September 13, 2019
Dear Darkened Rose,
I still have some unpacking to do.
Laundry has long been unloaded and is now in regular cleaning cycles. Although, my brain—on the other hand—has not had the same luxury as my laundry. Searching for my newly reclaimed routine has taken a bit longer than I would have liked. Living out of luggage for eight weeks was messy (especially mentally). I think I am only just now grasping a small sense of clarity on how I can move forward from all the traveling—some 3-4 weeks later.
I had planned on not sharing much of my European experience with you, as a practice of honing some greater sense of self-awareness.
But f[orget] that!!
I am now with the understanding that I need to allow myself a bit of room to share photos and maybe a story or two with you.
I believed that not planning to do so would help remind me that I can stay present and enjoy the trip fully while there. I felt as though it would help me to limit my need for picture taking, and I think I still agree with the fruitfulness of that endeavor. Some pictures were taken, but I feel I limited myself relatively well.
I struggle admitting this, but I hardcore judge others and the excessive picture taking. I think after having a small Snapchat phase, I recognized how unnecessary that practice is. Which is probably my own insecurity manifesting into some weird sanctimony. Regardless, I do my best to be self-aware, and to not be obnoxious to others.
I get anxious when I see people so concerned with the need for attention from others, based off of a prime moment in their travels (or just general life experiences, for that matter). I want to remind them—as I also need to remind myself—that we really do not need that outside attention to gain the inner self-allowance of celebration.
That being said, it was hard not wanting to be a member of the popular party. When I saw so many people working for that perfect picture, I started to think—
Maybe I could use some of that dopamine from social media attention, too.
There was that one Baz Luhrmann speech that was made into a hit song that showed up on one of the earliest Now That’s What I Call Music! albums. There is a line in that script that often comes up for me when I struggle with trying to be stoic. It says, “Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much…” Which I tend to try to emulate. I recognize that it is not fun for other people if I completely let go and become a full-on braggart (we are almost all guilty of this at times, am I right? No?). Growing up with social media, I think I got caught in the undertow of conceit for an embarrassingly long period of time. I know growing further away from that water will bring me closer to a healthier sense of self-reliance. Eventually.
However, I think I stopped heeding Baz Luhrmann’s guidance after that one line. Had I continued to listen and adhere my mindset to his suggestions, I might have devalued my regular habits. These habits being that I tend to discuss my own negative views of myself. Which he advises against by saying “…[don’t] berate yourself either, your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.”
I have almost found a bit of sustainability and an awful pleasure in being hateful about my life. I think that is becoming more and more distant. A restful heart is more natural to come by. Which might be what you and my other loved ones deserve from me. Less complaining, more happiness.
Allow me to unpack a little bit of news.
It has taken me several paragraphs of dancing around my anxiety to finally feel like I can share a few things with you. Things that I believe warrant some subtle celebrations of not just my attention, but your’s also.
- I should be receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in the mail sometime in the next week. I finally finished my undergraduate career. That is to say—I’m now officially a college graduate!
- I will start orientation for a new job on Monday. It is a job that feels incredibly valuable for the experience it will provide. I will tell you more about that once I know it is a right fit for me.
- I traveled to 4 different European countries this summer! I will also write more on that later.
- Caleb asked me to stick around forever. He handed me this internally-flawless, pear-shaped, girl’s-best-friend, thing on a gold band—a ring…he gave me a ring. He did this while on one knee, all in the middle of Italy at a winery vineyard within the countryside of Tuscany (Under the Tuscan Sun, if you will). I most CERTAINLY did not deserve that, but I’m relentlessly grateful nonetheless. So, um, I am now engaged to be married to this incredible and handsome human being!!!
While I would like to say more about these exciting situations (as well as to discuss other current events), I do not care to make the time for that today. But know this—I think my life is turning out to not be such a terrible thing. Although, I am having to come to terms with the fact that I will likely always be managing my grief, especially in these life-pivoting moments.
I found that my brain still has the ability to abruptly manifest a flame of grief from what may seem like the tiniest spark—
On the night of one of the biggest days of my life, after I had just laid down for bed, I had an episode. I was gently rubbing Caleb’s back, and my hand went numb after a few minutes. Then, my whole left arm fell asleep. To try to immediately squish and comfort it (while it was tingling), I shoved my left-hand under my right-side. It was then that I quickly remembered—that is where my tattoo for you is placed. I felt like you were talking to me and telling me to pay attention to you. My hand with the ring being the symbol for my current attention, then being placed on the side of my body that represents you.
ANDDDDDD I spiraled into the grief. I could not call you to give you the good news. While I had had small and happy thoughts of you that day, I had been able to keep my sadness at bay. Then there was that moment that I had feared for some time. How am I supposed to be strictly happy on these important days without you here? That was a rough crying session.
My actions worried Caleb, and I felt awful. When I was aching the most, I could not quickly, audibly make out the words, “I’m sorry. I love you. Nothing to worry about, here. I’m just taking a moment to miss my mom.” He just sat in confusion for a bit, and that was not very considerate of me to leave him in that state. He was still kind and as patient as ever. I recognize that that is a moment that I do not want to have again—struggling with a tough grief at a time that had been so contrasted with the happiness and tranquility I was feeling that week.
Here recently (multiple times in the UK as well as multiple times here at home), I have noticed the increased frequency of witnessing these phenomena of sun showers. They have always felt poetic to me.
You used to say that in these moments, the devil was beating his wife.
Although, I think CCR laid it out best when they asked, “have you ever seen the rain, comin’ down on a sunny day?” I heard that song on the radio on one of the first days that it rained here in Austin since I have been back. Sure enough, the sun started to peep through RIGHT as that song was ending.
It is a pretty good representation of this time. The sunny skies are here, but that does not mean it might not still gently rain a bit. And now I know—in these big moments, in the future, I will work on finding a better way to recognize you so as to not fear the deep, sneaky sadness.
I know I always promise this, but I will try to be back again soon to write to you.
I love you. I’ve missed you.
Enclosed are cool things.
I leave you with only 3 purposeful videos for now: