Can I tell you all the things I didn’t have the guts to say to my best friend?

We were road trips, all nighters, and the way an acoustic guitar sounded in dark rooms. We were brace-faces, bleach blonde hair that turned yellow, and learning how to drive cars. We were Waffle House at midnight for every birthday and placing bets on which one out of the three of us would make it to California first.

Now our moms still talk and sometimes I ask about how you are doing.

Because I went off to college, Sam got a full-time job fixing things, and you stayed in your basement.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes I just feel guilty. And I worry about you too much.

But sometimes I wonder how you think about it now.


 

It wasn’t until I had put the car in park that you realized you had left the key at your house. Turning around, I looked at the basket full of laundry sitting in the back seat, then back at you. Then you were getting out of the car anyways, and I was scrambling after you.
By the time I had caught up with you, you were around the side of your grandmother’s house trying to slide a screen door open. You gasped and I laughed when you were able to slide it open only a crack.
When the house next door opened the garage door, and your grandmother’s neighbors gave us weird looks, I realized how bad it must’ve looked: two kids trying to break into a house vie a sliding door.
After a few minutes of no luck on the side of the house, I walked back to the front only to realize you could’ve lifted the garage door. We’d been there for fifteen minutes.
I moved the clothes from the washer to the dryer while you loaded the new clothes into the wash after me.

I remember standing up, facing you, only inches from your blood-shot, swollen eyes, and just laughing with you.


That day, I didn’t have the guts to tell him what I really thought of him. Maybe he’d forget or he’d laugh.

When I called him on his twenty-first birthday, he told me he had been sober for a month, and I hadn’t known what to say.

Yesterday, I couldn’t shake the thought of him and the thought of all the things I never told him while I chased my dreams and he chased the next delivery of the things that kept him stuck in his basement.

So can I tell you all of the things I never had the guts to tell my best friend?
Because I believe all of this so much for you.
It’s the last Monday of the year, and I hope you know that someone– at least someone– feels this way about you.

I hope you know that you are good at dreaming and good at the things you dream about.
I hope you know that there are people sitting in the rooms you sit in, and you’re all that they can think about.
I hope you know that you are found in every memory that makes up the parts of someone’s childhood that they don’t want to ever forget.
I hope you know that someone wants to tell their kids all about you.
I hope you know that there is someone who believes in you fiercely.
I hope you know there is someone who loves the way you smell,
who loves your laugh and all the things that make you laugh.
I hope you know there is someone who remembers you, wonders about you, and misses you.
I hope you know that your name is someone’s favorite name.
And God, I hope you know that no matter how deep the hole gets that life helped dig you into, even when you’re deep in it and quick to say “You just don’t understand, I can’t come back,” there is always–always–someone waiting for you to look up and say you want out, someone waiting to finally help. 


We were sitting on the curb at the end of his grandmother’s driveway listening to the washer and dryer spin.
He pulled out a cigarette, and we sat there making up scenarios for the lives of neighbors we could see from where we sat. The sun was out and the cement felt cold under my hands, and for a moment I forgot about the things that distanced us.

He flicked the last ashes of his cigarette away, looked at me, and smiled. “You know we can go, right? We don’t have to wait for the load to be done. I just thought it’d be nice to sit here for a minute with you.”

I smiled back.
I turned the car on while he shut the garage door, and then he hopped into the passenger seat asking me to pass the aux cord.

And sometimes I wonder how long that sliding screen door stayed cracked open after we forgot to go shut it that day.

 

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Prodigal.

1a.m., the ceiling fan spins until I am nauseous.

4a.m., I’m uncrossing my legs and leaning back, pressing a red cheek against a cold tile.

Because 1:45a.m. was for splashing cold water on my face. 2:00 found me gripping porcelain. 2:53 found me back in bed, pressing my thighs against the mattress to stop the shaking.

After that first night, it happened just like sleep walking.
Then when the 1a.m.s stopped coming, the sleep walking feeling didn’t.

August 2014 taught me about being wrong, about walls and climbing them and falling from the top of them, about coincidence over “meant to be,” about people being wrong about me.

September taught me about anger and silence and isolation, about secrets, about second chances and how sometimes they are just given to us for closure.

October taught me about family and how money and water are thicker than blood, about loneliness and quitting, about trying to take control of my own thoughts.

November taught me nothing short of how dangerous it is to feel nothing at all.

December taught me about trying to forget and what it takes to mean it.

Then it was 2015, and January taught me about what it feels like when you stop avoiding, stop prolonging the pain.

It was like when I discovered that I could be wrong, I kept waiting for the moment where I would finally be wrong about all the bad. 

June 2015 reminded me of all the times I should’ve stayed.
I was writing to 60k people, telling them that I believed in them, remembering how the boy who lives off of tenth street used to tell me how much he believed in me– how he was the first person to tell me he believed in me.

I thought about the weight of those words, how I had forgotten them; I thought about how much I didn’t think about the boy with the blue eyes, how I had forgotten him; and I thought of how much I hadn’t wondered about God, how I had forgotten Him.

Then I cried to remember all the things I had forgotten, cried because I had tried so hard to forget– cried because I wondered why.

Yes, June taught me how important it is to never make yourself forget.

Forgetting does terrible things to a person.
And then I thanked God for His good memory. 

And I swear that there are times Tech tower shines a light on all of the ghosts I tried to shoo off.

I stopped counting my blessings and started counting the red lights on tenth street. 

I stopped counting sheep and started counting mistakes. 

I remember florescent yellow lights of a hospital waiting room, and I can’t forget the words I didn’t say.
I remember the hospital waiting room I didn’t make it to.
I can’t forget the funeral I never made it to.
I can’t forget the dream job I walked away from because I didn’t believe the words I was shouting for myself.
I remember all the hearts I pulled close in hopes that it would push away all the pain.

Waking up every day just to taste all of the words I never said still sitting in my mouth, swallowed down by my own passiveness.

Never thinking too much about God, because thinking too much hurt my head and my heart– because if God was good, and I couldn’t prove it, then I had no right to speak of Him or to Him.
So, I forgot.
I put Him in a box and made him exist for me when it should’ve been the other way around. 

And God, how I wished I could get back to the girl who talked to Him all the time–about the song on the radio or the weird dream she had the night before–instead of the girl who talked to Him all the time just to ask Him why He works the way He does.

Then a boy sat on the floor of my room and asked me why I had stopped letting myself think about God, and I had to tell him about how this cynical heart lost its wonder and just started demanding explanations.


This past month, I did something I never do: I went to the local movie theater–alone–bought a single ticket, and saw a movie by myself.

I wish so badly–after this four month hiatus of not being able to write down any good truth–I wish that I could tell you that I held my head high, that I laughed and enjoyed every moment of what was happening on the screen, that I spoke to strangers and made friends with the people who sat on my row.
That would be a good comeback.
That would be something worth reading.

But I can’t say any of those things.
Because the honest truth is that I couldn’t stop tapping my fingers; I couldn’t stop thumping my foot; I couldn’t stop chewing my lips. I was anxious the entire time.
And you know what? I made myself sit in that anxiety. I made myself stay. 

When I walked out of the theater alone, I sat in my car for a few minutes.

You see, those 1a.m. wake up calls might have gone away, but I got that same feeling every time I sat down in front of a computer screen.
For the first few weeks, I thought maybe it was because I didn’t want to go there, to that place of deep thought where I felt the lessons God was trying to teach me.
But then I sat in a theater alone, sat in that anxiety until I hit a wall.

You see, I’ve been terrified that if I sat down to write, I wouldn’t have anything to say if I wasn’t writing about the boy who lives off of tenth street or the boy with blue eyes. 

Do you wanna know what 2015 taught me?
2015 taught me about mistakes and letting go of them.
2015 taught me that I’ve got more to say than just lessons I learned the hard way.
That I’m more than mistakes.

The truth about me?

Sometimes, I want to work at the shack on the outskirts of town selling locally made soap instead of living a life worth writing about. 

Sometimes, I want to get lost in a crowd of faces who don’t know my name in some city I’ve only been to once or twice, and sometimes I sit in my car at the gas station just an few minutes longer, smiling about the greasy old men in the parking lot saying hi to each other on their way to work. 

Sometimes, I want the boy who broke my heart, and sometimes I beg God for a man I can worship next to the way I stand in worship with these sweet friends He’s brought into my life. 

Sometimes, I sit in coffee shops looking at people who are sitting by themselves, wondering if they are happy, and sometimes I sit in coffee shops wondering if I’m happy. 

I am learning, I am growing, I am seeing, I am trying to understand; I am failing, I am falling, I am searching, I am asking; I am deciding, I am changing my mind, I am speaking, I am listening– I am choosing, and always choosing. 


 

For the entire year of 2015, I have been obsessed with the Prodigal Son story in Scripture; the relationship between father and son, the way it is reiterated in different ways throughout the rest of the New Testament.
As December comes to quick close, I breathe more than I replay memories in my head. I slow down, and I make sure to sit in moments long enough to remember them. And I think my favorite part about the Prodigal Son story (as of late) is the fact that, when the son asked his father for his inheritance so he could leave– his father gave it to him. He gave it to him, watched him walk away from his love and his company, waited for him to come home, and welcomed him in.

Far too often I’ve found myself asking for my inheritance so I can go it alone.
And far too often, I’ve let my leaving keep me from coming back– start making lists and excuses as to why there won’t be room for me at His table anymore.
But there is room at His table. He never cleared my spot away. In fact, He’s waiting to throw that big feast for me.

2016: enjoying the feast at His table, thanking Him for never forgetting me.
And a whole lot of being brave about the things I’ve got to say.