Thursday, February 20, 2014

Always Point Me North

This week has been exasperating. I'm not particularly sure why it started, but even in the middle of lots of textbook face-palm moments, I like where it's ending up. I feel like I'm drowning in grace (as per usual) and in perspective (how refreshing) and insight (how frightening, wonderful...)

Today, I had the pleasure of giving a planetarium show to a class of middle school students. It always encourages me to interact with these young, inquisitive, brilliant minds and to laugh with them and their curiosity, uninhibited. They left me, rejuvenated, to my own devices and instead of heading to the department's colloquium as I probably should've, I stayed inside the dome.  

Throughout these past few weeks of my heightening anxiety, the planetarium has become my hiding place. It is cold, and dark, and it has no corners. It's perfect. But today was a day that I had been dreading, so I stayed inside the dome to deal with it.

The summer night sky in the year 2010 means the entire world to me, especially on the night of July 6th. So through the magic of the projectors, I turned back the clock to that night and transported myself to the quaint little town of Delaware, Ohio. I leaned back, gazing fondly at Antares and Vega and Saturn and Spica, and had a little chat with Lawrenzo.

Today marks three months since he took his life. And I'm not sure why I remember this, or why I think of him so often...but I think it has something to do with this:

July 6th, 2010 is my independence day, my day of breaking free from depression. I told him this, today. I don't think that he knew. But, I do know that he constantly made me laugh. He came into my life during one of the most gut-wrenching, dreadfully dark seasons in my recorded history, and he illuminated my inclination to smile again. Even when things were difficult in his life, he illuminated all of ours. I told him that we all miss him, and that I wish we would've known how deeply it all ran before it was too late. And that he couldn't possibly even begin to realize how much of an impact he had on us, and his world. But he was there under the stars with me, sending chills down my spine, and we reminisced and I laughed. About that time we were at the West Chester hospital until 2AM, and I was sitting outside with Nikki, singing for hours. And how talented he was, and never realized. How unbelievably intelligent, never believing. How flattering he was; telling me at age 19 that I was "so smart that I basically invented Quantum Field Theory," and how I still have no idea what that even means, and between the two of us, he was the one who could really understand it. I told him that I had thought of him last year in lab, when I was trying to synthesize Josephson junctions, failing. I think of him every time I work out a harmonic oscillator problem. And I wish we had known how precious our time together would be. And I am angry with him, and I'm sorry, and I'm sorry that I didn't realize how much he loved me until it was too late. And I miss him, and love him. He's everywhere, just like we always used to sing, with chords instead of words. So, smiling at Polaris, I shut it down and left. Always point me north, friend. 

I feel very blessed to have access to a planetarium. Strangely enough, I can use it to heal.

That's interesting, because my therapist suggested that I blog about what it would look like for me to be a totally healed person, and I think I got a kick-start on that particular night in 2010.

I made the mistake back then, though, of believing that my instant of healing was a destination. And it was, to a small extent...it was a foothold. But then I became discouraged every time I had a bad day, and that's self-directed disappointment...and I am not on board with that. 

Instead, I'm learning another nuance about grace every day. How to accept it from others, how to accept it from myself, and how to give it to myself in the first place. I know now that healing isn't a destination as much as it is a journey, and I'm so on board for this painful, enlightening trip. At very least, I want function. I want to be emotionally available, and brave enough to be vulnerable when I know that I need to be. I want to learn how to lean on people when I need to. I want to finish my Master's, I want to start my PhD, and I want to finish my PhD. I want to stop being burned out. I want to keep finding out what love is, in all of its forms. I want a family. I want to be as arms-wide-open and fearless as I feel. It's funny; I spent so many years tightly securing the walls around myself, and now, I want to start taking them down. It's easy to feel as if all that work had been for nothing, but I know that those walls were built for a reason, for such a time as then. But this? This is a revolution. This is a brand new day.

I told Lawrenzo that I wouldn't give up, and I won't...but no matter how much I love and miss him, I'm not really doing this for him. I'm doing this for me.

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