free *bucks

I went to coffee with my dad yesterday. I drove out in the cold to Kipling and met him at a Starbucks near the highway. It was good fun. I felt a little apprehensive pulling off and having coffee in that neighbourhood. It’s near where Jason lives and I’m always in terror of running into him. Is that childish? I also have a fear of Castle Rock, which I drove through today, because I don’t want to see Nick either. I’m just not sure what you say to someone after dating, breaking up and not talking for several months. I mean, hello, how’s work, how’s your life, the basics. But still, it’s bound to be awkward.

ANYWAY.

I went to coffee with my dad and he generously handed me an empty bag so I could get a free tall drip. I don’t always love Starbucks and their drip…but for free? heck-a yes! We nestled into a corner because the place was quite busy and Popi said I only had 35 minutes until he had to head back to work. So I kicked in the circular breathing and started unloading.

Somewhere in those 35 minutes which became 40…somewhere I realized how lucky I am. My parents are amazing. I flipping love them. I’m so blessed to have them, and it’s weird because I haven’t appreciated them in the past 6 months. But my daddy is so wonderful, he loves me despite the fact that I can be a real brat. He gave me this huge hug yesterday and said he loved me and Jesus loves me and he was proud of me and said he could tell I was doing better.

And then today, I took some “Kick-ass Immune” from Whole Foods to my mum cause she’s feeling a little under the weather. And she was all smiley. “Oooh! Just let me wash my hands and then I can HUG you!”

Love love love my family. I can’t believe I went for a few months and was crabby with them. They are so incredible.

funnies

here are some amusing quotes from life recently.

“We’re rocking out to Christian music and smoking a cigarette. This is like one of my favourite things to do. Seriously.”

“OMG. That is SO going on the blog.”
“Don’t put my name on it. Well, actually, you can put my name on it. Yeah, put my name on it.”

“Do you spell ‘queue’ q-u-e?”
“U-E”
“Yeah, Q-U-E.”
“UUUU–EEEE!”

“You manage a band.”
“You manage a band?”
“Yes, my new happy nerdy place is reading about guitar amps.”

“You think she’s all conservative and sweet. But then you put on some music and she’s like, ‘look out! I grew up with black people!’ and starts throwing down dance moves.”
….[a few hours later in a totally separate conversation]….
“I think he sees me as this really modest, conservative girl or something. But we were at Brad’s and someone put on music and I was like ‘let me show you how it’s done, I grew up with black people!'”

“Marriage is beautiful. But I hate to shatter your dreams, marriage is fricking hard.”

“I’m from Delaware. [hastens to explain] but don’t worry! I’m not from slower lower.”
“I am.”
“Oh. Um…”

“He was like, ‘I’ve been admiring you from a distance for awhile now,’ and I was like, ‘omgosh! creeper! I’ve never even seen you!'”

“My dad said I was the most sacriligeous person he knows.”
“I think that’s a compliment.”

Sunny afternoon

You should watch the video at the bottom, I mean, you should play it while reading this post. It is my soundtrack for this post. It’s light and cheerful. I thoroughly enjoy Florence and the Machine. It’s a slightly bizarre video. But worth it. She has an incredible voice.

We followed someone in the parking lot today, parked next to them, got out and introduced ourselves. The kid looked terrified. But he had a bumper sticker for Lacrosse the Nations. We couldn’t pass that up. He shook our hands. He wants to go to Nicaragua. Maybe someday, he’ll love Jesus and  be more than just a good kid as Lou called him. Maybe someday, Jesus will pull him out and make a brilliant work of art from the pieces of this lacrosse player on Arapahoe Road.

And then, there were the memories of last night. The moment when I walked into Molly’s and saw everyone sitting around. I just stood there for a moment, probably looking awkward. I was tired, exhausted might be a better word. I’ve had too many late nights, too many open conversations, and not enough running. I didn’t know where to go, I was going to climb over everyone to find a seat. I lovethose people. I was relieved to walk into the room and be amidst the laughter. Molly grinned, “there’s food and drinks in the kitchen.” I came back with a plate of chips with some cheese, green onions and jalapenos sprinkled over it. Ingrid looked at it and then looked at me. “Did you not want chili?”

“there was chili?”

“Yeah, a freaking huge pot on the stove.”

“Oh.”

and they started laughing agin. It was glorious. I love my community. We sent over an hour at lunch yesterday where we took over the restaruant and then we spent hours eating food, telling stories about epic hikes** and funny things about us that no one really knows.

It’s sunny today. It was warm. I didn’t wear a coat. I wore my new jeans that I spent too much money on given my current economic situation. ‘Grid was laughing at me. Matt and I had a brilliant conversation about kavorka and lebanese food and I laughed. And all I could think was, this is perfect. This is good. We’re so jacked up most of us. But it’s so good.

and now, I think I could go for some goat cheese. mmm. delicious.

_______

**Molly and I re-told our story of the hike. It was awesome. We showed pictures. People laughed. I like it when people laugh.

the brotherhood

S: would it be so bad if the brotherhood took over? they’ve done better healthcare and charity than Mubarek ever did.

R: The mafia did nice things for the neigborhood but it was still a criminal organization. So is the brotherhood.

 

alright, alright. point taken davis. point. taken.

hiking. cliff jumping. flatirons. snow.

That pretty well sums up my day on Tuesday. But in case you’re interested in a little more description, I’ll give it a shot.

Molly and I went hiking up in Boulder around the Flat Irons. I haven’t been hiking since the summer time and I haven’t been running in three weeks as of today. So I won’t lie. I was nervous. Molly seems like a hiking aficionado. So when we looked at Chataqua trails I voted for the 4 miles and not much elevation gain. Well, we did that. It was a good climb up to the second flat iron. The trail had been packed down so that the snow was hard and grey and slick. It wasn’t snow. It was ice. I would have preferred to hike in the squelching mud of the open meadow. But here, in the dense cover of the trees, there was only ice on the trail as we slid around switch backs and I squealed with ecstatic terror every few steps. We both fell, me against a rock that attempted to  claw my face, she on her rear when her feet slid out from beneath.

icy path masquerading as the trail on the way up

But we made it to the flat iron and climbed around on top. We leered over cliffs and looked into the wide spaces of Colorado. We could see from the red roof tops of CU Boulder, clumped together in the city like the ancient roman cities amid the overgrown Italian modernity. And we could see to the soaring sky scrapers of Denver, grasping towards heaven, power and immortality. But they’ll be torn down and the inhabitants of their cubicles soon forgotten. I scrambled up between two boulders and found a divet in which to rest. Molly clambered up beside me and we listened to the wind whistling through the pines. There was still the rush of the distant city beneath us. But here, on the ledge of this rock, over looking a deathly drop, serenaded by sun and biting breeze, we were alone. And it was glorious.

But then the real adventure began.

“I think I see a trail over there,” I said, pointing behind the first flat iron, the one farthest north, dominating our view despite the backside of the flat iron on which we perched so precariously. “Isn’t that what you said you did last time? You went around back and came out on front?”

“Yeah.”

“Let’s do it.”

We shimmied down  between the boulders and once more shouldered our packs. The wind was picking up, but in the shelter of the trees we heard only the rushing sound and no longer felt the stinging breeze on our bare arms and calves white and scratched from the snow we had trekked through. We rounded the back of the red monolith, streaked green with clinging moss that runs down the sides and into the rich, thick earth. Over sandy rocks we scrambled and yet, there was a disappointment. “This isn’t how I remember it, there’s no where for us to come out, no ledge for us to sit on,” she lamented. I pointed at a path worn between boulders and scraggly trees.

“Maybe further down it cuts around.”

So we went down. We saw one footprint that clearly belonged to a shoe with crampons. Crampons! I’d’ve wanted those on the climb up the icy path. But here we navigated boulders, trees and undergrowth full of moss and pine needles that pretend to be spears. It seemed trail–ish for ten yards. And then it was a mess. But then we spotted more footprints, all heading down the forty five dgree slope. It must be a trail! But it disappeared again. By the time we decided this was no trail to the front of the flat iron we figured it would be easier to just continue on our way. After all, we saw the occasional track and they were all headed down to the base. There was nothing to hint that we would have to climb back up and start over. This seemed easier than the icy track that awaited us on the south side. We were 2700 feet up. We hadn’t eaten lunch. We were feeling adventurous. So we kept on our downward way.

There was one moment, I remember being five feet above the ground, sitting on my haunches on a wet rock looking at the ground beneath me and thinking I shouldn’t make the jump because I’d never be able to stop the fall and there was a log that I didn’t want to break my leg against. Molly had disappeared from sight, she’s faster, more limber and not nearly so cowardly as I. I sat on that rock with my feet sliding in the water and my hands hurting from being the base of my upper body strength against sharp and cutting surfaces. It was almost frightening, feeling stuck. I couldn’t back track, but I couldn’t jump. But it was peaceful too. There was stillness in the hillside. Somewhere, distantly, a bird called. I told Jesus, I didn’t want to slip and fall, that won’t do for Pakistan: arriving with broken limbs. But I told him that this was a beautiful place and I was so, so alone, and it was so beautiful.

“I see you!” Molly cried from below.

“Well, that’s something! ‘Cause I don’t see you!” But I saw my way out and so the descent went on.

The worst came later on. We found ourselves on the edge  of the flat iron. Molly threw her pack down, no longer able to deal with it sliding around and throwing off her balance. We had reached a point where that would be precarious at best, faulty and painful at worst. I zipped our cellphones into my vest pockets and sucked down more water from the camelbak to calm the tired muscles that were bored with all this work and rebelling at every turn. We watched the pack bounce. Once. It ricochetted. Twice. It stuck. Ten feet below us. Well, we’d have to kick it further down. So we made it to that point and Molly tossed again, and then we repeated the process. We scrambled over the smooth rock face, until we came to apoint where the pack was thrown off the side and we watched it land in snow with a certain thud.

posing between two rocks before we spotted the "trail" that led to adventure!

She hunched down near the edge, and I soon scrambled down to her as well. I had my feet up above me, shimmy-ing down with my arms holding theweight of my body back, fighting against the gravity that tugged against my legs which were shaking with exhaustion. We sat for a moment, rested and watched someone climb up the face of the rock. We were branched off, on a limb of the great monolith that soars against the foothills like a snowboard running parallel to the mountains and diving deep into the snow. We watched the man in his dark denim and white north face climb the mountain. He had no ropes, no helmet and no pad that I saw at the base in case he tumbled down the hundreds of feet he had already mastered. He was crazy. But if he could make it up, we could make it down.

Molly went first, as always.

She slid into the space  between the slanting stone we squated on and a section of the rock that pushed vertically past us. It was wet, and there were few footholds that did not crumble and give way beneath our boots. We deliberated. But we had come to a dead end. I remember looking up above me, wondering if we’d have to retrace our steps? It was a drop below her, she said, straight onto rocks and bramble. We could back up a bit, try another route. But that stone looked worn smooth, and neither of us are experts in bouldering, nor did we have the pad on which to break our fall when upper arm strength gave out. I have wtached people boulder and fall and I did not want to be that person. There was a dead tree, the log lying across the snow beneath us. We’d hit that, if we back stepped and slid in the process. It was a mess.

“I think we have to jump.”

“Have I told you I don’t like heights?”

“I don’t think we have another option.”

“Frick…. well, how far is it? Six? Seven feet?”

“More like eight.”

“Well.”

“It’s a straight drop here,” she pointed in front of her, “but there, we can jump into the snow,” and she pointed to our right.

She went first. We counted and then she lept into thin air with nothing to catch her but the deep snow we hoped did not hide rocks. I slid into the space between our adjoining, crab walking on my back and praying that I did not want to die, not even in so beautiful a place as this. Molly coached. I managed to make it, legs shaking, into that little divet where she had sat. I hate heights. My hands were shaking. It was not eight feet. I made her wait in the knee deep snow for me. Minutes ticked by while I tried to examine my options. There had to be a way to get lower. I looked at my legs. They were quaking, and not from nerves. They were quaking because they were tired. They were exhausted. I had to go. I had to do this. Oh, but frick, it was terrifying.

“Count.”

“One.”

“Two.”

“Three!”

and I jumped.

I hit the snow hard. My face went into it and my feet were so deep I could not move. I breathed it into my nose and my eyes began to water. But then I was laughing. I was ecstatic. It was euphoric. “Yeaaaaaaaaaah!” I screamed for the whole of Boulder to hear. Molly laughed and told me I was epic.

“We’re epic.”

“It’s more than 8 feet.”

I turned around and looked.

“Frick.”

“We are so badass.”

“Yeah,” I laughed, “yeah we are badass.”

westerns

I told a friend recently that I wanted to be the character played by Sun Foy in Broken Trail. I’ve watched four westerns in a week and this is what I’ve decided: I like westerns and I want to be Sun Foy. I love the last scene that she is in when the carriage drives away and she is standing there, much to  Thomas Haden Church’s surprise. She sort of sniffles a bit, holding her little suitcase and hoping he doesn’t flag the carriage down to say they’ve made a mistake. She has one small sob and then she pulls herself together and smiles at him.

I want to be Sun Foy. I cry a lot. While discussing my spiritual gift with a friend I was told that my tears are “touching.” I suppose that’s true in some sense. But I don’t like that I cried on Sunday for reasons as simple as the sight of seeing other people’s tears. I almost cried last night again, when a friend was telling me about her past. And I almost cried Sunday night when I drove home from a superbowl party hosted and attended by people who are seriously hurting and lost. I have had a headache now, because I haven’t cried. I feel bad for any man who consents to being my husband. He’ll put up with tears that he hasn’t caused and will never understand. I feel bad for any future children, when they describe their childhood I’m sure they’ll look back and say that momma was always crying for the world.

I told Grahm I wanted to be Sun Foy because she holds it together. Like the great western woman of past centuries, she has her little sob, and then she straightens her shoulders and pulls herself together. After all, ranching in Wyoming is no life for sissies and weeping women.

_____

But shoot! I also told Grahm I thought he was more Thomas Haden Church than Robert Duvall who is a B A cowboy and whom Grahm* admires. Shoot! Church and Foy end up together in the end. Well. I hope he doesn’t misinterpret that.

*and instead of Grahm, we should read this sentence as “…B. A. cowboy every boy admires..”

Promises promises

I have a couple friends in my life who have recently broken some promises. Or, if they haven’t broken them, they  simply haven’t fulfilled what I thought was implied by our friendship. I was kind of frustrated by these encounters.

But then last week I hung out with Brett’s band again. We’ve made it official, I’m the manager, I’m being told to find them some shows. It sort of makes me smirk, this is how my mum got started in ministry: she did the schedule and booking for the music group my dad sang in with Campus Crusade. It’s amusing because it is also my own sort of [accidental] ministry: loving on people whose lives are seriously messed up.

While I was sitting at Old Chicago, munching on Sicilian Rolls that I bought for us (and which I really couldn’t afford), I was sort of irritated with some of these friends. I was texting under the table, and then, Kevin leaned over the plate of Italian Nachos and sort of glared at me with those squinty eyes of his behind his thin wire glasses.

“Sara,” he said in a usually sweet voice that was bordering on an irritated tone, “you’re as bad as Brett. Stop texting.”

I nodded slowly. I said a friend was having a bad night, I was just trying to be available. But he was still crabby and he wasn’t going to take my excuses .So I shoved the phone back in my pocket and re-engaged with the group surrounding me.

I was doing the same thing that my friends are doing to me. I’m overly stimulated, with my fingers involved in too many things, and I’m trying to take care of so many people that I’m ignoring the people in front of me. I’m so plugged in, one might say.

A friend spoke of someone recently saying “he loves me well.”

What does it mean to love someone well?

I’m learning (or perhaps, re-learning) that God has designed us all to give and recieve love in different ways and that part of living in community means I need to learn what that looks like among my friends.

For Grahm, I call to invite him to things instead of texting. And I hate the phone.

For Kyle, I text incessantly.

For Liz, I have to plan long long long coffee dates for her to have plenty of time to come out of her shell.

For Ghena, I fold and put away laundry.

For my mum, I don’t head straight to the fridge upon my arrival at her home.

For Kelsie, we went on runs.

For Noel, I try to see her more than I see her dog though it’s easier to look Arthur in the eyes than it is to meet her gaze when I don’t know what to say.

And everyone else… I’m still figuring you out.

But I’m going to stop being so absorbed with everyone who isn’t around and focus on you when you’re standing in front of me and telling me you need to quit spice, or quit men, or quit life. promise. call me on it. (and tell me what you need)

political

[note: Ingrid handed me her laptop which goes to work with her every day and ordered: “blog.” Right, because that’s how it works…. so here is the first thing that came to mind which won’t take much time to write about since we’re off on errands soon]

I’m not really sure how I feel about our criminal justice system. I mean, it’s mostly fine, and it’s better than we would have in other countries. But I have late been experiencing the other side of the law. Two of my friends have felons on their records. One is this guy (G) who I visit in prison. He has a felon for dealing ice. He was 21 when he got picked up in that backwater hotel coming in from East Texas with 13grand in cash that never even made the police report (two cops got real lucky…) The other is a friend who I was introduced to by a mutual frind and whom I adore. We talked about her felon recently and how she can’t get a job anywhere. “They don’t look too well on felony theft, you know? But it’s okay. I’ll be okay. But who the hell’s gonna hire me?” That felon is going to be on her record forever, for something she did under peer pressure–though she’s always willing to take responsibility for it (“I shoulda said no, I knew that, but, well, it wasn’t so easy in the moment”).

G can get his felons taken off his record if he joins the military after he gets out of prison this November. They’ll wipe his record clean, especially because his felony is a nonviolent crime. I don’t know about my other friend, she’s pretty sure there’s nothing to be done about it. But it’s so frustrating to me. I know people have to be punished, and I know that we have to keep a record of wrongs somehow. But it’s unfortunate that my friends can’t do any amount of community service or something to get those felons removed from their past.

I think the other part that bothers me is that I know these two kids. G is 28 now but he’s been in prison since he was 21, and he was partying with family from the age of 12. The kid didn’t have a chance. And for crying outloud, he’s got a good heart. He’s repentant. He’s actually thankful he got picked up because with the stuff he was dealing he might be dead at this point…

She is 19 now, I think she was just barely 18 when she went on that streak of vandalism and theft with an older friend who she doesn’t talk to now. She’s screwed for life. But she’s a good little one. I know why she did it. Her home life is incredibly messed up. I recently heard a story that had something to do with going through a window thanks to her father, who her brother than proceeded to attack on her behalf. “Yeah, some shit went down. But that’s, like, life you know?” I wanted to hug her. It isn’t life. It isn’t supposed to be like that, I wanted to say. She just wants someone to love her and tell her she has worth. That’s what happened those nights in Highlands Ranch and Douglas County. Someone said they loved her and she was willing to go to the mat for them.

But the justice system can’t know these people as I do.

They don’t know that the man at the table across from G and I two weeks ago bought us snacks that were delivered by his teenage daughter. They don’t know that man was set up by a corrupt brother and now he’s locked up in this camp, away from his cute daughter who’s been passed among family members now but still manages to have that wickedly precious smile when she handed us food.

They don’t know that my friend texts me and asks how I’m doing, and is concerned about me. They don’t know that she’d do anything for any one of us. They don’t know about the childish giggles while the boys are talking about video games and we are mocking them. They don’t know about the water bed with dinosaur blankets, because she’s just a lost and broken little child.

They don’t know that G is sorry for what he’s done. They don’t know he’s anxious for when he gets out. They don’t know that G swears he’ll never do it again, just because he can’t stand the thought of his momma crying anymore when he talks to her on the phone. They don’t know that he’s a man with a plan so he can avoid this place except to someday come back on his motorbike and drive the winding mountain roads.

I think that somehow, there should be a way for felons to be removed. It sounds childish, but it just isn’t fair. You don’t know my friends. You don’t know their hearts. And I just don’t think they have done anything to earn them the misery of having that stupid remark on their record for their entire lives which have hardly even begun.

 

ps. not all my friends have criminal records…. but, before you get angry (or worried about my safety), Jesus hung out with con artists and hookers.