollar value.

Starting with 30, people tend to dread getting older, especially the big milestone years. But if Andy is going to come up with surprises like this, how can I do anything other than look forward to each birthday and feel grateful at every age?

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