twenty-something

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Well. I turn 30 this week.

The writer part of me wants to search deeply for some metaphor and marrow.
The cook side of me hopes people will buy me a drink or two and maybe feed me something good — something that I don’t have to cook myself.

How do you sum up your twenties?

Well. You don’t really.
But I’d like to say something here, at least.

If our younger years are as formative as they say, then this decade has been about lessons.
Lessons on humanity and grace. Humility and power. Love and divorce.

It has been about justice and injustice. Spending moments with the poor. Seeing the faces of women who sell their bodies to feed their children; who work off a debt they had no say in.

With that, sprang some sort of well, deep in my heart. An overly-sensitive southern boy living in a world that is bright and loud and sometimes very violent.

Time rounds off the edges like sand blowing against a sharp rock over them years. Some softness gets added. Softness is like learning and understanding that you’re going to keep making mistakes and learning your whole life.

Softness is going easy on one’s self.

Cheeseburgers add to my softness.

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I learned how to be fierce, too. In the kitchen. I found so much in the kitchen. I found a heartbeat, a thicker skin, and something that drives and feels like some engine rumbling in my belly. It gives me confidence and passion. It gives me my own forms of justice and grace and I keep getting to learn what works.

The kitchen saved me from a lot of self-damage, and has given me a life I never thought I’d be able to stomach. But somehow, some way, this sensitive and quiet dude found a life and love for it. Regardless of which way my life turns, I am thankful the kitchen has been a part of it.

There is much growth in your twenties. You are still a baby, really. And then adult stuff hits you hard. Like money and rent and love. Sometimes you get married and you might have a baby or two or three.

Sometimes it works for you.
Sometimes it doesn’t.
And sometimes you’re in between all of that.

Sometimes you want to crawl underneath your bed with all those socks you’ve been missing and stay there until the noise dies down.

Fortunately for humans, we move. And we move forward.

Perhaps the biggest lesson in the past decade of my life is that we aren’t going to feel heartbroken forever.

We are going to be sad. We are going to hurt and see painful things that will change us.
But we also get to move around and squirm and sometimes settle. Like finding that sweet spot at night before you go to bed.

There were times I wish I would have dipped my toes into the sea. Or climbed higher or pushed myself to walk just a little bit further. I think we all feel that way sometimes. At least that’s what I’m learning.

And I’m learning that kindness is a gift. Something for yourself and others.

I learned that maybe the planet with those beautiful rings around it pulled me closer and allowed me to see myself and my life at a different angle. I know it might be silly to think of the planets like that, but I think there was some gravity there — it coming around to me being as close as it was when I came into the world all hot and red and pissed. It pulled the water in my body upwards and out — allowing me to open my heart to this wild and gracious time.

So yes — lessons and learning.

And I’ve cooked so much food and have fed so many people. I am so damn thankful I get to do something I really enjoy, for at least this time in my life — it works. And it might not some day. So, I’m going to live in this and work hard to make things better.

I joke that I have been 30’ish for about 6 years and it’s probably true. I am an old soul, some say. I am not afraid of getting older, only I do like to think about the time that has passed. I like to know what has helped me and what has hurt me. It takes us a while to learn, but we get there.

And I am getting there.

Slowly.

Stubbornly.

Shyly.

Quietly.

Fiercely.

 

Sincerely,

Josh, thirty-something

 

hands lifting

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I like being imperfect around other imperfect people.
Or at least the ones who submit to the fact that this world is hard and unruly and unpredictable.

I like hearing parents tell me how hard it is to be a parent. How their kids cry because sometimes kids just cry and that they are exhausted beyond any thing they’ve ever imagined.
I want the world to know that I love those little hamburgers from Wendy’s and that’s the stuff I won’t put on Instagram with a fancy filter.

We like real. At least I do. I think we are meant to struggle with each other. Sometimes we get to celebrate with each other too. Like anniversaries and new jobs.

I like that with each hard thing, I learn a tiny lesson. A gift in the form of a small train wreck.

I move forward with more confidence. I absorb it and I let it run through my system — the one that has felt this way before and can somehow manage to feel it though again and again.

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In and out, I think about the people in Nepal. I remember walking through their streets and I remember their people and their food. I remember playing guitar and singing with their kids. My heart is breaking all over because I know they are not built for such a thing. Who is, really?

I see rubble and pain. I also see hands lifting them both.

The Earth keeps spinning and moaning. Friction and heat and release.

I am saturated in it.
I mourn, with the rest of the world.
I pray and I remember how beautiful the stars were.

Somehow though, I am spared, and I am allowed to keep moving, each day.
Lucky is a word I use a lot. I’m not sure why. I wouldn’t consider myself a person of great luck, but I have become accustomed to feeling the good when it is good, because I know how bad things can get.

I’ve seen how deep and dark depression can be.
It feels a little like being at the bottom of a well, hoping you become the water that someone will just scoop up and save you from being in the dark.

Some days you feel a little bit like dying and it becomes less so. You just have to keep waking up and keep opening your heart to other people. I know that sounds cheesy and redundant, especially on this blog.

But I could never hear it enough.
I have written on my left arm, “These things take time”, and it’s surrounding a big pot, inspired by my friend Callie. Another friend of mine actually gave me the tattoo. I think I knew then that time was a gift. I wanted to remember that. I wanted to remember them. My people, the ones actually placing their hands on wounds.

They were my own wounded healers.

It carries over into cooking. I find myself cutting corners and knowing deep down, that is not who I am and it is not who I want to be. Time is nitty gritty. It is tiring and always pushing you forward, like your friends helping you to jump off the high dive.

You will plunge deep into the water, and it will sting your eyes and burn your nose, but you will rise up to the top and take in a deep breath.

That breath is a small victory.

So celebrate and throw up your hands,
eat a piece of cheesecake,
buy some new curtains,
hold tightly to your love,

and celebrate our healers as we are the hands,

lifting.

moaning.

mourning.

singing.

cooking.

cleaning.

tickling.

feeding.

rebuilding what is broken.

energy and space.

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My head is feeling a lot like the state of my room at the moment.

Scattered on my floor are clothes that I really need to put away. A new heater I spent 10 minutes at Wal-Mart researching, because well, the weather has taken a cooler turn in the South. I’m always a little giddy at that. I also grew comfy with the sound of my little heater in Portland. (That is, when the breaker wouldn’t switch in the middle of a frigid cold night.)

I see quarters and nickels and dimes everywhere, because I pay with cash a lot and have been used to Oregon’s zero-tax thing. The good part of it is, it’s a very messy way to have a savings plan. I have little treasures all over my apartment.

This week, I’ve been dealing with back pain on and off. Mostly muscle related, from all the twists and turns and bends of being a cook, no doubt. So, I’ve been needing to take it easy. I’ve stayed off my feet to the best of my ability and my surroundings showcase the laziness of my strained frame.

That’s okay.

To be honest, I have to fight with every sentence to not complain about being single. I tell myself not to write about it, because it makes me feel as though I’m looking for pity. I hope you don’t see it that way. I really don’t have too many complaints, to be honest. I think about what a gift it is to have a partner, and to also be single. I think about how both sides give us plenty of room to grow into good, strong people. Though it’s always through some pretty mucky stuff. Sometimes sad and frustrating, washed over with plenty of goofy-lovey-sweet stuff.

You notice peoples physical touch a bit more when you’re single. I went to an amazing show last night, and noticed all the lover things happening. The neck kisses, the couple that’s been making out at the bar for an hour straight who should probably just go home and get things settled. The sweet dance via bass and snare and high-hat — of getting closer to someone you don’t really know. Maybe the lightest presence of another close to you feels like it’s all going to be okay.

And while I’m being honest, I’ve been waking up quite often, missing her. I’ve felt embarrassed and sad about a lot of things. The Black Keys say that a broken heart is blind, but more so, it is the most fragile thing on our planet. I wonder how often we take responsibility for each others broken hearts…not that we should carry the weight of it, but that we should live knowing our actions are always echoing through the bones of those we know.

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I saw a picture this week that said, “Take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space.” by Jill Bolte-Taylor

I’ve probably posted it to every social media outlet I can stand, for the sake of how it resonates deeply, and how I need to be better of it myself. I think being aware of your energy is hard hard hard. Some people know it and are comfortable with it. Other people suck it up like a vortex, and you can almost hear the collective ‘sigh’ when they leave. I think about the people who tell me I’m a calm presence to them, and what that must mean when I am in a room with others.

I suppose if they saw the inside of my head, my appearance would be much more tired looking, with my hand rubbing the sore muscles of my back, dazed and maybe a little hectic. Probably confused that I would be thinking about the sandwich special of the week, or how many leeks I needed to order for the butternut squash soup.

More often than not, I suppose all of our heads are cluttered from the things we just have to do now.

And much like the story I wrote about in my last piece, you have to start one at a time, most likely.

When I get out of bed, hungover from a dream or reality, I pick a good song to start my morning to. I stretch, more so, considering the state of things, and find comfort in the warmth of my gas stove.

I drop in a spoonful of butter and let it get the lightest bit brown, before dumping in my eggs.

I squeeze the last, most flavorful drops of my bag of PG Tips with my bare fingers, because the heat doesn’t much bother me anymore.

I let that incorporate into whatever it is I can’t control,

and I let that, for the moment, be enough.