Solitude is good for the soul; especially at home. It is also good for writing. After experiencing much despair this past week on many levels–from losing a high school friend to disease, to feeling lost in the direction of career path, to feeling heartbreak in a time of transition–I cannot help but feel thankful the morning after such a storm. In times where we feel so broken, we can attest to ways in which we feel whole.
Last night I was able to appreciate my family. Lauralee–who so naturally brings people together for being who she is–brought our family together by participating in a local night market where her vintage clothing store had a pop-up shop. Hosted in an old music hall with dangling hipster lightbulbs, vendors from across Kentucky came share their goods of Bourbon tumblers, statehood love, and men’s vintage ties.
Eugene (dad) picked me up at the house at around 6pm. Because I’ve flown in from DC for only a short while he offered to lend me his car. Once I’m in the driver’s seat he tells me what every single button means on the dashboard–as if I’ve never driven his vehicle before, nor do I also own a dodge. But his performance did not make me cringe as I did as a child. I couldn’t stop smiling and was overwhelmed with love as he pointed to each setting of the air conditioning knob:
“This means air will go to your face, this one means it will go to your feet, this one…I don’t know what that one means,”
“–It’s for defrost and for air that hits your feet,” I interjected.
“–Right and this one is for…” he continued.
What I would have formerly thought to be such a nuisance was a moment of joy. I had my father back.
After the death of my mom, finishing graduate school, and Lauralee’s wedding, Eugene decided to undergo a true self-reassessment. He has lost nearly 60lbs and claims to feel, “15 years younger.” I could not be more proud of him for stepping up to the plate of being a dad again.
Last night Lauralee had brought us together. I beamed with pride over the woman and sister who will continue to be the next generation of familial glue. I bought a shirt from her. I saw my dad, who once had trouble receiving joy in life, become ecstatic about buying an assortment of vintage ties and corny UK basketball socks that were, “Only 10 dollars!” What a gift.
Eugene and I had dinner in the old distillery district of Lexington, where abandoned warehouses have become bars and restaurants. Here I was able to communicate the difficulty of my current position in life. In return, Eugene was able to understand, appreciate, and give feedback. I was proud to be my father’s daughter and to share an evening of love.
After dinner I sat next to him on a park bench while he smoked a cigarette by a triangular ash-waste tower. We discussed the meaning of life, if we have a purpose and what is it. Recent events have prompted such ideas of complexity. Tired eyes soon led us to return to Lauralee and Patrick’s home; the trade show was over. Not long after we pulled the car into the driveway did Patrick and his cousin appear. Lauralee’s Volkswagen last in tow.
All five of us entered the house. We hugged. Greeted the dogs and we laughed. Dad and cousin expressed their affinity for cigarette vapes and the ongoing atrocities of Kentucky politics. We shared love and each other’s company soberly. I experienced what had seemed to be a rarity of joy.
Life is hard. Life is also tremendously sad. Lyrics from Chance the Rapper, who is one of the few rap artists that express words of empowerment and spirituality, come to mind. In his song “Blessings,” it goes, “When the praises go up, the blessings come down…It seems like blessings keep falling in my lap.”
While I am not insinuating that people believe in God, I do think investing in spirituality is crucial to surviving in a world of pain, rejection, and suffering. We cannot understand the magnitude of our true blessings without feeling deep sadness. We cannot experience real joy and love without acknowledging the places where it lacks, and to know that it is rare.
Chance asks, “Are you ready for your blessings?”
This thought process is transformative.