When the Bodies Start Piling Up


I wrote this post about two months ago, but I had a really difficult call yesterday, so it seems appropriate to post it now.

Volunteering for Victim Services is really rewarding, but it’s also really hard.

I’ve written about some of the difficult calls before. However, I think the real struggle is that in recent months, I’ve been on two child death calls, a death notification where a young guy was hit and killed by a train, two drug overdoses – one of which was likely a suicide, one DOA with a lot of HIV positive blood throughout the house, two strangulations, at least four calls where the victim had visible, gruesome wounds, and a death notification for a hiker from out of town.

The bodies start to weigh you down.

Add to that the fact that I work for a hospice and have to do death notifications to volunteers on a near-daily basis, and the pressure I was under studying for the LSAT… and it’s a perfect storm of sadness and stress.

I’m not gonna lie. I started feeling pretty messed up after the hiker death notification. He and his family were from out of town, and were in Tucson because they were attending a funeral. And he died. 150 yds from his vehicle. We did the notification for his wife, who was trying so hard to be kind to everyone in the room, but she was clearly in shock. She repeated the same questions over and over again. She kept blowing her nose into a bandanna, and she was trying to take care of everyone around her. There were seven other family members there, and we worked briefly with all of them.

I went home and honestly just couldn’t get back into my life. Before we left, the deceased’s wife said to me, “God is good.”

That’s such a difficult thing to say even in the best of circumstances, because life is horrible and unrelenting. This temporary home of ours really, truly sucks. But within an hour of being told that she’s never going to have another conversation with her husband… never going to hold his hand, argue, or laugh with him again. Within the hour, she said, “God is good.”

And as weird as it is, the fact that she said that effed me up a little bit.

I got up the next morning and listened to a sermon while making breakfast, and, of course, the pastor talked about the story behind the song that says, “It is well with my soul.” It’s a great story, and you should look it up if you haven’t heard about it before… and yet, even having known the story for years, it was as if God was chasing me around with the peace Christians are supposed to feel no matter what. No matter who or what God takes from us, we are supposed to say, “God is good,” and, “It is well with my soul.”

It wasn’t well with my soul.

I could feel the weight of every dead body from the past few months. They were all laying on my chest, restricting the flow of oxygen to my brain.

So what did I do?

I went for a run. Then I went for a walk. Then I drank some wine. Then I did some yoga. Then I wrote. Then, I decided to hell with all of the things nobody would judge me for doing as coping mechanisms… I turned off all of the lights in the house, made a spread for myself on the floor, and pulled out my VHS tape of THE PATRIOT. I popped it in my tape player and spent three straight hours sobbing.

Then I brushed my teeth and went to bed.

Such is the way to set aside the dead bodies and pick up the peace of Christ. God is good. I genuinely hate this place where we live, but God is good.

UPDATE: Yesterday’s call hasn’t sunk into me yet. I know it will. I know it will haunt me for the next few weeks, until it’s replaced with another haunting call.

Yesterday’s call started just before 5:30 am, and didn’t end until 7 pm or so. Then, there was paperwork to do, and I had to return my radio and phone to our office, so I was away from home for something like 16 hours, going non-stop.

During the call, I wasn’t able to eat at all or have any break. Also, because our shift wasn’t supposed to start until 6:00, I hadn’t eaten breakfast or showered or anything. I had gotten up and gone.

The call spanned two different hospitals, a crime scene, and a home. I interacted with tons of people, ranging from the victim and people directly or indirectly related to the crime, hospital staff and people directly or indirectly related to the patient’s medical care, and even a few people at Southwest Airlines. We transported people from a hospital to the crime scene and back, from one hospital to another, and from the second hospital to a home.

Our victim was really, really visibly wounded, which is always difficult to see. She had visible wounds all over her body, and her face was swollen into a misshapen, bruised mess. And she was SUCH a nice girl. Under different circumstances, I could see myself being friends with her. She is nerdy and artsy. She loves steampunk and movies. She hasn’t given up on her dreams yet, like so many people have. She is an extraordinary person, who doesn’t deserve what happened to her – no victim does.

Labor Day Weekend


This has been an excellent weekend so far. Mostly, that’s because I’ve remembered how to sleep the day away.

This weekend started for me with my first strangulation call. The call came in at 0100, and it was a request for my partner and me to relieve the unit before us, who had been on the call already for about six hours. Strangulations can be like that because they require a forensic nurse, and forensic nurses don’t just hang out at the ER. They aren’t the most common of nurses, and they sometimes have other things they have to do, so we were looking at the nurse being available around 1000. One of the primary reasons this sucks is because if a victim leaves the hospital and comes back when the nurse is available, there’s a decent likelihood that she’s going to be charged for 2 different ER visits.

In addition to the normal frustrations that come with having to wait 19 hours (and probably more, because there was also a sexual assault at the hospital waiting to be seen by the forensic nurse)… in addition to the frustration of waiting for 19+ hours, our victim hadn’t eaten, had been dragged through a wash without being able to shower, had an enormous bulge on her forehead where she’d been hit in the face with a gun, was bruised and scratched all over, and she needed to be ready to move into a shelter if the judge released the guy that morning or if someone paid his bond and he got out. Additionally, our victim had been regularly branded in private areas, so I’m sure she had some pain that she wasn’t even talking about.

When we got there, our victim and the other two advocates were all slouched into uncomfy waiting room chairs. They looked exhausted. Luckily, my partner was actually a staff advocate and thus knows how to get things for people, so she managed to get us into the quiet room (it’s a special room usually reserved for sexual assault victims, although I’ve also seen it used for families there for child death cases). My partner sent me to get food for our victim. The hospital actually has a fridge with food boxes in it that can be given to victims for free. We went ahead and filled out some paperwork to try to get $ for our victim to help pay for medical bills, travel expenses to and from court, and counseling.

Our victim was really talkative, but she was all about joking. She was laughing and saying silly things. She was glad that my partner and I both have some fat on us, because the advocates we’d relieved were both skinny. It’s the first time I’ve been with a victim who wanted to make light of everything. She said the other two advocates were too serious and she was glad we could laugh with her.

After about an hour and a half, our victim was finally given a bed, and they hooked her up to some monitors and gave her a hospital gown. A couple of hours later, we left her, hoping she’d rest. That was about 4:30 am.

I went home and slept for an hour or so, then I had to return my gear so the next shift could have it, and I will almost certainly never find out what happened to our victim. She may go back to her guy. She may move out of state. She may go back to using drugs. She may go to college. She may find a great guy to marry her and help her take care of her daughter. Her guy may be released with no bond, and he may kill her. Believe it or not, that’s not an unlikely outcome. This victim had a higher lethality risk than any I’ve seen. We always do a lethality assessment with intimate partner domestic violence victims. Victim advocacy requires a comfort with not knowing the outcome.

_________________________________________________

And then, I went home and slept. I slept off and on until 4:00 pm. It was glorious. I almost never have time to sleep after shifts like that.

Then, I got up, watched a series of lectures on Hitler, walked Moose, went for a run, ate dinner… and then I watched The Mighty Ducks and D2: The Mighty Ducks. It was a really nice recovery from the night before.

Now, I’m drinking coffee and writing. I’m loving that the air smells like Fall, even though it’s still 100 degrees out, and even though there are some terrible things that happen in this world, and in all likelihood, there are terrible things happening to someone in my city right now, I’m having a good weekend.

 

About My Week


I had a difficult week – not bad – just difficult.

The primary struggle this week was friendships.

There were two or three different instances when I felt like a friend or friends were being competitive with me. It centered around the big life decisions I’ve been making, and really stirred up anxiety and sadness in me.

I hate comparison.

People are different. Circumstances are different. There is no possible way for one person to look at another person’s decisions and believe they should also do (or have already done) the same thing.

I completely close off when people start comparing themselves to me, and I wish I didn’t. I wish I had it in my to tell them things like, “Don’t play that game. Don’t get sucked in. Make the best decision for you. Don’t take the decision I made for myself and think it somehow provides commentary on the decisions you’ve made for you.”

One of the times I felt I was being watched and compared to others this week was at a get-together of some old friends. There were about 9 of us, I think, and I hadn’t seen or talked to any of them for months. Realistically, I’ve been intentional about moving on from 7 of them, so it was bound to be weird. I almost wish, however, that I didn’t have so much news to tell them. I wish I could have faded into a corner and let them catch up with one-another. I wish we’d gotten together a couple of months ago when I wasn’t getting ready to take the LSAT and sell my house.

I’m not selling my house to make money, although I am glad to discover that I probably will make money. I’m not taking the LSAT to feel smart or to impress. I didn’t quit teaching as a commentary that all teachers should get out. But it feels like that’s exactly what 6 or so of those old friends saw… the assessment, judgment, and occasionally envy or admiration was palpable last weekend.

It bothers me. It feels too much like a jockeying for position, like there’s some hierarchy and everyone is trying to figure out where I fit and where they fit in comparison to me. I don’t want to fit. Anywhere. I don’t want to fit at the top or at the bottom or in the middle of any hierarchy. It bothers me that a hierarchy exists.

My anthem for this season: “It is the most difficult thing in the world for a person to run her own pace when she knows someone is watching.”

I no longer even remember where that quote comes from, but I find great comfort in it. That quote brings me a peace, because it strips away the hierarchy and recognizes that every runner has a pace that fits her, that’s her own.

When I start to see my flaws or my strengths, this quote reminds me that racing isn’t about beating anyone else. It’s about taking the person I’ve been given – taking Katie… her muscles, her fat, her brain, her heart, her whatever – and running the best pace she can run. This quote reminds me that no matter how many people are watching and evaluating my race, the pace I set can never depend on their evaluation.

Have a good week, friends, and run your pace, regardless of the pace others around you are running.

Loving Church


Since I was 19 or so, the church has been a hugely important part of my life, so when church isn’t going well, it wrecks me a little bit. It’s probably the equivalent of family not going well for someone else, partly because I’m a single woman living in a city without family, and partly because I’ve known the church’s potential for both good and evil. I’ve lived my life in the church, intimately connected… I’ve served, attended, hosted and led Bible studies, prayed corporately, eaten dinners, and sang together with the church… it’s hard to describe how much my sense of community and security is attached to the church, regardless of which church I attend or who is a part of that community.

My current church is not wrecking me.

With all of the rest of my life in an uproar – moving towards selling my house, taking the LSAT, looking for scholarships for Law School, losing friends, being without roommate Kendra, etc… – the church is an enormous comfort to me.

I’ve been attending Midtown Church for something like two ish (maybe three ish) years. When I landed there, it was after a long stretch of feeling like there might not be a church in the entire city of Tucson that was a good fit.

I’m a firm believer that churches are broken, and no one should expect to find the perfect church, but I’m also a firm believer that there are a few foundational elements that have to be right, and I feel completely blessed to be at a church where those foundational elements are right.

Midtown Church is prepping to merge with another church. Having been through a failed merge previously that sort of thrashed me around in the waves, you’d think I’d be worried, but it’s really nice that I’m not even remotely stirred up over it.

In large part, I’m not worried because I don’t feel like it’s my job to make it work. There’s a wonderful freedom in knowing that there’s someone else whose job it is to make it work, who is well-equipped to make it work. I’ve always struggled with finding the sweet-spot of church involvement, oscillating between over-involvement and under-involvement, but right now, I’m running a nice, sustainable pace.

I think about Mike sometimes (he was my pastor during the previous merge), and I feel a raging sadness at him, because he wasn’t ready, but couldn’t let go of it enough for anyone to help him. I’ve learned from watching my adoptive parents, my cousin, and Mike how difficult it really is to be a pastor. I have a great respect for the position. And as Brandon, Kira, and I were talking about the merge a few months ago, I realized how much peace I feel in entrusting myself to my current pastor.

Strong, humble leadership is a gift of unmeasurable worth

How Am I so Effing Slow?


I am looking into the possibility of going to law school in 2017 or 2018.

What I have discovered is that I may not have much trouble getting in… but the trouble will come with the paying for it. Although I am prepared to sell my house, quit my job, and take out loans, I’m really not going to feel comfortable going for it unless I can get about half of it paid for by scholarships.

How does one get a scholarship to attend law school, you ask? Well, the best chance of getting one large scholarship is scoring really high on the LSAT. Of course I will look into other avenues for scholarships, but I actually am a very good taker of tests, so I thought I’d start with the LSAT. Since the LSAT is required of me just to get in and I’d probably want to take it by December, if not September, I thought I should get on that. Also, taking the LSAT is a nice, noncommittal step I can take to gauge whether this is a terrible idea or not.

I took a diagnostic test yesterday. And I did not do terribly. I scored average for all takers of the LSAT, so I certainly would need to do better if I want to both get into law school and receive moneys.

There are some very specific things I struggled with, though.

  1. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to test people for 180 minutes? That’s a horribly long time to sit still and think, and I don’t have the stamina I used to have. I will need to take a lot of practice tests to get myself used to sitting for that long.
  2. I need to think significantly faster. There were 102 questions on the test, and I didn’t even get to 12 of them. I also got something like 8 questions wrong towards the ends of the sections, because I felt rushed. That alone is the difference between full ride and no financial help at all.
  3. I bombed one particular section. Basically, they give you a list of 6-8 items and tell you those items must be sorted into 2-3 columns with 6 or so rules about how you can do it. Ex: Adam, Brian, Charles, Derek, Ed, Fred, and Greg all go to the bar and purchase beers. The bar’s best sellers are Shocktop, Blue Moon, and Red Stripe, so the guys each try one of those. Each guy only drinks one beer. Brian and Ed choose the same beer. Adam and Greg choose different beers. Derek chooses Red Stripe. Two of the guys drink Blue Moon… and then they ask you 6 ish questions about which item falls into which column. I took what can only be described as a glacial pace at this. It wasn’t the I couldn’t answer the questions; it was that it took me twice as long as they gave me to answer each of these, so I ended up guessing quite a lot. I think my biggest problem was that I hadn’t seen a question like that in more than a decade, so I had to build a framework for each scenario and how to answer it, rather than just knowing what I needed to do to figure it out.
  4. Even on the reading comprehension section, I was pretty slow and didn’t finish, because they gave you like six ish really dense paragraphs to read… when I say really dense, I mean that it was the equivalent of reading Shakespeare. The sentence structures were out of control. The diction was out of control. The content was often specific to a field in which I had zero experience. And then, they would ask six questions, each of which took up about half a page, because they were wordy and ridiculous, as well. There were twenty four questions in this section, to be answered in 35 minutes. I didn’t finish.

So… what I’ve discovered is that I am smart enough to do this… but if I don’t hurry the hell up, I disqualify myself from scholarships just by not answering enough questions.

_______________________________________

With the decision of whether to go to law school or not, I’ve tried talking to people about it in advance, because I’ve been described as impulsive, and because I want to be better about including others in the major life decisions I make… and what I’ve discovered is that there were very good reasons I did things without consulting others in the past – not the least of which being that so many people have been completely unreasonable in their responses.

So, here’s the deal:

Why am I thinking about doing this?

That’s a great question. I think this might be a perfect fit for me, or as close to a perfect fit as can actually exist. I think I might be good at practicing law, and I think I might find fulfillment in it.

Also, I hate wondering if I’ve wasted my life, and I think I might wonder if I don’t give this an honest effort.

Also, it hit me like a whisper from the Holy Spirit that I should do this. I’m not saying God definitely told me I should do this. He didn’t… but I think He may have pointed me in this direction, and I try to listen well when I think God is whispering to me.

Isn’t law school competitive and difficult?

That’s an insulting question. Are you implying that I’m not capable of succeeding in law school, or that I’m daunted by challenges? Are you implying that I shouldn’t attempt it because it difficult? Do you genuinely believe I don’t know that law school is competitive and difficult and you’re telling me something new?

Please don’t ask me a question like this.

Do I know what it’s like to try to get rid of student loan debt?

This might be a good question to ask me once I have my LSAT scores, have applied and been accepted, and have been denied scholarships. My slowness to decide on the right choice may be detrimental to me when test-taking, but I think it’s probably wise to take time on each step of this real-life decision, rather than racing ahead 5 years to the day when I’ll have to pay off student loan debt. I’d prefer to figure out whether I’m capable to getting this completely paid for before I give up because it’s so expensive… it may actually cost me nothing to do this. We won’t know until I apply.

Also, I don’t believe money should necessarily deter me, even if I don’t get any financial help with this. The value of seeking and eventually finding my niche isn’t really measurable, and if it were measurable, I suspect it would be worth more than $80,000.

Where are you going to live?

I don’t know. I haven’t even applied yet. There are three schools I’m currently considering applying to… so I don’t even know which city I’ll be in IF I get into any or all of the schools to which I’m planning to apply. Slow the hell down.

What if it doesn’t work out? What if I get there and it’s too hard or I don’t even get accepted?

…then it doesn’t work out. It’s okay to try things and fail. I’m not going to be crushed because I tried something hard and it didn’t work out. I won’t be crushed if I don’t get accepted. I may even just reapply again a year later. Who cares? Trying and failing costs me exactly $208 and a knock to my pride at this point. It’s succeeding that’s costly. A better question would be, “What if it works out?”

 

 

Life Update: July 2016


Failure to thrive is a really mysterious diagnosis. We actually have hospice patients who are diagnosed with Adult Failure to Thrive. Basically, a person who has no specific disease diagnosis… no Heart Failure, Malignant Neoplasm of the ________, COPD, Parkinson’s, ALS, MS… a person can be disease-free, taking in a normal number of calories, and yet, be wasting away.

Like the physical diagnosis “Adult Failure to Thrive,” I believe there’s a really mysterious thing that occurs spiritually and emotionally that’s almost exactly the same thing. I’ve seen it in myself and the people around me. I’ve seen myself and others do all sorts of crazy things to try to fix it. Shasta got a personal trainer and learned to play the violin. I took up yoga and volunteered at an animal shelter. Amy took a sabbatical from work and traveled. But it’s never the things we do to try to make it better that actually make it better.

I really wasn’t well a year or so ago. I knew I wasn’t well, but nothing I did seemed to make it better.

However, as much as I want to understand what went on, because I want to be able to keep myself from wasting away like that in the future, I don’t understand.

I am doing well now. And I find the weirdest things making a huge difference in whether I’m thriving or not. So, I thought I’d take a bit of time to write about the things that are turning it around for me.

10. I started new projects. I really hadn’t been able to write at all while I wasn’t thriving. I kept writing, but it wasn’t good. It was just writing to keep the blog from dying. I certainly wasn’t able to put emotional and creative energy into my manuscript, but I’m not the type who does well with nothing to work on. I need to constantly be trying to improve something: my spiritual life, my house, a friendship, my race pace… So I decided to become a Vegetarian and lose weight. That sense of incremental achievement helped.

9. Roommate Kendra moved to Phoenix. I adore Roommate Kendra. She is the best roommate I’ve ever had, but I think my thriving needed complete privacy. I think my thriving needed to know that whatever Katie was, no one would see and have an opinion of it. It’s not that I was afraid Kendra would have a negative opinion. It’s just that if I’d had a roommate who was home and saw me regularly, she would have an opinion, and sometimes, a person needs to know that no one is watching. The hardest thing in the world is to run your own pace when you know someone is watching – Scott Jurek.

8. I watched TV. I’m generally not good at watching tv. It’s too inactive for me. I can usually make it through a 20-minute show, but beyond that, I feel the need to get up and cook something or vacuum or go for a run or read a book or chop down the Oleanders in my yard. This is fine most of the time, but I think sometimes thriving requires a still, gentle nap on the couch to exist. I think it requires the brain to stop turning and the body to rest. Sometimes, it requires the inaction of a good, long tv show.

7. I backed up on friendships. This could truly be its own post, so I’ll try to keep it simple. I generally believe that it’s not okay to give up on people, so I felt a really strong tension between that belief and some friends who had been my constant critics. The situation I found myself in was that I was living one of the low moments of life and my friends were relentlessly kicking me while I was down. It wasn’t the first time I’d felt an underlying judgment and unkindness in how they interacted with me, but it was the first time I realized I deserved better. Everyone’s friends mess up from time-to-time. Friends are flawed and human, and that’s okay. This wasn’t that. First, I tried to talk with the people who’d hurt me, but when they’d ignored and refused my attempts at reconciliation, I just backed away slowly and moved on. From my side of things, we  are at peace, but we aren’t close. It’s the first time I feel I’ve really stood up for myself with those friends. 

6. I got a dog. Moose is so important in my life. 🙂

5. I found something I can be good at, but isn’t easy. Volunteering for Victim Services feeds so many parts of me. It is part ministry, part community, part adventure… It’s challenging, but manageable. It’s the things my job isn’t.

4. A comic shop opened a branch in Northwest Tucson. I know this sounds stupid, but it really somehow brought me joy to be able to stop at the comic shop after work. I hate ordering comics from online, because comic shops seem like this last bastion of the local book shop. They are nostalgic and remind me of a time when people went to Blockbuster to browse, when movies and books weren’t quite so accessible as to be just a click away. I want comic shops to have my money, because I want them to hold out against Amazon, but it also seems stupid for me to drive for 35 minutes, browse and buy for 10 minutes, and then drive home for 35 minutes. Also, there is something really beautiful about the comic shop in how it provides a place of belonging and hope for people who don’t quite belong. So… now the geeky and nostalgic parts of me can be fulfilled simultaneously with a quick trip down to Fantasy Comics.

3. I exercised. I never really stopped exercising when I wasn’t thriving, but I was training for marathons rather than kick boxing. It’s a different kind of exercise.

2. I prayed. Like exercise, I never exactly stop praying, but I sometimes close off and pray obligatory prayers. I pray for things that matter like the world, others, and the glory of God. However, I thrive when I pray for the most minuscule, mundane things. I thrive when I pray for sleep and rain and weight loss. I thrive when there isn’t any part of my life that I hold as too personal or insignificant for God’s mighty hand.

1.Brandon offered to help me build a table. Brandon and Kira are a couple who I’ve actually known for something like 5 years. With the slowness that is my nature in friendship-building, I had probably only considered them to be my church friends until pretty recently. However, there was this sort of exquisite moment when I was admiring a table that Brandon had built, and I had said that I might try to copy him and build my own, and he said something like, “I’d love to help you with that.” I’d actually already pictured myself building that table and I was always alone. And it occurred to me in that moment that I could let Brandon and Kira help me. Brandon hadn’t offered because he felt he was going to earn points with God. He genuinely seemed to think it would be a fun project. So, I’m still imagining myself building that table, but I’m also imagining the help I might have in doing it. And I’m thinking that one of the absolute keys for me in thriving is having a strong sense of community. A sense that people are there for me because they want to be… I don’t struggle to be happy when I’m alone. I don’t feel a strong drive to be around people, but I’m realizing that I do feel a strong drive toward family, and that I truly thrive when the church takes on the role of family in my life.

—————————–

There have been a few setbacks recently in my heart… things that shook me and ache, but, by the grace of God, those things haven’t knocked me off my horse yet, and I’m still in the land of thriving.

The Definition of Home


I started reading a book called Saturday Night Widows. It’s not a book I intended to read or had ever even heard of, but I happened upon it when a volunteer was using my office, so I had nowhere to go for awhile, and I really couldn’t work on anything because everything was in my office. Thus, I was skulking in Sally’s office, bothering her. The book was on her desk.

I picked it up and started perusing the blurbs, eventually realizing it was a book I needed to read. So I’ve been reading it.

“Holding on there through so many momentous changes, I often wondered about the definition of home. Is it the place where you live, or is it the place where the people you love reside? And if the people you love are gone, where is home then?”

Becky Aikman is the author and that quote is about losing her husband to Cancer.

I’ve been blessed to have been adopted by more than one family at the crucial moments when I needed help understanding what home truly is.

As a kid, my understanding of home was sort of impersonal. I came from a hoarder’s house, so items were to be protected, catalogued, and hidden away for the future behind stacks of newspapers and beneath protective layers of dust. Food came out of bags and boxes. There tended to be a lot of television, solitude, and homework at home, while the substance of life existed elsewhere. Work/school/athletics were the primary focus of the day, and home fell into that the same way rest stops contribute to road trips.

I’m not writing that to complain. It’s just… I needed someone to show me that home wasn’t like that for everyone.

In adopting me, the Johnsons showed me that home came be a place of connection and community. It’s possible to invite others in, even when it’s messy. They showed me that food can slow down the relentless forward motion of a day, and wine can completely pause the world on its axis. There is a discipleship I received Mr. Miyagi-style by eating weekly dinners in the Johnson house.

The Hilsts, in adopting me, showed me that holidays can be simultaneously prepared for, yet relaxing. They showed me how tradition can feed the heart, and how Black Friday may not actually be beneath me. In my childhood, my family had a strong aversion to events. We liked for things to be casual and informal, but I found a joy in the eventishness of Hilst holidays, and I never once felt formal. They also taught me how to watch television with others, rather than next to others.

Home is, and probably always will be, a struggle for me. I always worry about decisions I make regarding the other people who inhabit my house, because I never feel like I’m a strong enough force to build the sense of home I want in the face of opposition. I fear the various ways others have robbed me of my sense of home in the past – both family and roommates.

I own the mortgage on a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom house, and as much as I’d like to see myself as that person who has people coming and going the way Martin Luther and Katerina Von Bora did, I find myself wanting to curl into myself a little bit. With my parents in North Carolina, the Johnsons in Phoenix, and the Hilsts in California, I feel a little lost. I feel like home is so incredibly fragile.

Sadly, I’m not writing this out of a mopey feeling at the loss of the Hilsts. I’m not wallowing or melancholy.

A year has passed, and with that year, I’m beginning to accept that home is no longer with the Hilts. It cuts me to write that because I really wanted to believe things would change only in superficial, unimportant ways when they moved. I believe that, of course, I was their home and they were mine. In the wisdom of Pink: “If someone said three years from now, you’d be long-gone, I’d stand up and punch them out, ‘cus they’re all wrong…” I write that sort of absurdly, because I can’t believe I’m like that – thinking in sappy song lyrics, but I do. I don’t think them begrudgingly at all; I don’t feel there’s a wrong in the quiet and distance the Hilsts are keeping. It just feels unaligned or off that I’m not close with the people who’ve been home to me.

As always, season turns to season, and I’m beginning to feel it might now be the worst thing in the world to be vulnerable with a few people with whom I’ve never been vulnerable before. It might not be the worst thing to tell geeky stories of ComiCon to people who’ve never heard them before, or to try to convince a whole new people to attend ComiCon with me. Maybe it’ll be okay to go through those beginning stages of friendship with new people, trying to explain why 200-mile relay races are awesome, books are wondrous, predestination is beautiful. It’s a stage of friendship I haven’t had to do since like 2005, but it is a fun stage of friendship when you embrace it.

 

I hate vulnerability, but it’s probably time to give it another chance. After all, it worked out pretty well for me last time; I found myself adopted into two great families.