There’s been a lot on my mind lately about Christmas and living in Oklahoma. I wanted to write a post about it, and as I thought about how to write it, I figured the best thing to do would be pretend I’m writing a letter to my mother.n Enjoy!
It’s been seven years and eight months. I think of you a lot around the Christmas season. And Thanksgiving too. For awhile, it sucked not having you around then. Not that it has ever stopped sucking. It just hurts less. I’ve learned to individualize my experience. How to separate it from… all of that.
For a couple years I tried the angsty “I don’t celebrate the holidays” thing. I was bitter and self-loathing about it. I wasn’t painfully socially awkward. I did things others told me to. I followed along. I pretended to be Christmas-y. Last year was probably the low point. I remember after Thanksgiving last year I got really sad and felt almost worthless. I made a lot of stupid choices. But then I got better. Slowly.
I did something really crazy, mom. Really crazy.
I moved to Oklahoma. Remember how I always used to look at it on that big state map that we had? You lived in lots of places. Did you ever stop in Oklahoma for any period of time? Things are a lot different here than they are in California.
So I finished an undergraduate degree. I did what you always told me. I followed my dreams, I listened to my heart. My bachelors degree is in English, concentration in Creative Writing. For a long time, it was a back-up plan, a second choice, a path to transferring.
When I was at Sonoma State (remember how you always said you could see me fitting in there? You were right) I was a Student Leader. I did lots of cool things. I learned so much. But I made mistakes too. A lot of them.
I was away from the church for awhile. But then a friend challenged me, and helped push me back to the church. And I went to this super-duper awesome church for a year before I graduated. I loved it there. I miss it a lot.
Lots of people have asked me why I chose to move to Oklahoma from California. Sometimes I ask that of myself too. A lot, actually. When I was still applying to schools, one of the pastors at my super-duper awesome church showed me the website of this super-duper awesome church in the city I now live in. I loved it so much. It seemed so perfect.
Then when I came out and interviewed, I met so many cool people. Future friends, future classmates. I saw a mid-American city in wintertime, with rain and wind and coldness, and I fell in love. Actual weather. The chance to be cold. To deal with heat. To be somewhere new.
And the campus! Let me tell you about the campus. The beautiful brick buildings full of history and stories. The toilet stalls with various forms of vandalism at varying levels of offence and entertainment. The white spires, stretching to the sky. The wind, constantly blowing at high speeds. The campus wrapped its arms around me and said, “you belong here, Nathanial.”
It’s so cool.
Oh, yeah. I go by Nathanial now. It feels more grown-up and proper and stuff.
Mom. Mom, God has tested my faith so much since I’ve been here. He’s tested my faith like nothing ever before. Remotely close to how things were 7 ¾ years ago. But so much further. Like, if my faith was pizza dough, God’s changed it from a medium to a large. And hey, the more pizza, the better, right?
So here I am. Somewhere further away than anywhere I ever thought I would be. It’s really exciting, and really scary. This is truly the great adventure. To go places and explore and meet people.
I cannot wait to move on. To go to the next place. But I’ve learned to control that passion and enthusiasm enough to enjoy where I am and what I’m doing. There’s no purpose being here if the entirety of my time is spent wishing I was somewhere else. I think you’d be proud that I’ve realized that.
Let me tell you about the people here. The other week, I was in line to buy cowboy boots with a friend (yes, mom, I own cowboy boots now. Dream fulfilled!) and this lady behind us in line just started talking to us, and sharing her life story. That’s so cool. That would almost never happen in California. People are so amazing.
I have so many friends who have helped me through this time. Through some of the scariest days of my life, and soon through some of the most exciting.
Anyways, happy Christmas.
Yup. I said it. I’m going to fully appreciate Christmas this year. I’m gonna spend it with Aunt C and Aunt S and the family and stuff. I’m really excited. Like, super-duper excited. I understand lots of things now. Like how family is like best friends that are chosen for you by God that stand by you forever no matter what. Which is super awesome. And exciting.
I miss you a lot. But I know you’re around.