MamaMorphosis

Yesterday on the drive home from work, I was thinking about all the things I’d have to change if I were a mommy.

traffic-glee

While driving in rush hour traffic, I could not scream at the top of my lungs things like, “PEOPLE ARE SO DUMB! I HATE EVERYONE!!!” I would have to learn to use my inside voice. And by that, I mean my inside-the-head voice.

 

Cookie Binge

After a long day of work, I wouldn’t be able to wallow by baking cookies and eating them fresh from the oven while binge watching Netflix. I’d have to cook real food like green beans and chicken. And then serve said real food to children and help with homework and things.

 

Unikitty transformation

I wouldn’t be able to wear my Grumpy Cat shirts around the house – shirts that say things like, “NO” and “I didn’t choose the grumpy life; the grumpy life chose me.” I know this because my niece Lily saw my Grumpy Cat shirt once, looked very upset, and asked me in a trembly voice, “Auntie Aurora, why is your kitty so angry?” At that time, I realized I would have to start buying Unikitty shirts instead. At least then my inner rage could be masked by a sparkly pink and fictitiously cheerful exterior.

 

Eating Cookies

And then, as I was parking in my garage, I realized that even if I never find a man who is willing to commit to marry me and subsequently impregnate me, I probably should still change these behaviors. Even if I never morph into momminess. Which sounds like nom-iness. Like nom, nom, nom… cookies…  mmm, forget that whole #adulting thing. After all, there are freshly baked cookies at stake!

Authentically Aurora

Cruise of the Bruised – Part II

Book BeachLaying on a quiet beach reading a good book is my idea of a good time, so at the first port stop of our Bahamas cruise, I convinced the girls that we should find a secluded beach location rather than one of the party spots (it helped that my travel companions were 32 and 42, whereas I have no excuse for my preference). No Señor Frog’s for us!

After chatting with one of the locals who advised us of the best beach for what we were looking for, we got in line for a taxi headed to the appropriate location. As our group of three climbed into the back of a long taxi-van, a much larger group also stepped forward to board: Jordan, his slender orthopedic buddy and the entire gaggle of kids! Of all the taxis going to all the beaches in Freeport, we managed to end up in the same one. With a cruise ship of literally thousands of people, and with everyone disembarking at different times, I can legitimately say it was not planned. At least, not by mere mortals.

It was a cold day in Freeport – overcast and in the 60s – so everyone huddled together on the bench seats, joking and laughing as we all shivered at the cold wind cutting in through the open windows of the van. As soon as we got on the beach, some shady guy with dreadlocks came up to me and let me know he could set me up with the goods if I wanted to have any illegal fun. “What kind of illegal fun?” I asked, perplexed. “You’ll know what to ask for if you want it,” he told me with a wink, slinking away.

Shaking my head, I found a flat stretch of sand and laid out my beach towel, digging in my backpack for the book I’d started reading the day before. All the Carolinians (for the orthopedic group was from a mix of North and South Carolina) got out snorkel gear and splashed out into the chilly water. Verna and Marina got into the water, too, but they quickly returned and wrapped themselves in their warm, fluffy towels, chatting away in Spanish (they are from Argentina and Ecuador, respectively).

Less than half a chapter into my book, the Carolinians returned, and Jordan came over to talk to me. Only, he didn’t say anything; he just stood near me, pretending to examine his scuba gear. “Wanna explore?” I asked finally, gesturing to the beach.

“Sure.” He sounded relieved. The beach was ruggedly beautiful – rocky with a dense tree line close to the water – so I grabbed my camera and followed him down the shoreline, my long hair whipping around my face in the wind.

Jordan and I made small talk for a while, stopping occasionally so I could snap landscape photos as I felt inspired. We fell into an easy rhythm, and before long – as I have come to expect – Jordan started opening up to me about his past, telling me about his nine-year-old daughter Grace and his divorce from her mother four years ago. Apparently his ex-wife was abused as a child, and she became violent herself during the course of their marriage. According to Jordan, his ex was suicidal during the few years of their marriage; then she turned homicidal near the end. Jordan is still fighting a custody battle for their daughter.

After a time, we turned the conversation lighter, and Jordan told me more about his work. He loves what he does. He loves being a healer. “It’s amazing to see people who were wheelchair bound for twenty years start to walk again,” he told me with awe in his voice. His enthusiasm was palpable.

“How does your faith play into your role of healer?” I asked Jordan. He’d made a passing reference to a church, and I was curious how deep his faith went.

Jordan looked surprised but not uncomfortable. “I tend to keep a pretty tangible, scientific outlook, but I also know that God is ultimately the Great Physician,” he told me. As our conversation continued, I found out that Jordan had gone to seminary for a few semesters. Prior to becoming a massage therapist, he had been a youth pastor. It was my turn to be surprised. Jordan knows Greek and Hebrew, is an orthopedic massage therapist, and is also working as a carpenter, remodeling his home himself. This simple country boy was quickly becoming more and more interesting!

About a mile down the beach, Jordan and I came upon a large outcropping of rocks. I am normally pretty sure-footed, but my wet flip-flops kept slipping, so Jordan offered me his hand to help me climb over the rocks. Once I was safety on the other side, though, he kept my hand in his. For a moment, I thought of pulling my hand away, but I was cold, and his hand was warm and welcoming. Besides, I thought, there’s nothing wrong with holding hands.

Shortly thereafter, I suggested we turn back around and start heading back. We could no longer see our group of friends down the winding stretch of sandy beach. Jordan agreed, and we started to turn, but then he stopped. With my hand attached to his, I had to stop, too. I looked up at him, and he stepped closer, eyes full of intent. I barely had time to think before his arm was around me and he had lowered his lips to mine. I let him kiss me, but when we pulled away, I told him, “Jordan, I’m not dating this year. And you live in South Carolina. And you’re still fighting for custody of your daughter.”

He sighed and smiled. “I know.” He paused. “But I enjoy your company.”

I smiled, too, and we kept walking. But it was further back to our group than either of us had realized. And the day was getting colder and colder. And I had brought nothing with me but my camera – no towel, no I.D., no cell phone, no cash. So when we got back to where our group should be and found an empty patch of sand, I started to panic. Just then, the illegal-activity-encouraging dreadlocks-wearer appeared from behind the trees to offer some insight into the situation in which we found ourselves.

Apparently our group had left him as a messenger that the last taxi driver had capriciously decided to go back to the pier an hour earlier than agreed upon. And our group had been forced to leave us behind or be left behind themselves. But the drug dealer told us that he knew someone who could take us back to the cruise ship from our remote location. He gestured for us to follow him back to the parking lot where we’d been dropped off, and he introduced us to a heavy-set woman whose name I never caught. She seemed unhappy to be the errand girl, but clearly the druggie held some sway with her, so she hurried us into her car, and away we went, presumably back to the pier.

I was glad Jordan was so ripped.

I was not glad when I found out that Jordan had purchased marijuana for the high school boys from the dreadlocks man.

“It’s better than the stuff they usually do. At least this will keep them away from the pills,” he whispered to me in the backseat of the rotund woman’s car. “Last night, one of the kids was doing uppers and downers at the same time. I told him he’s going to kill himself that way.”

I was scandalized.”I thought you were a youth pastor at one time. Why are you encouraging this?! You told me you were on this trip to be a positive role model to these kids!”

“I am. I’m better than what they’ve got back home,” he told me in his slow drawl. “And, like I said, they’re going to do drugs regardless. At least I can help guide them toward the softer stuff. I won’t smoke any of it myself.”

“But you’re enabling them. And you’re a Christian. Don’t you believe that God is able to emotionally heal these kids fully, not just control how bad their drug usage gets?”

Jordan shrugged. And then, to my astonishment, told me the biblical story of Zacchaeus. “God doesn’t change our outward actions and then our hearts. He changes us from the inside out. Making these boys do the right thing – not doing drugs – without getting to their hearts first is just going to create a bunch of little Pharisees. I’m doing what I can to have a more lasting impact… and try to keep them out of too much trouble in the meantime.”

I was absolutely stunned. Jordan speaks with a   v e r y   s l o w  Southern accent, sometimes pausing so long that I think he’s forgotten to finish his sentence. During our walk on the beach, he seemed nice enough, but he didn’t come off as overly intelligent, and after the marijuana revelation, I had doubts about his moral code. So to have him pull out the story of Zacchaeus and insightfully apply it to our discussion left me dumbfounded.

I was momentarily swayed into understanding where he was coming from, but then Jordan went on to tell me he’d taught the kids how to smuggle alcohol onto the ship using listerine bottles. “They tried doing it last year, but they did it wrong, so they got caught. At least if I teach them, they won’t get in trouble with the authorities. A couple of them have already done jail time.”

I remembered my own childhood, my mother telling me, “If you ever do anything wrong, I hope you get caught!” I was hurt at first, not understanding, but she explained, “I would want you to get caught because I love you. And sometimes being disciplined is the best blessing we could receive.” If we are never caught – never disciplined – we may never turn from wrongdoing. Getting away with wrongdoing is often a worse punishment than getting caught because, without facing the consequences of your actions, your character may never be refined.

I tried to talk to Jordan about his approach to mentoring these kids. “Be relevant and relatable to the kids, yes; meet them where they are, yes, but don’t damage your witness in the process. Don’t compromise the line between right and wrong in order to try and reach them. I can’t imagine that’s God-honoring.”

We had to agree to disagree. Jordan told me I didn’t really understand the kids; didn’t know what it was like to come from a broken family. He told me they wouldn’t understand all my “high-and-mighty talk” if I tried to reach them my way. But the next day would prove otherwise. All these kids needed was a little love, encouragement, inspiration, I thought. …and boundaries.

Authentically Aurora

Savior Complex

This is me.

The attitude, not the physique.

Obviously.

Dumb, right? So wonderfully, sweetly, blindly, stupidly idealistic.

I need a sidekick like this, who will verbally slap me in the face and tell me like it is. Oh wait. I do. That would be my mother.  (Thanks, Mom!)

Unfortunately for my dear mother’s nerves, like Oliver, I tend to learn many of life’s lessons the hard way.

Actually, a lot of times, I apparently don’t learn them at all, so I get to repeat the same fun, educational, heartbreaking, soul crushing experiences over and over again. *Sigh

Authentically Aurora

Problematic Dreams – Part I

ArsenalThe most recent time I’ve experienced an otherworldly connection with someone just happened a few weeks ago, and I’m still reeling from the after effects.

My a cappella choir sang in a talent show at the end of October, and since it was Halloween-themed, everyone came in costume. I borrowed a wig from one of our altos and went as a rather convincing Anna from Frozen (the innocent look comes naturally, but that whole chipper, cheerful thing took some work). #introvertproblems

Between performances of bagpipe playing and baton twirling, I marveled at the wide array of talents and also the creativity of some of the costumes. One guy in particular caught my eye, but not because of his costume. He was dressed as an archer of some sort (Arsenal, I found out later), but what really drew me to him was his aura. He radiated confidence and virility, leaning casually against the wall of the auditorium as though oblivious to the attention he garnered.

Michael and his roommate were slotted to close the show with an upbeat duet, but just before they took the stage, the archer uncrossed his arms, pushed off from the auditorium wall and strode forward. As he took a ready stance at the solo mic in the front of the room, I glanced down at my program to discover his name – Cory. As I looked back up to where he stood just twenty feet in front of me, his pianist began playing a moving ballad, and the archer opened his mouth to sing.

For the next four minutes, I sat transfixed as Arsenal/Cory belted out a humorous parody of a love song. His voice was flawless. He was clearly classically trained, but he didn’t let his perfect choral techniques get in the way of putting on an accessible and entertaining show. Even the high note at the end was sung beautifully, and I remembered in passing something that my mom whispered to me a decade ago in the back of my high school auditorium: “You have to be careful with boys like that, Aurora. You’ll fall in love with their voice and think you’re falling in love with them.”

Once the talent show had ended, all the performers mingled for a bit. One of my fellow sopranos, Noelle, has similar taste in men to me, so I was not at all surprised when she ran up to me, eyes wide, and gushed, “Did you hear that Cory guy? We have got to talk him into auditioning for our group!”

It’s true that we are in desperate need of more tenors and basses, so with my encouragement, Noelle hurried off to recruit him. She returned just a few moments later looking disappointed. “He says that he’s already really over-committed,” she told me in a dejected tone.

“Hmm, we’ll see about that.” I gestured for Noelle to accompany me as I walked over to introduce myself.

Cory looked up as I approached, and I reached out to shake his hand. “Hi, Cory. I’m Aurora. I sing with Noelle, and we both loved your performance tonight. You are a really gifted vocalist.”

“Thanks,” he replied casually, seeming to know what was coming next.

“We’d love to have you audition for our group. We meet on Tuesday nights,” I began, but Cory was prepared to tell me the same thing he’d already told Noelle.

“You know, I love singing – and I miss it – but I’m already really over-committed. I’m a first year med student, and I’m also currently training for a Triathlon with a running club on Tuesday nights.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Wow, that is a lot. Well, disregard then. Singing is supposed to be a fun, creative outlet, but it sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate, and singing with us would just be an added source of stress for you.”

I started to step away, wishing him the best of luck with everything, but he took a quick step forward. “Wait – I mean, would anyone mind if I came late to rehearsals? Or came sweaty, straight from my running group?”

I turned back toward him and shrugged nonchalantly. “No, I don’t think so. We technically start at 7:30, but we don’t usually actually start singing until around 8:00, so that shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Okay,” Cory paused, gaze locked onto mine. The air between us sizzled momentarily as he peered into the depths of my eyes as though searching for something. Whatever it was, he seemed to give up on it because I blinked, and the intensity of the moment passed. He glanced between Noelle and me. “So who would I talk to if I were interested in joining?”

“Let me introduce you to Michael,” I told him, leading the way toward our director and attempting to hide my smile. Choir would definitely be more interesting with Cory in the group!

Once Cory and Michael had been properly introduced, Cory took his leave, and Noelle and I gave each other a quick high five, grinning ear to ear. Best recruitment team ever! Little did I know what I had just gotten myself into.

That night, I got what I thought I wanted. The attractive and mysterious Cory was considering joining our group, my crush Michael volunteered to walk me back to my car, and all seemed like it was going according to plan. But sometimes what you think you want isn’t what you actually want. In fact, sometimes what you want is exactly the opposite of what you need and what would be for your good.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” -Proverbs 19:21

Authentically Aurora

Moments – Part III

PianoBy the time our newest alto had claimed her victory in Apples to Apples, the night was growing late, and people soon began to filter out. I moved to the sink to start washing dishes while others collected discarded napkins and bottles to help me clean up.

Two by two, acquaintances-turned-friends departed until only Michael and our newest alto remained. Michael had settled himself at my keyboard, playing the piano softly while I washed dishes and the other girl listened to a voicemail on her phone. My heart skipped a beat, wondering why Michael was lingering, but I pushed down my racing thoughts and focused on being in the moment, enjoying the peaceful harmonies emanating from my keyboard.

The other girl finished with her voice message, looked around as though surprised to see everyone else gone, and bid goodnight to Michael and me, seeming to think nothing of leaving the two of us alone together. I, on the other hand, thought lots of things about leaving the two of us alone together. But I again coached myself to be present, not overthinking or over-analyzing but just enjoying the surprising turn of events. There are three things that soothe me more than anything else in the world: singing worship music, having my mom brush my hair, and listening to a talented pianist at his craft.

I leaned on my kitchen counter, peering over Michael’s shoulder as his fingers played across the black and white keys. “What are you playing?” I asked.

“‘For All We Know,'” he told me, continuing an arpeggiated chord progression. When I shook my head, indicating that I wasn’t familiar with it, he added, “It’s a song by The Carpenters.”

“Oh! I think my mom used to listen to them.” I recognized the name of the group but also knew they were before my time. “Did you listen to a lot of oldies growing up?”

He nodded, and we continued talking about music for a while before moving on to visual art. Michael asked to see some of my paintings, so I got some out of a back closet to show him. When I pulled my rendition of “Red Poppy” from a top shelf where it had been collecting dust, he exclaimed, “Oh! Georgia O’Keeffe!”

I glanced at him in astonishment. “Michael! I am so impressed by you! How did you know that?” He just shrugged, looking pleased.

After reviewing my paintings, I also pulled out a sketchbook and flipped through it with him, pointing out a few of my favorites – a self-portrait I did a few years ago as well as a portrait of my late grandfather I sketched more recently.

“You are so talented,” he breathed quietly, still looking intently at my sketches.

“So are you,” I said, smiling up at him as he bent over my artwork.

“Thanks.” We smiled shyly at each other for a moment before Michael broke the silence, clearing his throat. “Well, I should let you get to bed.”

We moved toward my front door, and I stepped forward to hug him goodnight. Michael had hung his rarely-worn glasses from his top button, and he pulled them from his chest just before our bodies met so that I could rest against him. We didn’t hug for long, having only ever hugged once before, but I was still smiling well after he left.

I am only now looking up the lyrics to “For All We Know.” And they are perfect.

Love, look at the two of us
Strangers in many ways
Let’s take a lifetime to say
“I knew you well”
For only time will tell us so
And love may grow
For all we know.

Authentically Aurora

Goodbye, 2014!

FireworksIf I live a few more hours, I can honestly say that I survived 2014! …barely.  I’m certainly worse for wear, but I am far more healed than I thought I would be at this point. Then again, in the last 48 hours, two different people have told me that they are praying for healing for me on a daily basis. Apparently my emotional wounds are still more obvious than I would like to believe. Nevertheless, I feel more whole this week than I have in a long time.

It’s funny the things that patch our hearts back together – my parents’ dog, for one. I wasn’t an animal person for the first couple decades of my life, but that sweet German shepherd just loves me unconditionally. He is always happy, always cheerful, always loving. And he’s soft and fuzzy and cuddly. He softens my rough edges and makes me kinder and gentler. Love has that effect on the heart of a woman.

And Bryan. He’s good for me. He draws out of me the heart I’ve been given, rather than the heart I choose to show the world in order to protect myself. His eyes cut straight to my soul. Bryan sees me as I am. And he meets me where I am. There is something intensely frightening and intensely comforting about being around a man who is simultaneously so perceptive and so compassionate.

Being with family for Christmas was healing, too. I got to snuggle with my brother while he played video games, just like we used to do as kids. In talking with my dad and hugging my mom, I know that I am loved. I may not always be loved by the ones I would choose for myself, but as 2014 draws to a close, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am loved, and that makes all the difference.

Authentically Aurora

The Liebster Award

Liebster AwardWhy do you write? Is it for the attention; the acclaim; the dream of being the next Jonathan Acuff? Is it your way of cataloguing or even processing your life? Or is it for the pure love of writing?

I write because it is therapeutic and because, let’s be honest, my life can be a great source of entertainment for the downtrodden desperately in need of a laugh. But it’s also nice to be noticed and complimented on a job well done, even though that wasn’t my goal going in. So it is with great honor and appreciation that I accept mylittlepieceofquiet‘s nomination for The Liebster Award. Consider this my acceptance speech.

Jennifer Lawrence acceptance speechI’d like to thank, first and foremost, God for the gift of words, particularly the Word who is also the Way. Next, I’d like to thank my family and friends for all of their support through the crazy adventures detailed in this blog. And lastly, I’d like to thank all of the kind, psycho, timid, bold, wise, immature, clueless, well-intentioned and not-so-well-intentioned men who have served as fodder for my writing. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Alright, on to the good stuff. What is the Liebster Award? It’s an award of recognition in which one blogger with less than 200 followers nominates 11 other gifted bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Here are my 11 nominations:

  1. Masculinity Summit
  2. Lifeloveandthepursuitofmommyness
  3. Written For Our Instruction
  4. codegirlblog
  5. typetasting
  6. themodernladyofficial
  7. Casey Fiesler
  8. MARKMDMPH
  9. Fictional Types
  10. My Heart Will Sing No Other Name
  11. Scribal Tattoo

Next, my 11 answers to mylittlepieceofquiet‘s questions:

  1. Do you have any pets?
    1. Nope, but that didn’t keep me from getting fleas earlier this year!
  2. If you could meet anyone from the past, who would it be and why?
    1. Jesus. It’s hard to trump the Son of God. Initially, my answer to “why” was going to be that there are some questions I’d like to ask God, but then I decided that, really, I just want to bask in his presence, sit by his side and be wrapped in the strong arms of the One who loves me more than I can imagine.
  3. What are some of your hobbies?
    1. I have tons of hobbies. I get bored easily, so as soon as I feel like I have mastered one, I move on to another. Over the past five years, my hobbies have included: reading, swing dancing, writing music, painting, photography, running, traveling, cooking, ancestry research and now blogging!
  4. Do you prefer to drink coffee or tea?
    1. I have always loved the smell of coffee. It’s a comforting smell that reminds me of mornings in my childhood home as my dad was getting ready for work. But only in the past few years have I started to like the taste of coffee. I drink green tea every morning, but I’ve become a sucker for sweet coffee drinks.
  5. What is your favourite season of the year and why?
    1. Christmas, duh! Actually, fall in general. I love the crisp weather, the changing leaves, the spices and smells of the season, the focus on friends and family, the perspective shift to a season of giving, and the celebration of the birth of our Savior.
  6. How long have you been blogging?
    1. Just a few months now. I started in August.
  7. What are a couple of your favourite movies?
    1. Top 3: Bourne Identity, Tangled, Gladiator
  8. If you could pick one favourite book, what would it be?
    1. Besides the bible? Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. It was one of my favorites in junior high/high school and still has a special place in my heart.
  9. What is your favourite colour and why?
    1. Picking a favorite color is tough because my favorite color to wear is not the same color I’d pick for a new car, nor is it the color I would choose for the interior decorating of my living room. My favorite color to wear is green, but when I was a girl, my favorite color overall was purple because I believed it to be the color of royalty, so I thought it best represented God, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
  10. What is one of your favourite quotes?
    1. So many good ones, but for today… my dad always said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
  11. What is your favourite type of music or favourite song?
    1. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of country music, but this week, my go-to song is Blank Space. Don’t judge. Horrible lyrics, but you’ve gotta admit that it’s catchy!

And finally, my 11 questions to my 11 nominees:

  1. Which of your posts is your favorite, and why?
  2. If you could meet anyone from the past, who would it be and why?
  3. What are some of your hobbies?
  4. Where is your favorite place to sit and write?
  5. What is your favorite topic to write about?
  6. How long have you been blogging?
  7. Of the topics you’ve blogged about, which is the most difficult to write about, and why?
  8. If you could pick one favourite book, what would it be?
  9. What is your favourite colour and why?
  10. What is one of your favourite quotes?
  11. Who has been the most influential person in your life?

Thanks again, and happy reading!

Authentically Aurora

I Poop Glitter

I’ve heard there is a misperception among boys that girls poop glitter and rainbows. Sorry to burst your bubble, guys, but that is sadly not the case. At least, not most of the time. But this week, I became a magical unicorn and succeeded in pooping glitter.

Glitter bobby pinsFor my birthday earlier this year, my mom gave me some fabulous glitter bobby pins in every color of the rainbow. In case the title of this post didn’t give it away, I’m secretly eight years old on the inside. So, naturally, I tried them out this week: yellow glitter bobby pins with gold hoop earrings and a burgundy sweater over dark skinny jeans.

Unfortunately, I was running late that particular morning, so I was eating my go-to breakfast of Greek yogurt while fixing my hair. And while eating my yogurt and simultaneously fixing my hair, I discovered that the adhesive on my fabulous glitter bobby pins was not entirely effective.

The result: Delicious banana-flavored Greek yogurt covered in gold glitter.

Keep Calm_goldBeing a single woman in her twenties with an active social life, I don’t get to the grocery store much, so my perishables are carefully portioned out to last a couple of weeks before my next “milk and everything else” run. So I looked down at my glittery yogurt, looked up at myself in the bathroom mirror, sighed… and ate it anyway.

Mom, I hope those bobby pins weren’t made in China because, if so, there’s no telling what I just ingested or what “magical unicorn properties” I might develop!

Authentically Aurora

Why I Don’t Date Musicians

Josh GrobanI don’t date musicians. Musicians make me crazy. Sure, they drive me crazy in the good sense, but they also make me a psychotic, emotional roller coaster. The highs are high, the lows are low, and I am generally a basket case.

I swore off dating musicians about three years ago after I realized how much they transformed this normally sane, rational, logical, methodical engineer into a completely unstable crazy lady!!! And tonight, I was reminded of just how potent the combination of me + a musician can be.

Background: My baby brother is getting married in three weeks. Yep, the one who proposed to his girlfriend on the same day that my fiancé broke off our engagement. Since his fiancé lives on the other side of the country and they are getting married in our hometown… and since I just planned a wedding in this city (albeit one that got cancelled last minute on account of the groom’s lack of commitment), my help in planning was requested. I have obliged as gracefully as I can without suffering internal combustion. So far I have selected the photographer (as a photographer myself), done taste testing at their venue (my dream location), given entrée recommendations (with the help of the ever-loyal Ashley) and hand designed their stationary (using my pending second degree in Graphic Design). I am also singing in the wedding, so tonight I drove 45 minutes across town to meet my duet partner, an up-and-coming star who studies at our city’s nationally acclaimed college of music.

Here’s where I get to the part about how musicians drive me crazy. First, Jack – this young star – irritated me. He had already cancelled on me twice, like a typical musician, and then tonight, we were supposed to meet at 7:30 pm, but he sent me a text at 6:30 telling me that 7:00 would actually work better. Since I live 45 minutes away from the university, I wouldn’t have made it by 7:00 even if I had left immediately, so I just ignored his text and decided to arrive at the agreed-upon time of 7:30. I felt guilty for not meeting when he wanted to, but there’s no way I could have made it by 7.

Next, I got angry. The college campus is huge, so I couldn’t find the building, and parking is a nightmare. I’d just spent 45 minutes in rush hour traffic; and then Jack responded to my request for better directions with, “The [music building] is on the back side of campus.” What the heck, Jack. What constitutes the “back side of campus”?! I prompted him further, and he told me, “There is a lot right in front of the building that might cost you 5 dollars but is probably the best option.” Jack. I don’t freaking know where the building is! Try using cardinal directions, son! Fortunately, I’m not above asking for directions, so I eventually found my own way. And paid I don’t even know how much for parking.

Jack called my phone right at 7:30 as I was pulling into a parking spot. I turned off the ignition and looked toward the building, where I saw the silhouette of a man leaning against a door frame as he held the door open with his body. The silhouette put a phone up to his ear just as I answered, so I knew it was him.

“Hey, Jack,” I said, watching his figure as he stood backlit by the building lights.

“Hey, Aurora. Did you get parked?” There was a quiet confidence to his stance, and it came through in his voice. Stop it, Jack. I’m trying to be mad at you. But I couldn’t. He looked so sexy standing there (sorry, Mom), and he was entirely too charming, in a completely unintentionally disarming kind of way.

I almost hugged him when I walked up – I don’t know why – but we shook hands instead. He had a warm grip and friendly smile. I am attracted to this 23-year-old punk. What is wrong with me?

He led me to a rehearsal room in the middle of the building, where a pretty red-haired girl waited at a piano. This Masters student had agreed to accompany us for our run-through. I’d wanted to talk a bit before we jumped right in (I think chemistry is important to singing duets), but she started playing, so we started singing.

Any time people hear me sing – at church, in the car, around the campfire – I inevitably get compliments. I’m not a bad singer. In fact, I’m a very gifted singer. I was a three-time All State Choir member in high school (ranked 2nd in the state my junior year), auditioned with Houston Grand Opera at the age of 18 and could have gone pro if I had chosen that path. But I was practical and decided to be an engineer. So now I work full time at a job I hate, going to school part time for Graphic Design (trying to pursue something that gives me more joy), and my vocal talent is largely being wasted. Tonight when we started singing, my vocal cords weren’t warm, and they’re muscles I don’t exercise much. I hadn’t realized how much of a difference regular rehearsal makes until Jack opened his mouth to join me in our duet.

His voice was rich and deep and warm and… beautiful. Heavenly. He is a young Josh Groban. And I was simultaneously overcome by joy, pleasurelonging and insecurity. No one has made me feel insecure about my voice in years. I have more vocal talent than 99% of the world’s population – purely by God’s grace and generosity. But next to Jack, who is training vocally full time and is in his prime, I felt like a shadow of who I could have been. And I felt regret for not having pursued music. I miss it. Intensely.

We finished our first run through, and it went so well that both Jack and the pianist were ready to call it a night. I was floored. I’d driven nearly an hour in maddening traffic to rehearse, and they were ready to be finished after five minutes? As Jack and the young pianist talked, I saw a rapport and camaraderie – perhaps even attraction? – that suddenly filled me with jealousy. I honestly don’t know if I was jealous for Jack’s attention or for the musical future those two are aspiring to. Either one is ridiculous. Jack is almost five years younger than me, still in school, and – most importantly – I’d met him five minutes earlier. My mom told me once, “You have to be careful with guys like that. You’ll fall in love with his voice and think you’re falling in love with him.”

I convinced them (without much effort) to run through the piece one more time, and it went even better than the first time. Our voices blended well, especially when the song swelled to a crescendo. Jack complimented me on my Italian pronunciation, and I glowed. I realized, then, that I – the ever-confident dragon lady – felt shy around Jack. What is happening?! I am a MESS!

We all looked at each other, agreed that the piece seemed performance-ready and packed up. Jack grabbed his backpack and walked me out to my car. In the chilly darkness, I felt safe next to him. We made small talk – I don’t remember what about – and he made me smile. When we reached my car, he reached out for a hug, even though we’d just met.

He’s a good hugger. It’s probably just a musician thing – kids were always pretty huggy in choir – but I felt peaceful when he hugged me. I told him to call if he thought of any questions about the wedding, and he echoed the same back to me. “Sure, just give me a call.”

Driving home, I felt hopeful.

And confused.

Especially when I realized that over the last hour, I have felt irritated, guilty, angry, disarmed, attracted, joyful, pleased, filled with longing, insecure, regretful, floored, jealous, shy, safe, peaceful and hopeful.

THAT is why I don’t date musicians.

Authentically Aurora

The Importance of Companionship

Elderly CoupleLife is so much sweeter when lived in companionship with someone who knows you fully and yet, in spite of knowing your flaws, proceeds to love you unconditionally.

I wrote yesterday about laughing with Kyle about the ridiculousness (i.e. horrifying embarrassment) of my Monday. Being able to laugh with a friend about what would otherwise be a freakishly terrible day completely changed the lens through which I viewed the morning’s experiences.

My parents lived in China for three years for an expat assignment, and they had a blast, but they each told me separately that, without the other, it would have been an awful three years. Because my dad had my mom there with him, he was able to vent – and then laugh – about the comical nature of trying to run an efficient and profitable business in a country that values full employment and saving face above all else. Because my mom had my dad there with her, she was able to chuckle about her stories of shopping at the grocery store, moo-ing at the butcher to ensure they ate beef (not dog) for dinner. If either of them had lived in rural China alone for three years, the experience would have been frustratingly painful and disconcerting. Instead, it was a wonderfully memorable adventure for them as a couple.

I am often struck by a rather revealing statement in the biblical story of creation. After God created both land and sea, He “saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:10). When He created plants and vegetation, He “saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:12). He created the sun and moon and “saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:18). Three more times, God looks over His creation and declares it “good”. But in the midst of this perfection, prior to sin entering the world and corrupting God’s creation, God sees one thing that He declares NOT good: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). And so God creates a wife for Adam, and Adam names her Eve.

What this tells me is that loneliness existed before sin entered the world. Despite having a perfect, uninhibited relationship with a perfect and holy God, Adam was lonely. Despite living in paradise, Adam was lonely. Despite looking around at all of the rest of creation and declaring it “good”, God saw Adam’s isolation and declared it “not good”.

Adam’s loneliness was not a sin. We were created in the image of the Triune God and, therefore, were created for companionship. “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help… Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer” (Eccl. 4:9-12).

I am striving to be content in my singleness, because I know that God is the ultimate Satisfier of my Soul. No man can “complete me” or fully satisfy me. Every human being is fallible and will disappoint me, just as I will disappoint them. But I long for a companion to share my life with – someone to laugh with about the hard days and rejoice with in the good days – because I was created for companionship. We all were. Loneliness is not a sin. And it is not good for man to be alone.

Authentically Aurora