Where Is the Song for the Absent Things?

I've been feeling kind of low lately. Kind of empty. And I know that when [on the rare occasion that] I post [at all lately], it's usually some kind of administrative information or it's humorous. Or, at least, an attempt at humorous...ness. But I'm not feeling the humor so much tonight.

Maybe it's the let-down of coming home from PJs@TJ's, to which nothing else can compare in AWESOMENESS. Maybe it's because I've been living by myself for almost three weeks while Sister is out of town for job training. Maybe it's because I've been spending a lot of time with Godson and his mom, who is pregnant with a new Godson or Goddaughter due this summer and who has TWO nieces on the way as well. Or maybe it's because there were potato chips on sale a few weeks ago and I didn't buy them. Who can tell?

Whatever the trigger happened to be, I have spent the better part February incredibly lonely. And not just lonely "for the company of other human beings." Because when I feel that the house is overwhelming in its quietude, I pick up the phone or I hop in my car and I connect with other livings beings (who are not cats intent on smothering me in my sleep). It's not that I'm craving human contact, it's that I'm craving a particular human. Whom I haven't yet met.

I think it will come as a surprise to exactly NO ONE who has been reading this blog for more than a minute that I am single. S-I-N-G-L-E single. And that this is not by choice. I mean, yes, I could have chosen to throw myself at anything male with a pulse and I would be in a relationship right now, if that was all it took. So when I say ""not by choice" I guess I should say that I'm not living out my twenties in some quest to "find myself" or "put myself first" or "have a career because love and family is for later" or "casually date around with no strings attached" or even "enjoy what single life had to offer" (I'm also not saying those are poor choices; they're just not MY choices... But you get that, right? Because you're smart and cool and we're friends. Which means this parenthetical is actually kind of useless. So I'll use it to say hello to my mother: "Hi, Mom!" There, that's better).

If it had been up to me and not my Heavenly Father (and a decent amount of logic, parental advice, and, oh yes, A COMPLETE LACK OF OPTIONS), I would have gotten married sophomore year of college and would have 1.5 kids already... is what I'm saying.

And while this is probably sounding like a midnight pity party, thrown by an insecure Junior High girl and attended by zero guests (because, duh, LONELY!), I feel like this has been on my mind and heart lately and I need to get it out. And I realized, "Hey! I have a blog! For my thoughts! And I'm having a few of them right now!" AND? I'm not actually asking for pity. Shut up! I mean it! I'm just trying to put into words what I'm feeling. Because I cannot possibly be the only one who has ever felt this way and I strongly believe that the Internet was created for "ME, TOO!" moments (well, and probably porn, but we're not talking about that, okay?). So bear with me, will you, my friends?

You see, I think we spend a lot of time talking about loss. On television, in movies, in books, or in song. We read about heartbreak and we talk about death. We sing about the pain of losing someone or of being unable to make it work. But where is the song for the Absent Things? The things we never had in the first place, so we cannot mourn their passing?

Because the pain is there. At least for me. And I figure for others as well. There is an ache in my heart and an emptiness in my life that cannot be explained in simple terms. It's not loss. And it's not even rejection. In fact, I'm struggling right now with how to tell you without sounding like a sadsack loser who is begging the Internet to marry her.

Because I have a good life. A warm bed. A full belly. A safe home. I have more than over 80% of the world's population. And I need you to understand that I an NOT complaining about those things. I am incredibly grateful for the blessings in my life.

Including my family. I have a wonderful set of parents that live less than five miles away and love me in a way that I wish every kid in the world got to experience because I'm pretty sure we would not have wars or violence if everyone grew up loved the way my parents loved me. And I have a fabulous Sister who is also my best friend and whom I never want to live without. And I have a brother and sister-in-law who live five miles away (in the other direction) who are a delight and an example of what young married love can be. And I have another brother and sister-in-law and a niece (and a niece or nephew on the way) who have been a constant joy in my life and who I wish were able to live closer.

I have a family.

But I do not have a Family with a capital F. A husband. Children of my own. And there is an emptiness where they should be which does not, in any way, negate the love my family has for me or that I feel right back at them. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the desire to fill this void is a direct result of the wonderful life I have lived. I want to share it with someone.

At the risk of angering or offending women with infertility issues, I'm going to make a VERY LOOSE comparison. Since I've never tried to have a baby, I fully admit that I cannot know the depths of the pain or emptiness a family feels when they cannot have children. But in some ways, I wonder if we have something in common: for all my wishing and hoping and trying and waiting, I cannot just MAKE THIS HAPPEN for myself. And it's something that seems to have come so easily for almost everyone else around me.

Since I was in High School, the world has been pairing off around me. And when I look at all of the people I interact with on a regular basis, 95% of them are married, most with their own Families. And while everyone's "how we met" stories are personal and unique and required a certain amount of waiting and hoping and risk and whatever else, they have also ALREADY HAPPENED. They met, they fell in love, and BAM! happily ever after.

I know. I know. It's never that easy. And there are plenty of single people still out there, waiting and hoping just like me. And I'm pretty sure that SOMEDAY I will meet the man of my dreams and fall in love and BAM! happily ever after. And I will look back at all my fretting and loneliness with a kind of fondness, knowing it all paved the road that lead me to him or some other sentimental ridiculousness that is probably still true despite how sentimental and ridiculous it all seems. And I KNOW that I do not want to get ahead of myself and marry the wrong man and then end up alone ANYWAY. And I AM trusting the Lord to bring me the right man at the right time (mostly... some days... I'm trying, okay?).

But can we just stop for a moment and recognize that there is pain in the waiting? That the wanting and yearning to share your life with someone is actually UNCOMFORTABLE and LONELY and IT HURTS? That there is a space that cannot be filled by anything other than Family with a capital F and until that happens, that space is EMPTY and yet still PRESENT?

That is what I am feeling this week. A hole in my heart where HE and MY KIDS should be. A hole that will someday, by the grace of a loving and merciful God, be occupied by exactly what I need. And that will maybe not hurt so badly tomorrow if I can just find some rest in a yet-again-empty bed. That is all.

Thanks for listening and have a good night.

And can you do me a favor? Can you kiss your spouse or hug your kids and whisper a thank you for your own empty space that isn't so empty anymore? On behalf those of us still waiting?


PJs@TJ's Recap (Because My Title Cleverness Escapes Me Today)

I've been back for a week now and I haven't yet been able to write a decent wrap-up of PJs@TJ's. Part of this is because I have restarted WeightWatchers in full force, including twice weekly (early morning) yoga "classes" with Sister-In-Law (I put classes in quotes because what we're really doing is moving my furniture to the edges of my living room, popping in a DVD, and trying not too sweat too much on the hardwood). Also, on Thursday night, I started reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which meant I spent the entire weekend alternating between consuming the trilogy as fast as I could and huddling in my bed wondering if they were going to give me nightmares. It doesn't help that Sister is out of town until March, so I'm alone in the house, sleeping in an unfamiliar room, and trying not to die by cat suffocation.

But really? The main reason I haven't written a recap of PJs@TJ's? Because it is so hard to put into words just how much fun I had. Or, at least, few enough words (as you'll sense by the length of this post). The weekend schedule was pretty simple, as promised. We mostly sat around TJ's living room, eating good food and trying to have six conversations at once. And when I write it like that, it doesn't sound that interesting. And that is just plain NOT TRUE. Because it was AMAZING.

My weekend started out on an interesting note. I had spent the entire week previous at Roommate's house in the Bay Area (I have all kinds of plans to recap that as well, along with some fun pictures. But I'll get to that later), so Roommate dropped me off at the San Jose airport. The airport which was FILLED WITH BIRDS. I'm not a real big fan of birds... I mean, it's not like I watched Hitchcock's famous movie and suddenly had the FEAR of birds. I just don't really love them. They're kind of dirty and always seem to be watching me. Plus, the whole "poop on your head with no remorse, even though it is almost impossible that it wasn't intentional" thing. Ick. I do like to watch them from a great distance, like eagles soaring and such the like. But a half-dozen swallow-looking things racing each other through the concourse four feet above my head? Not so wild about that.

The plane ride was uneventful, except for the fact that I got an exit row (my six-foot-tall frame thanks you mightily, Southwest) with two really nice gentlemen. But then I landed in Phoenix and I will admit to a small amount of panic. I sent this text to Sister:

I got my bag and waited for Brooke, of Building a Kingston Castle, to pick me up. And I sent this text to Sister:

But then Brooke drove up and was exactly who she claimed to be on her blog and was incredibly nice and I got over my fear. We met up with a few others and descended on TJ's house. Well, if you can count "driving through gate guarded by servicemen and women who are carrying very large, very lethal-looking guns who take your driver's license away for fifteen minutes and I'm sure put you in some kind of database or search for you in other kinds of databases and then kindly, but sternly warn you about the dangers of breaking the speed limit on base" as descending on TJ's house, then yes. That is what we did.

Now, I have to tell you, there is nothing quite so wonderful as walking into a room full of people you have never met before who spontaneously yell things like, "BAGELS! I'm so glad you came!!" That was pretty incredible (thanks, Linnea!). I told them my real name, though I think that may have just confused the process. And by the way, if you want to know my real name or where I'm from, all you have to do is invite me to your home and feed me. If you let me hold your baby, you might even get to learn Sister's name...

We spent the rest of the evening getting to know each other in person. And I think one of the coolest things was realizing that everyone was exactly who they were on their blogs--their voices and speaking patterns matched what I heard in my head when I read their stuff. And now, after knowing them in person, their blogs are even more alive with their voices.

Then we went back to our hotels. By the way, the Holiday In Express in Glendale, Arizona? Pretty nice. And even though it was already late, I talked WAY too much to my awesome (and patient) roommate, Kammah, and kept her up for quite a while. She was nice about it though, which tells me she's pretty cool.

Saturday was spent much the same way as Friday, gathering for breakfast and snacks, chatting and playing with babies, eating more than I should have but loving every second of it. Then TJ kicked us out to set up the house for the pajama party, so a lot of us when and got our nails done. Since Roommate and I had done mani/pedis three days before, I just sat and got to know as many of these awesome women as I could.

When we got back to the house, TJ did something so revolutionary and yet so simple, I'm not sure why someone has not thought of it before. She put a bed in the living room! I know. It sounds so simple, right? And yet? REVOLUTIONARY. All of us in attendance were pretty sure it would be a moment for the history books--in about fifteen years, children will ask their mothers, "What did people DO before they had beds in their living rooms?" And their mothers will answer, "They sat on couches, dear." And the children will look at them in amazement and wonder how people ever had comfort before the Living Room Bed.

So we all piled on the bed or the near-by couches and told stories (mostly of the Awful In-Law variety). Playing in the background, to give ambiance, was Dirty Dancing. When that was over, they put on Big with Tom Hanks. TJ explained her Tom Hanks Method of weeding out bad friends, which you really should ask her about yourself (I think it's somewhere in her archives). At some point, I was able to lull a sick Penny to sleep on my shoulder. And by "lull to sleep" I mean "practically bounce into oblivion while singing a monotone song we call Yayayayayayayaya-Uh-Yayayayayaya which she sang much better than I did." After than, we fulfilled TJ's goal of staying up past 11:00 pm with other adults, something that is actually a rarity with me (I know I complain about my slight insomnia, but that is always ALONE and never fun...).

Those of us with later fligths made it back to the house on Sunday morning to grab donuts and, wait for iiiiiiiiiiit, BAGELS! And also to say good-bye before we all rushed to the airport and the END of an amazing weekend that was not nearly long enough and yet so incredibly worth it.

And now that I've realized that this is the LONGEST POST EVER, I congratulate all of you who made it this far, especially those of you who WERE THERE AND THIS IS NOT NEWS FOR YOU. I'll just take one last second to say that TJ did a spectacular job preparing for twenty women and babies, dealing with the stresses that come with hosting that many people in a small home ON A MILITARY BASE, and still being able to enjoy herself and all of us. Despite the fact that her Pop Up Toasties have me craving things that are not PointsPlus friendly, I want to thank her very much for everything and hope she considers doing this again in the future (and allowing me to attend again).

Oh, and if you want to read other people's accounts of the weekend (which are more than likely MUCH better than this one), click here.


In Which I Brag About Traveling and Make Up Another Word

I have some fun and exciting news! As I've alluded to in various posts, I'm going to PJs@TJ's! For any of you who do not follow Temerity Jane, she's hosting a get-together and pajama party for about 18 bloggers and twitterers at her home (!) in the Phoenix area next weekend. Which I think is both awesome and incredibly brave! Not that any of us are scary or anything. Just that opening your home to 18 strangers (and some of their babies) is a big deal. I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to go to something like this and to meet these women. It's going to be AMAZING!

But wait! THERE'S MORE! Since I live in the (top secret, vaguely guessable) Far North, it's kind of expensive to travel ANYWHERE. So anytime I leave Far North and don't cross the Mississippi River, I try to lump together several West Coast visits into one trip. With that in mind, I am flying out tomorrow night for a week-long trip to see... wait for iiiiit... ROOMMATE!

I am so excited about this! And judging by the multiple, exclamation point laden texts she has sent me over the last few weeks, she's excited, too. She has all of these secret plans for us, including hiking some kind of mountain or hill or other tall earthen formation--I'm not sure... she's very secretive when she wants to be. We'll watch the Super Bowl together (which neither of us is really that into, but there will be food and friends and beer and fun, so I'm stoked) and eat at Olive Garden, which is my favorite restaurant in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD. And up until a month or so ago, Far North did not have a single one. NOT ONE!

AND!? After I leave Roommate and spend what is shaping up to be the best weekend ever with the amazing ladies of PJs@TJ's, I'm grabbing a five hour layover in my old college town to see a dear friend and her family. These people and their adorable children are my surrogate family.

They took me home after Bible studies and fed me home cooked meals and let me play with their babies (none of which are babies any more, oh my word) and just generally filled in for my Far North family (both biological and church) when I couldn't go home for long stretches of time. Now that I've moved home, I see them about one every year or two (usually on layovers) and talk on the phone only slightly more frequently. But none of that matters, because the second we see or talk to one another, it's as if no time at all has passed.

So, as you all can easily imagine, the next two weeks are kind of big for me. I'm very excited, but I'm also slightly nervous. Some of it is meeting all those new people (although I already kind of know them through their blogs and tweets) and some of it is just the unexplainable anxion of traveling.

Anxion? Yes, anxion. I know it's not a word. And I totally could have used "anxiety." But this nervousness is slightly different from anxiety. Remember when I made up the word obnoxion? Because "obnoxiousness" is a mouthful and doesn't convey what I want to say? Apply the same rules to anxion. I suppose it's kind of a cross between anxiety and angst...? Who knows what I'm talking about? Lord knows I don't. Whatever.

Where was I? Oh, yes. I was talking (kind of unintentionally bragging?) about this AMAZING trip that I am going on and how I have the jitters. I'm sure it will be wonderful. I'm actually a little worried I've built it up too much. But probably not. I'm sure it's going to go really fast and before I know it, I'll be back in yoga pants on my couch, without any remaining excuse not to get a job. So, this is kind of a last hurrah before I dive into full-employment again. Or, at least, full-employment seeking. Which seems like a job in and of itself.

I must go pack. It looks like it's going to be about 60 everywhere I go, which would be awesome if I hadn't gained a bunch of weight since I (barely) fit into my summer clothes. This might be no fun at all, come to think of it... I'll let you know how it goes.