For the second time (and second job, thank-you-very-much) since June, I find myself in Indiana. Oddly enough, to me at least, these are not the only 2 times I’ve been to this semi-obscure state, and perhaps even more oddly enough, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself (beyond my expectations) each and every time I’ve been here. There was the initial viewing of Notre Dame when I was 14 and crossing the country for a month-long road trip with my family the August prior to my status as a knee-sock clad Catholic school girl (when I fancied I might be brave enough in four years to venture into this unknown turf, full of almost-there ideals and that certain je ne sais quoi that my barely-adolescent self saw as an acquired talisman of college students); then the third cross-country trip I took, this time with my friend Krista as we traipsed our way from Colorado to New York and spent a night in South Bend, elated when an unexpected groundskeeper (who I still maintain was an angel, Rudy-style) appeared magically out of the charmed Notre Dame air and asked us if we wanted to see the field (when he found us desperately pressed up against the locked exterior with our eyes to the cracks, straining for any glimpse of the famed football stadium that we’d already been informed by a rather rude woman “was not open to the public for another couple of months”). This past June I stayed 2 weeks at Huntington College and truly felt like a college student again, taking classes with other people my age and driving around aimlessly and laughing at night, trying to see what un-trouble we could get into in this deliciously anonymous smallest of towns. I discovered a fabulous pair of shoes for a crazy bargain, saw a new-release movie for $3 with my freshly-expired college ID, and shockingly learned that Indianapolis was actually a pretty sweet city (at least for the few hours during which it entertained me, I was not disappointed). Now I find myself back here, about 20 minutes from South Bend (saw that golden dome from my window-seat), sitting in the spacious atrium of Granger Community Church during my lunch break from the communications conference put on by their adorably-quirky and instantly likeable communications director, Kem Meyer. Only halfway through day one, and it’s already been worth my time to come listen to her insights on how to communicate effectively (and actually capture your audience’s attention – at least in theory).

There’s something about traveling alone that makes one uber-sensitive to the singleness of the human condition – something that makes you conscious of your very existence, and the effort needed to stamp your person on the world (or simply to slide on through, day by day, another ghost in blue jeans with wanderlust dreams). I’m thoroughly enjoying this alone time (save the fitfully almost-sleepless nights in a paper-thin walled hotel near a busy highway full of midnight Mack trucks that leave me heavy-lidded throughout the following day); I needed this forced refocus, this hiatus from the go-go-go routine of my New York life that I willingly impose upon myself. I’ve realized, as of late, that I have a somewhat innocuous phobia of being alone, so ingrained in my being that I have been entirely unconscious of it in my automatic pursuits of social situations. From work to the gym, then nights spent with friends at their houses or in quaint little Lark Street restaurants – anywhere but the solitude of my little apartment, where my brother and I rarely spend our waking hours. I fully believe humans are created for relationships, but my default status has been set to social autopilot for so long now that I cannot remember how to be alone. I can justify this to myself by saying that I’m entirely comfortable and confident in who I am and do not need an abundance of introspective time, as perhaps I once did in my adolescent searching years or post-college reinvention when I haunted mountain-trendy coffee shops in Colorado hippy towns and chalked it up to being “earthy”, but maybe I’m just fooling myself in the long run by thinking I don’t need to learn myself each and every day, lest I ever forget for one whole second who I’m called to be. On top of that little lesson in introspection, I have one dark secret that I know could ruin me for myself, if I keep burrowing it deeper and deeper away into the dark hollows of my little heart:
I am a writer who writes not nearly enough, and sometimes not at all.
There is a freedom in breaking the pattern of denial and seeing your veins bleed onto a page in stark black blocks, letters of which you can take full ownership and proclaim to the world, “I did this. This is me.”
So perhaps the key to my non-writing is to begin setting aside more ME time. No, not perhaps; there I go again with my almost-language, my comfortable regression into not-quite-affirmations and yet-still denial.
I must remember myself, in my days of wind and shadows. I must haunt my own remembrance.