Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On Speaking Italian

I moved back to Fresno three years ago this month. To say it was against my will would sound dramatic, but it's totally true. I really thought I was supposed to move here, and that's why I did. Not because I didn't love Southern California. And I believed that the purpose for my move would become clear eventually. It hasn't yet. I have formed lasting friendships that I'll take with me wherever I go; not insignificant ones, deep friendships knitted into the interior of my heart. But I didn't find what I was looking for. I was looking for purpose. Something... or someone... anything that seemed too good to be true, so that I would know it was God. But I didn't find anything that seemed too good to be true. I found trail heads that seemed auspicious, but they ended in dust and sweat and tears. Started off a sprint with hope and exertion, only to encounter abrupt disappointment and dead ends (if I was lucky) or eventual, wandering regret that crept in and rusted my joints and hinges with salt water.

Recently I wrote this: "So... I'm rusty. I'm restless and unfulfilled and so frustrated with God that I can't really spiritualize this position I'm in... not in a way that would satisfy the Super Spiritual reader. I'm not going to try to make myself look good right now, okay? There's nothing wonderful about my heart's posture. I don't have an answer, and I'm tired of trying to find one. I'm exhausted of trying to make sense of it or find the lesson or the deeper truth. This is my mental state, one that has developed and built itself up upon itself, like a coral reef of incessant disappointment, eroded hope, and crystallized doubt."

I finally decided that I'd stop waiting for God to drop something in my lap and I'd get out there, do something myself, hope that He'd meet me there. I went to England; hoping that something would present itself like a postcard addressed to me.

Hey Hilary,

Here is the opportunity you didn't even have the scope to dream of; it's better than what you'd imagined, and it seems too good to be true because only I can create an opportunity like this. Just go with it.

Love, God.

I'm still waiting on that postcard... but I did get a job offer from a slightly less than forthcoming film producer, an offer that had all the auspices of my dream job, but which fell apart like a sandcastle when put under the pressure of scrutiny. That was a tough lesson in faith. In the meantime, I got a TESOL certification, a thousand amazing pictures, and some awesome sunglasses. Also, I think I fell in love. I think. I can't be sure, I'm pretty emotionally stunted when it comes to romance, so it could be a miscommunication. But for the first time in my life, my instinct for relationship self preservation is gone. That's got to mean something. I wont give you the details of it, or him, or anything like that. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm somewhat cagey when it comes to my personal life (and by personal life I mean dating life).

The fact that I'm willing to give Mystery Man (MM) an honorable mention is significant. I think that, when it comes to romance, I'm like Susan from Miracle on 34th Street. The little girl who was told, by nature and by nurture, not to believe in Santa Claus. A little girl who couldn't understand her own inclination to embrace the very man she absolutely didn't believe existed. She somehow maintained a secret, strange hope that perhaps he was real, and then he was right in front of her. She didn't believe it at first, but then it took more energy to disbelieve than to surrender to what she knew in her gut. All I can say is that in this man whom I met, and grew to love, all my prior questions were laid to rest. I am not afraid. I am not certain of anything about our future, but I am not insecure. That's the inexplicable paradox right there. We may end up together. We may become nothing more than a gorgeous snapshot of a time in our lives when we managed to escape the soul entombing anticlimax of the mundane, and found each other in the open air. Either way, I'm grateful.

Did you know there are people who sustain brain injuries which render them incapable of speaking, and yet they can still sing? The part of their brain that directs speech doesn't direct singing. So maybe that's why I'm incapable of articulating my emotions, but I can sure sing about them. Ask the patrons of Rising Sun Pub in Kilkenny, Ireland... at the relentless demands of the musicians and the encouragement of a couple pints, I sang love songs for a room full of strangers, dedicated to MM himself. I can't- won't- put all my feelings into words. And I won't tell you the love songs that are stuck in my head because that's a horror of self-divulgence that I won't give into just yet. All I know is that love songs make sense to me now.  Before, I understood what they were getting at, but it didn't really translate in any meaningful way. It's like I was listening to an Italian opera without understanding Italian. I don't have to know the words to know that it is beautiful and heart wrenching, and it might give me chills anyhow. But I didn't know it in it's entirety. Now, I speak Italian. And everything I hear finds a place to land.