I’ve always loved the idea of summer more than summer itself. When I think of summer, I think of possibilities. Maybe I’ve read too many YA novels, where the season often represents an idyllic in-between time when anything is possible. Maybe that’s why I love YA novels so much. Everything in your life can change between May and September.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz describes it this way in his book Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe:
I loved and hated summers. Summers had a logic all their own and they always brought something out in me. Summer was supposed to be about freedom and youth and no school and possibilities and adventure and exploration. Summer was a book of hope. That’s why I loved and hated summers. Because they made me want to believe.”
In reality, summers are less glamorous. They’re hot, humid, and don’t even get me started on the mosquitos! Growing up on an apple orchard, summer meant long hours of tedious farm labor: crawling up and down ladders and digging up weeds in the dirt. Even when I worked as a camp counselor and the season was everything it’s promised to be, I never got enough sleep, was perpetually dirty, and there were always campers to care for.
Every year, I go into the warm months with rose-tinted glasses. I’m filled with so many ideas for all the people I will see and adventures we will have. Every year, I reach the middle of August and realize all I did was sit at home, mow the lawn, and read a lot of books.
This summer, though, I wanted things to be different.
This summer, I wanted to believe.
I didn’t realize how exhausted I was until I arrived at L’Abri. For the past six months, I’ve been going so hard that I didn’t even notice that I’ve been functioning on empty for weeks. As I neared the end of my summer classes, when I thought about how I wanted to celebrate reaching the halfway point of my master’s degree, the only place I could think of was L’Abri. I’m drawn to this place in times of weariness; when the world is heavy, frustrating, and confusing. Here, in this little refuge overlooking the city of Rochester, I always find peace and rest. This weekend was no exception.
It’s been months since I’ve done any kind of life-update on my blog, so let me catch you up to speed on what’s been happening in Amelia-land. First, let me show you where I’m writing. Imagine yourself with me at this table, a mug of tea in hand, enjoying the golden hour as I ramble on.
A New Years post at the end of January? Amelia, shouldn’t you have posted this weeks ago? Yes, yes I should have. However, life, school, and laziness has kept me away from my blog. Better late than never, right?
My second semester of graduate school is underway and I’m sitting here wondering, WHERE did my winter break go?! And why didn’t I do any writing during my time off?!
Since I’ve been hard-core neglecting my blog, here’s a brief recap of things in Amelia land:
- I finished my first semester of grad school just before the holidays and managed straight A’s!
- The holidays were a busy, but wonderful time with family
- I applied and interviewed for a librarian position within my current system that is much closer to where I live, but didn’t get it. When the choice is between you and a former library director with 30 years of experience, there’s not much of a choice. But, since breaking the bad news to me, my supervisor has asked me to be on a number of new committees, which is exciting!
- I read a ridiculous amount of books
- I spent a wonderful weekend at a friend’s cabin in northern Wisconsin
As I drove home from work one evening this week, I got thinking about the variety of the experiences you can have being alone. I have a great deal of friends near and far, but I’ve spent a lot of time in my own company over the years–sometimes by choice and sometimes by circumstance.
For example, as an introvert, I spend a great deal of time in my own company and love times of peace and solitude. I work a job that is heavy on customer service, so at the end of the day, all I want is to curl up in my room and read my book. I’ve recently taken up hiking and, when I have the trail to myself, the world gets all quiet in a way that fills up my spirit. Being alone is restful–a haven away from the loudness of life.
But being alone isn’t always bliss. Continue reading
Lately, I’ve been going on hikes to prepare for an upcoming road trip. On the weekend, no matter the weather, I spend my morning at my local state park. There is a five mile loop that goes along the river and up into the bluffs. It’s a great place to train and an even better place to think.
This morning, rain was in the forecast and I had the trail all to myself. One of my favorite things about hiking is the way the cadence of my footsteps pushes my brain to places that feel high and rich. As I scrambled over rocks, past trees, and up high hills, I found myself deeply moved by spring.
In Minnesota, spring comes slowly. It comes in waves of warm and cool weather, rain and sun, green grass and sticky mud.
On the trail, most of the forest was still brown and dead. The leaves were just starting to peek forth–a green blush against the rainy sky. The ground was scattered with little flowers–pink and white and purple and yellow.
What a miracle it is, that life emerges from the bare earth. It reminds me that there will come a day where there will be no more crying, no more pain, no more injustice.
Spring comes forth in quiet radiance, whispering of life and peace and, best of all, hope.
The past few weeks have been hard to bear. With each each move the new presidential administration makes, my heart sinks deeper. I long to join the resistance, to blazingly declare NO, to do more than wring my hands and scroll through social media feeds.
At times like these, I am confronted with my own smallness. I am just one person with just one voice. I live far enough from the cities to make attending protests logistically challenging. My workplace is an hour from where I live, so it’s hard to get involved with local resistance efforts because I’m always in the car.
Where does that leave me? What can I possibly do to make a difference? Who am I to even complain? I live a life of incredible privilege. I’m not going to be deported or separated from my family. I’m not going to face discrimination for my skin color, sexuality, or religion. Yet, even though I will likely get through the next four years unscathed, my heart hurts for those who won’t. This spurs my longing to resist.
I’ve been thinking about these things a great deal over the past weeks and have come to the conclusion that, while I may not to make grand efforts, there are many small ways in which I can take a stand. Continue reading
I rarely cry. Is that weird?
I know people who cry at everything from sad movies to diaper commercials (apparently, the babies are so cute they can’t emotionally handle it). Tears of devastation and rage are shed in the wake of global tragedies and tears of joy flow forth when reunited with loved ones. There are tears for everything–tears of frustration, of deep sadness, of the messiness of everyday life.
And then, there’s me. Continue reading
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to camp in Northern Minnesota. A friend and I stayed in my uncle’s self-built rustic cabin in the woods a few miles from Lake Superior. We had a wonderful time going on hikes, sitting by the lakeshore, exploring waterfalls, discussing morality in Game of Thrones, and reading poetry aloud at the campfire.
It was a peaceful weekend. I felt all the clutter in my life fade away. The sounds of daily life fade in comparison to the rush of a waterfall. Alone time in nature, for me, is soul detox.
In my quiet moments, I reflected a great deal on how complex the human experience is–how beautifully multifaceted we all are. I wrote in the margins of my sketchbook: “Personhood is a complicated, beautiful thing–what an adventure it is to live inside myself. There are so many corners, so many contradictions–How can I be so many people at once?” Continue reading
As far as weeks go, I think it’s safe to say that I’m having a terrible one. To begin with, my parents are currently away road tripping to Oregon, leaving me in a big empty house with no one but my brother (who isn’t exactly a chatterbox) and my cat to keep me company. Then, I made the mistake of wading into the wrong patch of woods on our farm, resulting in poison ivy rashes and blisters all over my legs. To cap it off, I got sick on Monday night and made a big mess of it, making cleanup gross and difficult. (Sorry if that’s too much information…) Continue reading
A month ago, 49 members of the GLBT community were shot in a night club in Orlando, Florida.
Four days ago, a black man named Alton Sterling was shot by the police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Two days ago, Philando Castile, also black, was shot by the police in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Last night, five police officers were shot by a sniper in Dallas, Texas.
Every time I see a headline declaring another shooting, another death, my first response is exhaustion. I’m just so tired, so frustrated. I’m tired of hate, but even more, I’m tired of turning a blind eye on injustice.
It’s so easy to absolve ourselves of responsibility by casting blame on others. But the easy path is often not the right one. Continue reading