This past weekend, the house took a trip to the stunning Oregon coast. A vehicle and lodging (a stunning, shingle-sided beach house) were provided for us through the incredible, nearly incomprehensible generosity of the Jesuit priests who live up the street from us, and all eight of us were able to be there. We were both together and alone, in the best possible way those two states of being can intermingle in a single weekend.
If anything, being a JV has taught me that being a human being on this planet is hard. It’s beautiful, and full of love, adventure, grace, and possibility, but it can also just be really hard. I’ve had a wonderful life, and I can’t say that my “hardships” are the same as other people’s—that’s not what I mean. Rather, I’ve learned that living and being and navigating this world is a new challenge every single day, and that there’s always something new to ponder and get through. Community is hard. In its many ways, my placement is hard. I like to be happy; I like things to be good, and so admitting this difficulty within the greater greatness of being has been its own challenge, but also incredibly freeing. Once I was able to face my time as a JV thus far and name both its graces and its difficulties and realize that every moment might not be 100% positive, I’ve felt freer to seek the good and let the difficult sit.
This is all to say that I needed to go to the beach, and I think we needed to go to the beach. We needed time to sit and walk and think, both alone and together, but we also needed time to watch movies and not think. We needed dinner with Nina Simone in the background and red wine passed around the table just as much as I needed that magical thirty minutes of spinning, standing, and sprinting barefoot into the blinding sunlight, my feet bare on the water’s edge and my heart pumping and I felt an overwhelming, humbling childlike joy of being, light, and movement. I and we needed all of it, every second of it. Because being a JV is difficult, certainly, but I think what’s most difficult about it is that we’re so young, and we’re so new to this brand new “real world.” What we see as so difficult and challenging now will, in a few years, inevitably feel easy as we face the increasing challenges of being an adult, of age and responsibility and interaction. We’re freshly born; we’re raw, in a way. We’re still self-centered and really committed to growing as a person and learning as much as possible about ourselves, and I have to believe that’s ok. Perhaps we have to be young and curious and selfish now before we can move forward in trying to change the world, because we’re in the midst of something that is both self-giving and others-giving (I enjoy inventing words and phrases).
Do you ever just get that feeling? It’s a sense, an awareness of perfection and “specialness” of a moment; the knowledge that in five years, or ten, of fifteen, you’re going to think back to that weekend, or that thirty minutes, and it will still feel special and sacred. For me this weekend, it was sitting on the porch with a few housemates as the sun went down, not in a blaze of colors before melting below the horizon like one might expect or desire at the beach, but in an unnoticeable haze behind the gray but luminous sky. We sat barefoot on the salt-stripped wood, the paint rubbed into it by hundreds of windy storms, wrapped in blankets, balancing bottles of beer or cider on our propped up knee or crossed ankles. Folky music drifted from an iPod, a bit tinny from the small microphone, a bit of an afterthought but somehow simultaneously finishing the whole scene. Our conversation was light and variable, nothing particularly dense or intentionally deep, but it felt important all the same. I live for those little instances of harmony; I curate them and carry them with me.
“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it is because in addition to the fact that the sea changes and the light changes, and ships change, it is because we came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it we are going back from whence we came.” –JFK, 1962 speech at the America’s Cup Dinner