When One Door Closes, Corri Pulls It Open

It’s been a long one, but a good one. Today I ventured into D.C. thanks to my friend Corri. I’m not sure if I normally would be down to see the city on a weekday, but my first thought was that would be good for the blog. That’s what it’s come to now – do it for the blog!!

Unfortunately, I’m horrible with public transportation. Maybe something to do with not wanting to make a fool of myself, but I haven’t exactly tried to learn. I guess learning through trial and error is sometimes the only way to learn. But we finally got me a reusable metro pass (ooh, how city of me), and off we went.

As we walked through town, I kept thinking of my times in Boston. The city and its historic, brick buildings had more of a charm than any other city I’ve been to, but maybe those feelings are more so tied to the person I once shared it with. Maybe I’ll never love another concrete city in the way that I loved Boston, but I’m okay with that – the mountains have my heart now.

12910776_10208169221206383_1668842963_n

Wow I wish these pictures were less grainy. Soon I’ll be putting in those hours for some kind of camera, either a point and shoot or a GoPro if I’m lucky enough. Anyways.

After walking through the city, I realized just how little I knew of the place. I’ve been to D.C. a handful of times and I live an hour west. Corri is from Wisconsin and she said she and her family used to go twice a month when they first moved here. Mental checklist: take advantage of being this close to D.C. more often… do it for the blog! Do it for yourself!

I guess the monuments don’t really captivate me anymore. I don’t know if they ever really did. How are George Washington’s accomplishments immortalized by a giant toothpick? Museums may have a stronger effect on me, but even then I don’t really remember ever being touched to my core by staring at an historical artifact. I need to feel a connection. I remember going to the Native American museum on a field trip once. As I’m part Native American, I found it incredibly fascinating. It combined the modern day museum with the spiritual nature of the indigenous tribes of North America.

Side note, they knew how to live. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel healed by being out in nature. An old friend of mine decided he wanted to explore different religions, and he landed on Taoism because it was all about finding the path to the ultimate goal: returning to nature. That thought crosses my mind every time I step on a Maryland shuttle bus. If there was ever a place that needed to return to nature, it is College Park.

Back to D.C.

The Cherry Blossom Festival is this weekend, so we trekked past the monuments in the hopes of seeing some beautiful blossoms. We weren’t disappointed. We wove our way through the netting of people, dodging strollers, ducking past cameras, tripping over roots as we searched for a picturesque moment.

12939272_10208169222046404_738702795_n

(I’d say we found a few)

Corri was talking, ever the tour guide, about how the cherry blossoms were given to us as a gift from Japan after WWII. The idea was a bit absurd, considering our dirty hands. I hope we gave something to them in return.

I thought it silly, what we consider an apology. Thousands upon thousands of people were killed in Pearl Harbor and in Hiroshima, lives cut short or damaged beyond repair. Children grew up in fear, and they were to be considered the lucky ones because they were given the chance to grow up. Mothers, wives, brothers, all other family thrown into depression at the loss of their children, lovers, role models, etc., and we are given the gift of beautiful cherry blossoms in the hopes of putting these horrors in the past.

These lives ruined by war, such a logical and methodical idea. The reparation? A beautiful, artistic idea, as if the left brain is responsible for the attack and the right brain is responsible for damage control. I have a hunch that the minds that thought the cherry blossoms to be a beautiful, meaningful statement were not the same minds behind the kamikaze pilots.

But our acceptance of these beautiful trees is evidence that we do hold meaning in symbolism. We understand the beauty, we see the sacrifice, we forgive. Nothing is ever as blissful is finally being able to forgive. You feel the house of anger, misery, and bitterness that you have built collapse on itself, and the new breath of life is what it truly feels to be free.

I find it beautiful that these trees, these symbols, are a sufficient peace offering. To see the blush petals falling softly to the ground, no matter how harsh the wind whips, instilled a calmness in me. In a bustling city surrounded by people, cars, and buses, I felt quiet. Peaceful.

And on our way back to College Park, Corri and I ran to catch our train and she hopped inside just as the doors were closing, leaving me still standing on the platform. Lucky enough, she and a nice man were able to wrench the doors open wide enough for me to slip inside. Almost had me, L’Enfant!12939225_10208169223046429_1960290405_n

12910585_10208169223166432_2013526735_n

Of course this doesn’t capture it, but the dim yellow sunshine filtering through the metro station gave the train a very sentimental glow.

I am learning to be a tourist, that it’s okay to have your camera out to capture a moment you don’t want to lose. I’m also learning that it doesn’t have to be the perfect picture to still hold meaning (although I do still want a better camera).

Lucky me, I got to continue my serenity by ending the day with yoga. I haven’t been in weeks, so my shoulders and triceps are not happy with me right now, but it’s a start. Here’s to getting back on track.

Wednesday’s yoga classes always get to me. During the closing moments, lying peacefully on our backs (I’m not even going to attempt to spell the word, but I think it’s pronounced suh-va-sin-a), listening to whatever background noise Chad has picked out for us today, I almost always have a profound moment with myself.

A few weeks ago, after having a horrible day, bound so tightly by anger, I came to yoga and worked it out. I felt calmer, sure, but still upset. During the final moments of rest, Chad played sounds of soft rain, thunder murmuring in the background. I was instantly pulled back to when I was 11 years old. I don’t even think it’s a memory, just a vision. I was 11, sitting in the warm, green, dewy grass in my backyard. It was summer, and it was humid, and I was quietly listening to the storm that had just rolled through. I have since spent the past few weeks trying to chase that calmness, that peace, during difficult times.

Today, Chad played something different from the rain and thunder. I was trying to imagine what it could be, and suddenly I was in Victoria’s backyard, with her and our other neighborhood friends surrounding a bonfire that sat in the old washbin. It was a clear night, crickets chirping, and I just sat and smiled. Victoria and Jess were talking animatedly, and I just sat back and smiled.

I think it says something that my peace has been found in nature, back home in Middletown, and when I was younger. I don’t know what it means, but I’ll keep searching.

For now, I think I’ll watch Ponyo. Or maybe I should go to bed since I have class in the morning… But I think Ponyo would make me happier.

Cheers

 

 

Advertisements

Siren’s Call

If you’re looking for some background music, click here.

Recently I’ve been having those days where it’s too tempting to do nothing. I’m usually no nonsense when it comes to getting to the gym, but I think the weather turning cold again as well as my studies becoming more intense has made me feel lethargic. But I got my butt off the couch and to the gym, and I found that everything was thought-provoking.

I crossed the bridge, the one I’ve crossed one hundred times on my trek to Eppley. The one that plays with the familiarity of home, because it looks just like the one in Middletown Park. I kept my eyes to the horizon, searching for the perfect moment, another beautiful shot that’s never quite the same as seeing it with your own eyes, feeling that wonder take hold of your heart.

Even my HIIT class itself made me feel lighthearted. I need to learn to smile more. I’ll add it to my mental list.

09538592-62a7-4406-b39e-11788de95a6d

On my walk home, the sun glows behind me, against me, warming my skin as if the whole world has always been trying to make me smile and I’ve just been too oblivious to notice. I cross that familiar bridge and I’m shocked to finally notice the stark contrast between the trees and the concrete. I wonder if I’ll ever find beauty in a place like College Park, so wrought with cement and brick, an unfinished game of Tetris.

I think we must be a foolish species, to think we can improve nature. Try as we might, we all know of a building that has been made more beautiful because a vine wound its way up a wall. I think of the little weeds that somehow break through cracks in the sidewalk, how persistent they must be. Maybe I should add that to the list too. Be persistent – I can do anything.

I cross the other, boring bridge that leads me to my complex and reminds me of nothing and no one. I decide to make my way to the small river under it. I haven’t done this before, but I’m curious.

After shaking off the embarrassing feeling of people watching me, I am surprised by my own awe. The river listens to the wind as it whispers its delight, having chased all the clouds from the sky again today. I spot some fish in the river, just floating, sharing this calm moment with me and the river and the wind. Of course Pocahontas pops into my head. The color of the wind must be blue, as that’s the only color in the sky today. Or maybe it’s also green as it runs through the grass, plays through the trees. Maybe brown as it playfully unravels my hair. I guess the wind could be any color. It must be fun.

As I said, my studies are becoming more pressing. If I wasn’t so close to graduating, I think I might just drop out, work part-time, and do whatever I want with my days. I’m keeping my eyes on the summer. I have big plans. So I stand, parting with my wonder, and I climb my way back to reality with a new understanding of why sailors are drawn to sirens.

12900133_10208157000540874_2496792_n

12919077_10208157002900933_579811032_n

 

 

A Hum and a Howl

Having this blog has already helped inspire me. I walk around campus looking for the next mediocre photo I can post to the page, something that captures a new side of this place that I haven’t seen, haven’t been looking for.

The dryer hums and rattles behind me, my feet are cool – I wore sandals today in hopes of warm weather. Instead I was greeted with a cold wind that whipped right through my sweatshirt. I guess that’s how being here has made me feel so far.

4cd0fa11-c687-42e3-99f4-3fbe1a3b18cb

I expected Maryland to be the reparation for the disappointing college career I’ve had. Sometimes I feel there’s a lot of pressure for me to be happy here, “is it everything you dreamed it would be?” Well, no. I dreamed it would be a great place to meet people, grow and prosper, and explore new things. Instead I find it’s much easier than usual to slip into the sea of people here and go about my day unnoticed. This is the first time in my life that my professors haven’t known my name. I’ve always been shy, and I guess this is where I learn to introduce myself and branch out. Finally forced out of my comfort zone, unlike the terrapin that has come to represent this place, who has all the comforts of home on his back.

But I think I need this. If I never leave my shell, I’ll be stuck. Stuck in the same old town with the same old people in the same old job with the same old problems. I’ve done a lot of soul searching recently, yet I haven’t made any breakthroughs. If anything, my searching has left me even more lost. Where do I go? What will make me happy?

What will make me happy while taking me out of my comfort zone?

I cling to familiarity. There is comfort in familiarity, a sense of calm. But no matter how far my branches stretch, the roots still remain, clinging to the same old soil.

I love my little Middletown. It’s nice to look up and see mountains and a blue sky instead of just brick buildings. There will always be a connection there, but I’m caught between hanging on and letting go. Maybe it doesn’t have to be an ultimatum, but that’s how it feels right now. I fear I will return and never again leave, never branch out and live elsewhere. There are too many places to experience, too many people to meet.

Yet I also fear what it would mean to leave. I would be away from family, from close friendships, from everything I’ve ever known. For the third time in my life, I would be alone in a new place, left to my own devices to figure out where to go.

4093ee62-cd87-40ad-88e7-bb4050c09bb6

As I write this, I realize that’s what I need in my life. It’s not like leaving someone behind means letting go of them forever, that the gate will be shut, the bridge will be drawn, and I am left to sink or swim with the crocodiles. Starting somewhere new opens up a whole new storybook for you to fill, and it’s your duty to take the pen and start writing yourself a beautiful, adventurous story.

There’s comfort in familiarity. There’s opportunity in the unknown.

 

My First Blog

So let’s get started! I have no idea what I want this blog to be about. Probably just my life, my thoughts, my perceptions, my experiences. I hope to someday be able to go back through my blogs and see how I’ve grown as a person, because you don’t always notice the day-to-day changes, and then somehow those tiny changes have lead to a completely new you.

But let’s start with who I am and where I am now:

  • I’m 20 years old (about to be 21 in 45 days WOOHOO!)
  • I’m a student at the University of Maryland, studying Communications and Professional Writing
  • I have always loved writing, and I think it’s the only creative thing I have (but I’m trying to branch out)
  • I find communication theory more interesting than my lecture classes
  • I work part-time at The Main Cup as an expo and I love it; it’s my second home and I always try to make it a point to see my second family when I come home
  • I do not have a boyfriend (boys are too complicated)
  • do have some amazing friends (shoutout to Ryan, Alex, Mary, and Will)
  • I have no idea what I want to do for a job
  • I love animals and I want to foster
  • I am itching to travel, even if it’s by myself
  • I love mountains. I grew up in a small farming town tucked into the mountains, and I have seen some purple mountain majesties.
  • I don’t know how to camp, yet my recent dream is to backpack the Appalachians
  • I’m young and everything is either terrifying or exciting – and sometimes both!

Some days I may be casual, like this, and some days I may be more soulful. I’m not sure where it’ll go, but life is wonderful right? And I’ll spice things up when I start working enough to afford my own little camera. I have a feeling I’ll be putting in a lot of hours this summer…

Much love,

Dani