Ticks on the Ruler

I am particularly prone to tripping…

I am particularly prone to tripping. Even sidewalks I’ve trekked a thousand times can catch me off-guard – especially those. I almost never fall entirely, but I am well practiced in the wide-eyed gasping stomp of balance recovery and the sheepish relief of realizing that my only my ego received a bruise.

There’s a particular adrenaline rush in tripping over those friendly sidewalks, or missing the last stair of a case you’ve climbed since you were three, or stubbing your toe on the coffee table in your childhood home. You trip on something familiar into the unknown, and in an instant, your veins flood with a biochemical cocktail of betrayal, confusion, and embarrassment. I am a well-developed, coordinated adult; how could this happen?! But with your shock-wide eyes and unsteady footing, you have the opportunity to see your new and growing self at home in its static setting; all these things are just as they were, but YOU are not.

I am so grateful for these moments.

To be surprised by the things that stay the same is to see all at once the change in yourself over the years. To rediscover that you are the dependent variable. Playground slides are shorter, as are fences, bathroom sinks, and years themselves. But these things learn no lessons. They make no choices. They were what we, the living ones, reached for, fell from, jammed our knuckles on, and managed to survive through as we grew (and continue to grow) into those “well-developed, coordinated adults.” Time slides along, silently whisking us with it as we pass the still things by, like ticks on a ruler. The gaps are the real distance traveled; the ticks just make note of the change.

And yet, some things are not shorter no matter how tall or experienced we get. Some things are immune to belittling. The oak on Azalea Street is just as tall to me as it felt when I was five. Every time I see the horizon or sit in the endless dark of a breathtaking or heartbreaking nighttime, I am reminded of the true scale of things. Even these have their beginnings and ends, before and beyond my own.

I am still on a ruler. I am not done traversing the gaps. But someday I will be. So I’m grateful for the ticks that marked my way, even when its an unexpected ridge in the sidewalk or the foot of a familiar coffee table meeting mine, because by these things I know I am not who I was when I started. By God’s grace, I am being made complete.

Threads and Bareness

There is a cozy ambiguity in words like love, pain, and vulnerable. We wear them out like an oversized sweater…

(From Dec. 13, 2018)

There is a cozy ambiguity in words like love, pain, and vulnerable. We wear them out like an oversized sweater, content to be frumpy and featureless in order to stay swaddled in the familiar. People can see just enough of us – our faces and fingertips the only flesh exposed to air and eyes – for us to feel understood and to think they understand. And they do, in a way. They wear sweaters too.

But I can hardly see myself underneath all of that fabric. And I am ill-defined when I wear words like “love” and curl up in the assumption that others know precisely what I mean by it. I don’t always know precisely what I mean by it.

So, I tug at the sleeves of “love” and “pain” and “vulnerable” and try to write poetry. I pull the words up over my stomach and past my chest to get to what’s underneath. I get my head stuck in the neck hole, stumbling and struggling with the ocean of language around my head. I finally strip those ragged, rippling yards of cliche away, and I am naked. Perhaps not understood, but definitely seen – my outer boundaries, what is flesh and what is put upon. I am a canvas uncovered, and the stories of my life are on display in every curve, divot, spot, and scar painted on and sculpted in my skin. There’s a lot to study there: birthmarks I didn’t know I had, bruises of unknown origin, Funderburgian and Watsonian leitmotifs found in the shapes of my hands and nose….

But I can’t be naked all the time. More often than not, it’s inappropriate, unapproachable, and it’s simply too cold outside. Exposure is exhausting. So I put a sweater back on, covering up my unadulterated details. But I choose my outfit more carefully this time, wearing phrases more fitting to my form and present company. Sometimes an old, oversized sweater like the word “love” is just the right attire.

Cooking Adventures: Frozen Nanners

(From Aug.

Always peel your bananas before you freeze them. 

I learned my first notable food-making lesson this morning when I looked at the solid, brown nanners in the freezer and thought, “I can’t blend them like that…”

Thankfully, this lesson had a part two.

If your frozen bananas are still fully dressed, no problem. Cut two lines down either side of the fruit, then cut rings around it, taking off the peel in chunks as you go. 

Voila! Frozen, skinless, smoothie-ready nanners. And now I know: it really isn’t more convenient to just throw the whole banana in the freezer. Because your hands will get really sticky later.