Monday, January 13, 2014

Skating

Almost a year ago, I got the email saying I had made it into the second round of the Fulbright application process. My application was being sent to Bulgaria.

Soon, many applicants for this year's rounds will get that email saying they will or will not have a shot at getting to go to Bulgaria.

In thinking about my application, I'm a little shaky with astonishment. I was confident in every word of that application. I wasn't lying. Not even a little bit.

But the reality tends to strip you down. Bulgaria isn't the hardest place in the world to live. It's lively and astonishing and really wonderful. It's the living in a place that's not "yours" that does it. Living alone. Trying new things. After six months, I feel rather naked. The methods and tactics I've used for years to hold back certain problems or fears just aren't there. I'm getting down to just me. It's scary. There isn't much left that can keep me for the serious examination of myself that I need to grow. To be human.

Gosh, that makes it sound like this really pretty spiritual process and awakening. It feels more like this:
I'm a moon with no atmosphere, wondering when the next small meteor will put a crater in my surface.

Then the hard moments are followed by good ones. I cried after listening to the service from Midtown. Cried when a friend told me about this really beautiful dinner they went to. Cried from jealousy like a piece of bandage tape being ripped off raw skin.

And then I went ice skating.

Movement. Air. People. Hat stealing. Music. Trying new things. Moon and stars over heard. Singing disney and pop songs. Tea afterwards. It was a great time. Hope of new things. New beginnings.

New beginnings. Funny how ice skating felt like a measurable sign of growth. In January 2010, I was in Colorado for a staff reunion from this camp I worked at. We spent an afternoon out in the clear, freezing mountain air doing various winter sports. One was, ice skating.  I watched as one staff guy skated. He skated with abandon. Fell a lot. But by the end of an hour, he could do more than I could with years of casual skating. He wasn't afraid to fall down. He wasn't afraid of his body or its limitations. I just wobbled around and couldn't let go enough to fall flat. Couldn't get enough umph to make my attempts at backwards skating count for anything. I kept wondering, "How is this man so free with falling? I want to have that kind of confidence." *

Last night, I skated backwards pretty well. I laughed as I scooted myself backwards and nearly ran into people. I wasn't very graceful but I did it. Even though I, on all written records, despise ice skating, the whole thing was delightful. New friends, new place, a highlighted a confidence in myself, my body, my own movement. I just was not like this 3 years ago. That's Grace, right there, people.


* August Huckabee, if you ever read this, thank you for your silent lesson.

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