Gallery

Nineteen years old.

Today I was riding shot gun next to Lacey on our way home from the beach. Lacey is my little sister. She is 19 years old and recently dyed her hair the color of Cheerwine. It was red and messy and free. She was singing to the radio.

Just then her phone beeped. I read her the text so she could drive. Mom had forwarded her something from a conversation with our neighbor, Mrs. Rhonda. Mrs. Rhonda used to watch our brother Bradley after school. Lacey knows her well from walking to her house each day and talking with her by the door while Brad got his shoes on and tried to find his glasses. Mrs. Rhonda also happens to be the mother of a boy Lacey loved loved loved in high school. She loved him after high school too, but she moved away and some sad things happened and after a million back-and-forths, she trained her soft-heart toward a strong-resolve to stay away from him from now on. She has succeeded in her distance for a long time. I would even say she is happy. She is drivin home from the beach with her red red hair, just singin along.

I read the text aloud. Simply put, Mrs. Rhonda said she loved little Brad and misses him. (Mrs. Rhonda is a tough love type of lady that hardly ever gets mushy about anything, so this is a big deal.) She also said she really misses Lacey. And then, just briefly at the end: “I know my son misses her too.” 

I could feel it hit her in the stomach and just like that I looked over to see a few tears behind her sunglasses. I cried too.

I just knew. I knew because a million times in my life I have driven along, singing to the radio, and been blind-sided just like this. I knew because I was her. Her with the dyed hair and the sun tan and the fresh resolve to keep her tired heart moving forward. Mostly, I knew because I love her so big that I felt it in my stomach too. I wished I could show her: it gets better.

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HOME.

I am sittin here on the bed eatin blueberries,
wondering what to write about next.
I’ll just let myself talk to you.
(Or the void that is the internet.)
(Or whoever and whatever it is I speak with here.)
Here it comes.

This morning was a weird morning.
I swear I got out of bed multiple times and then woke up: still under the covers.
Ken tried to help.
I remember him nudging me with his nose like some kind of animal.
When I didn’t respond he pawed at my shoulder and made rawr sounds.
“Roaaarrrrrr! Wake up!”
“No” I said.
“But we’re pretending to be LIONS!” he replied.
“Nope.” [roll over]
“Oh. But why not?!”
And then somehow I was dressed and ready for church.
This is all I remember.

I don’t like to sleep when the sun is down,
but then by the time it’s up that’s all I wanna do.
The fact that I woke up every morning at 6:30 for a year and a half is a miracle.
(That’s when I was a missionary.)
The church is true people. That actually happened.
My mission is also the only time I looked forward to going to bed.
I was worked. WORKED.
All of that feels so far away now.
Now I work at the Missionary Training Center.
I help teach missionaries.
I am all around it every day, and yet my own mission feels far far away from me.

This has happened to me before– I want to tell you about it.
Remember the house on the culdesac?
The one with golden lights in my room at night?
The one I ran away from?
I ran away because we were moving.
My Dad was getting “transferred.”
That meant I was too. And I was real sad about it.
Now I know this all sounds very trivial, but it was so real to me then.
I wasn’t old enough to drive or take a bus or have a friend bring me back.
So, in my eyes, I couldn’t ever come back on my own.
I was leaving everything I’d ever known.
My friends and my cheer team and the woods in my back yard.
My bus stop and my Mamaw and my friend down the street.
And I couldn’t do anything about it.
That’s why I packed-up some canned food in the trees.
That’s why I planned for my friend to leave me sandwiches.
I was going to keep my life there, no matter what.

We moved on my tenth birthday and my heart broke.
There’s a lot to be said about this time in my life.
But the part I want to tell you about is this:
One time, we went back.
We drove back to Greensboro and Mom said we could go by our old house.
I couldn’t wait. That was my world! My home. I was going back to my life.
I carved my name in a tree in the front yard.
(…with my Mom’s tweezers, stolen from the console of our mini-van.)
We still had the key and no one had moved in yet, so we went inside.
I burst in the door, but
There was no big rug in the living room.
Everything was painted white– no colors.
No floral couches.
No kitchen table. No hand soap on the counter.
No shoes in the closet. No candy on top of the fridge.
No curtains on the windows. No pictures in my room.
It didn’t even smell like home.
It smelled like carpet cleaner and white paint.
It was empty. It seemed bigger. Father away.
At ten years old, this didn’t make sense to me.
I was HOME but nothing belonged to me.
I was right there, but it was all gone.
I was confused and embarrassed to have expected anything different.
I cried and cried.

And sometimes, when I’m walking around the MTC, watching all the boys and girls– the Elders and Sisters— with their black name tags and their scripture bags, their big nervous hearts, I try so hard to feel at home. To feel that I love this and I know this and I’m back and I belong. But that’s not who I am anymore. That doesn’t belong to me anymore. Sometimes, I can barely remember Sister Brown. She is all around me and yet she is not my life now. And really, that’s okay. I didn’t expect for the curtains to stay on the windows this time. The problem, even then at ten years old, was not that my old home was gone, so much that my new home was yet to be found. Seeing that there is no place in the past for me only emphasized what I had been ignoring: that I must go forward and find somewhere new to belong. At ten, this was terrifying. I didn’t want to belong anywhere else. Now, nearly 15 years later, I would love to belong somewhere besides full-time missionary work. I am excited and willing and open to this idea of somewhere else.

And yet, it is scary to know that everything behind me has been painted white and re-inhabited by strangers. Until this new home comes to light, I am floating, with what’s left of my torn-up roots scraggling along beneath me. But roots aren’t meant to float around exposed. Their work is meant to be concealed, deep underground, as they dig and hold steady to whatever they can find, spreading out for stability. Branches and leaves are blown in the wind, but roots find something more solid, more safe, and more steady. Especially my roots, because everything else about me is an emotional blow-around-in-the-wind mess. In short, I’m not crying in the mini-van this time, riding towards the scary unknown. I’m driving. I’m going willingly. I have lots of safety and stability and steadiness in the man next to me. I have big faith in the future. But still, it is disorienting and unnatural to drag one’s roots around every day. I am ready for some solid ground I can belong to for a while. Not only solid ground in God or solid ground in my husband, but real, squidge-your-feet-in-the-dirt solid ground. A place. A city. A home.
Texas, here we come.

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University of Texas from Wooldridge Hill

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These words came out me today.

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There are so many bike rides in me.
Long long paths paved by the river.
I am pedaling hard between the trees and smelling the drops of water in the air and curving around and diving through and all along there is SUN. Bright yellow light.
And then I woosh down into the tunnel.
Under the bridge in the dark damp gray.
Me and this shadowy space.
I hear only water, a concrete wall away.
Then in a flash the sun comes back to me and I am wondering:
What it was I left there in the tunnel.

Did you know I ran away once?
I left myself a bag of canned food in the woods behind my house.
When I got to the edge of the trees, it was still there.
The blanket tied-up in a grocery bag.
I was traveling on the trail toward your house.
You were going to leave me a peanut butter sandwich under the bush.
(I left my little brother back home by himself.)
There I was in the green trees and the smell of dirt.
I wonder, did I really go home? Did I bring it all with me?
Is there still a ten year old girl in the woods, determined to do it alone?
I feel her sometimes with her can of green beans.
She has learned the meaning of non-perishable.
I am sad for her.
At best, she is swinging through the trees by now.
But sometimes I worry she has lost her voice in there,
reaching out in the sparkly dust.

Today
I am not really meant for shoes or topic sentences.
If my muscles had a memory, they’d get back on the bike.
And when I finally arrived they would give little shakes in reply.
We are here we are here we are here.

Aside

“The universe is shaped exactly like the earth: If you go straight long enough you end up where you were.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

When I was younger my bedroom window faced the culdesac we lived on.
Does anyone say culdesac anymore?
It means a circly road like this:

culdesac
My window would be like that one there over the garage.
Sometimes, while I was falling asleep, a car would drive into our culdesac.
The blinds would be down but the headlights would come through the horizontal slats and shine in golden stripes on my wall. As they drove around the circle and back where they came, those golden stripes would circle around my room real slow.
It was magic.

Now I live on a busy street. There is a couch on our front porch.
Sometimes I like to read a book out there and listen to the cars go by.
It sounds like my old room, except these cars go much faster.
So much faster that eventually it feels nothing like my old room and I come back inside.
My bedroom window doesn’t face the street anymore but every once in a while,
the golden stripes come back around.

Every time, I feel so young.

* * * * * * * * * * *

So, if you haven’t heard,
I’m trying to write about me.
About who I am Right Now.
Interestingly enough,
this post turned out to express just what
I was avoiding:
the contrast of then and now,
and what it means to me.

Say What You Mean.

Sometimes I am afraid to write the truth.
And doesn’t that somehow equate to: “I am afraid to face the truth.”
…Am I afraid to face the truth?

And if so, why now?
I have done many scary things. Many hard things.
Mainly, what I’m referring to is: I went on a misson.
Before that, at least in my memory, I was rarely afraid to write the truth.
Regardless, I always found a way.
What has changed?
And why I am not better at writing the truth now, instead of the other way around?

.     See? There it is.
.     I was afraid to say “worse”
.     I dodged it with a common phrase–
.     “the other way around”
.     That way I didn’t have to actually say I am now worse at what I love SO MUCH.
.     Or maybe I avoid the word “worse” because:
.     I don’t really believe it.
.     I believe the me that writes the truth, is still in there.
.     I’m not ready to say she is gone. I’m not sure that is the truth.

S0 why am I not writing the truth now?

One answer at least: I don’t practice.
I get worse at things I’m not regularly practicing.
I used to have shelves and shelves of living notebooks.
Always a pen and a journ in my bag.
Part of learning to write the truth back then, was that I was always trying to.
And so, I was always learning to.

Since then, since I’ve stopped trying to write the truth,
I’ve found that I see much less of it.
When I’m walking home or waiting at a stoplight,
I don’t see my life and feel my heart like I used to.
I don’t churn my language
I don’t mold my phrases
I don’t listen to what I feel so I can
later sit down and scrawl it out until I say:
That. That is what my life is like. I found it and I found how to say it.

I don’t articulate. express. ask. edit. speak. listen.

Instead, I continually come to that moment where I need my words and
…they are not there.
Because I have not sought them
cultivated them
spent time with them
asked for them
trusted them.

Writing was like praying then.
Writing was like revelation. In my handwriting.
That’s why, on pages, I found the truth.

People do not know me as the girl with the notebook anymore.
But I know me:
I know.

Gallery

What happened to Lyndsi Shae?

Sometimes I look at pictures of my friends in high school. We are at the beach on spring break, shooting blow darts across the room at a styrofoam boogie board. We are eating pancakes on Saturday morning in our pajamas, painting our jeans before we all move away to college. We are driving through town at night with the windows down, angsting it out to punk rock love songs. We are longing for SO much and not knowing how to explain what it is we are looking for. So we sing U2 all the way to the coast “and I stilllll haven’t founddddd what I’m lookin for…” The thing is, I look at these photos and feel like I could go right back there, with those same people in the same cars and the same music toward the same Atlantic Ocean. And I would love it. I could be that girl again with the pancakes and painted jeans.

But I would feel a little different, and why is that?

What has happened since then that’s got me out of the angsty car and into other routines? Into going to bed before 2am and paying more attention to my schedule than my blog? Some might blame it on growing up–say I’ve lost myself and my young passion. They would see my life now compared to my life then and think, where did she go? Where is her freedom? But it doesn’t feel like that to me. It doesn’t feel like I’m lost. It feels like I have found so much of all that stuff I was looking for then, so much that I no longer have these insatiable impulses that keep me up all night singing and driving to the water. So much that I can sleep, and go to work, and do the laundry, and all these things that were so boring before, and yet still feel fulfilled. My freedom lies in stable things, safe things, things that do not fade away or threaten to elude me. Because I served my heart out on my mission and found lasting homes for all that passion I couldn’t seem to express before. Because I fall asleep next to Ken who is staying with me always. Because I wake up to God over and over and over. I always knew who I was. But now it is easier to be that person.

That being said, man what I wouldn’t do for those painted jeans and a weekend at the beach.
I will always be the girl with sand on her feet and a notebook in her hands.

Identity Perpetual.

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iden·ti·ty (noun) \ī-ˈden-tə-tē, ə-, -ˈde-nə-\
1 a : sameness of essential or generic character in different instances
   b : sameness in all that constitutes the objective reality of a thing : oneness
2 : the distinguishing character or personality of an individual

per·pet·u·al (adj) \pər-ˈpe-chə-wəl, -chəl; -ˈpech-wəl\
1 a : continuing forever : everlasting
(1) : valid for all time
(2) : holding  for life or for an unlimited time
2: occurring continually
3: blooming continuously throughout the season

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Video

Little Breezy.

Click here to see our Breezy.

Lacey first sent me this video in 2008. I was in Utah– the only sibling not living at home. I watched this in my college living room a million times and missed little Bradley SO much that I cried (and got embarrassed because Ken was over.)

“Stop throwin all the snow or we won’t have any leftwahhhhh”
And then, after retaliation… “Ah hah hah hahhhh!”

I LOVE that.
Bradley was an unexpected member in our family… did you guess?
I was 16 years old when he was born.
Sometimes people at the store would think he was mine–and I’d let ’em!
Jesse was 8 years old at the time and, like all of us, assumed he would never have younger siblings. He has since resolved to be the best big brother ever.
Evidence: here

This little guy came at a really intense time for our family.
Long story short: God knew we needed Brad, so he took care of it.
He slept through the night right from the start and was a pretty easy baby.
I felt like God was saying (especially to my Mom)
“It’s not that you need to learn how to take care of a baby again…
…but man you need some love.”
Little Brad loved us no matter what, and didn’t seem to notice how hard things were then. Instead, he added a chubby smile of sunshine to everything, and kept us all from going insane.

Documented chub and sunshine is as follows:

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