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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Why Virginia?



"Why Virginia?" Is the question that I've most gotten in the last few days from those I work with. News broke Monday that I was leaving the store and heading up to Virginia, much to chagrin of many. I've had my store manager jokingly threaten to lock me in the store until I change my mind, among other things.

Now, as those of you who follow my exploits regularly know, I've been wanting to get back to Virginia since I had to leave there back in early October. It wasn't a very graceful exit (a blown out tire, a tow, a late-night hotel check-in, and misery will make anything less than graceful) and my arrival back in Alabama wasn't a favorite thing of mine.

But that's all about to be done. March 28th, I'm back in the place where I belong. This past weekend I traveled up there to close the deal on a place I wanted to rent -- and I closed that deal. It was a fun weekend, but a brutal drive there and back.

Since I got back, I've fielded the titular question a lot. Here's why.

1. Virginia has people I love dearly in it.

I have friends and family (not blood, but just as meaningful if not more) there, and being close to them is a very good thing. It's worth just about any price, any expense, any effort, to get back there as this weekend proved -- it's a 12-13 hour drive up there and another 12-13 back from Alabama and I did it just to close the deal on a place I'm RENTING.

Since I'll be nearby again, I can help out. I can show up randomly and make a day of things. I can be a part of something I desperately love being a part of. That's more than I can say for my time in Alabama, which isn't bad but certainly isn't fulfilling in the same way.

2. I'm converting to Catholicism.

This Easter, as a matter of fact. Doing so in Virginia, where this journey of mine started, is absolutely crucial. It's necessary and it's completely right to do it there. Being a Catholic in Alabama is a joke, really -- yes, there are Catholics here and I have a decent church nearby I like, but I don't love that church like I do the one where this all started.

No, that church has a special place in my heart. The people there have a special place and this doesn't work unless I start it all off in that place. I'm a Catholic noob and, even after my conversion goes through, I'll still be a rookie at this. I have SO MUCH to learn and figure out but I'll do it in the best place possible.

That church in Virginia, that place is where this started and where I want to begin this journey. I'd like it to be my spot always, but we'll see if that's in the cards.

3. I keep going back there.

God has made this all work, let's make that VERY clear. I didn't predict my current job taking me back to Virginia at all when I began it -- I work retail, after all, it's not exactly glamorous or known for mobility, but this worked somehow. I got the money, somehow. My car didn't die, somehow. I found a place, somehow.

And that somehow belongs strictly to God. In my six months of southern exile, I have grown to really appreciate the way he works, even if it's frustrating. He's answered many prayers (he's kept my best friend from suffering serious health issues, among other things), he's given me a glimpse of things here and there, and he's allowed me to actually trust him -- which, if you've been reading this blog for years (if you have, you are a saint), you know how I struggled in the past and still struggle with trusting the big guy upstairs.

I'm a control freak. Trusting the all-knowing, all-powerful Father is difficult to do when I don't control things.

Still, I wouldn't be here without him. This doesn't work without God. God keeps taking me back to Virginia and this time (I hope) it's for good. I'm taking up every stake I have here in Alabama and moving it to Virginia.

This is my make or break play and I think I'm going to make it.

4. Virginia is where I'm at my best.

The best things I've done in my life, short and largely unspectacular as it is, has happened in Virginia. In that state I found an adopted family that means the world to me (actually, probably worlds). In that state, I went Primal and began a weight loss journey which ultimately led me to lose 133 pounds in only 11 months. In that state, I found Catholicism and got answers to questions I've had for years.

Is it a perfect place? No, but no place is on Earth. But that place is perfect for me I think and, for a traveler of many states (Air Force Brat), I'm glad I found one I actually like.


Are there more reasons? Oh, sure. I could be here all day typing out why I love that place. But those are the main one's above.

I'm heading back and I'm excited.

God bless everyone and thanks for reading.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lent and Other Things






And we find ourselves here again: Lent 2015. If you missed last year's super-exciting Lent (filled with my usual brand of strangeness) feel free to take a look back starting here. As for what I'm doing this year, it very much resembles what I was doing last year ... which is to say, I'm trying to use Lent to gain a better understanding of my faith (even though, like last year, I'm just as unofficially Catholic as ever) and how it applies to my life.

I don't necessarily know what this Lent will bring. Last year's Lent was a strange and exciting time -- this year's Lent may be more of the same or something different, I'm not entirely sure. Whatever the case may be, this year's Lent (which began this past Wednesday) began the countdown to Easter.

Easter approaches and I'm still here in Alabama. With Lent now in effect, that means I'm officially on the clock -- I have 44 days left before April 5th arrives. My grandiose plan to get out of Alabama and back to Virginia is still in effect, I have the capital now (and the longer I'm here, the more capital I accrue) but I'm stuck.

The transfer from my current store to one in Virginia is frozen in limbo: it's like the other store is on a communications blackout, refusing any messages from my HR guy. That's frustrating enough, as you can imagine.

Equally frustrating is my helplessness in a number of other areas, where friends back in Virginia could use a hand and I'm stuck. Here. Again. Last year I was stuck in Ohio, this year in Alabama, but I'm in far better shape on multiple levels this time around, so perhaps that will expedite the process of getting back.

More than being helpless, I'm also suffering from a bit of confusion. If the court will recall, I did have one shining week in November with one shining example of a great girl; as of late, I find myself revisiting that week. Why?

The answer is probably because last week was Valentine's Day. I was never so happy to have to work than that day, a day where the very fact that I'm single is looked down upon as the celebration of "we" overrode everything else. The Valentine's Day section did have cards for other things than just romance this year (an improvement, I guess), but it still didn't take the edge off.

Anyway, I worked and was glad to work. Not so glad to have to work a double-shift the next day starting at 5AM (not fun) but this week has been a much easier week of work and my mind has been drifting back to that week in November.

I find myself fighting the urge just to make it plain and speak my thoughts/feelings. I feel like I'm at the scene in the romantic-comedy where the male lead is at the airport terminal and he's about to confess everything to his love interest, putting it all out there because he believes there's more.

Problem: I do believe there's more, but I'm fairly certain she doesn't. Hence, why I'm very likely not going to confess everything there is to confess, at least not at this juncture. I'm of the mindset that honesty is the best policy and that I should be honest, but she's clearly expressed her wishes (in short: NO) and I have to respect that. I have to honor that.

But I definitely want to figuratively spill my guts and put it all out there, just so I can be absolutely sure that I'm not making one of those "and I regretted it for the rest of my life" mistakes. I don't want to make such a mistake.

"Your experience is limited, it's not like that," you say. You're right, of course, it's not as though this girl is the only girl who'll ever show any interest in me. Odds say that there's bound to be another.

But I want this girl. Not in some dishonorable, deplorable manner -- this isn't just about a physical thing (yes, I realize that's prevalent in our modern hookup culture, but when you say"hookup" to me I think "Wireless router" -- the physical aspect is not an issue here). I want her for her mind, her intellect, her personality, her wit, the Southern drawl she has, her love of classic literature, her love of Doctor Who ... I want her for her. I could go on (as anyone will testify, I can roll on and on about things), but the point remains: that has to mean something, right?

It's not like she's the first. She's among a very select few, but not the first. And it's not as though she's a fantasy girl (she's quite real, even though her existence does confuse me on a number of levels). She has her flaws. I have mine and, for a week and a handful of dates, we shared those flaws and strengths for hours on end.

She made going into a Goodwill fun. And a salon store. And Walmart (which, if there's ever a test, that might be it -- Walmart is retail misery personified).

But what does it mean? That, I don't know. I'm confused by it. I'm confused by the fact I still have feelings for a girl who was only a regular part of my life for a week. Seven great days.

I feel like there are two possible directions my life could take right now. On the right is the path that I've wanted since I got to Alabama, a return to Virginia, a return to Catholic country, a return to people I love and would love to see as often as possible. That path is somewhat illuminated, it has goal-markers, signposts, it has some semblance of guidance to it.

And then we have the path on my left, which was opened to me thanks to that one week with that one girl; it's a path that's dark, shrouded in mystery, potentially overgrown and filled with mines. It's a path that could be just as lonely -- perhaps even more lonely -- than the first one, it's a path that has no signposts or guidance. It's a path I'm unwilling to go down.

Unless I could go down it with her. I'm completely and totally willing to blow up every carefully laid idea and plan I have to give that dark and scary path a shot. I think it's worth it, I think she's worth it, and I'm not unconvinced of this even though we're nearly at the three month mark since it all came to an end.

I don't know what I'm doing here and I'm not sure there's an answer that will present itself as either right or wrong. There are merely answers, all some shade of both, and I have it within my power to choose any of those answers. I can confess my feelings, I can make an impassioned speech to win her back, I can leave it be, I can try and forget her, or I can do none of the above.

I simply can't tell which is the most right or the most wrong out of those answers. I don't know what it means.

I'm devoting this Lent to trying to solve that question ... am I wrong? Should I bury these thoughts and feelings? Is there some answer in scripture, in teaching, that I'm missing? I don't know right now. I hope to find out once Lent is over.

Where I am once Lent is over ... that's another question entirely and one, perhaps, I'll be able to answer sooner.

Thanks for reading, folks. God Bless. 




Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Where's the Other Shoe?


I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was struck today by a sense of foreboding while at work, a sense that something was coming down the pike that I might not like. I thought at first it was just my imagination but then I was told I was going to have to report to work in the morning -- despite it being the first of five straight days off. So, I lost a day off, but it's not a horrible thing as I needed the hours.

Still, the sense of foreboding remained. I was told about having to come in tomorrow earlier this morning, shortly after I arrived for my shift, and the sense of foreboding has still remained. I think I know why the sense is there: I'm in the middle of a relentlessly good streak.

In terms of personal things, I've been very blessed since the new year has rolled around. I managed to keep my job (and keep most of my hours), my best friend avoided two serious health issues, my car isn't dying, I've been writing pretty decently, I've even managed to lose a little weight (still not back to 145 but I'm sitting at 148 now -- I'm closer), and I've completed my Catechism (which means I can now officially join the Catholic Church at Easter).

And all that is good. It's really good, but all that was Phase 1 stuff. All that was the preamble to the big stuff, to the things I want to do in Phase 2 of this plan of mine. Phase 2 being, of course, getting back to Virginia. This is where the sense of foreboding comes into play, as today I made the first declaration of my intent to get back there to work. I've begun the inquiry process of transferring to a store up there; tomorrow, I get to throw my hat into the ring fully and see where the chips fall.

I'm worried, naturally, though I really shouldn't be. I didn't anticipate having this job -- or having saved as much money as I have -- so this is all gravy, right? It is, yes, and it's also an incredible stroke of luck. IF I can transfer to a store in Virginia, it'd be awesome, but I don't think that's going to happen.

And, with Easter being on April 5th this year (super-early), I don't have time to waste on a pursuit that won't net me a job that gives me the hours and pay that I need to get a place up there. We're officially at the two months (and less) to go mark.

Phase 2 requires me to: get a job in VA, get a place to stay, and do all that before Easter so I can take confirmation at the my Catholic church of choice up there. That seems like a lot to do in two months time, not because the big things are but all the little things done with that.

If I get a job up there, they'll want a date I can be there: I can't determine that for sure until I have a place to stay, so I have to find a place to stay that's not craptastic, that I can afford, and I'll likely need at least one roommate to make some of the options work. I have to investigate these places to stay from afar, meaning I'm going to have to trust others to do some scouting for me/provide key advice for this.

I'm going to be putting a lot of trust in faith in other people, people I do trust mind you, but this is a big trust here -- this is a trust that's going to determine my living arrangements for the next few months at least (probably the next year). Doing all this from Alabama is difficult, to say the least.

I don't know if I can pull Phase 2 off. I think I can -- I really think I can do it, somehow, but there's a lot of things that have to go right. And that's why I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop; so much has gone right so far.

Something has to go wrong, doesn't it?

"But the cute girl you dated for a week broke up with you! That went wrong!" you say. That happened in November -- technically, last year. It's not recent news and the wound has healed some in that time span, so it doesn't hurt as much.

Where's the bad stuff? Where's the heartbreaking loss, the knife in the back, the twist that makes me regret getting up in the morning? I can't be due for all this, I can't simply be deserving of it. I know better to think I'm deserving of anything other than bad things ... I commit far too many sins and think far too many bad thoughts to believe I deserve a good streak.

But I'm mired in the middle of one now and I desperately want it to continue. Idealistically, Phase 2 goes off without a hitch: I get the transfer to VA, I find a good place for a good price, I'm able to help out the people I care about up there, I'm able to convert up there, and I begin the process of planting roots in an area I love with people I love.

That's a beautiful sentiment, but how likely is it? Statistically, it isn't. Something won't work, a key cog will get gunked up and I'll have to scramble. I'll have to find a workaround, I'll have to make a bet and hope it pays off.

My mind is running in circles and I can feel the stress digging into me. I know, I know, I should trust in God's plan -- I have issues with that, admittedly, so don't hate me for worrying over it. I'm a control freak.

I just need to remember to breathe and breathe I will. But I worry and I want this to work, as Phase 2 is the most important phase. It's the foundation being laid. Phase 1 was the prep work, Phase 2 is where the actual work begins.

I hope I'm ready for it.

Thanks for reading. God Bless, folks.