Stories about Faith & Sexuality

Aug 31st, 2013

Everything Changes

Isn’t that the cliché?

I wrote a sappy paragraph about New York but (you’re welcome) deleted it. A two-month silence on this blog shouldn’t end with a whine. Besides, there’s very little to whine about.

I live in New York City as of eight days ago, attending a seminary every Christian I respect respects. The school is old and beautiful and populated with wonderful people. I have my cat with me, good physical and psychological health, and part-time work doing something I enjoy. I’ve been talking to my family, even my mother, on a weekly basis, and leaving Oregon instilled in me the divine sense that I am deeply loved. Teenage girls and the marketers who cater to them stripped the word “blessed” of any meaning, so I’ll say I’m in a stage of life where joy seems to be the only appropriate response.

And I am, for the most part, brimming with joy. I walked to Central Park yesterday to read a book of poems. I chose a bench near a pond where ducks bobbed through patches of algae, fish leapt up at dragonflies mating, and two sets of French children stopped to point out a rat that every few minutes darted from and back into a bush along the shore. It was a scene Meg Ryan would describe to Tom Hanks in a sexually-charged You’ve Got Mail e-mail. God. Thanks.

(I’ve been reading Anne Lamott in secret since I arrived here. I don’t know that Union would frown at this, but I tend to trust my shame in the rare moments it pops up. Even if I hide her behind Flannery O’Connor on my shelf, I treasure Lamott’s candor and good humor. The second of her three essential prayers is “Thanks,” which I’ve repeated to myself continually throughout the past week.)

So I’m well! And if I ever don’t sound well during the next three years, consider it a cognitive indiscretion: I must’ve forgotten where I am.

Or I remembered where I was.

A year and some months ago I wanted to leave Oregon, find work, any work, in San Antonio, and die as a spinster with a few old college friends. I was lonely and anxious, no longer in love with my crazy ex but not fully recovered from him either. Then I made two wonderful friends, dated some, and resolved to apply to seminaries and divinity schools on the east coast, where my favorite college professor and occasional guru predicted I would thrive. And then, at a lewdly-named dance party, I met a guy whom I dated for eight months, and with whom I eventually fell in love.

He deserves a blog series all to himself, and he’s been promised a long, genre-bending piece I started before I left. I won’t say much else now, except that leaving Oregon was painful in the necessary way life often is—as putting an arthritic dog to sleep, or choosing which photographs to save from a hurricane. I cried and cried. I left him and too many dear friends to name, and a therapist who might as well have been a sage, and one of those rare churches that makes you proud to call yourself a Christian, and a state where I entered as a dumb, dumb, lovestruck kid and became, if not an adult, at least a more realized individual and upright citizen.

Teenage girls, damn it, I’m blessed in this school and in New York. To come here at the cost of everything I left behind is no curse, but the loss does temper the joy. It dulls those sharp scenes in the park, in my little 300-year-old room where my cat spends his days asleep or hunting flies near the window, and in a refectory full of interesting, thoughtful peers. The joys of New York are great, but they’re changed joys from those I knew in Oregon. To write it all out helps. I am grateful to be here, and grateful for the joys and love in Oregon. They aren’t dead, and this isn’t a tragedy, just a change.

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Posted By David Michael   |   4 Comments

4 Responses

  1. Zara says:

    David, I love reading what you write. You have the best way of putting things. I’m so happy that you’re finding so much joy and growth in your life. I’m so happy that you exist and that you spread your joy and that you share your experience with such eloquence. Thank you!

  2. Fiona says:

    I love your writing and I’m so glad to be reading it again. Wonderful to hear that you’re happy and joyful. Enjoy this term and keep letting us know how you’re getting on. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!

  3. Elena says:

    I read this a few days ago and haven’t had the chance to comment until now. This is almost exactly how I felt after our move to Princeton – a full range of feelings, all jumbled up, centered in an overwhelming sense of blessing. Kind of like grinning through your tears. (But you described it way better!) Hope your first day went well, and let’s make sure to run into each other sometime this semester. Love to you!

  4. Marion says:

    I love the way you write! It’s art. Transition isn’t easy but it’s such a part of growth. I know you’ll continue to embrace it. I’m happy I had/have the opportunity to know you!

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