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.
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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.