I’m not sure how many people know this by now, but I (along with my parents) have recently been going through a pretty scary time in my life. For those who’ve already heard the story, I’ll spare the details. If you don’t know yet, and you’ve got the time, I told a condensed version of the story on my Instagram that you can read here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BRHYg04B-D9/ .
This post is both all about this event, and about something very different. You see, the days following this event have been, in a word, turbulent. Turbulent is a word which here means “unsettled or raging”. (Can I get a high-five for that A Series of Unfortunate Events reference? Oh, you haven’t watched it yet? WHAT ARE YOU DOING READING THIS INSTEAD OF no I’m just kidding, please keep reading because I love you.) But, you know what? At times turbulent hasn’t felt completely bad. Sometimes turbulent just feels like the opposite of peaceful. And, my mind being the way it is, I’ve tried to tell myself that, because it doesn’t feel totally bad to be without peace, it’s okay. Maybe this is how I have to feel right now.
I don’t know if that’s true. I’d like to believe it’s not. But, regardless, that’s not really what I want to talk about right now. I want to tell you all about the days that I’ve felt safe. And I want to adequately appreciate where I was and who I was with that helped me feel that way. So, without any further rambling on my part, here we go.
Around 4:30AM is when this event occurred. As it was a Sunday, we went to church that morning. A few hours later, we decided it would be a good idea to head out of town. So we went to Seattle to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and 1-year-old nephew, and spend the night there.
It’s really amazing how much just being in the same space as a new, innocent human can make everything feel better and brighter. Being in that safe place, that was untouched by the shadow which seemed to have settled over my house that day, helped my mind and heart remember that there was still goodness in the world that I could experience, and it wasn’t far away. I only had to look up a bit from the dark to see the bright place just beyond it.
Now, I must acknowledge that there have been so many people who have helped me remember the goodness that can, and does, exist in humanity. And I truly wish I could give you all the biggest hug. Even so, I have to highlight one person who was around at exactly the right time, in exactly the way that I needed. Two weeks after this event, four days ago, I got to spend time with my good friend Wyatt. I don’t hardly ever get the chance to hang out with Wyatt, the last time I saw him before this was in October, but I think of him as one of my best friends. And I think the reply he sent me when I finally got up the nerve to text him gives a pretty great example of why. I say “finally” because I honestly couldn’t get up the nerve to text him for those two weeks between the event and when we were able to get together. Oh, I thought about it. I thought quite a bit about it. But I just couldn’t bring myself to send the text. Why, you may ask? Suffice it to say that I have a bad habit of thinking too much. About everything. All the freaking time. It’s stressful.
Anyway, that, on top of the fact that I kept telling myself I was okay, is why I didn’t text my friend for such a long time. But, finally, last Friday I was telling my mom about how I really wanted to get together with Wyatt, and she had this novel idea. Why didn’t I just text him and ask if he could hang out sometime? And so, after almost two weeks of nearly thinking the idea into oblivion, I sent the text. “Hi, Wyatt!! I feel like this will be a long-shot, but I was wondering if you might be available to get together one of these weekends…” And then, guess what happened? Exactly one minute later, I got a response. “Hi! I would love to. (…) Actually, tomorrow is perfect, if you’re free.”
The next day being Saturday, I didn’t have anything going on, so it worked out well. But, that isn’t the point, really. The point is that, even though I texted him on a Friday evening, asking if he had room on his schedule sometime in the future, Wyatt was willing to spend quite a large part of his Saturday afternoon, the next day, hanging out and talking. And it was just because he had the time, and he knew that I’d been going through a hard time. So he showed up for me, holding a Starbucks coffee, and talked with me about everything from Disney movies to trauma to writing to systemic racism. And for the first time, while I was sitting there talking and connecting with this person, being inside my own house no longer felt scary.
And, hanging out with Wyatt that afternoon, I was reminded of something. Bright places don’t always have to be travelled to. Sometimes bright places open their door to you when your own door has a shadow cast over it. Sometimes bright places run up to you and want to play peekaboo. And sometimes bright places return your texts, open up their schedules, and show up for you with a coffee and a listening ear. More often than not, the people are really what make a place bright.