29 February 2012

Family Ties

“[...] I grew up out of that strange, dreamy childhood of mine and went into the world of reality. I met with experiences that bruised my spirit - but they never harmed my ideal world. That was always mine to retreat into at will. I learned that that world and the real world clashed hopelessly and irreconcilably; and I learned to keep them apart so that the former might remain for me unspoiled. I learned to meet other people on their own ground since there seemed to be no meeting place on mine. I learned to hide the thoughts and dreams and fancies that had no place in the strife and clash of the market place. I found that it was useless to look for kindred souls in the multitude; one might stumble on such here and there, but as a rule it seemed to me that the majority of people lived for the things of time and sense alone and could not understand my other life. So I piped and danced to other people's piping - and held fast to my own soul as best I could.”

Lucy Maud Montgomery

I remember when I was about three, maybe four, going to bed with Anne of Green Gables clutched in my hands. I would turn the pages endlessly, spotting words I recognized, pouring over the pictures, wishing more than anything in the world to be old enough and smart enough to read that book.

It's one of those fortunate books where every time I read it it's like the first time again. I get the same excitement. The same surprises and a few new ones. Every time I read it, it's like coming home.

Which is a mercy, because occasionally "home" for me is a place where I feel rather set apart. I don't think I really realized this for myself until I left home and had the chance to have the luxury of preference. I realized that many of the standard things we just "do" in my family weren't things I hated, but would never choose for myself. For example, most of my family would gladly choose a tropical vacation with hours spent on the beach sipping virgin strawberry daiquiris and wearing nothing but a swim suit for a week, but I would choose the rainy northwest with its green hills and many trees and beaches not made for swimming but for sitting. I'd go to art museums and theaters and used bookstores instead of bowling or game nights. My family loves a good chick flick or inspirational sports movie, but in the last few years I've realized that I'm a bit of a movie snob (much to the inconvenience of others) and prefer movies that are artistic and thought provoking over the popular "escapist" fare most people prefer. Many times I find myself feeling like I don't quite belong.

But, then, before I get too carried away down that path I have to remember that there are things I share. My grandfather's love of teaching and jazz music. My other grandfather's love of work. Love of travel and writing and the gospel from both sides of the family. My grandmother's love of dance. My mother's love of harmony and cleanliness. My dad's love of order and his determination. My great grandparents and their love of music and theater. Photography from my uncle.

My particular set of genes may be a bit peculiar and my ideal world perhaps a bit strange, but I am not, at least, a complete anomaly. I am still "a part of all that I have met."

23 February 2012

No Room to Contain It

Last year was the year from Hades.

It was the year of non-stop work. It was the year of the illness of death. It was the year of no travel, no theater, no sunlight. It was a year for questioning everything I hold dear, wondering if the path I was taking really, truly was the right path (it was). It was a year of hard won recovery after some rather emotionally abusive relationships. It was a year. of. trial.

(There were some good things too. But, not going to lie, I wouldn't relive it.)

In the back of my mind, the storyteller part of my mind, I knew that if I survived the year with faith and hard work and determination, then sometime it would all pay off. The dearth of theater. The lack of travel. The frustration in feeling so lost with who I was and my place in the universe. So I kept going. Worked hard. Bit the bullet of endless responsibility. Fought for what I believed in and came to new understandings about myself and others. Overcame weaknesses. I left 2011 battle scarred and exhausted, but triumphant.

I knew it would pay off, I just didn't expect it to pay off quite this much.

I don't just have one potential show to be a part of this year - I have at least three. And I know for sure that two of them are going to work out.

I won't be going to England like I wanted to, but I will be going on a fantastic trip to the Southeast - Williamsburg, Charleston, Savannah, and Orlando. It's a part of the country I've always wanted to see but never had the chance. Now's my chance.

I am still busy with school and business running, but business running is paying off (literally and metaphorically) in fantastic ways. Plus, as an added bonus, I get to stay at the same school next year instead of moving schools (again), and I'm ecstatic. I love my school and my coworkers and (nearly all) of my students. And, what's also nice, is they seem to like me too.

I am not perfect, but I am learning to be more accepting of where I am in the world and the path I am on. I am striving to do the right thing. Even if my "right" seems strange compared to the "traditional" path people take, I am confident that the Lord knows what He's doing. I feel, for the first time in a long time, peace with myself.

And, best of all, I will be able to go to the temple. I have dreamed and prayed and begged for that chance for so long, and finally the Lord agreed that now is a good time. As a person who generally prides herself on her skills in hiding emotion, at least when it's of the sappy and personal variety, I am quite sure that every time I think of this particular blessing, my cup overflows again and I feel more gratitude than my eyes can contain. 50 days. 50 days and I will be there. With friends and family that I love.

Life is good, friends. I feel as though I understand just a little bit of what the Lord talks about when he says he will bless us and there will not be room enough to receive it. I find myself so full of gratitude that I almost feel guilty, knowing that there are so many other people in the world to bless who have overcome so much more than just working hard, or people who are still struggling with no end in sight - but I'll take it. I'll take it and enjoy it with every ounce of my soul I can spare so that when another 2011 comes around, I'll be ready to tackle it too.

09 February 2012

Green and Pleasant Land

"We call this land of ours Great Britain, and there may be those who believe this a somewhat immodest practice. Yet I would venture that the landscape of our country alone would justify the use of this lofty adjective.

And yet what precisely is this 'greatness'? Just where, or in what, does it lie? I am quite aware it would take a far wiser head than mine to answer such a question, but if I were forced to hazard a guess, I would say that it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of our land apart. What is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, of its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it."

The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro

This is the most perfect description of England I have ever read in my life.

It has not helped cure my travel bug at. all.

(Also, I wish it were spring of 2007, so I could be doing this again:)

05 February 2012