(On returning back to Cincinnati after a road trip to see a best friend from college)
There was a time when my feeling of home was neat.
Neat like a young boy dressed up in polished, brown
leather shoes, creased slacks and a multicolored,
polo shirt from Kohl’s that cost $12.50.
I was not a troubled boy from a troubled home,
nor was I an Airforce brat tucking my teddy goodnight
in twelve different coastal cities before the age of 10.
My feeling of home, as I said, was neat.
The postman delivered my mail, mostly from relatives
at the time, for well over fifteen years … until he retired and
we got a postwoman (how progressive). We stayed in
one place so long we saw the rise and fall of a man’s entire career.
All I was really certain of was the feeling of home I felt.
There were tears for missed kisses and for scraped knees,
but there was always a bedroom to retreat to. And there
was always a stocking with my name on the Christmas mantle.
I haven’t had a feeling of home like that in twelve years.
The ‘something solid’ has been missing from my heart
and I’ve been balancing my emotions as well as
sub-prime mortgage spending at the millennium’s turn.
I’ve lived in houses since, yes, not homes. Not my home anyway.
Maybe we are all just strangers missing the same made-up
feeling of home. If we have no place to rise from, to retreat to,
to protect and keep, will we ever feel complete?
My name is carved into the wood under the marble countertop
in the kitchen at the address of 185 Nod Road Ridgefield,
Connecticut, where once stood my home.
It has since been painted over.
Here we go again.
The truest sentences.
I am more content in this quarantine than I ever imagined I would be.
I am finding some rhythms within social distance and ways to keep from feeling alone.
I am talking to A LOT of people on the phone haha.
I am afraid of the unknowns in this unprecedented situation.
I am getting kind of tired of the word ‘unprecedented.’
Losing an old friend to this virus, admittedly, there was a long pause in communication between us, is scary and deeply sad.
He was unfailingly kind to me.
It feels like there is something always in my periphery; a lingering sense that things are not right.
However, there is also an optimism that through this, I will cherish things more deeply on the other end.
A touch on the shoulder.
A crowded dinner table.
I am struggling less with depression right now.
I am not ‘desiring things to end’ or to die right now.
My conversations with God seem a little bit more authentic.
There are times that I make bargains with him.
I tell him that I don’t think this is my time to go.
I wonder about ‘his timing.’
Sometimes, I feel that he is very distant and cold like a big scientist conducting the ‘human experiment.’
There are other times when I call him “father.”
Sometimes, I wanna run as far as I can from my “christian upbringing.”
But, still, I find myself writing worship songs.
Every poem seems to bend toward faith matters also.
I am so blessed with friendship.
I would also like to be blessed with a marriage to a wonderful woman.
I do feel that is coming.
I worry too much about my own physical appearance and sometimes I project it on to women I am interested in.
I would like to make money off my creativity and also feel money can cloud the art.
There are areas of my life that lack stability and I am afraid to bring another person into the mess.
I can see every person as a human being right now.
I see everyone as a brother or sister, the body of God – his church.
I also see how frustrated and hostile we become at slight differences in perspective.
I am calling you to love anyway.
I enjoy this practice of writing my truth because it forces all the bull shit out.
I am on a journey to find peace.
My reservoir of hope seems more full.
Thank you for what you add to my life.
Our connections are even more deep than we realize.
Your friend Ty
These movies made me laugh, cry, sing and dance … and a lot of emotions were felt in between all that.
The Rise of Skywalker
Swiss Army Man
Lord of the Rings Series
Harry Potter Series
Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Life of Pi
Safety not Guaranteed
Men in Black
The Tree of Life
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Across the Universe
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Into the Wild
Man on Fire
Stranger than Fiction
Friday Night Lights
Remember the Titans
O, Brother where Art Thou
The Sixth Sense
Warriors of Virtue (I’m kidding and not kidding)
Muppet Treasure Island
Leon: the Professional
Dazed and Confused
Back to the Future
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
The Blues Brothers (my personal favorite)
Give me a warm bed to rise from,
A guitar to write songs with,
A pad of paper for my poems,
A ham and cheese sandwich for lunch,
A mid-day walk around my neighborhood,
A friend to talk to on the phone,
A something sweet to eat,
A clean and tidy room,
A midnight walk up to the deserted campus,
And I will be content.
What if we gave out love
like bags of candy at halloween.
What if we went door to door
and told people we love them
without ever having to say the words.
What if the whole world loved
their neighbor. And I mean just
their next door neighbor.
I see a new future for us,
A new trajectory, where we give
out our love like bags of candy
I spoke to an old friend today.
It had been awhile since the
last phone call.
But it didn’t matter.
I saw the soccer fields in my
hometown as she was talking.
I saw the banking, twisting roads.
I was home for a moment.
I was back home.
Slower than you ever have,
And breath a little deeper
And rest a little longer.
You have so much to look at.
Even if it’s just your little room
And out your little windows.
If I can spend a Saturday night
in good conversation,
I will always sacrifice a Sunday morning
in the pews.
I am a young boy, waiting in the reeds. I crouch and make myself as small as possible, trying not to disturb the small creatures. The soft light of my home ripples in the pond as my mother calls me back inside. I’ve been trying to collect bullfrogs in a small inflatable pool; up to my ankles in mud. The green leaves are as fresh as they can be and in the distance, a faint thunderstorm echoes mildly like knocking on a soft, dead tree. The water in the pond has baked in the sun all day and remains warm to the touch while I run my fingers through the tall grass that extends out of the banks.
Up the hill, my family prepares the dinner table out on the porch; a chandelier of candles drips intermittently and the wax solidifies onto the glass table top. I take my time walking up the drive, cool blue and fresh green painting a summer’s night with fireflies sparkling in the valley between our house and the neighbor’s. Nothing could feel more safe.
I have trouble remembering how perfect it was then, my family was whole – no one was sick or separated. This was our castle on the hill and we ate dinner that night in a suspended oasis, covered from the storm by a plexiglass ceiling fixed to the side of the house. I was lucky. I don’t feel that way as much anymore.
I haven’t listened to many sermons in the last few years, but I did tonight. It was a simple message, but it helped me see some blind spots.
The preacher shared a quote from Voltaire. It basically said ‘God created man in his image and man has attempted to return the favor.’ What this means, is that we try to create a version of God in our mind that fits our life. If we value financial stability and providing for our family above everything, we twist God into this being that understands when we hoard our money and don’t give with open hands to the poor. If we value romantic relationships above everything, we twist God into this being that understands and welcomes our sexual sin.
The preacher said we should twist ourselves to align with God instead.
“There are things about Jesus that I don’t like,” the preacher said. “There are commands that Jesus makes that are hard for me. But we cannot twist Jesus into something we like. We must twist ourselves instead. Die to ourselves and learn to cling to Jesus more.”
He went on to say that Jesus was radical. Jesus didn’t know where he would eat the next day. Jesus didn’t know where he would sleep the next night. But he still relied on God. Because Jesus was radical, we should live radical lives too; giving our security away so our brothers and sisters can eat, abstaining from sexual immorality when the world promotes lust.
The preacher said the reason we are not content is because we don’t really believe that Jesus is enough to sustain us.
These are things I have been hearing in church circles for a long time, but they struck me tonight. Dying to myself is hard. Believing ‘Jesus is enough’ all the time is hard. But twisting God into my own image does not work.