The Wesley House: A Love Story

December 29th, 2011 § 45

When I was young, I thought that family was a term applied to those people who share a gene pool in common with you. And there is a very specific and mysterious kind of beauty in this understanding of family.

But with emerging adulthood, I learned that family is really a term to describe the people you share meals with most often.

For the last two years, I’ve been breaking bread with a group of ragamuffins who inhabit the Wesley House, a co-op for those college students wise-enough to brave daily life with fifteen roommates. The varied and beautiful people I’ve been rubbing shoulders with for the last twenty-four months brought me a fuller understanding of family, and gave me a treasure trove of stories, memories, and moments of hilarium along the way.

Sunsets and star-gazing on the roof.

Evenings around our illegal fire pit.

Swinging on the monster-tire swing.

The infamous “general consumption” counter, and the millions of calories that sustain it (most of which derive from cookies, bagels, cake, and candy—all slightly sketchy at best).

The string of poorly executed pranks involving everything from jello to goldfish, toothbrushes to crawdads.

Walking up the cobble-stone path to our front door, and drinking in the picture of our kitchen abuzz with light and music and pre-dinner activity.

Skinny dipping with the girls.

Beer-tasting with the boys.

The infamous piano playing and guitar plucking. If you need to know more, watch this video.

Those painful house meetings and the surprisingly painless house parties.

The endless conversations about men and women and the ways they are different—many of these differences which were being discovered for the very first time. (Two-words: butt hair)

Movie-nights and indie-dance breaks.

Arguments over ranch dressing milkshakes and what exactly constitutes a vegetable.

Learning (at least for a few of us) to say “You were right” and “I’m sorry”.

Birthdays, Thanksgiving feasts, more birthdays, and secret-santa gift exchanges.

Chili cook-off and Pi(e) day.

The beauty of all those glorious girl-times—laughing until we cried and crying until we laughed.

The way joy creeps in to every crevice of our shabby house, outfitted with its ratty old couches.

The relentless love of fifteen different people learning to cheer each other on in the arena of university life, learning to be family to one another.

While my list of memories seems endless, my Wesley House season is quickly coming to a close.

Anne Lamott wrote that the hardest part of being alive is learning to love back. I think what she means is that deep down we are self-addicted beings who want our needs met and our wants fulfilled and our dreams come true, and its immensely difficult to set all those things down long enough to love another being, with needs and wants and dreams of their own.

At the end of the day and the end of this season, I’m most grateful for the ways the Wesley House has taught me to love back.

The magnificence of our awkward, imperfect, little clan had a way of continually eroding away any and all pre-conceived notions—teaching me to live more openly and give more freely and love more deeply. What grace this is.

And so, my dear Wesley House, it is with tremendous gratitude that I say: I love you back.

 

 

 

On seasonality and the unknown

December 17th, 2011 § 31

An incredible human being set up this blog for me, and I fear I’ve squandered it beyond measure. But I’m a strong believer in seasonality. There is a time to experience life, and a time to write about it.

These past months, I’ve been busy experiencing—learning, performing, traveling, reflecting, getting my hands dirty with all kinds of ideas and adventures and opportunities. As this crazy season plods to a close, I’m realizing that I stand on a pile of memories so breathtaking I could weep with the weight and fullness of my gratitude.

But there is something about transition that scrapes away at these memories, loosening them from the lining of my heart. Something about the ambivalence of change that awakens in me a profound need for words. They have always been my comfort.

So I am sheepish in telling you that the posts to follow—whatever their number and whatever their content—are not for you. They are for me, for my own records. I wish to document the memories and lessons and love stories that have filled the past eight months—the stories I have clung to, the people and places I have learned to love. To be so young and to have seen such beauty, this is a great miracle. And it’s one I want to recount for myself.

Because the day will soon arrive when all will have unraveled again, as it always does when the unknown creeps in. I will be afraid. My heart devastated for the loss of the familiar. When this season emerges, and I’ve accepted that it will, I will draw a bath and put on Iron & Wine and have a good cry (who are we kidding, a series of good long cries). But they will be expectant tears, permeated with earnest hope.

Because hope is the only thing left to arrive at when you’ve lived the stories I have, and when you know the Being so immensely divine and creative and good that He can’t help but continue to write more for you.

Where am I?

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