Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Bid for Connection

"Pick one word to be your theme for 2016."

A couple weeks ago, I sat around the table at a local Korean joint with a few close friends, discussing our lives and hopes and dreams etc over steaming bowls of sticky rice and hot sauce. You know how it goes. Someone proposed the one-word theme idea, and we each took turns sharing what our word would be.

My mind delved quickly into the little pockets of my brain and rummaged about for an answer. My thoughts roved from work to relationships to my upcoming first quarter of school to finances to world travel to family to hobbies.

Do I write enough anymore? I used to spill my brain into a handwritten journal every night, in addition to blogging almost daily or weekly for a few solid years. Do I play ultimate frisbee like I used to, like my sanity depends on it and the feeling of the grass under my cleats is the literal substance of happiness and air in my lungs?

Do I need to be more organized? More purposeful? More intentional?

Do I need to meditate? Breathe more? Unwind more?

"Katie, what's your word?"

It's something like attachment, I said. But that word doesn't have quite the right feeling to it.

I think I've spent a long time priding myself on being good at forgiving easily, letting go of stuff and moving through life unscathed. But I'm starting to feel like maybe what I'd been doing this whole time would be better described as detachment. So I guess I'm looking for the opposite of that.

"Sounds like you're talking about connection."

Yes. Yes! Connection.

I want to learn to be angry without telling myself why I should let it go before I'm even done thinking the angry thought or saying the angry words. I want to be able to relax and be calm without my brain nagging at me. I want to move my body and fill my lungs just for the sake of the way it feels and the joy that it gives me. I want to sink into conversations with friends and family like it's the biggest possible priority in my life. I want to dive into school and learn and grow and stretch and engage in a way that accurately reflects how utterly hungry I am for it. I want to open my mouth and admit when something is hard for me instead of pulling away from it. I want to continue traveling to places that stick to my soul like a worn world map scotch-taped around my heart. I want to listen to music the way I used to -- with open ears and eager eyes grasping desperately on to pieces of lyrics with accompanying melodies that somehow explain parts of myself to me in ways that I couldn't.

I want to plug myself in to every individual part of my life, the good and the bad and the busy and the calm. Even the parts that hurt. I want to lean in. I want to feel it all the way to my fingers and toes for whatever it all is, without judgment or shame or expectation or thinking always ten steps ahead and in five directions at once.

I spent my Thursday evening, two nights ago, on a field with a plastic disc in my hand. The smell of the warm grass greeted me like an old friend and tugged at my throat like there was some kind of rapturous cry of joy that'd been waiting to come out for awhile. And for the next hour, I felt sweat on my body and pure joy in my veins that pulled me back to college and club teams and tournaments and a thousand sticky-sweet rushes of adrenaline. Later that night, I turned up the volume on a Jimmy Eat World album and stuck my hand out the window into the night air as I drove home.

And I reconnected.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tattoo #2

One of the most common questions I received after my first tattoo was, "Are you going to get more?"

.....yep! Also, wouldn't it be funny if we asked people that question in response to other monumental things?

"I just ran a marathon!" "Cool! Are you going to run another one?"

"It's my birthday!" "Awesome! Think you'll have more?"

...lolz. Anyway, yes, I pulled the trigger this week on my second piece of ink. And much like the first, I am head over heels for it because a mother's love multiplies infinitely.

Here she is, in the on my flesh:

Explanation: Morse code for "Here Comes the Sun," as in the Beatles song. When I was a freshman in college and homesick/freezing away from Arizona, my dad (who had recently gotten into downloading music), mailed me a CD he'd burned for me, with 8 different versions of the aforementioned song -- everyone from George Harrison to Coldplay to Jewel. So this simultaneously reminds me of my papanwa, that old-timey-1960s-feel-good-kinda music, my desert roots, and more symbolic things like that every hard thing passes and more good is always on its way. (In the words of Rolling Stone Magazine: "a graceful anthem of hope.")

A tattoo I've wanted for awhile but was looking for just the right way to say it. Then one day, there it was. And so, here it is. My graceful little anthem of hope.

"Little darling...I say it's all right."

p.s. To answer your question, yes I'll probably get one or two more :)

p.p.s. you'd be amazed how many people want to question your basic intelligence when you tattoo something on your body. "Are you sure those coordinates are right?" "...yep." "That morse code seems off." "...nope." #eyeroll #ihaveabrainthanks

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

On Coming Home

It's no secret that I l-o-v-e to travel.

And maybe as much as I love the actual travel part, I am obsessed with the anticipation part. The planning. The hunting for places and things and prices and treasures to settle the itinerary just tightly or loosely enough. It is 110% organic free-range delicious.

I had barely settled back in from my Panama trip when I became determined to plan my next jaunts, especially with grad school coming up this spring and thus the impending restriction on my willy nilly wanderings.

My friend said, "You have this NEED to travel." And I do. I love the sandwich. The space between the high of one adventure and the promise of the next.

But maybe my favorite part of all? I love home.

And by that I mean California, but I also mean my parents' house in Arizona. Because both homes feel really, really good inside. I love those lazy Arizona nights watching TV and laughing with my family, trying to convince the cat to warm up to me, seeing old friends and being cocooned in warm air, purple and sage cactus landscapes, the best sunsets in the world and streets whose names I'll never need to look up or get lost on.

In California, I love being settled into my room and my space. My big new-ish queen bed (I'm such an adult!) with my gray sheets and pillows and the sheer white curtains with the white christmas lights strung behind them, and the walls carefully strewn with arts and prints and bedazzlings. The space is cozy and perfect and mine.

I treasure being in my routine.

In my office all day, with my coworkers. With my friends at social gatherings. Checking my mailbox and driving my car and watering my plants (may most of them rest in peace though, so let's never talk about it again ever nope).

So yes, I love my adventures and my travels and discovering new things, new ideas, new people, new worlds. It opens my eyes and cracks me open and wears me out in all the right ways.

But always, one of the best parts is the arrivals curb and a little gold house key dug out of a suitcase pocket and sleepy eyes and frazzled airplane hair and clothes on their 3rd or 4th wearing, with a hot shower and fresh sweatpants and my own little space on the other side of the front door, with the days and weeks ahead of me promising me nothing but more of the beautiful same.

Home, home, home. Mine, mine, mine. It fills me to the brim and spills me over.