I’m sitting ridiculously on the floor, hunched over this computer. Panic! At the Disco’s new album Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! plays loudly in the background. All I can smell is the hair dye that is on my head right now, waiting for it to turn a shade called Honey Butter. My mom passes by my room, telling me to open my shades and let some sun into my room. It really warms up your room, she tells me. As I obey, sunbeams fall across the candy apple red bedspread that looks all too inviting to me right now. I like noticing this, the color of my bedspread, the way the sun comes in through my cloudy window that I should really clean, the sound of new music, the stretch in my legs as I attempt to sit pretzel-style. Today is not a normal day. I should really be waking up at 6:30 a.m., but instead, just on this Tuesday, I can sit here and watch the sun in my window.
Recently, I’ve been taking time out of my day to just stop and think.
That seems like such a silly thing to say because I am always stopping and I am always thinking. But I think what I mean to say is that I’m finding how truly refreshing it is to just let myself be.
Freshman year, I took a Psychology course where my professor taught us how to meditate. At the end of every class, we would take the time to let go of our thoughts and find the space inside of us where we can have inner peace. I always enjoyed these end-of-day rituals, despite that the kids around me thought it was weird we were meditating in a college setting.
Sometimes I think back on that class. I liked the way I felt when I could actually stop and let go of what was bothering me. These feelings linger with us; make us exhausted and nervous or uptight and frustrated. I think especially now, in this world we live in (fast-paced and unable to slow down), that it is important to take little moments to myself.
I never used to be alone, and rarely do I choose to be alone. I prefer to be in the company of others, hear the sighs of people in a library, the computers tapping around me, or maybe the sounds of a train station with bustling passengers, with the pages of newspapers turning or music coming out of too-loud music devices. I choose this over the silence.
Now, I try and relish in these moments of solitude. If the sun is out, and it isn’t too chilly (now that fall is here, and staying) I try to go to a small bench in a patch of woods on campus, or visit a bench swing down by a gravel path. These spots are normally vacant, and students rarely pass by. I like to sit in these secret spots, and whether it is a moment I am working on homework or writing for myself, I have started appreciating when I take the time to be alone.
Recent events in my life have expanded my boundaries of writing. One reason is the college course I am taking on creative writing; learning everything from poetry to prose, film to fiction. From this class, I feel more accepting of unfinished sentences and thoughts in the form of broken lines and rhyming stanzas.
I think some of this creativity has come from these moments when I am alone, when I can focus on what I actually want to write, what I have to say and what I want to make meaning of in my world. Most importantly, I think this ability to reflect stems from the idea that I may very well be unbelievably full of bliss. The idea that one person can make me feel this way is eye-opening, life altering, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way. While I am beginning to focus more on taking time to be alone, it’s in these periods of isolation that I think of this happiness, and the person that has brought out everything good about me, including giving me the strength to explore writing even more than I thought I could.
Fully recognizing solitude
With the warmth from the sun
Almost exactly overhead
Grazing the corner of my ear
Feet on a gravel path
Disturbing my distance
Buzzing yellow jackets
And crickets to a tempo
I cannot yet understand
Why I feel the need to sit
Touching my sun-beam face
Against the light of my hair
Feet on a gravel path
Butterflies moving drunkenly
Cutting through spindly bushes
And prickle topped cacti
The home to an orchestra, no,
Of melodious material
She often wondered if there was more to her life. She almost had everything she ever wanted; a job, a place to live, friends, a strong marriage. Every so often, she thought maybe she was just settling into a predetermined life.
She sat alone and had these thoughts on the balcony of the apartment, more frequently than ever before, as she waited for her husband to come home from work.
The sun was shining over the city, casting its rays on her stretched out legs, warming her body. Every so often a billowy cloud would float over the sun, creating a hazy glaze in the sky. Eventually, the sun was covered by one cloud that decided to stay.
She watched this cloud. No matter how hard the sun tried to burst through its whiteness, the cloud remained. She could see the outline of the sun, small and bright, but it never could escape the cloud’s presence.
She couldn’t stop staring at the cloud. Why couldn’t it just leave the sun be? All it wanted to do was shine down on the city, make its rounds around the sky. It didn’t need the cloud. But still the cloud remained.
The sun didn’t need the cloud. It was fine without it. It could shine on the city and cheer everyone’s day up, do all the things the sun was supposed to do. She couldn’t figure out why, but staring at the cloud and sun made her realize she didn’t need him.
His sweet and charming smile made her feel shy and small. He floated around the office, passing her desk in quick movements so that she could smell his cologne. She normally talked to everyone in the office, but with him around, she felt her own energy shrinking. Inside she felt bright and happy, but she couldn’t let out anything, afraid to say something she would regret.
She tried to dismiss these thoughts, and told herself could still have a great life, all the things she ever wanted–her husband included–without him. However, like the sun, she couldn’t get away from him. She couldn’t push away his presence, couldn’t forget how he drank coffee like her. Or the way he noticed when she would coordinate her earrings to her blouse.
Just then, she heard the screen door open and her husband walked onto the balcony. She jumped, startled at the idea that maybe he could read her thoughts and know she felt something toward her coworker.
“Hey, did I scare you?” her husband smiled and embraced her, his hair slightly touseled and his eyes a bit weary.
“Oh, no I was just sitting in the sun,” she said, walking inside.
“Huh, it looks cloudy at the moment. Let’s go inside and make some food,” he walked in and she shut the door behind them.
As she was closing it, she looked out towards the sky and saw the sun had finally broken free from the cloud. The cloud slowly crept away, inching itself away from the sun. As it moved, she was sure that the sun looked a little less bright, as if the cloud had given it something that it needed all along.
Maybe the sun needed the cloud after all.
It was long after midnight. They were both perfectly placed on his bed. Her hands were resting on her stomach, and she watched her heavy breathing move her body up and down. He had one arm outstretched around her, and the sides of their bodies were pressed up against each other, but that was all.
He broke the silence first, saying, “Tell me a story.”
She smiled, “I don’t really know any.”
“But you always tell such good stories. Please?”
She thought hard for a moment and then took a deep breath.
There was once a little blue bird who lived in a forest with many other birds. Some birds had dark feathers, some had light. Some had long tails, some had short. But the little blue bird was different from all the rest, not just because she was blue, but because she had a purpose. Every day she flew to the far end of the forest to find things to build her nest. She left early in the morning and did not come back until dark. It was tiring for the little blue bird. But every day her nest would grow and grow. This made the little blue bird happy.
One day, the little blue bird was flying towards the end of the forest when she saw her friend brown bird. Brown bird flew next to her as she hurried to get more twigs for her nest.
“Blue bird, why do you always have to fly so far away every day?” brown bird asked.
The little blue bird kept flapping her wings, trying to pass the brown bird, but he kept up with her.
“Well,” she said. “I have to work really hard to make my nest. That’s what I’m supposed to do.”
The brown bird stopped flying with her and paused on a branch. The little blue bird wondered what he was doing. She didn’t want to stop flying because she had more to do. But she couldn’t get herself to continue her journey; she had to join him. He looked at her when she reached the branch, and all of sudden, he shot up into the sky.
“Follow me blue bird!” he screamed.
She didn’t understand what he was doing or why, but she couldn’t resist. She felt her wings flap, as she chased after him, higher than she ever thought she could go.
They flew for what seemed like miles, until finally, they reached the top of the forest. The little blue bird just stared.
The brown bird watched her.
“Little blue bird. This is what you have been missing your whole life. I needed to show you that there is more to the world than building your nest. I know you think that is your purpose, but there is so much more,” said brown bird.
The little blue bird didn’t know what else she should do. She just stared down into the dark forest, and she wondered what she was supposed to do when she returned to the bottom.
When she finished her story, she looked over at him. She saw the clock on the wall, which was telling her it was well past 2 a.m. She wanted to tell him who the little blue bird was but she realized it didn’t matter; he had fallen asleep.
The worst part about Christmas is that it goes by too quickly. Everything is one big blur.
You spend an entire month preparing for this one holiday.
You make sure the family can come over, or you figure out how many houses you need to visit. You make sure you can fly into a certain town the night before, or if you can drive all the way to so-and-so’s house to make it in time for dinner.
You decorate your house with garland and goofy knick knacks that only show their faces every December. You select the perfect pine, or maybe you drag one up from the basement, and fill it with every ornament that was packed away.
You watch your dad balance a stapler in his mouth as he climbs a ladder, all to string some lights that will sparkle when the sun goes down.
You make your lists and check them twice as you enter the stores, trying to find that perfect gift for your loved one. Then you go ask your boss for more hours because how the heck are you going to afford that…
You whip out every cookbook you own, call up your mom and frantically try and figure out what you should make for the eve and the day of Christmas.
Then finally, Christmas morning arrives. I don’t care how old you are, there is no way you can sleep in on Christmas morning. As you slug down the stairs (where’s the coffee?) and watch the young kids bounce into the room filled with goodies, you realize this is the moment you have been waiting for, and it doesn’t even matter that the sun isn’t up.
Soon everyone is done unwrapping and hugging, and there is still much to do on Christmas day. But the worst part is when everything winds down, and you realize the day is over. You realize the much anticipated day has arrived and left, just like that. It’s another Christmas to remember. Thankfully, everything was worth it, and now you can just start thinking about next Christmas!
Living in Pennsylvania, I am lucky enough to experience all four seasons. My favorite season is spring because I love to see all of nature waking up and getting ready to grow. I also love that the weather is typically a light jacket and pants, and when it’s really warm I can break out all of my fun dresses. I always dread when the chill comes, that bitter cold that comes with winter. I can appreciate the snow, everyone’s favorite returning friend.
Most people like snow for a variety of reasons. There’s the hope that school might be cancelled or delayed, which gives you those few extra hours of warm slumber. There’s the hope that you can use the snow as an excuse to being late for class or work, or perhaps you can just not show up at all. After all, being on the roads when it’s snowing is dangerous. There’s playing in the snow, which includes chasing your friends around with snowballs, or maybe watching your dog hop across the white blanket that had yet to be touched.
My love for snow comes from the essence of it. When it falls on the ground, it starts packing up on roads, backyards and sidewalks. I love the crunch of freshly fallen snow under my shoes as I walk over its path. The sound of snow is so serene. You would think that a piece of nature like snow wouldn’t have a sound, but give it a listen. It’s almost like you can’t hear anything, and that is its sound. There is so much going on around you like cars, people, and busy roads, but when the snow is falling you can block out all of that. It muffles all the unwanted emptiness and fills it with soft silence.
When the snow first falls, you can see it rising on tree branches and roof tops. It’s so perfectly white. You almost want to run your hand along each ledge, each branch, just to see the mounds drift to the ground. But you don’t mess up the mounds, you instead draw your gloved finger through it, writing out your name. Or maybe you are glove-less, and instead you dare to drag your finger through the chilly snow. Afterwards, you shake off the wetness, and blow warm air into your hands, attempting to warm every frozen finger. It doesn’t matter how cold you are, it was worth it to see your name appear on the snow, only to be covered up by fresh flakes.
The snow falls onto everything you are wearing too. Not just your jacket, where the snow clings to every thread, but to your face. It falls softly onto your nose, and soon your eyelashes. Every time you blink little flakes move with you. They soon melt, only to welcome more onto the little hairs shielding your eyes. The snow covers all of your hair, lightly resting on it until you decide to shake it out or tousle your locks which only soaks the flakes to the hair even more.
The sad part is when the snow turns to slush, and the roads are a sloppy mess. The roadsides are piled high with mounds of muddy brown snow. Everything becomes a little more dirty and less magical. But, we always can remember that first day when the snow first fell, and everything was a white wonderland. I think I should stop complaining how the weather is cold when it is snowing, and instead appreciate everything that is wonderful when it falls.