Julian

Early Friday mornings and it smells of rain—a delight in a week of 100 degree weather and strict water rations. I’m up early for emergency coffee runs to WinCo with the windows down and the rain splashing in on my leg, because the roommates got home last night and that means together and I’ve lived enough of this rhythm-seeking, mid-twenties life to know that together isn’t permanent or guaranteed.   So I wrap it all up in a pink box of donuts from the best place, across town, and hope to keep the moments there—in memories, in gratitude. Because if this isn’t going to last, then I will at least make it the best temporary joy I can.

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The girls–they help me do that well. “But you live here now,” they remind me when I’m not taking full ownership of the fridge or driveway or alcohol supply. There’s no mention of August or how short the span of time is between here and there. The spaces carved in their home and their hearts don’t coincide with actual spaces of time. I still live out of a suitcase but I have an entire room. And I think, so it is in deeper ways. I may be living in small pockets of time, picked up and moved from here to there, but people have opened up the fullness of their love and lives and hearts to me. The spaces of belonging I have been given are wider than the spaces I can fill.

And so we drink orange juice in wine glasses, without the champagne, and run errands for eggs, because this house runs on eggs, and text each other about the condition of the pepperjack cheese, and initial all our food and then eat it all together anyway. We take long walks around Lema Ranch and act as wingmen for each other’s quassi-dates and wear matching green shoes on hikes and skip rocks on tiny creeks and watch lake sunsets through picture frames made of trees. We each wake up and do work we don’t really care about and come home to talk about how desperately we want to care about doing something. We pay the bills and buy each other’s coffees and fight over the dinner tabs because we’re all, each one of us, broke and generously stubborn. We put flowers at each other’s bedsides, try to keep the recycling from dominating the kitchen, tell stories in happy voices, and do everything we can to make this house a belonging place—this house with its fall pumpkin table runner, Fourth of July tinsel, three mismatched sofas, and impeccable record for killing plants–orchids most efficiently. This house filled with so much love but sometimes wavering in other things like hope and certainty.

I believe in your life and you believe in mine but neither of us can believe in our own quite enough to see past this season where twenty plus years of building have lead to a precipice from which we never seem to actually fall into anything. We’ve been on the edge of the start for so long now that expectation is more of a dull throb or the quickening claps of an impatient audience I am terrified of disappointing. Here I am now and I must start this life for real and good God I hope it’s fantastic! And good God I’m terrified of ripping open the package only to discover it’s as average as it could have ever been. I’m terrified of peering inside and seeing the kinds of unfulfilled dreams and potential that scare me in others–those who have lived longer than I and have had discontentment reward their faithful years.

Perhaps most of all, I am terrified that there is nothing inside the box at all—nothing yet, nothing except for what I will choose to put there. And I don’t feel ready to put anything anywhere. Except for my feet on the ground and my pen to the page and my heart up close to the heart next to mine.

So unload the groceries, put in the hours, find a corner of a heart that needs the little light you carry today, and peel back the box one edge at a time. We’ll fill it as we go.

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