Conversations with Ourselves

Today I have the honor of guest posting at Preston Yancey’s blog in his series “Conversations with Ourselves” in which we are given the opportunity to explore what our present self would like say to our past self (or vice versa). It was a gift to be forced to look at myself and love her, to give her grace. So grateful for the chance to write this.

* * *

It’s her twenty-first birthday. She wakes at 5:30 that August morning because she needs to leave her apartment by six. She’s one of ten seniors running New Student Orientation.

Of course she is. She has spent college running everything.

This will be the longest day of the week. She’ll get home around one am. She’s in charge of the big campus-wide party tonight. A few bands will be playing outside in different spots around her Southern Baptist university. Ice cream and pizza will be out in full force. She’s been organizing all of it.

As she stares in the mirror at 5:45 am, carefully blinking on her mascara, pressing her finger on puffy eyes. She’s thinking is about the boy she loves, how she’ll spend the entire day with him. She longs for him to remember her today, to speak to her the way he used to, to smile at her from across the room.

They’ve been off and on too many times. They broke up last April and at some point in July kissed, only for him to regret it. Only for her to cry over that kiss the rest of the summer: her wadded up body on the bathroom floor, sobbing.

It’s a busy day and her friends, if they remember, say Happy Birthday in passing. What did she expect? A surprise party? Maybe at least a couple of balloons. Her friend Lex remembers. He gives her a card with a monkey on the cover. It says, scribbled in his handwriting: “I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain.” She laughs hysterically. It’s the only time she laughs all day.

The rest of the day is full of responsibilities. She checks off her task list, orbits the boy and his quiet coldness. She’s sure he thinks he’s “protecting her heart” by ignoring her birthday. She imagines him begging her aside into some corner of the student building, pulling her against him, touching her face with his fingers, asking her to give him another chance.

The melancholy she carries isn’t new but she hates it. She has worked for the past eight years cultivating her godly woman persona. She is outgoing, kind, busy leading bible studies, being “called to ministry.” She tried to major in Missions but found herself in the English Department anyway. She’s been reading Jane Kenyon this month, Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and writing poems that speak nothing but earthy emotion. She’s afraid she thinks too much. Her mind snarls questions about God’s goodness. She wonders if this faith is real at all, and if it is, if God could love her.

  • kate

    once again so beautiful, micha. i find myself shaking my head in wonder so often (as i’ve read other of your readers comment) that you aren’t inside my head as you write. of course we all have our own stories but to feel like there is someone else (more than one, even!) who would “get” you when you spend a lot of life feeling different…blessing. i have to tell you that your posts re: “do i trust God with my kids?” and the one on waiting both really hit me. we live north of philly, actually, and my husband just found out his boss will be moving across the country end of this year. so we move far from family for a “for sure” job or we look for something new here without guarantee he’ll find it. we own our home so that’s another sticking point. but i feel all of this energy inside me to go here/do this/get this decision made when there is much over which we don’t have control right now. lots of waiting, too. part of being scared of moving is losing all community, which has provided childcare for my two kids while i work PT. they have never been in daycare and the thought of having to do that (or hire a nanny) at first literally takes my breath away—could anyone know how special they are and take care of them like i’d want to? and what if my daughter is sad to see me leave and scared of a new face (she’s 3 and very precocious)? i honestly think my heart would just break and i couldn’t leave her. and then your post…i tell both of my kids often when i say “i love you” that “God loves you even more than i do” and i think i’m mostly telling myself. wish you still lived near philly because i would definitely make you be my friend…:) thinking of your journey and prayers for the waiting. thanks.

    • michaboyett

      Oh Kate. Did you know that at least half the people I love in the world live near Philly??? And we own a home on the Main Line. That’s where we lived for five years before we were moved out to San Francisco. (This past summer we actually had our son baptized in the Philly area because we wanted to share it with our community there.) And, oh, I understand the fear and the grief over even just the possibility of that kind of move. I can give you Isaiah 45:1-3, my meditation every time I’ve had to go: to know God has gone ahead, even into the darkness. And I’ll tell you, it’s been hard that we still own our house there, but every year we’ve found a renter, and every year God has taken care of the house stuff. The good news re: your kids is that every where you move, people will fall in love with them and care for them the way you hope for. It takes time but when it happens, it is the best kind of sweet. Peace to you, friend.

  • Karen (formerly kcinnova)

    Found my way here via a facebook link from a friend. I love honest discussions of faith and doubt, and the exercise of writing to your former or future self is an interesting idea. (I followed the link and read the entire post. Well done!)
    Do you know Andrea Palpant Dilley (Faith And Other Flat Tires), who is also in Austin?