Challenge and ADVENTURE!

Now, the theme here is adventure, so I’ll do my best to maintain some sort of adventurous tale with each new post. Deal? Deal!

Back to school in a more permanent semi-permanent sense.  I’ve been back at school for about a week now.  Most of my time has been spent in my room thinking about things and trying not to let my mind wander or focus too much on how undeserving I am of the people in my life.

I do not deny that coming back to school has been a monstrously challenging occasion. Spending two weeks with one person had its positives and negatives, but coming from that to a mess of people, or even just six of them has been rough.  I spent this week sitting. I did a lot of crying. I did  some throwing up.  Mostly I sat.

Tuesday was something I desperately needed.  I went to Pose’s flat and made a delicious vegetable and rice soup.  We got out the English muffins.  We made, I think three pots of tea, and in our variations on black dresses, Abi, Pose and I sat around a table laughing and reminiscing as we had our tea and muffins and soup and waited for Lindsay.  Lindsay joined us late, but was no worse for the wear as we simply enjoyed the company of good friends and a nice quiet evening tea.

One night I sat on my bed with Ashley for an hour or so laughing and being silly, an act we later took upstairs.

Thursday I spent with Lucy, almost exclusively. We took a road trip to Fort Wayne. Not a fabric store went untouched by us.  Declaring “ADVENTURE!!” as we entered each store in pursuit of purple corduroy.  After some work at finding Hancock Fabrics we found ourselves in the back storage room looking through about 30 different corduroys trying to decide if that purple looking one was actually purple or just pretending to be purple in the fluorescent lighting.  It was not. If you see her though compliment her on her lovely “purple” “blag”. We then made the next necessary trip to first my house to get my sewing machine, then to Wal-mart to get the remaining bits for the “blag”.

While at the Wal-mart in Fort Wayne we examined their fleece selection as Lucy is hoping to make a no sew fleece blanket.  She was dissatisfied with the selections so we went back to Huntington.

Jess and Brett came over and we had tea in the office (a.k.a. the space under my bed) and ordered ourselves a right fancy pizza. We also spent the evening watch “Big Train”, which was the perfect solution to my post-travel blues. I, to quote Mr. Shakespeare, “Laughed myself  into stitches.”  Jess and Brett were a bit concerned, as the show doesn’t actually make enough sense to possibly be that funny in real life.

Later that night Lucy and I learned something most devastating. The Huntington Wal-mart does not sell fabric anymore, to which I must ask, HOW WILL COLLEGE STUDENTS MAKE THEIR CLOTHES?! They won’t! I’m spent! It’s ridiculous!

Friday, was spent much like the rest of the time in my room. Only this time I spent the day sewing Lucy’s “blag.” (To those of you questioning “blag” that’s what Lucy accidentally called her “bag” so that’s what its name is).  So I spent the day sewing her bag and putting that all together.  I had to make a Wal-mart run to pick up new needles for my machine as Lucy’s blag tried to end me.

So I’m sewing at her bag right? And as I feed the fabric through the machine I hear it preparing to break off, but I tell myself I have to finish the seam.  And then, a chunk, a couple of clicks, and a ching and the fragment of needle and a pin fly at my throat.  Concerned but not daunted I get up to make sure I’m not dead. Really, the act of getting up was proof enough, but to satisfy my blood lust I made sure I wasn’t bleeding too.  I was not, but I did suffer a nasty scratch.

So we go back to Wal-mart get some needles and make our trip back to the campus.  We get Meagan and head to my room to watch P.S. I love you while I finish Lucy’s blag, now that I had needles again!  I finished the blag right there and she had it before the movie was done. I must say her blag is much nicer looking than my bag.  No one’s perfect.

Saturday happened.

Today, I spent a little bit of time looking at some of the pictures of Taylor students who went to Murlough as well.  I won’t lie, I’ve got a strong desire to be back there.  My heart was at peace just looking at the pictures.  My mind was racing about how to get back, but my heart was settled.  I won’t deny that I have a small case of the weepies again, thinking about it, but it’s not the same kind I’d been suffering, so things are shaping up.

I’d like to see so much of that beautiful country. I’d like to spend more time with my family there. I’d like to see the Giant’s Causeway. I’d like to sit and talk to Cynthia about her life, but mostly I’d like to see what sort of great things God is doing there and be a tool for him in any way I can be. Hopes and dreams. Prayers and thoughts. Some day? I certainly hope so.

I’ve been talking to Ben about post-graduation things, and I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. I’d like to go to Murlough and work for Project Evangelism. I’d like to teach English in Japan. I’d like to work for Dr. Clark. I’d be okay with subbing, but some day I want to get back there. In a permanent semi-permanent sort of way.

To answer McCann’s question

Yes. I will keep putting up new posts on here, though not likely as regularly.

I don’t really know what to tell you anymore about the end of the trip. Oxford. Kensington.

Oxford was beautifully old. The walls around each college stood strong and protecting each hidden community.  They hid from me who knows what.  Lakes. Castles. Dragons. Dreams. Worlds I’ll never see. For all I know behind one set of walls was an entire underground city with a fake glass city built on top of it. Behind another wall could be a city run entirely by wafflepeople.  Who knows what ancient civilizations still live behind each walled city? Though behind one wall I suspect I saw Gondor. There was a tree high up on a hill in front of a building. I can only assume it was the White Tree, the Tree of the King.

Sunday was perfect weather.  The air was warm, a brisk autumn-feeling calm as the wind tossed leaves across the grass.  A boy loudly counting backwards from ten as his parents watch on and I from the distance watch him reach one and shout “BLAST OFF!” He jumps once, but missed and jumped again and his nerf rocket shot up a few feet into the air. I follow the signs that kindly point me to my childhood love and friend. There he is atop a narrowing stack of rocks covered in fairies, bunnies, and squirrels. His sweet face looking off toward the sky to Neverland. My love Peter Pan standing there reminding me what it is to be a little girl. Smile on my face I stare up him silently thanking him for reminding me, thanking him for teaching me to dream, expanding my imagination, and taking me away from the world. I walk passed tree after tree, knotty and turned. Two boys playing football in the park with their dad. One boy plays goalie as the other struggles against his father to get the ball back.  When the boy is in possession of the ball the dad accidentally trips the boy and kicks it a bit hard at the boys face.  The boy goes to block the ball with his hands to protect his face.  His dad yells, “Hands! My ball!” and kicks the ball away. How could I not laugh?

The next morning was a train ride to the airport and then back across the pond.

It feels a bit like I never left. That my fatigue is a result of my cold and has nothing to do with the fact that I’m weary from all that time away from the people I love so much or the drastic change in time. The air feels heavier here. I feel heavier, like my arms will drop off from the weight of them, that my shoulders are hunched from the weight of the air. The only thing keeping my head there is the stream of movies shot in Ireland that are playing on HBO. The cold is threatening and uninviting. The snow seems fake like I’m walking around in a Fort Wayne snowglobe, trapped.  I don’t know when or if I’ll ever get to go back, but I hope some day I can. Maybe then it will feel like I have actually been there.

Soon you’ll come home, home to my heart

So tomorrow I’m home.

Yesterday we went to Oxford.

Today I saw Peter Pan.

And so you know the Queen was home.

I’m tired.

I may have the sickness.

Jess. I bought you something.
Dirk. I bought you something.
Hoopsypoopsypants. I bought you something.
Brett. I bought you something.
Ryan. I bought you something.
Ashley. I bought you something.
Pose. I bought you something.
Mommy. I bought you something.
Adam. I bought you something.
Daddy. I bought you something.

Tracing the past. Examining my roots. Nowhere on the roadside.

Woke up a wee bit earlier today so’s I could take a shower. Joined the house for lunch and clean up.  Richie came to our room to offer us a ride into New Castle which I needed so I could get to Belfast so I could get to Antrim.  Bus after bus I finally made it to Antrim.

However, the driver insisted my stop was this tiny just bus stop on the side of the motorway with nothing around. So terribly unsure I walked on until I came upon a cinema praying all the way I reach something.

From there, now with a landmark, I called Ruth. She and Malcolm came and got me and took me back to their house.

Got a tour of the house and was then taken to Kathleen’s. I got a picture with her for Nanny, and then she says, “Awk, you’re shiverin’.” And I was cause I was scared.  Her husband was hilarious though.

I was then given a right proper tour of Newtonbrea Village and all of that (Mommy, you can tell Nanny).

I was then brought back to the house. After many reprimands from Alexis for walking up the dark road last night.

I’ev not yet seen Kathryn, but rumor has it she’s here.

I’m nervous about going tomorrow. How will we get to the airport? Where is our hostel?

I saw the sun and I can’t open my eyes I saw the sun.

So this morning I learned that Bethany thought the song “I saw the sign” by Ace of Base was “I saw the sun”. It’s not. In fact, she’s desperately and should be horribly embarrassed by her own misunderstanding of such a brilliant song.  Where would children of the 90s be without Ace of Base and “I saw the sign” not the sun? Where would we be without their powerful influence on our popular music? Rolling our beds embarrassed and not yet ready for the day because we don’t know things about stuff.

Fail.

Moments later the dear girl hit her head on the edge of the bed. More specifically she hit the edge of her eye on the edge of her bed. I told her she’d never see the sun now. And offered her a helmet to wear for the rest of the trip.

Observing my red hairbrush and her purple one she declares, “Hairbrushes for purple and redheads!”

Dummy.

She’s Bilbo. Bilbo Baggins. Bravest little hobbit of them all…

I woke up a bit late today, but when I was ready for my day Bethany was still sleeping, so I went out on my own. I bundled up a suitable amount and headed out to meet the beautifully foggy day. Across the football field I walked down the winding garden path where I met knotty, old trees twisted and ripped and turned with age.  The ground was soft and I took each step with care as I embarrassingly feared some sort of sinking sand. At long beautiful last I reach the end of the wooded are and came out to a lovely opening.

I followed the prescribed path as far as I could before my shoes began to fill with sand.  I knew the sand would only increase as I drew nearer the water’s edge so I resigned myself to a seat there in the sand.

Carefully, I removed each shoe, gently placing them on the soft Irish sand, all the while the CD “Whiskey in the Jar” spoke of Irish beaches.  I removed my socks hoping I’d not filled then with too much sand. I emptied my shoes. Socks in pocket, shoes in hand, feet bare, I rose to journey on.

As I approached damp sand I saw to my left the brilliant green, rolling hills. Each square of green a different shade; emerald, jade, forest, olive, all fresh and inviting. The water lay quiet before me as I took as many pictures of it all that I could manage.

I headed the opposite direction toward the sea, my feet now sinking deeper into the cool, wet sand.  Stones lined my path and I picked a few up tumbling them gently in my hand, seeking the perfect one.  I picked up a few perfect shells, though I kicked them over first to ensure they were not still home to some creature.  As I rounded the bend the sea expanded before me and the Mourne Mountains grew in the sun lit mist. and I felt like Bilbo as I wandered nearer the Misty Mountains and the Shire faded further and further behind me.

Though I never faced Smog, I wrestled so many childish issues in my head and put them aside as I thanked God for the small favors, as I looked upon a big one.

My feet became colder so I turned to return to the house. I went back the way I came, as I passed a sign that said something about not walking on the beach when the red flags were out because it meant the military was doing some range shooting. The red flags were out. Unshot, I returned my feet to their toasty shelters when the ground returned to a solid state.

I made the journey back, now less frightened of quick sand, but of trolls and giant spiders and goblins.

I went back to the house and ate lunch with Amelia, who, after hearing the troubles of yesterday, offered me a ride into Belfast.  Not knowing if I’d get a hold of Ruth at all I accepted and we made the journey.

Amelia gave me a wee tour of East Belfast where C.S. Lewis grew up, and she showed me beautiful and powerful murals and a statue of Diggory looking quietly and hopefully into the wardrobe which was just outside the library.

From there I walked (shh, don’t tell Nanny) to the City Centre and waited for Ruth. We met for dinner, and I sat across the table from a total stranger I felt entirely comfortable with.  I’d never met her or seen her and yet it all felt so familiar, but I’d guess that’s how family is meant to feel.

She took me to see Queen’s University before dropping me at the bus station.  I waited there, reading, enthralled by the Little Women I have always loved.

My bus arrived a bit early.  I took my seat and read the whole way back. At peace as the Prince Caspian soundtrack spoke of journey and home and hope and I smiled a quiet smile.

The bus stopped as always outside Spar and I set off on another journey, Prince Caspian playing all the way down and around the corner as I walked the two or so miles up the long, dark road to the house.  The moon shone through the whisping clouds vaguely lighting my path. I crossed the bridge and breathed deeply in the soft, cold air of the sea.

I passed a large, dark shape and as my eyes adjusted I noticed more of the same forms.  I took out my booklight to see a bunch of cows near the road, which startled me. No. Squared the poo out of me, until I remembered I was walking through a cattle grid. And I finally reached the large door of the house to make myself warm.

All in all a successful day. I am at peace with myself and with the world.  Much love to all.

An important thing you must know

Dirk, I apologize up front for the repetition.

I find it vastly important that you know a few things about the place we’re staying. 

1) Our bathroom is freezing
2) This is because the window must be left open at all times
3) This then makes our bathroom cold as it is very cold outside
4) Brett, I feel like Sarah Simpson
5) The bathroom has a funk (not the bassy, groovin’ music). Not like a “hmm, that’s odd” funk. No it smells like something crawled up someone’s bum rolled around for a bit, crawled back out, puked all over the walls and floor and ceiling and then took a poo as well.
6) This problem is perpetuated by the fact that we do shower in this room which means that the funk then festers in the hot steam of the shower (and there is much steam as the shower produces much heat).
7) We are to leave the door open after we shower to let the steam out.
8 ) This makes me feel guilty as poor Richard (no relation to Poor Regina) lives next to our bathroom so the festered bathroom funk floats just outside his door.
9) The stairwell just before the door to the suite where the bathroom is smells like rotting apples.
10) Mind you, not real apples. Like if you took the taste and smell of apple-flavored candy and made it so they could rot like real apples that is what the smell would be.
11) Not the “Oh Lord take out the trash” rot, but the just starting to turn rot.
12) And presently the place we’re sitting smells much like a dirty foot.
13) The good news is many of my clothes were cleaned at the Rhodes’ house
14) This means that they smell like clean laundry
15) So when I put them on I can’t stop smelling them
16) And they smell like the Rhodes’ house
17) So I think of them and get warm and fuzzy inside
18) And quietly I miss them and wish we were still there.

And scene.

phones are quite difficult

We got up this mornin’ and eventually bummed a ride from Richie into New Castle and then took a bus to Belfast. We spent the day wishing we knew what we were doing.

Belfast, while beautiful, is pretty much all under construction. I tried rather unsuccessfully to call 3 different people about 40 times a piece.  No dice.  I finally got Malcolm and Alexis’ answering machine, but ya know, what good is that? None good. That’s how many.

We met some nice people at a coffee shop called Charlies and got invited to their “open mic” night thinger.  Nice folk, that Karen and Jerry. Nice folk.

We wandered like crazies around Belfast for a few hours. Found a couple of book store. Got a couple of books. Totally mailing my books home before we leave Eire.  Otherwise, ya know, I’ll be faced with the decision of leaving my books behind or my clothes when we go to check in for our next flight.

I always feel like you all want some brilliant anecdote from me during each of these guys.  I won’t lie. I don’t really have any, ever. Thoooough.

This afternoon we found a vintage clothing store called “The Rusty Zip” (that’s zipper for you yanks).  Children in a toy store. Everything was so hideous or outrageous or smelly and still so fabulous.  It took us a bit but eventually we were trying on all sorts of outrageous outfits we’d put together. (Pictures to come upon my return).  Nothing terribly funny about that, but you know, it happened. So there’s that. You can chew on it for a while if you want.

We also met a boy called “Matt” from Kentucky who is staying in New Castle. He’s apparently been to Murlough house a few times before. OH! And the team from Taylor gets here Thursday. I learned this morning, when I was snooping around the house, that Kathryn, Elise’s old roommate, is totally one of the people coming.  Hooray for knowing people!

Lord knows what we’ll do tomorrow. Where we’ll go. Who we’ll see. Will Hayley ever get a hold of Ruth?  Will May ever call Hayley?  Will Bethany want to do something besides shop? And why are cities in the U.K. so insistant on having ferris wheels? All this and more next time on “A Broad Abroad.”

Alright there, Harry?

Oh. P.S. Have something for Sleeves. You’re welcome. Though I admit it’s a bit lame. But whatever.

P.P. (teehee) S. If you happen to be a Skype user you may catch me on there from time to time at the name “hayleypants” That is all.

car. plane. bus. bus. car.

Never hitchhike. Never take rides from strangers. Unless you have absolutely no other option in a small Northern Ireland town and it’s dark and the man works at the house you’re going to. We found ourselves in the middle of a tiny town at a bus stop after hours on the bus.  We walked into the store across the street and I asked the lady at the register if she knew how we could get to Murlough House. She gave us directions.  The guy talking to her said as we walked out the door for a long and scary walk, “Wanna lift?” We looked at each other and realized our options and said, “Yes. Please.”

So he put our stuff in his truck and we drove down winding roads to the house, which he called in advance to open the gate. We chatted a bit about this and that. Before we knew it we were walking into the manor.

The girl I’d spoken to on the phone, I’d later learn to be Evalina, brought us to Cynthia who brought us to our room and then showed us all over the house.  It’s wonderful and I like that we have to work a bit to maintain our keep. Dishes and the like.  I’m pretty much in love with it here and we’ve not been here all that long. 

Cynthia is pretty well in with Sharon Voss so we’ve got ourselves some pretty nice treatment going on. Can’t argue with that.

Tonight? Film with Cynthia. Tomorrow? Walk around the area. Beautiful here.

another day another plane

I don’t think on this particular occasion I’m sad to be leaving the country or even just exhausted from crazy sleep patterns. I think it’s been the wonderful time to connect with three of the people I’ve always most wanted to. 

I’ve had time to spend with them before. When we were little John, Bea, Chris and David met Adam, Nana, Papa and I in Florida. David and Chris ate Hawaiian pizza. I did not approve. We went to Disney World. They also went on vacation with us once to Holland, MI. We used to play with little…well, the boys used to play with little WWF action figures. (No girls allowed of course). The summer after my senior year Chris, John and Bea came over for a couple of weeks around the fourth of July. I got to spend a little bit of time with Chris then. And the last time they were here, just this last summer, I saw them for about 20 minutes before I had to be out the door.

It’s been a great experience being here with them. I could not be more thankful for all they’ve done for us. I so very much look forward to the next time I get to see them and spend time with them

It’s been educational and hilarious and fun and sad and homey and sweet. I’ve appreciated the silent exchanges I’ve had with Chris across the table and the chances to just sit and talk to him about nothing, nothing much more than a mutual admiration for Simon Pegg anyway. Not to mention he’s been great about pretty much sacrificing his weekend with his friends before most of them go back to school. Bea’s been nothing but sweet and hospitable.  I remember a while back she was in the States with her mommy and we did a bit of shopping with Nanny and Big Bea.  She’s great fun and I will miss her dearly. John has been so great about taking us all over and showing us all sorts of interesting things that only we would all find interesting.  He’s filled us with so much knowledge and done such a great job of watching over us.

I will greatly miss them all until they or I visit again.