Heavy breathing. Aching limbs. Sweat kissing my red face. I accomplished Devil’s Lake today (with Chief). It was hard, but strangely, not as hard for me as it has been in the past. Let me tell you though, I’m wore out. And Chief? Yeah he’s crashed out on the floor snoozing away. But I feel so much better mentally and physically; I feel like I really accomplished something.
Lately, despite the malicious mosquitoes (yey bug spray!!), I have been really encouraged to go on long walks at Mirror Lake, a state park that’s fairly close to my home, with Chief. Today with the light breeze trickling through the rays of sunshine, I figured that Devil’s Lake would be fantastic. It took me over an hour to follow the hiking path, but, let me tell you, I was rather proud of myself.
Much like I was doing two years, I really want to embark on a weight loss journey (yes, again). Someone cue the “oooo.” But, I really want to focus on the exercising portion as much as the eating portion. I’ve been on this natural high when I go walking around the trails, which honestly makes me feel invincible! I feel like I could run 5 miles (just kidding…I’d die…). The feeling is almost indescribable, except for that natural high.
As far as the food part, I’m starting out smallnothing to drastic (at first). My thoughts on food intake is just watching calories and carbs. I don’t think these minor things are going to make a HUGE impact physically…maybe. But in my best opinion, it’s going to prep me for those drastic changes that I know I will partake later on. Fret not, my friends Luke* and Nick* are my biggest encouragers, and I know that they won’t let me get too crazy and out of hand with a diet (Luke is taking his own healthy journey; Nick has taken on the Keto diet and lost several inches and weight). Of course, Chief will benefit greatly from all the walks, and he’s always there faithfully pushing me forward (I’m blessed with a good dog).
Here’s a good inspirational-ish quote from a 2009 documentary I recently watched called “Facing the Fat.” It’s fairly intriguingI recommend watching it!
“When you feel disgusted…it’s time to do something.” Kenny Saylors
I feel disgusting with my current lifestyle. I feel mentally and physically drained ALL the time. But I’ll keep pushing forward, red face, heavy breathing, tired legs, and all.
The trek to the beach was long; the sun peaked high on a cloudless day. The AC was set on high—it felt good. It felt like a typical summer day in Wisconsin—only it was April in Florida—a thousand miles from home.
We parked and set out towards the beach. The smell of salt lingered in the air as waves filled the silence gaps between the voices of fellow tourists.
“Charlotte*, take a pic of me next to the palm tree.”
“Uh okay sure.” My friend snapped a photo of me with my Polaroid.
We trekked our way towards the ocean. The sand squished and sprawled beneath my feet, making it harder to walk. Sand sprinkled its way into my flip flops irritating me even more so I took them off, daring my way across barefoot. The sand was hot, as if the sun was trapped in the tiny little grains. Finally we found an open spot not to far from where the dry sand kissed the wet.
I dropped my backpack on top of the beach blanket and ran towards the water, my feet sloshing on the wet sand into the edge of the water. A big wave crashed against my legs as if trying to push me over. Seahells were pushed forward before being pulled back with the current. My hand swooped down and grabbed a tiny, broken, cream-colored shell. Though it wasn’t a perfect shell, I decided I wanted to keep it. Eventually with a lot of searching and avoiding huge waves, I did find many nice and even some “perfect” shells.
It’s funny how when many folks go to the beach some are looking for shells to keep as souvenirs or whatever given reason. Some folks are okay with a few shells whether they be perfect of slightly chipped. Some folks won’t settle for anything less than giant, perfectly shaped shells.
I spent a good chunk of time picking at different shells looking for small ones and big ones, and even keeping a few broken ones because of their coloring. I’d let the ones I didn’t want slip between my fingers and plop back into the ocean.
It’s funny how in life we pick and choose our relationships much like these shells. We search and search for those “perfect” and big shells, yet there are imperfectly perfect shells slipping between our fingers simply because they’re slightly broken. We don’t want the broken ones because they’re not as pretty to look at. And they’re typically more fragile.
After my ex and I parted ways, I felt stuck like the tiny shell at the bottom of the ocean. Just being pushed and pulled by the currents of life on occasion but mostly just submerged there under water. I liked being at the bottom where it was dark and cold—yet I could still see steaks of light that gave me pieces of hope here and there and on occasion I got swept up to the surface—if only temporarily. Though I preferred to be half buried under the cold sand, because I was broken. And useless. No one wanted me.
Jesus doesn’t look at us like that though. He doesn’t care if you’re the giant shell or the tiniest broken speck of a shell. He can use all shells for a specific purpose.
He scooped me up and carefully held onto me—because He knew I was fragile. And he searched for other broken pieces to put me together again to create what He saw as a whole person. Granted I’m still originally that broken, tiny shell but made whole because of Him.
He can do the same for you. He can bring you to the surface and put that tiny shell of yours back together with other pieces. Granted you will never be the same as you once were. But you’ll still be made whole again. And even more beautiful and unique than you were before.
If I were to say to you, “jambo rafikis,” it would translate to “hello friends.” And that’s how I want to greet you all tonight, err morning technically. But still the sun hasn’t risen, so I would still say tonight. Confession: I’ve been slacking a lot these past few months. Not just in life, but writing in general. I haven’t been taking the time to press on and write blogs on a consistent basis…In fact I think the last blog I posted was part of my trip to Puerto Rico…confirmed, yes. My last post was part 3, and I still have one or two more posts to go to finish that story. Ugh!
I’m sooo frustrated at times. With life. So I apologize on the inconvenience of not spreading what I feel I do best: writing. I apologize I’ve been…distant essentially.
I’ve been trying to get things organized at my churchfrom planning and helping with Sunday School to helping out with the media department. We’ve been doing some cool things, and our New Year’s Resolution is trying to get our kiddos on board with learning their memory verses. Because it’s important to put the word in their hearts. I’ve recently suggested to our Pastor we should start a YouTube page, and trying to get some research into that and organizing it in one document.
Not only am I part of the church life, but I also have my personal job. A job that has been requiring a lot of extra time lately because it’s one of our brief peak seasons. A job that has been a fair amount of the stress I am dealing with. See, another co-worker and I have been trying to get our training program more organized and get other mentors (the people that sit next to newbies as they take calls) on the same page as to keeping our training consistent. It’s been a lot of work. And now I’ve recently taken up the challenge of being a mentor and teaching someone how to handle calls for conventions/groups. I love challenges, they’re part of what makes me grow. I’m loving the opportunity to grow with my company. But I’m also sad as well because of work. I’ve befriended many people throughout my time there. And honestly so many people I’ve grown fond of have since left. After my three closest friends left within a couple of weeks from each other back in May, I branched out to two guys: *Brandon and *Jay. And they both decided to move on within two weeks of each other in December. So I ducked away from everyone. I’m hesitant to grow close to anyone for fear that maybe it’s just me driving these people away.
Of course, I recently lost my dad due to natural causes. And I’ve been really missing him lately. I just had a conversation with my friend *Luke, where I was sharing a story about when my mom, brother and I were cleaning out my dad’s apartment. So my dad had put the toilet cleaner out in the kitchen where he kept a lot of his chemicals, and my mom had to bring her own dish soap to clean the dishes and the kitchen area. Well the next day when she began cleaning the bathroom she found his dish soap…in the bathroom! I laughed telling this story to Luke. He smiled and said it was neat that I could understand my dad and why he sometimes did the things he did. My dad may not have been in my life when I was a kid, but he really allowed me to see how he did care about me later on in life. He was always the kindest and most generous man I’ve known. And I strive to find myself a man with those same qualities.
Some days, I really feel like giving up.
Some days I feel so inadequate to be doing what I’m doing. I don’t feel good enough to be a Sunday School teacher. I feel lousy that I’m not doing as much for God as I probably could be. Should I be planning a missions trip? I’m scared. Yet I’m constantly reminded that I’m still worthy.
I feel like I’m not great at my job. I feel like I actually really suck. Numbers don’t mean anything, yet I still compare myself to everyone else I work with. I’m pushing myself way to hard, and then punishing myself even harder for failing, drawing me to the conclusion that if I just push myself even harder I won’t fail. You get the picture, I’m kinda going in a circle. Yet, even on some of my worst days at work, my boss walks in with a smirk and a joke to tell, or one of my favorite supervisors happens to be working and I’m reminded, again, that it’s going to be a good day.
Honestly, life isn’t always easy, but you still gotta fight it. And that’s what I’m doing. So bear with me, it IS my goal to get back to writing consistently…again. I cannot and will not stop writing, as long as I have the ability to do so.
Friday Night: [Journal entry] Dad talked with Linda and Tia. Tomorrow we are gonna go to Adjuntas to check and see if the travel agency will be open and get some flight info there. This gives me a little bit of hope. God please make it so! Tomorrow, tomorrow—it’s only a day away.
Saturday I awoke at 7:30am—a half hour before my alarm was to go off. Excitement and hope radiated throughout my body. Okay. Gotta pack my suitcase. Today is the day. After packing my suitcase, I greeted my dad and Tia. Tia had prepared some coffee and breakfast. I was anxious to get to town. I was anxious to get info. I was anxious to go home.
Linda showed up about 9am or so…much chatting went on between everyone. Finally the time came when we were to go to Adjuntas; Pecas drove. The trek down the mountain to the small town was usually a half hour drive, that day it took an hour. We weren’t even two minutes down the road when we saw just a hint of the damage that had taken place—power lines down and across the roads, trees brushed to the side to clear a narrow but drive-able path.
We continued on down, though the destruction didn’t get any less; it got worse. Looking down towards the valleys that were literally green and luscious just days prior were now stripped of everything. They looked like giant twigs that were stuck in the ground. We got to maybe the halfway point when we came across a literal one lane path in the road. So we sat…and waited…and waited some more…maybe ten minutes and like thirty cars later, we were finally able to make our way down through the path, along with our train of around twenty to thirty cars. After what felt like an eternity, we finally made it to the small, cramped town. Upon noticing that basically every single building was boarded up, we were extremely disappointed to see the travel agency no difference.
“F#@$!# B^%%$#!t.” My dad screamed into the busy but quiet air.
“Well…now what are we going to do?” I questioned out loud, not expecting an answer.
“I don’t know, Honey. But we are going to go home by Monday. Let’s go find Pecas.” Thus began our slow ascend back to Tia’s…it took longer since we had a few extra stops to make.
When we finally weaved our way back to Tia’s house, a cloud of disappointment hovered over me. Dad talked with Tia and Linda about what they were going to do next. I trudged myself around between my bedroom and outside, burdening a great deal of anxiety. I sat on the ground, while Asevache used me as a chew toy (my arm never felt so loved!). When lunch was made I had only a few bites of the rice and postale. What are we going to do?
What felt like hours later, but perhaps only maybe an hour, my dad came up to me. “Okay. Listen to me,” he got his usual serious face on, “Tomorrow we are gonna go to San Juan and go to the airport. We will take Linda’s car. They are going to be flying planes out maybe on Monday I think is what they say. We gonna find out all the information we need. I don’t care if I have to buy more tickets, I’m not worried about that. I wanna go home, and we gonna go home.” By this point it was twenty-four hours after we were supposed to say ‘Sayonara’ to Puerto Rico…yet we were still there held as a prisoner by the storm’s devious hands.
A couple more hours pass and Tia begins making dinner for us. Then afterwards, we took Abuelo back to his house. Now he lives the opposite way we go to go to town, so I’m sure my dad and Tia were just as curious to see how the road looked going this way. Trees toppled over as if they were made out of wet pieces of cardboard. There are two small bridges that go over really tiny creeks, and both of them were completely covered in water. It was a dramatic change to say the least.
At Abuelo’s house, we walked around to see what damage had occurred—which was hardly anything. One tree had fallen over and my uncle’s work shed just fifty feet from the house barely remained standing. Abuelo’s house stood strong and untouched. My brother’s house next door ended up getting some shingles knocked off on the porch portion of his house, but nothing else was hurt, not even his car. And then, my dad, though he had a lot of pain in his leg, suggested we go and see Noel (his brother) and Coca’s house (which essentially is across the street, but one has to climb up a steep hill to get there). Noel and Coca’s house was pretty much destroyed. Though the walls stood firm (as they should, they’re cement), the roof had been completely plucked off like a Band-Aid and tossed somewhere far away; 90% of everything they owned was destroyed by rain and unusable. A short while later we went back to Abuelo’s house and then went back to Tia’s.
My dad and I were outside, not so much talking as we were watching the sky and listening to the night creatures croak out their songs. My dad gasps.
“There’s a plane!”
“Where?” He points towards the southeast. A tiny yellow speck glittered in the sky. Dad ran inside to go tell Tía, who came outside to look. They talked. I felt hopeful. Very hopeful. After a bit, we saw another one. Tía went back inside and I followed to look at my phone. I knew that I wouldn’t get any text messages and it was essentially useless, but still I turned it on. I scrolled through my messages, wishing something would change. Dad came in to tell me he saw two more planes. That was four so far. We went to the back area and stood and watched them fly towards the west. In total, we saw nine planes. Just as we were watching the last one, I linked arms with my dad. “This means that they’re trying. This means we have something to look forward to tomorrow.”
That night, I didn’t fall asleep until 2 or 3 in the morning. I was too anxious and too hopeful about the following day.
Are you there God? I’m here…still. I pause. Hesitant to go on. I’m tired. Sleeping is the only time where I’m not worried. Yet here I am…awake. Not afraid, just worried. Can you please make it so we can leave tomorrow? I wanna go home. It’s Thursday night, a day after the storm. The song “Say Something” has been on repeat inside my head all day now. Finally, as if on command, my body falls back into a deep rest. My eyelids drop down until I shut out the darkness with more darkness.
When I awoke on Wednesday morning, the storm had already started. By that point it had been going on for hours. My Tia had prepared breakfast for all of us—sandwiches warmed in a pan and coffee. Tia was able to run the generator for an hour, although by doing so they discovered water dripping through some of the lights—meaning it could potentially be unsafe to run the generator at all (it wasn’t started again until Friday). Afterwards, I went and napped. I was awoken again for lunch, which was lukewarm sandwiches and lukewarm juice.
The wind whistled through the cracks, as it thundered against the house, as if it was trying to pry its way in. Rain fell in heavy drops onto the cement driveway where it would slither its way towards the road in streams. Everyone was just sitting around mostly silent (except for the occasional small talk), rustling about trying to be comfortable in the uncomfortable situation. I watched and listened, as I was unable to communicate with anyone other than my dad; I felt so alone. Throughout the day I just bounced between sitting on my bed in the dark, to reading in the living room, to watching the storm, to reading in the kitchen.
I wasn’t scared. No. Anxious is a better word for how I felt. Anxious for how this would affect our trip home. Anxious for how this would affect our communication even more. Yet despite my feelings, the wind howled on, unaware or perhaps uncaring for what lay in its path.
Finally, the time came when we could all go to bed. I lay there silently, staring towards the dark wall. Waiting for the next day to come. Are you there, God? It’s me…again. I cry out into the blackness that had engulfed my entire room. Wind rattles and shakes the trees outside, causing a whooshing sound against the window shutters. I’m nervous about how our flight is going to be affected. A tear slides down alongside my nose and into the corner of my mouth. I try closing my eyes, but they sting from crying. I open them again, and stare ahead into the night.
After a few hours of aimlessly lying there, the wind suddenly was letting up. The storm that whistled and banged outside began to cease. As quickly as it came, and as long as it lasted, the hurricane was over. I hear another bang outside. My eyes close as if the tiredness that wasn’t there suddenly overwhelms my body. And sleep.
Thursday was inspection day. I awoke to my aunt making fire outside my window (as it was next to the back porch), cooking us breakfast and making coffee. My dad and cousin Pecas were going around finding decent scraps of wood and bringing back my Tia’s cardboard banana boxes to keep the fire going. All around outside my dad and I walked around looking at everything that was broken. My Tia’s cement wall and her lemon tree in the back were broken, her shed was ripped up and twisted, several other trees in the back were pushed over, her papaya tree in the front yard was shredded. Banana tree leaves littered the ground like a thick carpet.
But Tia’s house stood strong, barely damaged (except a few paint spots that sagged from the drenching rains) just like my aunt’s faith and strength. She continuously hummed “Alleluia” as she worked throughout the day to fix what Mother Nature had broken. My two cousins and their wives went back to their house, which was just across the street essentially to go and fix up their house. Word from my cousin staying with her brother, Pecas was that my Tia’s stretch of road was blocked to town from either direction. Basically we were stuck there, not that we would go anywhere even if we had wanted to. I mostly shoved my nose in a book the rest of the day, to keep my mind preoccupied about my flight home. Tia had heated some water for all of us to be able to bathe ourselves; that night was the first night where I could take a quick sponge bath, and how glorious it felt indeed.
Friday: [Journal entry] Our flight was supposed to leave a half hour ago. But here I am…stuck. Anxious. Annoyed. I’m fearful about work. I’m fearful my mom will be waiting for us, but we’ll never come. I feel so alone, except for the licks I get from Asevache (my Tia’s puppy).
I have faith that God will take care of us…yet I question. Why couldn’t we have known about the hurricane a day earlier? I would rather not have come had I known. Ironic though, isn’t it? I always wish to have so much time, and here I am, with so much time, and now I’m wishing I could be home, where I have little to no time for anything. God, is this your way of showing me how much time I’ve wasted…You wait for me, but sometimes I ignore that time that’s given to me. Now you’ve given me time, as if saying “See…now you have time.” Grandpa has been here since Monday. He has been asking since Monday night when he is going home. The answer is always the same—we are in a critical condition, it will be some time yet. He feels out of place I’m sure, being that he’s blind and can’t walk anywhere without assistance. He can’t talk to anyone because everyone is outside. I sit with him but I can’t talk to him. He misses his son, Isidro, who lives with him and cares for him. He misses his dog and chickens I’m sure. He’s lonely; him and I are alike in this given situation….Why is it raining so much today?
it plops, in multitudes
splashing on the hard cement.
A puddle, dirtied by red clay, welcomes the new
drops, tossing rings to the side as it does suddenly a wind whips it in swirls causing a mist to swell. It falls harder, as if the clouds cry harder, just like the tears on my face.
“I’m just afraid that you’re gonna try and kill me or something.” I thought he was joking, but when I looked up from my phone and looked at his face it was nothing short of seriousness. Dark curls gathered like a wet mop on top of his head; his green eyes staring straight at me. His calloused hands rested on the sides of his sanguine colored recliner, gripping a can of Root Beer.
“Why would I kill you?” I smirk, amused at this accusational statement.
“Because…well…I don’t reciprocate any feelings back.”
I look at him with concern, “What are you talking about?” What did he know?
“The other night, when you came to apologize to me…after we got into that small tizzy…”
“Well…you told me you loved me.” I pause. Concerned that what I thought was a dream wasn’t a dream at all. But it felt so fake. It didn’t feel like it happened. Was I drunk?
“Okay…so you think that just because you don’t have any feelings matching what I feel…that I’m going to…to kill you?”
“I mean…yeah,” he stammers, looking down as if suddenly the ivory carpet looked interesting.
“Do you think you’re the first guy to ever reject me or something?” I paused. He waited, confused and concerned. I continued.
“You’re not. Do you realize that pretty much every guy I’ve had any feelings for rejected me? I’m not the most likable person around. I’ve only ever had that one serious relationship. Obviously he didn’t even like me in the end. In eighth grade, do you wanna know why I started having an eating disorder. Because I was rejected by some douche-waffle that I had a major crush on. I wrote him a stupid love poem, and shoved it in his locker. The next day I heard him laughing about it in gym class with a couple of other dudes. Laughing. And making fun of ‘some girl who spends too much time inside.’
“And do you know, my best friend at the time, who was a guy because I couldn’t make friends with girls, because I was such a tomboy, went and told that boy, that very boy that I had a huge crush on…the one that I made a poem for, he told the boy that I had a huge crush on him. His response? It was ‘eww, shes gross and fat.’ I died inside.” Tears welled up in the corners of my eyes. One slid down into the corner of my mouth. I licked my salty tasting lips.
“I literally started starving myself. Anything to make myself more appeasable to someone out there. Do you realize I emphasize how much I want to just stay single, that I’m better off by myself, so that if I end up being single the rest of my life, which will probably happen, I emphasize this so that I’m never disappointed with the results? I don’t fear being rejected. I actually fear being wrong. I fear that ‘what if.’ What if I ever did find someone—then what?”
He looked baffled. Not really sure what to say. His green eyes looks at me then down then back at me. “I think that you’re too hard on yourself.”
“And I think you overthink anything I do, and my supposed intentions.”
He opened his mouth to respond but quickly shut it, not sure how to respond at this point. I got up from the faded brown chair to plug my phone in at the nearby outlet. My back still towards him. I let out a long breath.
“Look, you’re my best friend. And just because you don’t have feelings for me doesn’t change anything. I appreciate our friendship…just as it is. And I always will. I used to think you had feelings for me but…honestly I know that you don’t. And that’s okay.”
I let out a sigh of relief. I turn around to the old, red chair across the room; it was empty.
Any events, persons, and/or materials are completely fictitious and any resemblance to non-fictitious events, persons, and/or materials are completely coincidental.