Sunday, November 30, 2014

Coming Clean

This morning I woke up to gray skies and little waterfalls of rain pouring off the roof and past my bedroom window.

I love me a good rainstorm, and California doesn't get too much of it lately with all that drought business going down. The rain feels healing, especially given the drought, like the parched earth is finally soaking up mouthfuls of water. I woke up this morning, after a weekend away in Tahoe (pics and stories coming soon!), with messy hair and fuzzy eyes, and sat on my gray sheets, wearing just my underwears and wrapped in a gray-striped down blanket, and watched the rain come down.

And then I decided that watching from the dry side of the glass wasn't doing it for me, so within a few minutes I'd pulled on a pair of stretchy pants, a semi-waterproof-seeming jacket and a baseball hat, plugged my headphones into my ears, tuned in to a favorite playlist and ran my way to the park up the street.

At the park, I took shelter under a tree and caught my breath, before deciding to climb said tree. A shoe-full of mud later, I perched on a branch and watched the rain from there. It was breathtaking. And pretty soon, I pulled off my baseball hat, walked to the middle of the field, and just let that icy rain soak through my hair and splash all over my eyelids and down my cheeks. I think I may have concerned one lady who was out walking her dog, with my standing-soaking-in-the-middle-of-the-cold-wet-park activity. But, eh, it's northern California -- too many hippies here to feel even remotely out of place by doing any weird outdoorsy connect-with-nature shenanigans :)

I had a conversation this weekend with a friend about mindfulness, which from what I've gathered, is the art of learning to be present in every moment with your thoughts/feelings/etc. instead of being caught up in the past or the future or whatever. So, I stood in that field and thought about....just being there. I paid particular attention to one raindrop at a time, as they hit my head and ran through my hair, leaving icy little trails down behind my ear and into the collar of my soaked-through jacket.

I think I threw some of you off with my last blog post, when I was all angsty and vague and "stuff is hard and I can't talk about it." I think this, because the comments/texts/emails I received after publishing it pretty much told me so :) Blogging about things that hurt is uncomfortable because it opens me up to something I don't like being open to: pity. Like most people, I much prefer it when everyone thinks I have my shiz together. I realized this weekend that, when I've blogged about harder stuff in the past, it's either been topics that are easy to be public about (e.g. unemployment), or it was after-the-fact kind of blogging, when I could say "and here's how it all tidied up and I got through it and yay!" But blogging the raw stuff, the really insecure stuff, right in the moment when it's not all tidy, is a whole different ballgame. And in this particular case, it's stuff I wish I could be more transparent about, but I can't -- because some of it has to do with dating, and since that involves other people's lives, that's a line I don't cross unless I'm being general/vague (but here's one honest insight: it's so great to wake up to an ex-boyfriend's wedding photos on social media wait no it's not it's terrible almost every time). But yeah, very few dating specifics around here -- personal blog rule. And the rest of my current troubles fall more in the realm of religion and faith, and.....the Internets is no place for kindness/understanding in that department, let's be real. So though I wish I could spill more of my thoughts about all of the above, it just feels best not to go there. But I do hope that clarifies things, at least a little bit. And I do so much prefer not being an angsty, woe-is-me blogger....because vulnerability, yikes!....but I guess that comes with the territory when you're trying to be real and reality is not always sunshine and Beach Boys songs.

But back to the park and the rain.

When I was thoroughly soaked and done "being present," I ran my way home. The fiery red leaves (because fall is still hanging on around these parts) stuck to parked cars and floated down the street around me like little rain-made lava rivers. At my front door, I pulled off my soaked shoes and walked directly to the bathroom, where I peeled off layer after layer, discovering mud smudges and grassy stowaways along the way. I turned on the little wall heater (which is the best thing a bathroom in a cold little apartment can have, btdubs) and plopped down on the bathroom floor, amid my pile of wet clothes with my bare back pressed against the wall. My tangled, dripping hair plastered itself to my face and took up residence on my shoulders, all heavy and wet.

And I felt clean.

Even before climbing into the hot shower, even with the mud smudges on my ankles and the grass stuck to my right arm and the rainwater mingling with post-running sweat in my hair, all wrapped around my head, neck and shoulders, I felt clean. Like that cold, morning communion with a gray, waterfall sky had washed off a little weight, a little angst, a little ache. Because I'm starting to feel more and more lately that cleanliness isn't necessarily the absence of this or that sin, or this or that stress, but more like maybe cleanliness is just honesty. And there is something fresh, open and clean about knowing where you're at, and where you're not at, if that makes sense.

And now I am warm and cozy, wrapped up back in my bed with almost-dry hair and my space heater doing its thing and a quiet, gray-skied afternoon stretched out ahead of me.

I hope your Sunday (rainy or otherwise) can feel cleansing and honest, in whatever way and to whatever degree. (And I also hope I don't get pneumonia from my spontaneous little mindfulness-with-a-rainstorm activity :)


Ashley Ziegler said...

It's amazing what the rain can do for you. I love rainy days!

Emily said...

Oh Katie, I really, really like this. Your story in the rain is beautiful. I feel like my soul craves mindfulness, and yet my mind fills itself with constant unnecessary chatter that takes away from the moment. When I finally choose to be present, it's like my mind and soul can connect again. Even if that sounds cheesy I don't care. ;)

I don't think you need to apologize for being vague. It's your life and it speaks to your integrity for not involving others. I appreciate your honesty in the moment before all the messiness is wrapped up in a tidy little bow. It's comforting to the rest of us when someone is able to share the lows because we all have been there. Sorry for the pain this particular low is causing. :(

I love your connection of cleanliness and honesty. Honesty and transparency is something I often struggle with, but I'm slowly learning that there is so much freedom in letting go of caring about what others think of me and just being honest about my present human condition.

I went through a study with a small group from church earlier this year called Freeway. The author, Mike Foster, wrote this in a blog post and I wanted to pass it along: "I believe if we can honestly explore our story and see how pain, fears and our insecurities hijack our life, with God’s help we can do something about it. When we actually face the facts of who we are, we can begin to change and grow."

So keep on changing and growing sister!

Liz said...

Oh this made me miss Palo Alto in a way I haven't for a long time (cause mostly I remember rent--and THAT, well....) We were on the seventh floor of a mid-rise in escondido village, and I loved sitting on our balcony and seeing the mists on the hills. SO green. So freaking picturesque. Gah...I loved living there.

I think we align a lot on religion and faith and the angsty feelings about it all. I hope if you ever want somebody to talk to you know that I LOVE talking with people about that kind of stuff. Especially when there's no weird testimony bearing or invitations to pray about it. Most people couldn't care less about change and feminism and the like so when somebody actually wants to talk about it makes my mind a little less cluttered with the stuff I try to sort out myself. It can be really lonely...the feminist church cross-section. So, if you ever want to purge your thoughts to someone, they are always welcome in my facebook inbox.

Unknown said...

So, I'm stalking your blog and loving it- found it somehow through insta and I'm so glad I did. Hope that's not creepy! You're a fantastic writer and I love this peice