“Life is strange.” Peggy says this to Francis after looking up at the “creepy Italian trees” outside of Francis’ Tuscan villa in Under the Tuscan Sun. I don’t really know why – but Under the Tuscan Sun is one of those movies I return to, one of the few that I’ve watched more times than I can count on two hands. Either way, Peggy’s not talking about trees, and as Francis puts her arm around her, in empathy and love for her best friend, she knows. One of my dearest friends Kacie and I have said this same thing to one another on more than one occasion. Lately this phrase, this phrase that covers all the bases of our confusion, has never been more appropriate; neither has Francis’ response been more comforting. Life is so often unusual. And unstable. Questions. So many questions. Head bursting, aching, longing for relief from all the questions. I think my partner in crime (or prose, or rhyme) on this new blog has often felt the same way in the last year.
So, why all the questions? I can try to explain; however, the former is one of the questions. I arrived back to the states in August after an extended escapade overseas – four months studying abroad in Oxford, and two months traveling with Nan, starting in Paris, traveling as far as Prague, and ending back in London. This adventure did not turn out like I expected it to. (What ever does?) I thought my studies at Oxford would challenge me with lofty thoughts about life and the great questions it poses. I was surprised when life questions were actually posed by life itself, rather than by the books I pulled off of the shelves of the Bodleian Library. As you can gather, the answers are still unclear, and much more personally plaguing than questions books, thus far, have posed. Backpacking through Europe was just as interesting in that it was so much less interesting and adventurous than I’d expected it to be. To be honest, it was kind of lonely. I’m not ungrateful; on the contrary, I’m very grateful that my romantic illusions about life, and love, and traveling have been replaced with truth – truth that is sometimes lonely, sometimes exciting, sometimes exhausting, sometimes surprising. (All the things that life has always been.) Despite the disappointment this adventure engendered, I learned invaluable lessons about myself and others through the experience – lessons that I appreciate now more than I think I would have enjoyed having my expectations met then.
Nan was similarly surprised by our trip. I think this is why “Our Morning Elegance” resonated with both of us as an apt title for this blog. The lyrics of this song resonate with us on two levels: we believe in a certain sort of morning elegance and we believe in mourning elegantly when the more sorrowful moments in life overwhelm us. There is indeed something elegant about the morning in its unpolished, raw sort of vulnerability. We often ask each other while preparing coffee, “How did you sleep?” Followed by, “Did you dream?” I usually have to shake off my dreams when I wake up; I often have to step back into reality – at least my material reality. I’m aware these dreams may be evidence of a mental, emotional, and spiritual reality that needs addressing; however, I don’t feel equipped to address these issues so early. And who knows if I’ll feel equipped later…
Our morning elegance, as of late, our “daydream in a cup” and “spoon of sugar” that sweetens things up is the simultaneous reality of our love for one another as sisters and as friends (in combination with the love of our friends and family), as well as our hope in God to one day put all of our questions and cares to rest when we enter into his true rest. Sometimes life is hard; we hope we mourn with elegance all our failed expectations. It can be such a weight and weariness, living the life of dreamers and idealists (and you all thought Nan was a cynic). Yet, we have put forth much effort as of late to live it well. Day by day, the morning elegance, the love for God and one another I’ve just described, sweetens things up and pulls us through.