Therapy: The Music Kind.

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A month ago, I went searching my through my binder—the kind that holds hundreds of cd’s. If you’re a millennial, you know what I’m talking about.

I even had the “cd visor” too. I sported that baby proudly in my black Ford Taurus (with fuzzy, zebra print seat covers).  I was legit.  More so, I miss those days.  Strictly because cd’s do not run out of battery, unlike my iPhone constantly knocking on death’s door.  It’s literally a running joke between Trav and I.

Trav: “I called, but it went straight to voicemail.”

Me: I can’t help but to laugh as I confess, “sorry, my phone died…again.”

Trav: Rolls eyes, before muttering, “shocker!”

I was on a mission, surfing through my collection, created and collected between the ages of 12-17 years-old, in search of Deana Carter’s “Did I Shave My Legs for This?”

Know it?  If not, iTunes search it, now. It is gold, at least when I was twelve I thought so (okay, I still do. And to this day, I can lip sync every word from that album).

Back then, I lived on an air force base and ran around with several girls from the neighborhood.  We had a club that met in a backyard playhouse and we even had club dues.  The last summer we spent together, we vowed (in blood—I’m kidding, it was probably fruit juice or red nail polish) when we turned sixteen, we’d get together and drink “Strawberry Wine”—the best song on the album.

Side note, we were 11. But even now, at the age of 29, listening to that cd makes my face split in two, my grin chasing after my ears.

My oldest daughter just turned ten. She is a year younger than I was that summer.  The realization makes me stop for a minute and consider how fast this life moves. Be. Still. My. Heart.

After I found that cd, I continued to rifle through my case.

Confession: I have a slight obsession with music. It fuels me. I listen to it while I get ready in the morning, while I drive (and secretly get annoyed when people want to talk in the car–just let me listen to the music, okay), and mostly when I write. I am a lover of words, which makes me also the person, who tells you, “listen to the lyrics…” and then I will stare you down making sure you are “listening” to the words. I’m insane, okay.

As I flipped page after page filled with pocketed cd’s, I was so overcome with eye glistening nostalgia.  Most of the cd’s I own were created, or bought by friends. Some of those friends, a decade and a half later, are still my great friends, some I haven’t seen in years and others, well, the cd living in my case is the only lasting proof of an old friendship long expired.

I was completely swept up in a heap of emotion because these plastic circles are more than cd’s with various music sealed in them; they are memories of my adolescence.

Nearing the end of my case, I was caught off-guard when my eyes landed on a red cd. If I were to pick one cd from that time in my life, that means the most to me, it would be this one.

Linkin Park: [Hybrid Theory] Try to remember your most angst filled moment of your teenage years—this cd encompasses that for me. I was fourteen, the age when you are awkwardly stepping into teenagedom, when this cd was given to me.  (I might have even borrowed it from my friend and later refused to give it back.)

At the time, my parents were moving on from their divorce, dating new people and I was lost somewhere in unchartered territory. These songs, loud and angry, connected to what I felt then.

After I found the cd and stared at it for longer than a reasonable amount of time, I raced up to my daughter’s room. I grabbed her Hello Kitty cd player (in the age of iPods and such, it’s the only cd player my family owns) and rushed down to my closet. I locked myself in there, not wanting the beauties listening to semi-mosh pit lyrics, and listened and half-cried, like an emotional lunatic, to a few songs on the album (and later that same day, my brother and his girlfriend came over and I made them listen to it, too).

I cried remembering that time in my life, when I truly felt like life was mean and dark. When I believed that love was all about taking and that people leave–even the ones you thought would stay. It was a time in my life when I felt broken, but these songs, this album in its entirety, gave me an outlet to place my hurt in to. It was cheap therapy.

And I listened to that cd for a solid year.  I probably scared my little sister, who shared a room with me.

I couldn’t see it then, like I can now, but I am thankful for the friend, who gave me Hybrid Theory (or loaned and I never gave back…).  Sometimes, friendships, whether they survive or end, serve greater purposes–leaving a withstanding impact on you, or just being a solid fixture when life seems so very heavy and scattered.

Reflecting I know, even if it felt incomprehensible at fourteen, that darkness does not last forever.  God is gracious and merciful.

And music is a priceless haven, a keeper of recollections both lost and found, a balm to confused, burning wounds, a non-judgmental companion and an eternal friend.

Just Call Me Dorothy…

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Do you think “change” has a sound?  Or is it more of a sense?

Hear me out…

Awhile ago, I was standing at my kitchen island. It felt like a regular, normal night (if normal night—or any given day–means navigating the ever-changing, chaotic territory of children…think uneven terrain dotted with unlimited emotional land-mines and quicksand).

I stood talking to my husband, Travis, who was casually leaned against the counter adjacent me in the kitchen.

Over the past few minutes, Trav and I had maintained a steady conversation despite being interrupted by the beauties at least 88 times. One by one, the beauties came forth to ask questions to which we either don’t know the answers to, already answered, or straight refuse to answer. (Did I mention, by this time, it was past bedtime? Like, they were already in bed.)

**Side note: I truly believe when the clock strikes bedtime, the beauties morph into Seals, the Navy kind, and very covertly escape their bedrooms—with fluid, soundless somersaults and expert hand codes. This tactical unit of beauties secretly meet at the rondevu point, one of their bedrooms—probably the baby’s. I can see it now, the bed a conference table used to secretly plot their attack on Trav’s and my patience.**

Trav stood there, in the kitchen, his forearms slung over the backrest of the barstool, staring deep into my eyes (trying his best to pretend to be interested in whatever I was talking about—think lots of long head nods).

Just as our conversation stilled, a small break in my incessant talking (God Bless Travis’ soul), his phone chimed. It sounded louder than normal. He shot me a forgiving look, before pushing off the chair to retrieve his phone from the other room.

A minute later, he came back to the kitchen, retaking his perch against the barstool. Visually, everything shifted back just as before, but instinctually, something felt different.  In an effort to sate my confused mind, I couldn’t stop trying to read his face as his eyes spilled over his phone.

“What?” I felt my mouth explode.

“Nothing.” His voice was impartial. My eyes assessed his facial expression three times over, but it too, was indifferent. The man is in the car business; he has the ultimate poker face, but I felt it. Something.

“Tell me.”

“I’m not sure I want to say anything, yet…” He lobbied back at me. This is a dangerous line to say to someone who tends to air on the “overreact” side. (so in lieu of his cliffhanger, basically, I tightly pursed my mouth before jutting my hip so far out that it probably pushed into the state of Texas and the rest of my body stretched out sumo-wrestler style and I flexed my index finger in the air, directed straight at him and said real slow and stern, “MAMA, said TELL. ME. DO NOT MAKE ME SAY IT AGAIN.”

And he laughed. Apparently, I’m not that intimidating (to a thirty year old man, the way I am to a pack of beauties).

After he’s done laughing, he looks at me strangely before dropping a small bomb.

“You open to moving to Kansas?” His eyes are a challenge. I think he’s testing the depth of my willingness to play supportive wife. But then, he reads his phone again and looks back up at me, the playful look gone. He is dead serious.

Cue jaw drop…

And then I start to stutter… “Like leave O.k.l.a.h.o.m.a? Leave the state and live in another state? Move, like Uhaul move?!? Wait, you are going to have to spell it out for me real slow…” I’m sure I was red-faced and huffing short, exasperated breaths, because he started to look worried.

And fast-forward to now, right now. We are moving to the sunflower state in 14 days. I don’t think a phone chime will ever sound the same again. And aside from being both equally, a nervous wreck and excited, I’m also in awe…my husband is fearless; his drive and ambition to conquer his career is a magnificent sight.

And I’m renaming our dog.  His name will no longer be Camo, it will be Toto II.  And I’ve demanded that Travis now call me Dorothy–it was part of the “get your wife to move” package.  Dorothy Black, has a ring to it, huh?  I’m serious.

p.s. If you’re familiar with Kansas will you share your knowledge with me? Family activities, outings, best lakes, must eat here places? I’d really appreciate it.

p.p.s.  This life is once.  Chase your dreams, friends.

Forgiveness

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It’s been four days since I saw you across the street, the first time in years. We made eye contact, both holding a stare upon one another. Although those few seconds were silent, except the noise of the small crowds separating you and I, the eye contact voiced so much.  I smiled at you, thinking to myself that you look great.  But I already knew this. I’ve seen your photos on Facebook. We were friends, actually. The internet said so.

So I was stunned when my smile was met head on with a frown. A frown that grasped the edge of a grimace. The sheer displeasure masking your face blasted me with ugly emotions, making me look away from your mean stare.

It took me a long minute to understand that your look was a silent burn directed at me. That realization made my eyes run far from you. Instantly, confusion and awkwardness fueled a heavy dose of self-consciousness to pull at my chest. My heart was quelling for flight.

After a few heavy beats, I forced myself to look back across the street. It’s the masochist in me. In search of you, my eyes shot in every direction, but you were gone.  My pride silently cried out; pleading to be rescued by the benefit of doubt. Maybe this person didn’t recognize me? (You do love filters, Sarah.)

Embarrassment nearly gobbled me whole admitting that my pride was front and center to that theory’s swift beheading. Because a little while later, you walked directly past me, a distance of six feet or less, with a scorned look centered right at my face. When I blink, I can still see your despise. You knew it was me. No assumption about it; the obvious trumped any benefit I could possibly muster.

In the days that followed our encounter, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dictate some (or a lot) of my mental space to trying to map how I hurt your feelings.  Anger (that scornful look) is the face of hurt.  Was it something I said in high school?  Again, it’s been years… Maybe if I went on a week of solid exploration I could probably pin-point the grievance, but lets face it—who has that kind of time? I’m currently living in a land ruled by four kids, who believe I can sleep when I’m dead.  My memory barely has the length of yesterday.

So in my attempt to understand, I felt gravity in this encounter. This felt like one of those moments—when experience fights the battle for you.

I have learned in the years since becoming a full-fledged adult that I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me. But that didn’t stop every part of me from wanting to hug you, screaming we’re really making it! Look how far we’ve come since high school. We’ve got homes, jobs, children…we are in the very midst of building our legacies. I wanted to say this to you, because, sigh…this life is hard enough. Everyone needs hugs and affirmations.

My own cowardliness robbed me and my disappointment felt suffocating standing across from you.

I have also learned how heavy grudges are to carry through life. I’m not displacing blame, or discrediting the feelings behind your angry facade towards me. But what I am saying is this…

Grudges, ugh. They. Are. Heavy.

I promise you, I’m not worth the exorbitant weight it holds. Because even if I sank to my knees, clasped my hands together, and begged at your feet for a solid hour asking for your forgiveness it still wouldn’t be enough. My apology, any act of restitution, could never be enough. Because I am simply not enough. I am not worthy of you being held hostage, a victim of anger. No one is.

Forgiveness is never for the people who hurt you. It’s for yourself, because you are enough. It means you are no longer willing to be prisoner to the hurt. Forgiveness is a choice.

Today, I woke up and chose to forgive myself, releasing myself of the guilt summoned by your dirty look. I cannot change the past, nor unwind vines of hurt I have spun, but I can choose to be better, live greater today.  I can choose to live by doing the next right thing. Because, sigh…this life is hard enough. We all need grace.

Next time, if we ever see each other again, I’m going to smile again. I hope you’ll smile back.