The journey of a day

She worshiped the glowing screen, petitioning it for the fellowship she desperately desired. “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life…” Yes, yes, sign in. Remember me. Please. Three new notifications and a message. Two event invitations. But as she clicked from one to the next, she realized with great disappointment that they were nothing, sent by name-and-face nobodies, trifles from vague acquaintances. If only he weren’t so far away. Far, nothing! She hadn’t known real distance yet, but she would.

But physical distance wasn’t what tugged at her, what kept pulling her back time and again to the virtual vortex. It was a different kind of distance- one far deeper and less tangible. She couldn’t describe it, though she sharply felt it, and so she often wondered whether it weren’t all in her head. After all, weren’t emotions mere personal constructs? If she decided it wasn’t so, willed it away strongly enough, it would cease to taunt her. She needed only to try harder.

There was nothing there. Email: University announcement. Take our survey. Limited time coupon- this week only. Delete, delete, save to delete later. Other email: advocacy newsletter- act now. Online bank statement available. Close. Blog: 41 hits today. No new comments. Nothing to see. No one to talk to…as if posting comments back and forth with often anonymous squares of text could be considered talking. But still. Facebook again- maybe something had happened. Not so. Email, one more time for good measure.

She crawled onto her bed, pulled out a notebook, and pressed her cheek into the coarse fabric of her sweater sleeve. The silence hissed in her ears, whispering of emptiness, so she got up again and put The Beatles on. On a good day they delighted her. On other days they made her lonely. Mystical lyrics married haunting melodies, swirled in her head, wrapped around her brain and imbued her with a false nostalgia for a time she had never known.

“Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup, they slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe.” She closed her eyes and mentally swayed, enveloped. She protested for peace and strove for meaning. “Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind, possessing and caressing me.” Pools of sorrow, waves of joy- that was how she felt. Nothing would change her world, either. Though she never had a solid plan, she stayed the course. It would all come together in the end.

As her pen glided, empty words filled an empty page and everything was meaningless.

She grabbed her keys, unlocked her bike, and liberated herself from the confines of her shrinking room. She pulled in a deep breath, long and slow, as the wind pushed back her hair like the tender caress of a gentle hand. She tried to absorb all of the sun, the air, the Earth around her. She was in love with it, and it always loved her back. The sky was too vast to worry over distance- it was always there. Weather’s character was changing and unpredictable, but each gray day taught her to love the sunshine’s warmth even more purely and passionately. Still, she couldn’t divorce mind from body, and her thoughts rode with her wherever she pedaled.

Doubts gnawed at the edges of her mind. Anxiety slithered between the lobes of her brain. Sadness nestled in the back of her skull and sunk into her chest. Life was full of limits. There was only so far she could go, and her bike eventually led her back to the place where she had started.

The stacks of books in her room reminded her of everything she wasn’t doing. She wanted to turn and run, but her legs were already sore. Perhaps an aimless car ride? Instead, she settled on a bath, praying for relaxation as she lowered herself into the almost-scalding water. The bath bubbles she poured under the spout smelled wonderful. They reminded her of the fragrance of honeysuckle that had kissed her face as she glided past on the trail. If only she could kiss him. Curse the distance…

She closed her eyes and hovered again in her ethereal love of the outdoors. She often thought to herself that if every aspect of life brought failure and all else fell away, she would still be content so long as she could regularly court the wilderness and linger in nature. God had given her that solace, to envelop her in comfort when the torments of daily life threatened to tear her apart. The Creator knew she could only be strong for so long without respite.

She kept her phone close to the edge of the tub, within reach of her wrinkling fingers. It sat silent. Even the phone didn’t span the distance, searching for words with meaning, reaching out across the expanse for a faded connection. She grew restless and couldn’t steep herself in the suds any longer. Wrapped in a robe, she brushed a stray teardrop aside. She lit candles as The Beatles carried on.

“To lead a better life, I need my love to be here.” It used to be one of her favorites, enchantingly romantic. The adoration in his voice felt so genuine. But it was really rather plain after all.

As she readied herself for bed, she opened her Bible in search of hope. She read verses about love, peace, and comfort. “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep.” That was why she had fallen so deeply in love with nature. It was her tangible, beautiful reminder of the One who would never leave her empty. The mountains, the sky, and God’s love- those were the constants she could count on. “How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

She closed the book and pulled her quilt over her tired body. Today was one day, and its feeling could easily vanish like mist in the morning light. Life really is beautiful, she thought as slumber washed over her.

{Songs quoted were Across the Universe and Here, There, and Everywhere. The Bible passage is Psalm 36:5-7}

Example of my emo-looking hair (see comments below)

Example of my emo-looking hair (see comments below)

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About Nicole

Daughter of God, wife, mother, volunteer youth leader, substitute teacher, aspiring writer, rabbit owner, nature lover. These are some of my titles.
This entry was posted in Contentment, Fiction, Life as we know it, Nature, Relationships and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The journey of a day

  1. Anonymous says:

    Firstly, you’re emo.

    Secondly, not every noun needs an adjective and you should never use an adverb. You could probably cut 300 words by just cutting adjectives or adverbs. ethereal love? Sharply felt? No, just felt. You didn’t give the reader any extra understanding. It’s just cumbersome. I think you write better when you write more simply. Excessive words don’t create an emotion or style. They distract from emotion and style.

    I read it again and it’s interesting, but I still think it would be more powerful if you stripped it down and weakened the verbs, but i know you’re a melodramatic girl, so it might not be honest if you did.

  2. Nicole says:

    Why, thank you.

    When I’m dyeing my hair darker, covering my body in tattoos and weeping bitterly over the sad, sad agony of existence (as all good emo kids do), I will remind myself not to use adverbs. In fact, I’m being wordy right now. It’s a curse, I suppose. But it certainly comes in handy when I have a 10 page paper to bs and a short amount of time to do it. Do you think my hair would look good black, or should I go back to dark red?

    I was really just kinda bored last night.

  3. Nicole says:

    I have obligingly written you a new story. Check it out. Hopefully the style is more pleasing to you.

  4. Nikki's #1 critic says:

    I like your hair red, but it didn’t look emo. Try black and see how that goes. I think you should get a skull tattoo, or maybe a flying heart fleeing from lava or something like that. That would be awesomely emo. But let’s talk about writing because I like to do that.

    First you are a wordy person. You can’t go 10 seconds without talking, so it shouldn’t be a surprise you sometimes write wordy. But a lot of the time you actually write less wordy than most writers. Look at the guy in the park story.

    You didn’t use adjectives in that story because you had a point. Writing is like poker in that sense. If you don’t have much than you flail about grabbing whatever small pot you can, but if you have something good you slow play it and you take everything.

    Ethereal love is a super period. The reader steps out of the story to scrutinize that. Does she mean celestial love? What does that say about this story? Where is this going? It’s much better to slowly build until wham knick knack on grave.

    Readers are aware that writers use adjectives and adverbs to hide a lack of substance like a pretty girl uses a mini-skirt to hide her lack of personality, and so adjectives and adverbs have become a scarlet B.S. Everyone knows a bser now.

    Secondly, adjectives and adverbs aren’t descriptive because they are telling words not showing words. I know I sound like a high-school english teacher, but it’s true. Take for example, the phrase brutally murdered. Does that say anything?

    What if instead of brutally murdered you wrote.

    At 11 p.m. on Friday night Joe Schmoe was walking to his car. As he was entering his car a man hit him in the head with a wrench. Joe Schmoe fell to the ground and his head smacked against the concrete. Blood stained the ground, but the assailant kept beating Schmoe. The victim pinned Schmoes head to the ground by putting his foot on his neck. The force of the blows fractured Schmoe’s skull and knocked his eye out of socket. Once Schmoe was unconsious (sic) the assailant strangled him with his belt.

    That’s a brutal murder. Would it fit in copy? I don’t know, but it’s a lot more descriptive than the phrase brutally murdered and I don’t think it has any adjectives or adverbs. I know you’ve read Crime and Punishment, so think about how Doestoevsky uses adjectives in the murder scene.

    I think lot of times writers use adjectives when they are too lazy to get scenes or think up a good metaphor. You should never use an adjective when you could use a scene, simile or metaphor.

    If I was mean in the first post it’s only because I hold you to a high standard, and well I think you’re the only writer I’ve met that is as idealistic and honest as I am. Adjectives and adverbs are dishonest, so I get mad when I see them in print.

    I feel like a mother who tells her daughter to pull her hair back, so she doesn’t hide her pretty face. You’re smart Nikki and you have something to say. Pull your adjectives back, so you don’t hide your brilliant ideas.

  5. Nicole says:

    I’ve never played poker, so that analogy is lost on me.

    “It’s much better to slowly build until wham knick knack on grave.” I have no idea what you’re talking about. What in the world does that mean? I’ve been puzzling and puzzling over it.

    I’m glad we can have this mother-daughter relationship. Are you a pretty maternal person? As an aside, I like having my hair in my face.

    You say my red hair didn’t look emo, but that’s only because you didn’t see it right after I dyed it when it was shockingly dark and unnatural. I’ll attach a picture to the end of this post and you’ll see what I mean.

    I know I didn’t respond to any of the things you actually wanted to talk about. Haha. Sorry.

  6. Mere says:

    He killed her with a sledgehammer.

  7. Anonymous says:

    That picture does look emo, but it’s mainly because your skin was so pale. If you get a tan it won’t create the same impact.

    In poker if someone has ‘the nuts’ or best hand possible they will often times not bet. This is counter intuitive. You would assume someone with the best hand would bet. Instead of betting, they allow the other people to do the betting for them and in the end the winner gains more.

    Writers often think that good writing is adjective laden or emotional, but I think writing is like playing poker. Constant emotional language exhausts the readers mind, so they can’t conceptualize the story. They have to stop reading more often. You want to withhold emotion until the reader understands where the characters come from and can compare them to themselves. You want to keep the reader in the story as much as possible. Everything should add up to one thing. If you’re constantly drawing attention to ridiculous adjectives that add nothing to the story you’re just distracting the reader.

    I’m sure I’m not making any sense. I’m terribly at being literal. For example as a man, it’s difficult for me to be maternal, though I am paternal.

    The only reason I engage you in this conversation is because I know how much you like to bs. Sometimes, I think you don’t even care about being good at anything, you just want everyone to think you’re good. I want to be compassionate, but you’re going to waste a lot of talent if you judge yourself by what is ok with everyone else. And that’s why I said something about this story. It’s not like what I’m used to reading from you. It’s a popular bs style. I worry that you’re conforming to a style that isn’t you because it would get you an A from someone who wasn’t good enough to make it as a writer.

    P.S. I had some “Sean Sposito” google hits today. I don’t know if you remember my story where I talk about why I like journalism, but in that story Sposito is a heartless ambulance watcher. Those hits can’t be good….. Dawg

    P.P.S I am pretty sure it was a wrench Mere, but it could have been a sledgehammer, or maybe a jack hammer. There are endless possibilities.

  8. Mere says:

    Oh, no. You’re wrong.

    You see, “sledgehammer” was one of Nikki’s spelling words for her editing class. Naturally my question was, “why would you need to use ‘sledgehammer’ in journalism.” Nikki and I then, at the exact same time (as often happens) said, “He killed her with a sledgehammer.”

  9. Nicole says:

    Haha. One of the creepier examples of how our minds have aligned. What a morbid idea about the utility of the word sledgehammer. Why not, “the construction worker swung his sledgehammer”? Or even, “the vandals broke the windshield with a sledgehammer”? Oh no, he killed her with a sledgehammer, naturally.

    What do ya think, Meredith, too much Law and Order?

  10. Nicole says:

    I’m in a bad mood, and I feel like you’re ragging on me a lot.

    You cite my Short Story in Peace Park as having better style, but you told me when you read that it sounded like your style. Apparently you have no problem with me conforming to other styles, so long as it’s yours. For the record, I’m not trying to “conform” to anyone else’s style. I’m just trying different stuff to see what feels right. I don’t feign to think this story is particularly good, and I think you’re taking it way too seriously. I had no lofty goals in mind when I wrote it, and I’m not exactly trying to get it published or anything.

    “Sometimes, I think you don’t even care about being good at anything, you just want everyone to think you’re good.” Ouch. You’re wrong. Maybe I just don’t care about the same things that you care about. I consider fiction writing to be a hobby– I’m not doing it to impress anyone or effect some dramatic change in the world. It just amuses me. I don’t have a goal of getting short stories published by the time I’m 26…or maybe ever. Without that kind of pressure, I have freedom to experiment with different styles (long and descriptive or short and simple, for example) without getting upset if some of my stories fall flat and aren’t worth reading.

    I agree with/appreciate a lot of the advice you offer about writing, but then you have to go and preach at me about living up to my potential or selling myself short and bs-ing and all this nonsense. Maybe you’re more like an overbearing mother who tries to force her daughter down the path the mother sees as best, regardless of the daughter’s true passions and wishes. I’ll do my own thing and if you think some of my decisions are a waste of my talent, so be it. What is this brilliant talent, anyway? What have I written that is so idealistic and honest? Maybe I’m just not as good as you’re imagining. Or maybe I will be one day and I’m just not there, yet.

    As I’ve made no secret, being a successful writer is not my number one goal in life. I’m more interested in learning how to love people better, in raising a wonderful family, and in spending as much time appreciating the natural world God has blessed us with. I want to challenge myself to constantly push my physical limits so I can climb higher mountains and see remoter places that few people will ever access. I want to push myself out of my comfort zone to love people who are different than me, to understand people who think differently than me, and to love people simply for the sake of loving them, without any fringe benefits. I want to give back to the world by totally investing myself in my children when the time comes so that they will be healthy, productive, reflective members of society. I want to become less “religious” and more spiritual- to focus every aspect of my life on the reality of my relationship with God and to have my faith central in everything I think and do and say. By less religious, I mean that I want to be able to let go of the parts of “cultural Christianity” that are based on keeping up appearances and going through the motions arbitrarily rather than being genuine. Those are a few of the things that I really care about being “good” at. If I happen to be good at writing, or if writing can help me with those goals, then I will do it to the best of my abilities.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’m not ragging on you. I just thought that this piece was overstated to the point of appearing dishonest.
    I understand that you were trying something new, but I didn’t feel like it worked.

    I feel like we should be able to criticize one another. I expect you to do the same thing to me. I ask you to. I think maybe I come across as harsh because I’m not good at being nice. I have to be completely honest. But I think if you would have seen me you wouldn’t have been hurt so badly. I am much better at expressing feeling non-verbally than verbally. That’s the reason I hate to talk on the phone because I think everyone will think I am a mean guy. I think if I write literally or talk on the phone I come across as mean, but I don’t know how to get around that.

    I also don’t understand why you’re shocked that I would say I’m worried you don’t apply yourself toward achieving your goals. I’ve told you that a lot of times.

    In other news, Sean Sposito definitely found my blog and he’s mad. Some guy threatened to crush my skull. So you’re not the only one that is annoyed by my intensity and idealism. If you really want to get even you could team up with him.

  12. Nicole says:

    Haha. I knew as soon as I read that blog where you named Sean by name that it was a terrible idea. The thing about posting things on the internet is that anyone can see them. He’s a pretty big guy- you’re definitely in trouble now, dawg. Good thing you’re graduating soon…hopefully he won’t sledgehammer you before then.

    By the way, Meredith had to explain to me that your knick knack on the grave comment was a reference to my story…I had no idea what you were talking about. My brain is a little slow lately. It’s not helping me get my papers written- I have 2 due on Thursday and have to work both nights.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know how I feel about him finding it. I feel bad because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but at the same time what I said is true. Don’t you think so? And I think that Sean and I stand for two very different things. He rushes into a lot of stories like a good journalist. I’m sure he’ll make a lot of money. I prefer to write few long stories that have a cultural context and say something about our society. And anytime I profile someone I want it to be fair, but I don’t want to glorify them because they only stories about how great they are. I like to talk to the people around them. I want a real person with vice and virtue. I guess I should expect some backlash.

    Do you think I should ask him if I was unfair? How would he even answer that question? Of course, he thinks it is unfair.

    I know how you feel. I’m really busy. I decided that I would go to the farm tomorrow at 5 a.m., so I could see what it’s like to be there in the morning. I’m already regretting that decision.

  14. Nicole says:

    Yuck, 5 am! I was thinking I might be studious and get up at 9 tomorrow. Guess you were too shy to ask to spend the night? That might have been imposing.

    Maybe you should say to Sean what you just said to me. I don’t know if he’ll forgive you, but what else can you do? I have to admit I laughed a lot when I read his and Andy’s responses. I was thinking about adding a comment, but it would only throw fuel on the fire and I didn’t wanna get in the middle of it. I doubt his feelings are hurt though, I bet he’s just pissed at you. I’m sure he’ll feel much better after he crushes your skull with his bare hands. You might want to watch your back for the next few weeks. I’ve often thought maybe you shouldn’t use people’s real names when you’re talking about them in your blog unless they know about it or it’s something really benign. You never know who will read it and how they will feel about it.

  15. Peter Popoff says:

    When I originally commented I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments
    are added- checkbox and from now on each time a
    comment is added I get 4 emails with the exact same comment.
    Is there a way you are able to remove me from that service?
    Cheers!

  16. Wow, marvelous blog structure! How long have you ever been running a
    blog for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look
    of your site is excellent, let alone the content!

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