We Were Rosy

**Note: Thank you to the gods of inspiration, that bolt has finally hit me.  in the past couple week, this blog has hit 3,000 views and the views keep rising.  Hopefully one day I’ll be able to have a whole website.  In the meantime, I want to thank everyone who has shown genuine interest in my thoughts/beliefs and feelings about life and the world.  This next one is so extremely important to what I do and who I’ve become.  At this stage in the game, writing about love is writing about life.  To Paul: I love you, dude.**

We Were Rosy

We were rosy-cheek in love, listening to songs just to get back in one another’s head just in case one of us snuck out.  We used to talk about us before you and I, as if the components didn’t even exist.  We used to entwine ourselves with more ferocity as if we were slipping from one another.  I could paint a scene of love imperfect.  I could attempt to make it beautiful: the way literature makes a car crash perfect.  But perfect wasn’t right.

I can remember age eighteen with frightening clarity—meeting a man when men had formerly wreaked taboo.  I’d never chalked the world up to something celestial until I came face-to-face with the only worthwhile stuff of the universe.  Individuals: faces and eyes that make one understand why Zarathustra came down (I remember my Nietzsche professor couldn’t stress that enough—the guy came down!).  So, when I met him, he made the world more of a place for me to state my intent, to be myself, execute the deepest desires of my heart.

Time allegedly heals, but I find it likelier that it smears a coat of BIC brand white out over a wound’s surface.  Time wears and chips away the wood.  If a fine-crafted mahogany table is a sweet November stroll through the oaky, shaded-over neighborhoods of Roland Park circa 2009, then my four-year-long relationship is that same table after a number of moves across country in the back of a Uhaul, having incurred the stamina to handle vases and hideous cross-generational accoutrements, ranging from Lalique to Precious Moments.  We will continue to transport that table, keeping it close, despite its watermarks and chipped edges.

I will carry the table; I will carry you.

I can recall the early fights: me muffling his voice anytime so much as a friendly confrontation came forth from his nervous lips.  I’d do anything to maintain our status as that flawlessly alluring couple that graced an otherwise Playboy campus brimming with modern day oligarchs in oxfords.  I’d mitigate, in efforts to brush the white out over the smeared pen, only to find that this would be my first go around at throwing non literal gasoline on the non literal fire of my relationship.  All I needed to do was let the fire crackle—perhaps blow it about a bit, so it could electrify and affect a chain reaction.  This is the stuff of the earth, the flames I must let go but can’t bear watch burn.  It would take awhile until I was good at this—using words, allowing love to arrive gradually out of strife, rather than quelling fighting words that make the times of peace more lit up: robust with pale brilliance.

I remember the first 9 months together, six of which were spent with him in Scotland. I’d write him long letters of how we’d one day counter the prototypical numbed middle-aged couple.  I’d talk about how lively we’d be—how innocently in love we’d find ourselves even after 10, 20, 60 years.  I’d loved him like a child: fully, but closed to any indication that I was wrong.  I would love, but I didn’t want to work, I didn’t want to turn my gaze toward the truth: that my inability to open myself to the possibility that I was wrong had created a one-way street—the kind one doesn’t automatically perceive and begins to turn down, only to realize its there, just barely executing a 7-point turn in the middle of the road, ashamed, confused, and unable to grasp how a smart, perceptive individual, would ever turn down this street.  For me, feigning euphoria seemed like a better choice than acknowledging what I’d later learn was life and realism disguised by my ballooned perceptions as a faulty relationship.

I first watched the flames flicker during a miniature Renaissance at the start of the Fall.  I was Michelangelo, furiously breaking my back, painting “I’m Sorry” on the ceiling like a heart-sleeved maniac.  Sitting by his door with my hands folded was “I’m sorry for saying that.”  My tears, the film’s epilogue, were “I’m sorry I did that.”  Using words without the words was the best thing I’d ever done.  Now, we’d each have our turn to start the fire: he’d be the gas-thrower, me: the extinguisher.  Then, like the best painters and artists we’d invent our love story with erratic brushstrokes and zigzagging chalk lines: this goes here and maybe that’ll come in way down there.  It had plenty of seams, but that was all right.

Now when I redden with frustration, he’ll likely shake his head and walk away, but it’s cold outside now, and we’ll take November walks, our cheeks rosy but mostly from the cold and our eyes lit up, knowing we wont be here forever.  I will not turn down that road again; I will not make 7-point turns.  Instead, before I blame him for my lost tube of chapstick, I will ask him about this constellation, and we will walk like careful giants, up the stairs of the Library of Congress, through this city, it could be any city really, but it’s this one and it’s ours.  They’ll put scaffolding up on the Capitol building soon, but we’ll have the night to remember when it was just another bit of the troposphere.  And that’s where we are too, frozen on earth, which is really the only celestial body for which we’ve got to live.  You’re the sky, I’m the sky, and so is this building.  And I don’t have to write sorry in the stars, not yet, not tonight.

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Age is opportunity no less, Than youth itself, though in another dress, And as the evening twilight fades away, The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Morituri Salutamus

Today is my 21st birthday.  And apart from it being filled thus far with great food that I have purposefully sought out for myself as well as some great jade earrings, which, again, I purposefully sought out for myself, it has been filled with great thoughts: thoughts of my own, of course, and thoughts which have been inspired by individuals and instances, like the great quote from Mr. HWL which I have spelled out above.  I cannot help but think to myself how very far behind me that awkward and ugly egg I once hatched out of is.  Age is tricky, you see, because some, my mother in particular, would like to argue that I’ve been acting 21 since I was 4.  While I can’t argue with much of this, it is interesting, still, to be perceived as older.  I usually love this and bask in it gloriously, but now I find myself both excited yet shocked.  I am smiling to myself at the thought of my first legal drink, regretfully spending money on a too-expensive bottle of wine I’d probably buy just to say I bought it, and that sort of thing, but another part of me is shaking my fist at the heavens, pleading “WHY!?  Slow it down, Jesus and Zeus and the court of Mt. Olympus!”

But sometimes, ex-poet laureates come around and they pull some tricks out of their back pockets and say LISTEN:

“And as the evening twilight fades away, the sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”

Ok, so my lights are far from burning out, I’m 21, I may, in fact be my brightest, although I’d like to think my brightest is me every day for the next 80 years.  Nevertheless, age is kind of a cooler thing than people assume it to be.  At least past a certain point in life, age means ugliness, death, and the newfound inability to do anything exciting or rewarding.  I am not yet at this point in life and some may say who am I to judge, but believe me, 1) I’m wise beyond my years-we’ve already covered this, and 2) I have a superbly and ridiculously cool mother (oh, have I mentioned this before?), who never ceases to amaze me with her goals, dreams, and endeavors for the future and the present.

So here’s the thing, I’m kind of excited to get older.  I don’t need to skip a year or anything, but I’m pretty excited for this year.  After all if I tried to hold it all back and succeeded, if Zeus and Moses and Buddha were all like “Hm, okay Leah, stay little, that’s cool with us,” I’d be frizzy haired and scared hiding inside my little egg, pleading for it not to break open so I wouldn’t have to face the kids in middle school, even the kids in high school, so I wouldn’t have to speak my mind, or seem sensitive, or seem weird.  And let me tell you guys and gals, trying not to seem weird, especially if you are weird (and I know you’re all secretly weird in some way), is the hardest thing to do.  Wanna see pictures of me trying not to seem weird?  Okay, yeah I didn’t think so.  Because my lips covered in concealer were WAY cooler than my lips tinted red.  But on a serious note, as I get older, more and more people are acquiring knowledge of the real me.  It’s almost to the point where almost every friend I have never knew the Leah from a few years back, the one who didn’t actually exist as her real self.  But now, there’s something different about me, and I have the wonderful gift of years to thank for it.

So I’m 21, I’m in Kathmandu, I’m jumping off a bridge tomorrow, and on Sunday, I’m dying portions of my hair blue.  I’m just being the youth itself, in another dress (Thanks, Sir Longfellow).

-LR

“Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something”-Ancient Proverb

Up until now I’ve had a tendency to speak about what it is I am doing.  Well, kids, I’m not doing it all alone.  I present you with, the people I’ve met, or at least a deep and well-construed reflection on surrounding oneself with the company of others while in a foreign country…

I knew one of my fellow volunteers before I arrived and that was about it.  At that point we hadn’t even known eachother too well.  Naturally, most if not all people who decide to take this sort of leap of faith and immerse themselves for a summer into the Nepalese culture must be interesting and must have their own interesting story.  Just in the same way as everyone else on the planet, but still one must wonder:  why is this person spending their summer in the third world?  This question and answers pulled from this question are enough to build bonds.

Sometimes you have to wonder, especially as a gal who always seemed to be the cliche of a square peg, how do I work well with others if I can’t seem to figure my own self out half of the time?  Fitting in or meshing is something I try not to hold my own abilities up against.  Just bein’ Leah tends to work, well, as well as it can.  And if it doesn’t work, and the meshing or fitting in was the only way to go, then you know how the old proverbial saying goes, it wasn’t mean to be.  And I have had many “It wasn’t meant to be’s.”

(Shoutout) Last year when I went to Poland for a service experience doing conservational work in the concentration camps, though I was with a very small group, I came out with friendships–one in particular.  Isn’t it interesting that I would get to know a person for only 10 days and then stay in contact with her quite often for the next year, and even still I consider her to be one of my closest confidants?  There have been some relationships I worked at for years and years and it didn’t seem quite as right as one like this.  There truly is something about sharing the company of a person when one chooses this sort of experience, an immersion.  You could have more in common in the first minute of meeting one another than with someone you’ve been faking it with for years.

First coming to Nepal was like Kindergarden.  The fear of the experience itself equaled out exactly to the fear of making friends throughout the experience.  Sounds like Kindergarden doesn’t it?  The important part of Kindergarden isn’t making macaroni necklaces, per say, it is the strength and solace found it knowing that you will have a buddy who will purposefully get in trouble for shoving a piece of macaroni up their nose just to make sure you don’t spend your time-out alone while everyone else makes macaroni necklaces.

While I realize many blog readers want to hear more about me bargaining in the markets or my plans to go paragliding in Pokhara, this is what you’re getting for today, because honestly whether you’ve traveled a ton, very little, or not at all, the company–those you’re with and those you meet–can impact you more than anything else.  For instance, If it wasn’t for one of my friends here, I would not have gotten up on stage and tribal danced with the Tharu dancers in Chitwan last weekend.  But seriously, there’s no way I would’ve done it.  I’ve also had friends convince me to buy things–which, who doesn’t need that in their lives.

I feel as though I have so much more to learn from my fellow volunteers and friends.  Sometimes, we just snuggle, sometimes we talk, we even work out, which is sometimes productive and sometimes just messy–at least when it goes unguided.  We talk about uneventful and eventful days at work, we talk about food we miss back home (sometimes to no avail), we talk about our futures (boy, do we talk about our futures), but mostly, even if we won’t admit it, we really do enjoy our time here…together.

Yesterday at work for the first time I began to feel the most in-touch I’ve been with the Nepalis here.  I have met one girl who I plan on visiting soon.  She had a very inspiring story; she even wanted to go to New York City one day to pursue fashion design.  Yesterday, though, I talked to the Nepali volunteers who are about my age in the office.  I had a really great conversation with one–comparing our cultures, how we live on our own after age 18 and they never really do, arranged marriages, the school system.  We even planned a time for her to take me shopping to get a traditional Nepali outfit, comprised of a short sleeved tunic with tighter pants on the bottom and a scarf with colors to match…I think it’s called a corta (?) There’s a special feeling one gets when forming a connection with someone who really is of another world, in many ways.

I can’t really explain it, but just now that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.  And know that if you meet them in Nepal, their story is one you probably one you want to hear.  The ones that are most dissimilar from your own tend to be that way.

Namaste,

Leah

That the freckles in our eyes are mirror images…

Dedicating myself to just the idea of beginning to type words in this space is more of an “I know I should” than an “I will” most of the time.  I thought I’d write this first time in the second person (thank you grammar school) to someone I am used to speaking to with great ease.

I am sitting across from you.  It’s the first time you’ve picked up your guitar in, well, too long.  To start, many people seem to know us or know about us.  They like us.  Some more than others.  I think most like our relationship better than they like me.  Maybe sometimes, although I’m happy with just us–just us knowing and thinking about us, just us loving–I wonder, what if these people knew?  What if they knew just a bit more.  Right now is one of those times that occurs only every so often where I find myself falling in love–again.  You don’t know yet, but I’m recording you as you play.  It’s an intro to a version of “Such Great Heights” by Landon Austin.  You are frustrated, but I’m not noticing that.  Sometimes I am looking at your furrowed brow, sometimes I find my gaze drift toward your hands and especially your reddening fingertips.

We’ve been together for over two and a half years.  And to say I am amazed is an understatement on so many levels.  To speak to solely this moment, though.  This is one of those oddly cinematic moments where you, unbeknownst to me, perform some sort of magic.  This time you are emitting that magic from your fingertips right to the core of me and then back out again to my eyes which can’t seem to look away.  Now, I know we joked, in light of our sass-a-frassing, shared sense of non-conformism, for the first month or so of dating that we hated one another, couldn’t wait to get out of the relationship, what have you.  But, now, though I still delight in our mindless banter and feigned disdain for the other, I find myself having to contain my ratting insides from becoming too excited, even still, when you look at me.

Maybe I never thought men to be redeemable.  You know, I’ve told you I once felt that way.  But because of the previous examples I’d had, you still, to this day, seem unreal to me.  Thank you.