Here’s the final chapter the story.
The first “like” on my blog was from a junior high friend. I hadn’t talked or even thought of her since I was at that school. My body lurched. I knew the breath and the depth of where my words were going. How they were never going to come back.
I closed my laptop, threw my things in my bag, and snuck out the back door of the Chaplain’s Office. I don’t think anyone in there even knew what I had just done. I hustled out, down the stairs towards my car, stopping by the chapel on my way out. It was empty so I walked circle after circle around its pews. I lifted my head and sang upward. Sound from inside of me filled the tall room, bounced from its high and rounded ceiling. Light poured through the stained glass and made the floor the colors of a rainbow. It made me the colors of that rainbow too.
I drove the PCH to Oxnard, an hour drive on a two-lane road that had mountains on its east, open sea on its west. I passed the curvy road to my house, the road I had just driven down and come to know the significance of the day. I passed Point Dume, the rock peninsula that I stood upon to watch sunset my first time in Malibu —when I was just a high school junior dreaming of college, whose dreams at that time didn’t extend as far south as Pepperdine. My dream then was something closer to home.
I drove past the apartment of my best friend whom I had fallen for, but who had not fallen back. I drove past Zuma Beach where I had been baptized in its waves the year before. I passed by the mountain roads I drove as a freshman before I had friends. The drives that made Malibu begin to feel like home, that made my body begin to feel like home too.
I went to Whole Foods. I bought another slice of pizza. (Because pizza is cheap, like me.) Then I went home and started prepping the house for dinner.
Though I didn’t intend it, think about it, realize it until I was hustling things around in my house —that night I had a really special dinner planned. Weeks before when making the plans, I had no idea of what this particular Monday would hold. Yet there is was. Unfolding in all its divine and universal significance in front of me.
I love hosting friends. I love cooking. I love creating a space for people to socialize and interact and talk. I love thinking about how if we had not gotten together, whatever will happen between us in the future, that night and every night ahead, probably wouldn’t happen. Being together, we are inherently creating something. Whether conversation or deeper friendship, new understandings of the world or new understandings of ourselves. We take parts of each other with us. When together, we plan our next time together, and the creation continues.
I think its the natural creator and creative inside of me. I love that I see human interactions in that way. As creations.
About a dozen friends from all different corners of my life showed up for dinner. It was a random, rambunctious group and it was so fun. All of my roommates were there. My best friend Whitney was there. Pepperdine’s chaplain, Sara, was there, as was her son, Nate, and, Madison, some random freshman she brought. My new friend Zach was there. Practically-roommate-but-not-really-roommate (because he was always at our house) Josh was there. My favorite sports medicine professor, Cooker, and her husband were there. (Even though I was never in her class or even her program, we somehow became close friends.) Cole from Duck Dynasty was there. Parker, a friend of a friend that I honesty do not know how we became friends, was there on a visit from Waco.
So on that night, the night I had before most feared, the night that I had always assumed would be my end, I instead sat around my kitchen table with friend after friend after friend. Peer friends and mentor friends. New friends and old friends.
All I could think was, “This is God. This is God. This is God.” This could not have just happened. I didn’t even plan this. It just happened. It was a pulling together of people from all the corners of my life. And though I didn’t know it at the time, it was a pulling together of people and relationships that would unfold into so much more.
In the coming months and years, I would visit those friends homes. I would go to their weddings. I would watch them be pregnant and meet the lives they brought to the world. We would work in the same office. I would travel to foreign countries with them. I would become friends with their parents. All that mixed and woven together around that table. All that on that very special day.
I turned off all the notifications on my phone earlier that day. I didn't want to be distracted by the texts and messages, comments and emails that started pouring in ten minutes after I posted. I saw the first few. They were overwhelmingly positive. “I think your words were so amazing and the world needs more people like you to speak TRUTH and LIGHT “ read the first. But I had also received a questionable text from an aunt and from a cousin, and I didn’t want whatever someone else said to determine what I felt about that day.
I knew what I felt about that day. I was freakin’ proud of myself. I felt like I had finally said what I needed to say. I was excited to finally start writing and start talking about all the things that were going on inside of my mind.
I felt like the Universe, the Divine, that God had come together in that day and in all the other days to make this work just right. I felt the weightlessness of finally doing that thing that scared me the most, the thing that scared me for a decade. And I stood upright. I stood taller than before.
Over the coming week, I would read all of those messages. I would print them all out and tape them to my bedroom door. All thirteen pages of them. I needed to see the volume of response I had received. I needed to see how much what I did mattered to other people. I needed small words from those messages to stick out and stick up as I passed through the door. Words like “proud” and “love,” “honored” and “touched,” “true” and “honest,” “courage” and “pride,” “nourish” and “liberation.” I needed those words to be in front of me all day long. I needed them to rub off and I passed by. I needed them to sink in and sink deep.
What was behind and what is left ahead, was not and will not be easy. It was and will continue to be heavy and dark and down. But I also now know what freedom feels like. And I know what it feels like to do that thing that you know you must do. To do that thing that sits in your chest and screams.
I also know what joy feels like. Deep, rooted, unwavering, as unstoppable as a tsunami —joy. I know what meaning and purpose feel like too.
.I now know that these are the things I will spend my life chasing. These are the things I will listen to. These are the things I will trust.