I found myself perfectly lost among the galvanizing streets and buildings of Chicago. In a vibrant city of skyscrapers and misty, frothy dreams, my mind was dissolving and unraveling like the clouds that hovered above me, just beneath the towers. My heart throbbed with endless possibility. As I stood in awe on the corner of Michigan Avenue, with busy bodies hustling past me, I drank in the sensation of pure thrill that I was in a place congested with stories and sibylline streets that yearned for my wandering feet. The mysteries dripped out of traffic lights and leaked out of freckled bricks. I knew, as I blended into that moment and soaked it in like watercolor, that I desperately want to live in a big city someday. Deep in my dusty bones, I felt the electricity of being unknown, and they clattered at the thought of experiencing the unfamiliar. I find a home in the idea of someday.
I moved through the jungle of skyscrapers and pondered the ferocious beauty enveloping me. The dazzling city lights illuminated the night sky that dripped between the twinkling windows like tar, dragging stars down onto the sidewalk like a thick, gooey sap that slowly spread into gutters. Overwhelmed with the life brimming between the buildings, I felt as if I were stepping on those sticky stars while a thousand symphonies thundered in my heart, making it beat as fast as the “L” zoomed by on its track. There I found a portrait of myself, dissolving in the mist and discovering treasure troves of words everywhere I look. My restless soul is hungry for change, and I devoured those Chicago streets with every dancing step I took in my torn up Toms.
I love this city, this busy, flourishing garden of steel and brick. In the clouds, I’m together, just slightly ripped apart by towers piercing through me. A mosaic of possibility, I’m splitting at the seams.
My trip to Chicago with my mom was one of the greatest adventures I’ve had so far. We ended up relying on maps (real maps, not iPhone maps, because that thing glitched out and left us in the dark) yet somehow, things miraculously worked out great for us. From staying in an antique, quirky hotel with an old-fashioned, sketchy-at-best elevator, to figuring out the Amtrack and waiting four whole minutes for Uber cabs in Milwaukee, not to mention walking more than 30 miles and feeling like my legs were going to deflate and wilt like a three-day old balloon animal, we will definitely carry some memories to laugh about. (like the big dude waiting at the L station early in the morning, complaining about his BROKE DOWN TUUUUUUUUB, and the beyond heavenly mini deep dish pizza from Gino’s *slobbers*)
Looking at colleges while we were there was kind of a kick in the gut. Like okay, start your applications now, but it was super exciting at the same time. I’m lucky because I’ve always known just what I want to do, which is write. Big shock, I know. So I will be a journalist one day and hopefully write and interview and tell stories about spectacular things. This is what I want, deep in my heart. Just thinking about it makes my heart beat faster. The undeniable truth though, is that God could have an entirely different plan for me. In an instant my life could be completely turned upside down with all the contents shaken out, and my hollow, wooden body would still be his. It scares me that my fairytale might never come true, but I need to trust that it’ll be okay, whatever alternate fairytale occurs.
No matter where my city heart wants to go, Christ is with me. I don’t want to run from him, but I know that I would never be able to if I tried. I know that wherever I go, He is there. I don’t feel the burning fire of the Holy Spirit I remember feeling last summer, but I will not give up on him because he will never give up on me. I know that my relationship with him is not an emotion, it’s faith. And faith can be utterly painful sometimes, I know because I’m struggling right now, overwhelmed with my present and future smashing in my face all at once, but my faith still drums in my chest. My faith is what drags me to my knees in front of the cross, thirsty for the tiniest dribble of Christ’s blood, and even I know I don’t deserve that much.
He carries my complexity like a delicate music box, and knows exactly where and when he will open it up to sing. I’m a dirty, filthy sinner, I know I let my Jesus down every single day, but his love holds me fast when I feel like running away. No matter what I did or how I sinned this time, he calls me back to himself. Lately I’ve felt like such a sinner that I’m ripping myself from his fabric of peace and shriveling like an annoying strand of thread, but everyday, without fail, I feel that gentle knock on my heart to come to him. To come to him and write. To write my prayers like I’ve always done. He doesn’t care how I’ve sinned, it won’t stop him from beckoning me, his first love, my first love. My truest love, the reason I’m able to love. I belong to him, and the ways I’ve disappointed him and myself won’t keep him from embracing me like a helpless newborn, as I weep into his wounded sides. Without him, I know that my big city dreams would mean nothing. They would be material, cheap satisfaction. But with him, my dreams come to life, and he takes my hand and sprints through the busy streets with me. My future belongs to him, and every story still to be told. He is just waiting for the right time to hand me the ink so I don’t stain my pale skin.
Right now, life is magical. My gold award project is coming together better than I ever dreamed it would. My friends are amazing, and I met an incredible boy named Grant that writes beautiful poetry and goes cloud watching with me. I definitely didn’t see him coming, but now that he’s in my life he’s all I could ask for. Kaylee is 18 and still the most down-to-earth, inspiring best friend I know, and Peyton is 18 now too and such an exciting, gorgeous best friend (some things never change 🙂 As I’m sitting on my familiar bed, looking around my cluttered, randomly embellished room, I’m realizing how blessed I am to be alive, in this place, with the people I know in my life. How a simple girl like me is finding heaven on earth, in the people she talks to and the experiences that make her heart stop.
A few weekends ago, I got the chance to attend Steubenville, which is this hugeeeeee youth conference for Catholic teens. No really, there were 2,500 people there from all over. It was mind-blowing. Anyways, during Saturday night adoration, I was expecting to start bawling like I usually do during adoration, but that didn’t happen. At first, I was like, I’m doing this wrong. My heart isn’t in it. But, I learned later, it was in it, and it’s okay to not cry. It’s okay to rest in his peace. I asked him to speak some sort of word or sentence to my heart that I needed at that moment. Nothing came for a while, but finally, I had a vision of him looking straight into my eyes and telling me, You Are Mine. I’ve kept going back to that phrase when I’m feeling unworthy or sinful. It doesn’t matter to him. I am his. He is my city in all of its glory.
We will see where my journalism dreams take me. For now, I’ll just imagine the radiant city in the palm of my hand, and my suburb heart will spin with high-rise hope.
P.S. My temporary break from blogging has left me feeling like an uprooted tree, with dry, itchy roots that poke through dusty soil like skeleton fingers. I’m that tree in the blogging forest, the one that’s in danger of being outdated and hauled to the dumpster. BUT, I’m back. I’ve decided that no matter how busy my life becomes, writing is a priority, and ever since getting a blog I’ve been pressured to write, which is sooo good for me. So, I will try my very best to write more and tell more stories of my adventures. Such as…