I feel like an inordinate number of my friends are going through really hard things right now. And, honestly, to label what they're going through "really hard" trivializes their suffering to a point that I'm not comfortable with. Calculus tests are really hard. Biking up hills is really hard. What they're dealing with is more along the lines of...something I don't have words for.
I don't want just to increase the intensity of my own words. Replace "really hard" with "extremely tough" and then replace that with "extraordinarily difficult." I feel like I'm not saying anything anymore.
All I really know is what they're going through seems unjust and overwhelming. Those don't seem like adjectives to which I can attach a magnitude.
And I just feel like I'm sitting on the sidelines, trying to encourage them but really being of no help at all.
I was thinking about this last night and remembered a poem that I found during my senior year of high school. It better describes how I am feeling than any words I can come up with.
In the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit By Brooke Horvath
We are the children here, hesitant to speak or touch, afraid of reprimand. The nurses, doctors are adult; they tell us to wash our hands, to be careful; they say that everything will be all right; they remind us when it’s time for bed, where dreams fill with monitors that stop alarmed, intravenous tubing, and disembodied cries like clues dropping amid the tears and gauze through which your eyes, Susan stare blindly, your dry mouth working soundlessly.
Susan, if I could, I would hurt instead with a clean, hard, physical pain, would take this needle into my larger, drying vein and have my stomach aspirated, which finds, like yours, nothing but itself to work upon. I would breathe through your congested lungs, escaping this nauseous sickness of heart that draws me back to stroke your red and jaundiced head so new it shows the shape of birth, the stain and strain of passage, to lift and hold your tiny hand that does not feel or know me, though you hold my life unstably as your own, as I would hold yours, though tightly, tightly, though not so tight you’d bruise or break.
It seems weird to say that I feel this way. Obviously none of my friends are babies, and I am their peer rather than their mother. But Brooke Horvath managed to capture what it feels like to watch someone you love suffer and to know that you are completely powerless to help her. She captured what it feels like to wish you could just pick up someone else's burden and strap it on your own back but to know that you can't.
I find myself saying the same things over and over to these girls.
I'm so sorry. I love you. I hope it gets better. I'm praying for you. I'm so sorry. I love you. I hope it gets better. I'm praying for you. I'm so sorry. I love you. I hope it gets better. I'm praying for you. I'm so sorry. I love you. I hope it gets better. I'm praying for you. I'm so sorry. I love you. I hope it gets better. I'm praying for you. I'm so sorry. I love you. I hope it gets better. I'm praying for you.
After a while, I don't feel like my words mean anything anymore. They are like worn out blue jeans or something. Blue jeans always seem sturdy enough at the beginning, like you'll get a lot of good use out of them. Gradually, the hems begin to fray, but you keep wearing them. One day, you notice that the knees are pretty threadbare, and before you know it, your jeans don't have knees at all and need to be thrown away because they're not really serving their purpose anymore. I feel like my words themselves are threadbare at this point, ready to be retired because they are no longer serving their purpose.
So now I'm powerless to help and wordless to encourage, and all I know is:
It wasn't supposed to be this way. And, wow, satan sucks.
The past week has been CRAZY BUSY with wedding stuff. Andrew and I went apartment hunting, got our engagement pictures taken, AND crossed an item off my bucket list: creating a wedding registry at Target. Oh, and NO BIG DEAL—today I also said yes to a dress! But back to the topic at hand.
Pretty much every time we’ve ever gone to Target, I’ve turned to Andrew at least once and said swooningly, “Wouldn’t it be fun to create a wedding registry!?” (To which he was always like, “Yes, Kate.”) But until this past Saturday, I never actually got to do it.
It should be known, of course, that even though I’d never created a registry before, I did have excessive experience in walking through Target, admiring items, envisioning how they'd look in the imaginary future home I might one day share with my imaginary future husband.
This is what Target does so well—because it is run by veritable marketing geniuses (notice I didn’t say PR geniuses): It gives you a glimpse of the life you could have. You could be the type of hostess who has gold bakeware exclusively for the fall season or the type of homemaker who puts her feet up on a crocheted pouf while a robot vacuum cleans her floors. This is all available to you at Target. And on Saturday, it was all available to me.
I got engaged.
I know most of you already know, but it also seems like an excellent reason to dust off ye olde blog and regale you with my thoughts about things. (Seriously though, sorry for my absence. I've been dealing with cubital tunnel in both of my hands, and it makes my keyboard feel like a medieval torture device. Writers gotta write though, so I'm penning this by hand, and I'm going to make Andrew type it like Tertius typed Romans for Paul. Actually scratch that. Andrew did not end up typing this for me because I took too long to write it. So now I am using the dictate tool on my computer to type it, and my roommates can probably hear me in here and think I'm super weird.)
ANYWAY, I know I owe you a thoughtful recap of our engagement, and I'm working on it. I want to write a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at our past two years if only because Facebook makes things look so much easier than they actually are, and there's something to be said for sharing your relationship without the filter. (The Instagram filter, people. I will still have the other kind of filter.) But for now I'll answer the question people keep asking: Were you surprised?
YES! Yes, I was surprised! Andrew literally had to convince me to change out of running clothes to join him for the walk on which he proposed, and I still didn't see it coming—but more on that in the next post.
For now, I want to talk about wedding planning.
You may remember hearing that the Seine River flooded a few months ago. Because of this, the Musée de Louvre was closed during our first few days in Paris, which meant we couldn’t visit it until our last full day in the city.
Before hitting the museum, Marie and Taylor and I started the day with pastries again because Paris. (White bread is basically protein there.) We took the metro to the Louvre and met up with our friend James at an adjacent Starbucks. (This would be our real fuel for the day.) James was one of our good friends from Asbury and just happened to be in Paris briefly after touring Turkey and Iraq and Italy and I can’t even remember where else. (Let’s just say he got questioned at U.S. Customs when he returned.) It was perfect timing to meet up with him.
Not six hours after we’d crawled into bed following a day in Versailles, we rose again to continue exploring Europe. My sadness over our abbreviated night of sleep was lessened by the fact that we were GOING TO LONDON, the city I’d always most wanted to see. We got ready groggily and walked through mental and literal fog to the metro, which we took to the train station. For some reason I’d been worried, yet again, that we would be stopped attempting to move from country to country (because we look so menacing and everything). But after getting our passports stamped without a hitch, we arrived at our Chunnel train with seven minutes to spare.
Our first stop Monday morning was Rue Crémieux, which is a whole road lined with pastel houses. We went just to marvel at its cuteness. It looks like Instagram and Anthropologie had a street together. I imagine its homes are inhabited by life-size Polly Pockets who keep My Little Ponies as pets.
After admiring (and maybe envying) the colorful homes, we made our way to Place des Vosges, which is cute but in a different way. It is the oldest planned square in Europe and was also once the home of Victor Hugo. (Going to France really made me want to re-watch — maybe even read!?!? — Les Mis.) Place des Vosges, as far as I can tell, is like the 17th-century version of a subdivision. Not only were the houses perfectly symmetrical, but the trees were trimmed into rectangles. There was something very Alice-in-Wonderland about it.
Paris, I was surprised to find, is much like the cartoons portray it. For instance, in the week we were there, I repeatedly saw men playing accordions on street corners. (I know, right?) In these moments, it felt as though Paris was caricaturing itself.
If you thought (like I did) that the cute little Parisian pastry shops were just a cartoon stereotype of the city, you’d be wrong. There’s a boulangerie (bakery) and a pâtisserie (pastry shop) on practically every block of the city. Pastry shops are to Paris what Walgreens are to Chicago.