I do not have enough words. I try to conjure something. I try the voodoo of sentence structuring to communicate what these two years have been like. But I can't. Words are not perfect enough to describe these perfectly and terribly messy two years with these perfectly and terribly messy people. Words cannot tell my entire truth because words are just as broken and unstable as any system-just boxes that cannot contain a universe of experience. But here, I will try words and they will fail as they always do and I will be okay with that. I will still treat them as friends.
I begin with plenty of dumpster dives, cheesy homemade cards, kisses, one dollar breakfast burritos, turning my nose up at people because I live in Asheville, "Portland of the East". There was a lot of arguing, a lot of failing and a lot of self-judgment for that failing. Here is where I fell-down the steep stairs of a church that preaches men first, women second, no chance for salvation unless their beliefs match ours. Here is where I fell into a love that I was not prepared for (but are we ever prepared?), a love that hurt. It was here that I loved the way that I knew to love and there was no other way to do that but to possess, worry, push away in hopes that I could be pulled closer. It is here that tears came often, that heaving sobs gave me sore stomach muscles the next morning. This is where I was hallowed. I fell flat on my back into my depths and got the wind knocked out of me.
I called my sleeping mother once at two in the morning and she put enough money into my bank account to buy gas and she ran to meet me in the driveway to kiss my cheek and put a ring on my finger and she welcomed her runaway daughter back into her home because, No matter what, you can always come home, Taylor.
And home is where I landed, or maybe crawled or drove twenty miles over the speed limit to as I descended the mountain, into the foothills and out of the depths of my own hell; a place that I needed to be, a place that didn't want to consume me, but deepen me. I wrote plenty of sad letters and desperate e-mails, I felt the emptiness of being empty.
But I fed myself. I fed myself back to health and shared diners with my mom when she came home from work and we spoiled ourselves with fresh kale and cilantro. I cooked with colors, good fats and good friends and we sang. We sang, No, IIIIII don't wanna fall in love (love is only gonna break your heart), and we laughed all the way to Amiele's to eat French pastries and drink black iced coffee in the city. We experimented with spaghetti squash because, let's face it, cooking is as much a religious ritual for us as is the Eucharist at Catholic mass.
I made the decision to be present. Present with my pain and my friends and family who loved me, and my crafting and cooking, harmonizing and sobbing because, I still have things to learn here before I go to Houston.
Houston wasn't as hot as I thought it'd be (little did I know...) and riding the bus was glamorous, simple and sexy until I began realizing how long and inconvenient it was to wait for the always late 80 and how taking public transportation takes three times longer than taking a car.
And I met Heather and Red and Tarrin and Charlie and Kira and Caleb and I knew that these eleven months with them would heal me. We ate quinoa and eggs for our first dinner and sweated our asses off as we set up bunk beds and arranged our living room how we wanted it. Together we learned the metro system, learned to navigate the streets of downtown Houston on foot, set up a chore list, dish washing expectations and the like. I learned very quickly that 119.00 for seven people in a food desert whose only grocery store offered high prices and little variety was not the place to expect fresh kale, olive and coconut oils, pesto and hummus. Instead it was vegetarian lasagna and burritos, taco skillet and Campbell's Tomato Soup.
One time Kira baked her jean button right off of her pants, baked zits right onto our faces. And we ate. We ate holy meals of baked ziti and baked potatos, miniature apple pies and brownies smothered in cream cheese icing. We talked about race and privilege, poverty, systematic oppression, debated Biblical inerrancy and learned to love one another in our disagreeing.
I stopped fearing God because God asks to not be feared, but to be known as The Great Unknown. My first lesson in this was coming to realize that God does not hate women and God did not create women to serve men and that God is not a man and I threw the "He" pronoun into the fire as soon as I figured these things out. And I jumped right into the mystery of God and God since has no longer been concrete, but dark and bright and deep and unknown and I am free to be honest and authentic here. I am free to ask questions and embrace I don't know as a good answer.
I began to understand the Holiness of both laughter and tears.
I cried when no one wanted to buy fucking cheese for the week's breakfast! I cried because I was furious that I was born with whiteness and that I could not escape my privilege by emphasizing my color. I cried because I missed my mom and my dogs and all that is beautiful about home. I cried because I forgave myself for all of my self-judgement. I cried because thanking my arms for helping me to hold and love instead of resenting them because they aren't as toned and slender as I feel they should be was like salve to a deep wound. I cried because I still missed my ex and finding out that he had a new girlfriend was too much. I cried because our cat died and one of our friends left us all in the same month. And God collected those tears in a vial and labeled it “holy water” and from then on I began acknowledging tears of sorrow as baptism; dying to self because self is always dying when you choose to share something as complicated as life with other people, and then rising because death is never the end and new things are always waiting for old things to pass.
And as I cried, I also laughed my deepest and fullest laughter yet because Caleb has the loudest laugh I've ever heard and Charlie’s dance moves are too hard for me to synchronize with. I laughed because it was healing to laugh in the face of my own oppression as a woman. It was healing to laugh, period.
Here it has been mutual vulnerability and mutual trust, it has been knowing and being known. Here I have existed so consciously in the heart of God.