Wednesday, June 19, 2013

back at it.

It's been awhile.

And I have missed this.

I've struggled to find a place for blogging in my post-JVC life, just like I how I struggled to find a place for blogging during college after studying abroad in Rome.

The fact of the matter is I like blogging. As an introvert, I often feel like I communicate more clearly through writing than speaking. However, it's difficult for me to blog when the overarching theme of my life isn't wrapped up in something specific. Before it's been "Megan moves to Italy and studies abroad!" and then "Megan moves to Boston and does a year of service!" Now my life is "Megan works full time at at non-profit and lives 80 miles away from where she grew up!" See? The last one definitely isn't as exciting (although I suppose it's debatable that the first two ever were).

Frequently, I still wonder if I have anything "good" to say (I certainly always have something to say). I don't live the most exciting life, but I find the beauty in the small things, the joys and challenges. And I'm learning more about finding God in the dailiness of my life.

But honestly? Most people I know and most blogs I read and love these days are written by people in the same boat. And I think to dismiss the ordinary and the everyday as unimportant is one of the biggest traps that we fall into. Your life matters, my life matters, and the stories that we share about them most certainly matter.
“But I talk about my life anyway because if, on the one hand, hardly anything could be less important, on the other hand, hardly anything could be more important. My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours. Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I, of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories in all their particularity, as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally. If this is true, it means that to lose track of our stories is to be profoundly impoverished not only humanly but also spiritually." --Frederick Buechner
There's great value in sharing those stories, so I'm here to talk about mine: Learning to juggle work and life in new ways. Being a twenty-something and all that entails. Generally being happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time (sorry, had to go there).

During a recent read, I stumbled across a great piece of wisdom from Ignatian discernment. Basically, it boils down to this: when we keep all of our struggles, fears, and uncertainties secret inside of us, they have a tendency to overwhelm us. When we are vulnerable and put them out into the open, we take away some of the power that they have.

I can think of so many times in my life when it's been true. There are moments when it's mildly terrifying for me to open up--and we're not talking about just to strangers. Sometime it's my best friends, my family, my roommates, or my coworkers. It's easy for me to freak myself out and get stuck in my own head. When I finally do, however, I always feel that overwhelming sense of relief, of release. For this reason, it's healthy for me to push myself to be intentional about being vulnerable and open, and I think that blogging is a good way for me to do it.

The past year has been a good one for me, but it has also had it's own challenges. I haven't always known how to address all of the joys and challenges of my present state in life through blogging, but in this spirit, I want to recommit myself to writing in this space. I don't know quite where this will take me in the future, but I'm going to follow my heart for this one. But it will be here for now at least, again.

Let's see what happens, right? 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

the last time i saw Boston.

About two months ago, I made an impromptu purchase: a plane ticket to Boston. While visiting had been on my mind since the day I left, I had planned on waiting until at least the spring to return. I figured that would give me time to save money and hopefully guarantee better weather. A quick glance at the Southwest Airlines website on a Tuesday morning changed all that, and twelve hours later, I had a plane ticket waiting in my email inbox for a trip three weeks later. What can I say? I can't pass up a good bargain.

In the few weeks leading up to my return to Boston, my mind was constantly preoccupied with how it would feel be in Boston again after six months of being away. My heart was so nervous and excited to be back that I hardly knew how to feel.

The last time I'd seen Boston was a perfect summer day almost exactly six months prior. The sky was unspeakably blue with puffy white clouds. The bright August sun shone down on me and the crowds at the Boston Common created a familiar backdrop. I was drenched in sweat, tears, and emotions, as I hugged my community members goodbye and walked from our house to the T one final time. This day still feels both like yesterday and a lifetime ago.

One thought kept coming back up in my mind as I pondered all of this: leaving Boston once was hard enough. How will I do it again? It's was tempting to think that maybe it's easier to stay away sometimes: to not go back, to not continue to forge bonds and relationships, to not continue to find reasons to be in love with Boston. 

But obviously, I went back to Boston. And how did it feel?  

It was unspeakably wonderful be reunited with so many people and places and memories that I hold dear. Because of that, there were moments twinged with regret where I questioned the decision I made last summer to leave and go back to Missouri--that split second when I just knew what I needed to do.

However, perhaps most striking is what I didn't feel. After my initial arrival (and the correlating extreme excitement), I didn't feel much of anything but a sense of normalcy, of comfort. Boston felt like second nature, like I'd woken up and six months had slipped by overnight.

Being back was walking to Casserly House in the mornings, breakfast from Dunkin' Donuts, lunch with S. Nancy and Jim, continued conversations and relationships with ESOL & After School students, falling asleep to the sound of the commuter rail rattling the windows, reversed Casa Taj water faucets, wandering around the city, picking up with Maggie, Abby, and Kateleigh exactly where we left off, continuing to watch every movie ever set in Boston, and going to mass at St. Cecelia's and making a stop into the Starbucks across the street after. It was all of the routines and memories and people I spent a year cherishing.

Maggie and Abby drove me to the airport to fly back to St. Louis, and we took a rather meandering route by the Boston Common, across the Charles River into Charlestown, over the bridge back into the city so we could see our favorite view, and then to the airport. Every speck of that city is sprinkled with memories for me, in the best possible way.

And now? Now, the last time I saw Boston was a snowy February day. The wind stung my face, and snowflakes got caught in my hair. I still left with hugs and a few stray tears, but with a new sense of who I am, what I love, and gratitude for the city that helped shape me. 

See you again soon, Beantown. Love always.