That time I “met” John Green

 

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Two weeks ago, I almost moved back to Indiana.

One Saturday morning, I broke down. While crying in the shower I kept thinking of how little time I have to write, how many dreams are out of reach, and how much I miss my family. Then, as my tears soaked into my shaving cream, I had an idea. A brilliant epiphany!

I would go home.

It was obvious, really. Don’t I belong in Indiana?

Isn’t it a part of my soul? Have you seen me shuck corn?

I mean, I was one of the few kids in high school who didn’t go on and on about wanting to leave our town. (I think this is the main talk for high school kids everywhere, but kids who live in LA, you’re not fooling us. Stop acting like you can pull off the leave-this-small-town-in-the-rear-view thing.)

Twenty minutes after this epiphany my plan was underway. I prayed about it for at least 100 seconds. Obviously, I had carefully considered every scenario.

I told my family I was coming home. I don’t think they believed me, something about taking time to think about it. I don’t know. Whatever.

My dad was impressed that I felt the same way the next day; he told me he’d fly out and help drive me back.

Back. Back to Indiana. Indiana here I come.

But…

In the grocery store a few days later, I had another epiphany. You see, that whole week I had been pleading with God. I said, “Okay, God, I don’t need the whole picture, but if you want to give it, go ahead. That would be great. But just this next step. What am I supposed to do now? Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. Especially if it’s Indiana. I’m pretty sure it’s Indiana. Tell me if it’s not Indiana because I’m going home now because you won’t tell me what to do and we’re done talking but I trust you and I’ll trust you in Indiana. Okay? Amen.”

In the canned items aisle, when I quieted down for 2.5 seconds and you know, listened, God was like, “My sweet child, I’ve told you. I told you.” And then I was flooded with memories. Like, cue the Rom Com montage of wiping éclair cream off noses and holding hands in front of sunsets and riding bikes with ridiculously huge baskets. Like, cue all the times I knew I was supposed to go to California. Cue the times I trusted that I would be a writer and looking out my window at the huge oak and believing that if it could do it’s best to reach the sky, so could I.

Yes. I cried in that grocery store.

Yes. I cry during predictable romantic comedies. (Sorry.) (I’m not that sorry.)

I called my mom: “I’m staying here. Don’t let me leave. Don’t help me leave. I’m not happy about it, but I’m staying here because, you know, God’s plan.”

Mom: “Okay.”

Me: “Uuuuuuugh. Mom! I’m staying! Hello.”

Mom: “Okay?”

Me: “I want to come home.”

Mom: “…”

Me: “… Fine! I won’t! I’m staying!”

I spent the night not quite ready to think about what staying means. The next day, I stood on the noble ground of not quitting; even if I’m not moving forward, there’s something to be said for simply not letting go. The day after was a Friday, so already things were much brighter. (I also bought a ten-pound bag of chicken breasts from Costco, so again, things were much brighter.) (Ten pounds of chicken for one person.) (I’ll probably post pictures of my Mark Wahlberg guns next. Nbd.)

And then, it was as if I slowly came back.

I made a thanksgiving list. That list was full of answered prayers, future dreams, and so many good people. That list made me realize that maybe my life isn’t so bad.

Don’t get me wrong, I was still in the dumps about a lot of stuff, but my ultimate, bottom line was that it’s going to be okay. I’m going to get through my job. There’s a reason I’m here.

And then John Green came into the picture.

I’ve applied to jobs at DFTBA a few times because well, we know how I feel about John Green as a Hoosier, an Indy Car fan, and an author. I was never expecting to hear back, but on Wednesday I got an email from his personal assistant asking me to chat on Skype.

I went all “hettawhattapersonalassistant she talks to me?” And she was all “I want to talk to you too, but you’re actually speaking to John.”

And I was all “Holy s***!” Arms flailed. Legs buckled.

I heaved myself off of the floor (of my cubicle), and as the tears and mucus cascaded over the curves of my smile, I was filled with thanksgiving once more.

I’d like to say a lot of this thanksgiving had to do with John Green (and it did), but most of it had nothing to do with John Green. It was more about every step that had led me to that point. It was about every chance taken, every step of faith, and the people I know and love.

My interview with John Green was ten minutes long, and they weren’t earth-shattering minutes. I made him laugh twice (once intentionally). I didn’t say anything groundbreaking. (If we’re being honest, neither did he).

But I got to speak to one of my favorite authors. Just him and me.

He said some nice things. I said some okay things. We said goodbye. And I realized: things can change in a freaking instant.

I realized how much I love my life. Today. I realized how much God’s doing and will do. I realized that when God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,” he’s not condemning me to his will; he’s saying, “hey, you! You want a life that’s BETTER than you could ever hope for? Good, follow me.”

And I realized I belong here. I don’t mean in California (though right now, that’s where). I don’t mean in this job (though right now, that’s where). I mean, I belong right in this sweet spot of thanksgiving. I belong waking up early to write and lingering at Sunday brunch and sending happy texts and crying in the grocery store over and over and over until I get that this, right here, is it. This is joyful. This is peaceful. This is where a greater-than-I-could-imagine life happens. I belong right here, and I’m not leaving. No matter where I go, no matter what I do, I’m not leaving this spot.

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fandango depression

Fandango is depressing.

I’m not talking about the Kevin Costner movie. Did you know there’s a Kevin Costner movie titled Fandango?

I’m talking about the movie tickets website. I visit Fandango on the regular, but lately, Fandango is depressing. Is “on the regular” a saying?

Perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic. There are, in fact, several things in the western world that are more depressing: that Sarah McLachlan commercial, long TSA lines, divorce, etc.

However, every time I look at Fandango I get a pit in my stomach, a melancholy ache, because every time I search for showtimes, the locator is never where I am. When I’m in Indiana, it looks up times in Malibu. Malibu! I love the ocean. When I’m in California, I see the Mooresville Movie Theater as the number one result. My home! There are probably people I know seeing that movie at 2:35. Even when the locator is close to where I’m at (i.e. the same state), it’s usually super far away. Those are the nice theaters! I can’t even enjoy this movie now because I know that 50 miles away is a superior theater.

Fandango is just the worst.

But it’s not. Not really.

It just makes me homesick for places I’ve been, places I love, and places I know people are having fun at. Living apart from people you love is like going to sleep early. You hear you’re family laughing in the living room, and you feel like you’re missing out.

I guess that’s not wholly Fandango’s fault.

But it is. It really kind of is.

For the love of dark chocolate -I do love dark chocolate- I need to figure out how to take the zip code preset off of Fandango before I destroy it (which would probably result in just destroying my computer a la Ron Swanson.)

school starts, everybody farts

The Hunger Games school semester has begun!  And I’ve never been more relieved to go to school in my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always liked school (yeah, I was that kid), and I’ve always relished summer break.  However, this summer was… how to describe? difficult?  a learning experience? glorious moments of fun encompassed by long droughts of sub-par? lonely?   I think I’ll stick with a necessary window of growth and maturing, or at least, that’s how I hope to pigeon-hole it in my memoir. 

This was my first summer away from home.  I know what you’re thinking, “Hils, you’re a little old to be homesick for one summer, don’t you think?”  And someone else drones on, “Like cha, didn’t you ever go to camp?”   And here’s what I tell you:  Don’t call me Hils.  You don’t know me!  Just kidding.  Call me whatever you want, except Frida (all unibrow jokes are a low blow).  I am a little old for a lot of things, like how happy riding a bicycle makes me or buying underwear in a package.  Get over it. Some things I will probably do forever, and I’m okay with keeping one foot in childhood for the rest of my life.  And it’s taken me until now to truly be okay, if not reassured, with the fact that I missed my family this summer.  I missed grilled burgers (food first), swimming, hearing about the carnival in my hometown that I never go to (because ferris wheels shouldn’t collapse to fit into a truck), watching The Price Is Right with my brothers, going to the zoo with my sister, helping my nieces ride bikes, singing in the kitchen with my whole family, and watching my Mom and Dad sip coffee on the deck.   I missed out on all of that this summer, and I’m glad I’m human enough to be homesick for it.  I’m also glad that it puts into perspective the reason I’m here.  It must be pretty darn important to miss out on all that.

Oh, and to you “campers.”  I went to camp twice, kind of.  The first time, I think I was nine.  I thought my mom didn’t pack my hairbrush, so I lived with a rat’s nest (worse than a bird’s) for a week, only to find the brush as I was packing up to go home.  I was also taller and fatter than the other campers my age.  I don’t know how that fits in here. 🙂

The second time, was Hoosier Girls State, in high school. Death. Torture. Tears.  Smelly campus. That’s what I think of this experience.  All I can say is, never volunteer to be the town crier (in charge of waking people up).  Everyone will hate you. Summary: camp isn’t all a found-my-lost-twin-starred-in-a-musical-or-took-down-a-fit-ben-stiller experience, okay?

Don’t have much to say about the second half of this title.  There’s a story there, but I’ll save it for another time.  Besides, my dedicated readers reader (hi, Mom!), already knows about it.

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First day of school! Someone named Hils believes in me! #SelfEncouragement

Memoir Title Brainstorm:

Everybody Farts, Except Me (And Other Lies)

The Book That No One Read Because ‘Twas Never Written

I’ll Never Be Good Enough For Pinterest

Made It (Having Never Pooped My Pants Past The Age of Thirteen)

Times When I Made Inappropriate Jokes

Times I Couldn’t Stop Laughing (at Funerals) / I Swear I’m Not A Jerk

I Was Here (And Other Beyonce Quotes)

No, Pepsi Is NOT Okay

The Month I Read Lucille Ball’s Wikipedia Page Everyday (and Other Months, Too)

Naming My Dog, And Other Bad Decisions