whisper.

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a poem.

somewhere along the way she forgot who she was.

she lost who she was.

but, it seemed that after five years of searching for the pieces

at long last she finally picked every last one up

the image they created was both familiar and new.

a face that was the same

but lacked the innocence

a face that was different

but with eyes much wiser.

shorter hair

crooked nose

deeper scars unseen.

but the same.

familiar.

even comforting.

she had missed this self.

from then to now – in all the searching, she had never  realized exactly what it was she was missing.

she had found god.

she had picked up a broken heart- or two.

she had triumphed.

she had mourned- finally she had mourned.

and she had become different.

she had been found

in herself.

not  to the world- it wasn’t ready yet to find her again.

not yet.

but almost.

she was almost ready for it to take notice.

notice her smile- which came freely now.

notice her joy.

notice her peace.

notice her tears that fell without restraint

notice her content silence

and the difference between then and now.

not everyone will notice, she whispered to herself.

not everyone needs to, God whispered back.

you have been found

walk.

I can’t remember what it’s like to drive a car.

I think that maybe, I might have once, driven not unlike these people that surround me.

Fast. Reckless. Taking the road prompts as suggestions rather than rules.

But now I have feet. Legs that carry me from place to place.

There is a dog, a small cream colored little terrier, who waits just next to a coffee shop on the corner across from sant’ambrogio church. It sits, and it waits, and it seems to smile at everyone who passes.

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When it rains there are puddles. The cobblestones become bowls rather than a road and I feel as though I am walking across a lily pond. I try not to wear my black flats – they make me feel barefoot on these kinds of days. The rain is never monotonous. It’s as varied as anything else, sometimes here, sometimes gone, sometimes harsh, sometimes as soft as a caress.

I like the caressing days best. On those days you sometimes can hardly tell that it’s raining- until you stick your head out the window and feel the water on your face like really soft kisses, or walk down the stairs and pop out onto a glassy looking street.

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Everyone thinks they have the best apartment. They’re all wrong of course. It doesn’t matter what street you are on, or who you have as neighbors. This city has a way of providing perfection. Its’ buildings as varied as its inhabitants needs.

And so we leave our apartments. Having already found perfection.

We walk out onto the streets. And we walk and we walk and we walk.

But we never leave.

There are moments when we accidentally find ourselves, inexplicably, gone. No longer in the city. No longer on the streets we know.

Somehow, by walking along the river Arno, we have escaped.

But only for a little while.

Soon there are men who come rowing down the river, pulling us back along the banks. Back to the boat houses where hordes of men mess about along their beloved river.

And it begins to rain again.

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In a cloud, the swallows rush for the trees and cease their songs.

Umbrellas pop open. Tall dark black men line the streets hoping to sell contraband weather relief to unprepared tourists. The police sip their cappuccino and smile. No one will get arrested, today.

The city is quiet again. Tall walls hiding courtyards. Hiding voices of habitation. On the street a motorino flies past. Past the entry door, up the stairs, through the apartment.

Standing on the balcony drinking tea.

ImageThe rain keeps falling.

A woman starts to sing an old american jazz song.

To myself, I begin to hum along.

A bird starts to sing.

And it keeps on raining.

november.

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It’s november. It rained this morning. I’m sitting in my bed with my window and the balcony doors flung open, listening to the sounds of the birds in a nearby cypress tree.

I think I’ve been here for a little over three months. It doesn’t feel like that. There are days when I think I’ve just arrived and days when I can hardly remember a moment when I wasn’t here.

It seems like there is an ever present conversation going on amongst us foreigners, about how we need to post, we’re so behind on our blogs, we have so many pictures to edit. And we do, don’t get me wrong, but so many times I sit down and begin to write and I seem only to be cataloguing events of a day. For me, this blog is more valuable as a catalogue of thoughts… a set of virtual snapshots of my brain.

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so here are a few snaps I have been meaning to post but haven’t:

a. Venezia, Italy : floating : Of all the stories I read as a child, the ones involving italy seemed to always be set in Venice. How surreal to finally be walking the streets of my imagination.

b. Florence, Italy : world road bike championships : A morning run with my roommates ended with us soaked in a downpour while watching an amazing bike race through the city center. Cartier employees laughed at us. We ran home through the streets. It makes you feel alive to run in a city after its been washed clean by a storm.

c. Prato, Italy : textile museum: There is something about the mechanized ways of creating objects that makes me excited about life, about architecture, about creative exploration and potential for new production. I cannot think of a single other thing that stimulates my brain so much.

d. Torino, Italy : the city : I forget how beautiful trees, framed landscapes, and expanses of nature are. I think I miss that the most. We are surrounded by the organic and highly tactile textures of stone in Florence, but I need more green.

e. Milano, Italy : city : I think I will move here one day.

f. Budapest, Hungary : design : I expected the post communism look and feel. I did not expect the beautiful gift of a city just beginning to blossom. I am completely in awe of the design culture being cultivated here. The shops, the clothing, the dirty gritty, completely clean juxtaposition of surroundings and design elements.

g. Prague, Czech Republic : dox museum : It’s apparent that the ittle things are becoming normal. The buttons of the toilet, the buzzers for the door, the incredibly small amount of personal space, and the accessibility of everything. As I flushed the toilet I had just used in the Dox museum in Prague, I realized that my assimilation to europe was nearly complete. That to not have two buttons on the toilet would seem strange. To not use a glove when picking fruit at the market would seem out of the normal. And actually using my credit card to pay for anything instead of using exact change is simply unimaginable at this point. Its not that I don’t love being an american, in fact, I do. But these ways of doing things, of simply existing, no longer seem like absolutes.

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not a travel blog.

Italians are emotionally scary. They are real, open, brutal, soft, abrupt, in love, passionate, opinionated, relaxed, loud. As an emotionally anemic American living in florence, sometimes I have to just stop walking in the middle of the street and watch these dynamic beings living their lives. No one I have met does it better or at a faster pace.

In tribute to everything I’ve experienced at the hands of these people, here’s my honest story of living in Italy.

This is not a travel blog. I am not trying to be a tourist.

So, lets start from square one again.

My flight: airports are all the same. I dont care what you say. They are always on the outskirts of town, they are always built in wings, and they are always filled with non natives.

Here I was set for this grand adventure in a foreign land, but as we circled florence, I felt like i was landing in Santa Barbara.

The romance of Italy is not in its landscape. It’s in its’ people and its food. The world is beautiful. But it is especially wondrous when two or more are gathered together. More so in Italy.

Walking down cobbled streets, sitting in 800 year old buildings, all that stuff is amazing, truly, but that was not the point in the last three weeks where I found awe-inspiring wonder.

I think it was as I sat yesterday drawing Achilles by palazzo vecchio that my heart really beat with joy being here. It was then that I started to think about “me” in this place. No longer just a momentary visitor, but a flower sprout transplanted to a new soil.

So here’s me being Italian:

I am so incredibly tall compared to these people. For the first time, I find myself taking ownership of just how tall a woman I actually am. Here, I do stick out. However, here, in the land of supposedly sexist “small man” complex bearing males, I have never felt more revered, more appreciated, or more beautiful. Not simply from their unabashed vocalization of appreciation, or even the fact that I am getting so much positive feedback. Call it a result of the Mediterranean diet, but I feel strong, I feel happy, I feel like ME and yes, I do feel beautiful. this confident happy person, has been gone for so long, and it has been such a natural transition here in Italy, I find myself needing to just sit back and pause in the goodness.

Sure there were some bumps in the first few weeks, I’m not saying life is perfect, but I am FEELING perfect. And that has been the best gift italy has given me so far.

It is a blessing beyond measure to feel a fulfilled prayer. And Italy has been one long fulfilled prayer so far. From our apartment, to my roommate, to going from incredibly difficult eating issues the day before leaving to a place of perfect control and health…. One. Long. Answered. Prayer.

Through our whole settling process, my roommates and I repeated over and over ” we will end up exactly where we are supposed to be.. And what will be will be.”

Complete trust and complete fulfillment.
And we’re only in week three.

Day Planner.

Day planner.

Day 1.
Random conversation, rushed footsteps, mechanical air, loud announcements, and transition to second place.

Day 2.
Deathly driving, yelling from windows, incorrect estimations of time change, back with the Americans, small park midnight wine bar, and wishing I were instantly fluent.

Day3.
Navigating a city, buying beautiful pizza and espresso, saying no to men, sitting on a rooftop of an 8 hundred year old building drinking wine in the heart of the city with new and old friends.

Day 4.
Finding the worst apartment, finding the best apartment, learning to wait, saying no to men, learning to step in front of traffic, bartering in the mercato, buying wine, salami, cheese, and bread for mid day snack from an old Italian, learning the grace of language.

Day5.
Still trying for the apartment, learning the Italian pace, walking where we don’t know, drinking frizzante from piazza vecchio, footing about, saying no to men (politely), buying at an Italian supermarket, resting on Sunday.

More to write! Not enough time as of now!

– Brae

bye! A different kind of farewell

bye!
Quickly jump in the car. Speed off.
Yelling while waving. Turning your back. Shutting the door.
Promise to Skype. Never intend to Skype.
Go on and on about how much you will miss them. Call them once.
Good friends say goodbye with a big hug. They also promise to keep in touch. They rarely get around to it.

I don’t like goodbyes.

Not because I have terrible friends.

I’m just no good at the process of it all.

In the three times I changed schools, the three years I moved around in college, never once have I truly continued the work of being a friend to those people who weren’t in my relatively close proximity.

Because, lets face it, friendship is hard work. But it’s even harder to continue true, deep, REAL, and vulnerable friendship when the person isn’t right beside you. It’s easy to say: too much work, moving on.

Right now my life is in transition. I’m getting ready to move from one continent to another, to learn a new language, and yes… To make new friends.

But through all of this transitioning, as I glance one last time BACK at my old normal, I’m tempted to pause. Not because I’m not ready for a NEW normal, but because in this last glimpse, I am seeing so much of what has caused me to be who I am. I am looking into a time that will never be re-creatable. I am immersed in the brink of three years worth of friendships. And never again will this group of people, with these emotions, and these views of life, exist in the same place at once.

As I walk the line between the tipping point and past perfection, I suddenly stop. The proverbial cross roads meet me and I know I have three choices: to wish and pine for days gone by wondering why no one has kept in touch, to no longer care, or to be the best friend I can given the circumstances and regardless of any other input.

I think this is the hardest part. Regardless of situation. Choosing to be a friend. Choosing to put in the time and the effort without reassurance of reciprocation.

But maybe that’s what makes friendship so beautiful. The blind act of selflessness and faith, to care about another’s well being. Even when they aren’t necessarily caring about yours anymore.

We don’t feel loved by making a friend promise not to forget us. No, we feel loved when that friend spontaneously sends us a smiley face text, or calls us up out of the blue, or sends us a message asking how we’re doing.

So, as I say bye to everything and everyone that I have known in the 20 years ive been alive, I no longer want to: say bye!, Shut the door, promise to Skype, call once, or never get around to keeping in touch.

Yes, a friendship takes two people, but that still includes me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about best friends. About God as a best friend. Does he ever “have a hard time getting around to checking in” ? No. He is diligent. I want to have that kind of diligence as I leave, that kind of love for my friends, and the kind of heart that is full of gratitude for all that I have received from the many wonderful people in my life.

It’s not a quick, “bye! Forever,” kind of goodbye that I want to have. It’s a long, drawn out, meaningless goodbye- a placeholder- if you will, that is less an ending and more a promise of everything that is to come.

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one year. saying hello to an old goodbye.

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Its kind of ironic how some things seem absolutely and completely insurmountable in one season of life and yet so inherently life transforming in the next. One year ago my twelve best friends and I lost one of our sisters. At the time I wrote a post (https://braelynadair.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/title-optional/) on this blog. Originally it was only a therapeutic scream of sorts. A piece of writing functioning as a medium through which I could spew the darkest writhings of my soul. 

I re-read the same post when I decided to start blogging again and realized that this moment of darkness really wasn’t that dark. Sure it was soaked in sorrow, but instead of the black hole I felt I was originally communicating, I found that what I was reading was more the salty expression of loss, the good, clean, and bright expression of a deep emotion: mourning.   

So here I am one year later. One year older. One year without my Sam.

I can remember not being able to comprehend that  she wouldn’t be with us anymore. I couldn’t wrap my mind around not seeing her during christmas break, not being a goof with her, not having her at my wedding, or attending her own.

I miss her.

But my feet continue on. The memories I had hoped I would forget, are still there.

And the rest of us are still here- a little worse for the wear- but here nonetheless.

It is as if, through losing one part of our hearts, we gained a new perspective. None of us were left untouched, but all of us, in acknowledging our sister’s scars have brought our own out of the darkness. 

So here’s a letter to my sisters: 

I love you. Wider than my arms could ever reach. And longer than the very extents of time. 

One year has felt like four. But I can tell you this: 

I remember sitting on those movie steps. Huddled together grasping at hands, searching eachother’s faces. Outside the rain came down as if crying its own sorrow at our loss. We had been expecting the goodbye, but I don’t think you ever really know what you are truly dealing with until the moment comes. We were surrounded by strangers, in a city we didn’t know, sobbing our eyes out in public, but were together, and that’s all that seemed to matter.

We grew together, we lost together, we have rebuilt and renewed together. 

But most importantly, we have remained, together. 

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just a thought.

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“When no one else seems to understand you simply draw closer to Me. Rejoice in the One who understands you completely and loves you perfectly. As I fill you with My Love, you become a reservoir of love, overflowing into the lives of other people.”

I read this today in Jesus Calling and was struck by how awesome the image of being a reservoir of love is. What is it like to be so filled with love and joy that we have excess? I know more often than not I myself seem like a black hole of love- constantly needing and rarely remembering to give. 

But really, when I started thinking about it, those moments of excess are all around me. They’re those seconds when we look at the people surrounding us and are just SO amazed by the beauty that we see. Those instances where humanity surprises us with its kindness and all of a sudden we realize that we are not an isolated instance in the universe, but part of this giant community. A community that is so much larger than us, is so encapsulated by the presence of the Father that we could never actually truly be as isolated as we think. 

-Psalm 139.