Things I Don't Regret
The processing fees and the plane ticket and the long drive suddenly seemed like a lot to trade for an evening with a band I loved. The Civil Wars had come to my town, the year before, but not this year. I hovered over my computer, ready to buy my tickets to the Portland show.
I did it.
I flew to Portland and met two college friends. We ate noodles before the concert and squealed in line from time to time. The show was different than the small, intimate one I’d attended the year before, but the music filled that big space, making it’s way into the elaborate dome above us.
I thought I’d have many more chances. I never considered that this would be my last opportunity to listen to those two voices harmonize live.
But it was.
I’m glad I took it.
I probably should have known better.
I was in the midst of unhelpful therapy, recovery from a devastating summer, and Daring Greatly.
It’s possible that I did know better.
But I fell in love with what it felt like to be myself without apologies (perhaps for the first time, certainly for the first time in a relationship). I held everything loosely, like a breath, even as my heart raced.
Maybe that’s why my heart didn’t break when it all fell apart. It was always built like a pie crust, rather than a chocolate cake.
I still think about all that time we spent by the lake in November, from time to time.
I’m still glad we did.
I got up early, far earlier than I usually did.
It was for a boy.
At least, it was at first.
I knocked on the back door in the alley, and they let me in. I started flipping pancakes before I took my turn at the serving line. Then, I went from table to table re-filling coffee and bringing syrup where needed.
There are songs that still take me back to those sun-streaked mornings, too early for my own comfort. I would watch the line of people forming outside, men and women set against the cold they’d spent the night inside, waiting to come in for a hot breakfast. I had the chance to look these men and women in the eye, a chance to say: I see you.
It didn’t matter, in hindsight, that the boy I was originally going to see, didn’t see me.
After a hard winter, I went to an art show, an opening for a friend of mine in college. There was something healing about her work, something that spoke to my tattered soul. I lingered in front of the paintings, letting their calm wash over me.
I had never bought a painting before, had never even considered it. But I didn’t hesitate. I wrote my friend a check for the full amount of my tax refund.
Those three paintings still hang in my bedroom. They still speak.
I poured out my prayers every day in my journal. I have my traditional prayer journal, the one that I got at youth group, with the suggested readings for each day. It had space for a prayer, and a journal response to the Scripture. I was supposed to use it in my “quiet time,” or “PB&J” (prayer, Bible reading, journaling).
I don’t do it that way any more.
But when I look back at those journals now, I can still see that earnest, sweet girl, just trying to do it the right way. In the pursuit of checking all of the boxes, somehow, the Holy Spirit still came.