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one word for 2013: here

17 Jan

What we need is here. –Wendell Berry

california coast

Four and a half months ago, we drove our boat of a Buick through the desert and into San Diego. It was the last leg of our cross-country trip. Two weeks, 3000-some miles.

“Do you want to stop for lunch in Arizona?” Josh asked me. “No,” I told him. “I just want to get there.”

We had waited to be here for six months, since Josh accepted the offer to study at University of California, San Diego. And even though we didn’t know where here was then, we had waited to be here for years. A place where I could be in ministry, where Josh could study and teach. Where we could be together, both doing the work we had been called to do.

We pulled into a space at the grad student apartment complex. Opened our door with our key. Moved in the few boxes that we had fit in our Buick. And we began again here.

Sometimes I have been good at being here, at being where I am.

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fifty-one minutes {day 27}

27 Oct

I ran my first 5K two months ago. “What was your time?” was everyone’s first question.

“Slow,” I said, smiling. I didn’t tell them how long. “But I finished.”

I finished. I watched the Olympics a few months later, as muscled women in uniforms ran. It took them half the time to run the 10K as it took me to run my 5.

I’m thin, but I’m slow. After eight weeks of Couch to 5K, my sides still ached as I jogged. I tried to ration my water, breathe right. But I still panted. I stopped too often, bent over, put my hands on my knees, and breathed heavy. I felt like I might throw up.

And I finished.

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start again {day 18}

18 Oct

When I get my discharge papers and walk out into the North Carolina spring, I am like an infant again. I am soft, hopeful, frail. I have one task: to learn how to live in this world.

A spunky social worker in her twenties talks to me in the hospital. “I like to call mental illness brain disease. We understand liver or kidney disease, but mental illness is just a disease of your brain. And there are things that we can do to treat it. Not cure it, but treat it.” We go through a list, different ways of self-care. Sleep, food, exercise, sunlight, relaxation, relationships, healthy thoughts.

I am a person obsessed with percentages, praise, plus signs. I want to tell her the right thing. I want to be good.

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telling the story: humble {day 13}

13 Oct

{This post, like others to follow, relates to mental illness and suicide. If these things are a trigger for you, please read with care.}

There is something about throwing up your red Jell-O in the hospital community room that humbles you. Or maybe that’s just me.

I line up at noon behind the other patients. The nurses check the name, give you a Dixie cup with pills. Mine has just one, a blue oval. I say my name, reach out my hands, and take my medicine where the nurse and everyone can see me. It is a strange communion. Give us this day our daily meds.

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rest {day 9}

9 Oct

It is night, dear one, so sleep.

You have forgotten what it’s like to sleep when your eyes begin to close, to wake when your body says yes. You can’t remember the last time you’ve had a restful night, a lucid day.

But it is night, dear one, and there is one keeping watch, so sleep.

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telling the story: empty your hands {day 4}

4 Oct

I wake that Friday morning to two things: I am not in my bed. And there is bacon cooking.

I slept that night at The Lodge, after the tea was drunk and the tears were cried. I fell asleep in Bonnie’s bed, soft as a cloud, and she wrapped a blanket around me. That morning, I open slowly, hung over from crying, from saying things you cannot take back.

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a rash, a cold, and cat poop {day 5: tennessee}

25 Aug

The morning we’re to leave for Alabama, I wake up with a sore throat, and within an hour I’m puking in the sink.*

This isn’t as strange as you would think. Two times I’ve been so sick with cold/sinus crap that I thought my eardrums were going to burst on an international flight. In Thailand, I lounged around in the 90-degree weather and ate pad Thai while my sinus cold did some traveling of its own: from my head to my throat to my chest. In China, the night before Josh and I were to take off on the train to see the Terracotta Soldiers, I spent the night in the bathroom puking.

I turn off my alarm and get back in bed.

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bad hair and the new jerusalem

24 May

“Maybe in heaven, I will finally have good hair.”

I announced it to my friend in one of my forgetting-I-shouldn’t-say-that-out-loud moments. She kind of grimaced at me and said, “Christina, your hair is fine.”

She’s right, of course. My hair is fine. Not in the sense of being thin, although it’s that, too. But fine, as in okay. Not beautiful, silky Pantene-ad hair like so many of my friends have. But not terrible. It is fine.

I’ve never had good hair. Ever since I was about eight of so, I had thick, dark bangs that nearly covered my eyebrows. When I was twelve, I had the world’s worst spiral perm, which didn’t help my crooked teeth and big glasses and bookishness any.

Even at twenty-eight, on my bad days, I would give almost anything for good hair.

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red toes and the risen Lord

30 Apr

Early in the morning, on the first day of the week, on the day of the Resurrection, I paint my toenails red.

I haven’t painted my toenails in a solid year. It seems frivolous, too silly to spend my time on. But it’s been a long time since I’ve done anything much for my body.

My mother-in-law brings me back a fancy bottle of Dead Sea foot cream from Israel. I’ll use it later, I think, when… But I don’t know the end of the sentence. When I feel like I’m worth it?

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