thank God for Kohls

I’ve worked as a chapel assistant on weekends, and some random weekdays, since July.  It’s a perfectly ambiguous title, because it sounds as though I should be assisting the couples getting wed or the families christening their babies, but in reality I work for the chapel.  I turn the lights on, set the temperature, make sure it’s clean and that it stays that way.  I see the patrons as they come and go (speaking of Michelangelo), cleaning up any remnants of their ceremonies and pocketing my own sometimes practical, sometimes funny keepsakes.  I rarely get a chance to have an intimate interaction with the chapel’s guests.

Wooden hangers, lint rollers, ring boxes from Jared’s, a revised wedding day version of “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”, a program that specifies a Boyz II Men song will play at the end of a wedding ceremony and a few good stories.

There was a young couple—probably no more than two years older than me—who quietly stared in opposite directions for a few minutes before the newlywed bride finally said: “So, can I get a ride with you to the reception?”

It was like watching Michael Cera play a groom AND a bride in an indie comedy.  I sincerely enjoyed their awkwardness.

I can’t imagine the other awkward phrases that will be exchanged between those two and for that I thank God.

This next one is the type of story you always hope to hear but are always kind of afraid to tell for fear you’ll mangle it:

The couple had lived in Lawrence their entire lives and had attended rival high schools.

They both went to KU.

They both were in the School of Fine Arts—he was a Music Comp. major and she was Music Theory.

They were probably in the same place at the same time many, many times but they never met—at least, not until their junior year.

They met at Kohl’s.

She was working and he was returning something.

He left with her number and now they teach music in Texas.

 

have you ever seen the rain?

It’s the winter solstice and it feels like summer.  It feels like time is stretching itself out, bending and not breaking, giving me more hours to read and think and talk—and most importantly—write.

I’ve missed writing.  For a while I was afraid of it because I thought I had nothing to say, that everything lacked substance or worth.  I have shared so few stories this semester that I’ve started to think that there are none worth telling.  So, I’m starting with the first story and finding my way to where I am now.

This is from the end of summer and the beginning of the school year.

Jordan came back into town for a few weeks during the summer.  I saw him at a party and we re-exchanged numbers so we could meet for coffee.

I had fruit and biscuits with vegetarian sausage and gravy while he had tea, or maybe it was coffee?  I am only half certain that these details are relevant to the story.

We were in a dive—or what I would classify as a dive—in downtown Lawrence.  There’s graffiti on the walls and a constant loop of old-timey cartoons playing in front of an old floral couch.

I had just started working as a chapel assistant for weddings so I had to leave.  He had been in Costa Rica for an entire semester: getting tan, growing a beard, cutting his hair, getting harassed by his Tica grandmother.  There was so much more I wanted to hear and live vicariously through so I asked him what he was doing for the rest of the day and invited him to the chapel.

He’d never been—I feel like almost everyone’s first time inside of that chapel has been with me.  The ceremony ended and we saw that it was raining outside.  Or, maybe we didn’t notice then?  The rain didn’t matter though.

Long ago I realized that I was not made of sugar and spice; that my kind does not melt in the rain.  So, we let time amble on and we didn’t rush to catch up, walking in the rain.

Three boys sat on their sheltered porch and yelled out to us.

“Hey, you want to get out of the rain?”

We told them “maybe later.”

We went into the hotel from the side door through Jimmy Johns, away from the circle drive and the valet parking.  We took the elevator to the fifth floor terrace and watched the uniformed hotel workers run back and forth, carting plates and glasses and silverware from the deck to the safety of the hotel.  We helped them out and held the door.

I told him the best view of Lawrence was on that terrace, but now that I think about it I might have been wrong.

We started the walk back to my car and stopped to meet the boys on the porch.

They told us the history behind their house and gave us a few beers.  We met their dog, Tyson, and then I drove Jordan back to his car.

Jordan and I lived on the fifth floor of Lewis Hall our freshman year.  It was the “Spanish Language Learning Community”—our resident assistant spoke Spanish fluently and those of us in the LC were supposed to speak in Spanish to each other. He ended up spending an entire year in Costa Rica. I finished the required amount of Spanish classes and feel closest to Spanish culture when I’m at the Mexican restaurant downtown that doesn’t card and serves cheap pitchers of frozen margaritas.

Jordan called me (still calls me) trendy and once when I bought a pair of shoes and threw the cardboard box in the trash, Jordan called me out on it and put the box in the recycling.

Once, he told me I should write about my lime green rain boots.

I guess this is as close as I get to filling that request.

almost two years ago

blue, gold and not white

It’s December and there is no snow on the ground.

Last week there were a few scary flurries, but they didn’t stick.  I can still get away with leaving my house in a sweater and a trench coat and life is beautiful.

Of course, now that I’ve thrown that out to the Universe it’s totally going to snow this week and it will ruin my life/car/clothes/etc but I don’t care because it’s manageable now so let us rejoice and be glad.

This is the last full week of school and so I’m doing the obligatory “get my shit together” thing, peppered with the “get really obsessed with something time-consuming” thing.  This year that thing is Blue Valentine.

Admittedly, this isn’t a recent obsession but that won’t stop me from re-watching the nine available clips on IMDb all week.

I’ve probably written this here before, but I have this theory that there are only four stories worth telling and every great book/film/piece of entertainment is just a retelling of one of those stories.

I can’t describe in detail what those stories are but I know they have to exist because I can find a way to trace all of my favorite stories back to one another.  Blue Valentine is exactly the type of story that fascinates me.

Plus, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are total babes and who wouldn’t want to watch them together?

Derek Cianfrance spent twelve years working on this. Twelve years! I love that he needed to tell this story so badly that he gave it that much time.  Cianfrance has definitely earned his place in the “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” hero category.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out!