Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.
“Nothing gold can stay.”
My best friend Samantha made a film about my time in NYC from August through December. Watching it at the time, it felt like a very accurate portrayal–now I’m not so sure.
So I’ve been living in Brooklyn and teaching in a public school in Manhattan for four months now. I have to say that the list of just absolutely ridiculous and incredible and unbelievable things that I see in the train stations, on streets, and in school hallways and classrooms, and hear whispered at me on the street, yelled at me from cars, screamed at me in school, and written to me in “apology” notes just keeps growing. The list, if I had kept a running one (and most of me really wishes I had), would be miles long.
So far I’ve seen, heard, or experienced the following:
–a man whispering “sexy” into my ear as I crossed the street at 6:45 in the morning
–three sixth-grade students being thrown to the ground and handcuffed by the police after “jumping” a fellow student
–“if you don’t get out of my way and do what I ask I’m gonna kill someone”
–a sixth-grader shit his pants
–“when I was in my mommy’s tummy when she was thirteen. . .”
–a pregnant eleven-year-old
–the most incredible skyline I have ever experienced
–some of the most phenomenal street performances I’ve ever seen (saxophones, cellos, drums, full a cappella groups,
–sixth grade girls stomping the hell out of some difficult step routines
–a sixth grade student learning to read at a first-grade reading level for the first time
–Utts potato chips are potentially one of God’s greatest gifts to men
–any and everything Hillsong United has spoken to me since I’ve moved here.
–“New York City” (in response to the question, ‘What continent do we live on?’)
The list could just keep going but it’s losing coherence. Overall this city is simultaneously dark and depressing and uplifting and hopeful. I’m trying to choose to make it a city of hope, but the kids that tell me to “go fuck myself” every day are making that really hard.
And yet sometimes she worried about what those musty old books were doing to her. Some people majored in English to prepare for law school. Others became journalists. The smartest guy in the honors program, Adam Vogel, a child of academics, was planning on getting a Ph.D. and becoming an academic himself. That left a large contingent of people majoring in English by default. Because they weren’t left-brained enough for science, because history was too dry, philosophy too difficult, geology too petroleum-oriented, and math too mathematical–because they weren’t musical, artistic, financially motivated, or really all that smart, these people were pursuing university degrees doing something no different from what they’d done in first grade: reading stories. English was what people who didn’t know what to major in majored in.
From The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
The English Major: Confirming my mediocrity and solidifying it for all of eternity.
So I watched this documentary last night. I left it thinking I needed probably days to process it. It is so good, so sad, but so full of hope.
It makes me angry with the culture of vacationing-missionaries that America has set up in order to “do good” while simultaneously allowing people to still feel good about themselves. I see how selfish I am, it reminds me how privileged I am, makes me question why we see all this superfluous garbage that we have in America as “necessities”. Overall, it makes me wonder what the hell I’m doing moving to New York. What qualifications I even have to do this job when I know I’ll very likely just be leaving them in a year. How am I any better than the missionaries? I just hope I will be able to love as well as Rocky in a safer, more tame, much less extreme, much less uncomfortable situation that is surely one-milllion times easier to love in.
“What it is to be alone, in the presence of God, is to float.” I’ve spent the last two months figuring out God. Or failing to, if I’m being honest. Really, honestly, truly, more than anything it wasn’t me trying … Continue reading
You’re allowed to be sad.
For a minute.
But at some point you pick yourself up. You gather up your pieces–as many of them that you can find–into your basket of flesh and bones and memories and (excessive) feelings. And you get over it. Whether you’re ready for it or not, whether you agree with it or not, you move along because you have to.
Whelp. Pretty stellar timing on this one, God.
You deserve better than someone who is afraid to commit to you. It may seem like enough for now. You’re just taking things slow. Oh, how I know those little phrases of “one day” and “we just need time.”
You believe them.
And I’ve believed them.
But you’re not a plan B kind of girl.
You need to know that you’re not the invisible one standing in the back who gets chosen last.
You’re the girl who the team captain will be frantically hoping doesn’t get picked by someone else before he gets a turn. You’re a first-pick kind of girl. And no one worth having sits back and lets those girls wait around.
‘Cause every good man knows that the good ones get gone fast.
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My game of questions, my own personal “Jeopardy” or “Trivial Pursuit” or warped version of “Truth or Dare” that really only included “truths,” asked things like, “if you could only eat one food every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?” and “if your life had a theme song that played every time you entered a room, what song would you pick?” I clearly wanted to ease you into my weird, outspoken, overzealous world rather than throwing you in head first.