The Hermit Life

I haven’t felt much like writing lately. I have felt more like burrowing deep into my home and not coming out for an indeterminate amount of time.

I suppose we could blame my melancholy on the time of year, although I am hyper-aware that each successive morning and evening is a little brighter than the one before, thanks to the ever-changing rotation of the earth’s axis. Yeah that’s right, I have a science degree.

Perhaps we can blame it on my mom’s cancer, because you know I’m already milking that for all it’s worth. “Sorry, that thing you invited me to? I can’t go, because… my mom is sick.”

Meanwhile, she’s 300 miles away, so it’s not like I can do much for her from my own home. But, I did go up to visit her last week. At this point my function in visiting her is to bring tidings of comfort and joy. I brought books, magazines, games, and of course, my winning personality.

We shared a hermit-like existence for a few days, which are my favorite kind of days. Introvert life! We sat around reading and drinking tea, slowly plodding away at a puzzle, and when she took her naps, I worked on my artsy things or took the dog out for a walk. In the evenings, we’d enjoy dinner while watching a movie. It’s the lifestyle I wish I could live every day. Except for the cancer part, of course.


A blue evening on Lake Champlain

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what to do next. I’ve been trying to nurture my artistic side as much as I can, and my writing, although many days it’s a challenge to come home from work and plop down in front of my laptop, or at my art table, although it pains me more when I neglect to do so.

Lately, I feel like I am frustrated so much of the time. I feel like there’s never enough time to do the things I want to do. (See above paragraph about reading, puzzling, making art and taking long walks…). I feel like there’s got to be a better way to balance my life.

Speaking of balance, one thing I have done to improve my life lately is join Weight Watchers. I lost 2.4 lbs in the first week, so that was cool. I’ll have to write more about that in another post because my eyes are ready for bed now. It looks like tomorrow will be a work-from-home day, thanks to the storm that’s coming.

So stay tuned, friends, and let’s venture into the unknown together… or, we can just hang out in the same old, predictable middle-class lifestyle…  eww, just kidding. Let’s check out the unknown.

7th Grade Gym Class Hell

“Get it! GET IT!” my teammates shout as the gleaming white volleyball hurtles toward me like a meteor.

More defensively than athletically, I stick my palm outward to shove the ball away from my face. My face – always the target of flying objects – as if all the surgical trauma wasn’t enough.

The ball makes an unsatisfying thwack sound as it makes contact with my hand. Seconds later it hits the floor.

Everyone groans. The gym teacher’s whistle blasts piercingly and we rotate. I shuffle into the next spot, praying that the ball will somehow avoid coming anywhere near me.

The other team’s server can’t get the ball over the net. At least I’m not the only gym class failure here today.

Our team serves. The more athletic girls volley the ball back and forth over the net. They actually seem to be having fun. What is that like? I wonder.

Suddenly, the ball is coming my way again. My pulse quickens as my brain tries to decide the proper course of action. This time it is to step out of the way to avoid being hit.

The ball sails out of the court and my teammates groan and roll their eyes at each other. Why is this girl such a loser? I can hear them asking each other.

I allow myself to feel empty. Feeling nothing makes it easier to bear the shame and embarrassment of being so physically inept. If I could vaporize into thin air, I would do it.

The minute hand on the clock moves ever so slowly. I consider that the clock might actually be broken. It will surely be an eternity before I am allowed to change out of the unflattering gray gym clothes and feel the comforting weight of my books in my arms.

September 25th

Today’s date is a significant one for me – it is Gram’s birthday, first and foremost. She would have been 95 today. If she was still alive, the McKelvie clan would have gathered together to celebrate with a nice dinner, and, more importantly, a nice dessert. I suppose we could have gotten together anyway, and had a celebration in her honor… but it’s not the same without her.


Gram’s 85th Celebration… nothing like a little sprinkling of heavy metals on your cake…

9.02 All McKelvies

Gram’s 80th Bash – We were all looking young and spry here.

In other news, four years ago today, I started this blog!

Today was a good day for me – perhaps Gram was somehow guiding my hand, but I actually did everything on my to-do list! I made an appointment with a career coach, and an appointment with a nutritionist, AND I took care of my dad’s big birthday gift which we will present to him in a few weeks.  I think I’ll take the rest of the week off.

Out of curiosity, I googled today’s date and came across a page which lists everything that has happened on September 25th… here it is, if you want to look for yourself:

Some highlights include:

  • 1492 Crewman on Pinta sights “land”-a few weeks early (look out Native Americans…)
  • 1780 Benedict Arnold joins the British  (traitor!)
  • 1836 HMS Beagle anchors at St Michael (aww, Darwin)
  • 1878 British physician Dr. Charles Drysdale warns against the use of tobacco in a letter to The Times newspaper in one of the earliest public health announcements on the dangers of smoking (damn! and people STILL smoke.)
  • 1919 US president Woodrow Wilson suffers a breakdown in Colorado, his health never recovers (I didn’t even know this happened!)
  • 1926 Henry Ford announces 8 hour, 5-day work week (Dammit Henry… couldn’t you have gone with 5 hours per day, or perhaps a 3-day work week? I have hobbies!)
  • 1965 Children find trunk with corpse in Amsterdam canal (WTF.)
  • 1974 US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
  • 1974 Scientists first report that freon gases from aerosol sprays are destroying the ozone layer (1974 was a bad year…)
  • 1981 Sandra Day O’Connor sworn in as 1st female supreme court justice (woot!)
  • 1993 Action TV series “Walker, Texas Ranger” starring Chuck Norris debuts on CBS
  • 1997 “ER” is performed live on TV (I remember that!)

There’s a ton more events on the actual page… a lot of it is related to sports and politics, so bleh.

Before I sign off, I’ll mention that I have been working on a post entitled “Losing my Religion” where I get into all the things that happened on my way out of Christadelphia. It’s been interesting for me to look back at everything that happened, and now that it’s been more than a decade, I can actually see everything so much more clearly. I almost wish I could travel back in time and rescue myself much earlier… but I suppose that I needed to go through all that ish in order to become the person I am now. It is also draining to rehash all those feelings and emotions I went through. It will probably end up being a series of posts, otherwise it will be so long and unbearable that no one will read the whole thing.

Alright – it’s off to bed for me… I promise to share more about the career coaching thing too, once I have more to share. 🙂

Namaste, friends.


Don’t Hate – Meditate

Hello friends!

Yes, it’s been approximately two million seconds since I posted last. I’ve been spending a lot of time with myself.

It started when I got sick after conference, and was lying around recovering and thinking. I realized that I’d been spending less and less time on self-care, and it had been wearing me down and making me a miserable brat. So I resolved to return to doing things to help me feel better and be healthier. Here are a few of them:

Mindfulness Meditation

The first thing I knew I had to do was get back to meditating every day.

For the last 21 days, I’ve been using the Headspace app – and I really like it. It was created by Andy Puddicombe, and I  actually found it and used it briefly a few years ago when I read his book,  Get Some Headspace: 10 Minutes Can Make All the Difference 

Perhaps I was impressed by the fact that he actually trained to be a Buddhist monk, but I really felt like his intentions are to help people learn to meditate. It is a paid app, but it’s less than $100 for a year, whereas I looked into doing Transcendental Meditation and was disappointed to find that it’s like $1500. Namastay away from that one.  

Over the past several years, I’ve read a ton of books about mindfulness and meditation – mostly while flying somewhere on a plane. (Planes are perfect places to meditate!) Some of my favorites are:

Michael A. Singer’s  The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

Dan Harris’s 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story

Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness 

Sam Harris’s Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion

Taking Sleep Seriously

Since I’ve been using a fitbit, I can see how many hours of sleep I’ve been getting each night. I’ve always known that I’m a night owl, and if left to my own devices, I could easily stay up until midnight or the wee hours of the morning. Which would be fine, if I didn’t need to get up and function the next day. My fitbit was telling me that on average, I wasn’t getting more than 6.5 hours a night.

For some people, that’s probably a decent amount of sleep, but for me, I know I need at least 8 hours to really feel refreshed. I have spoken with others who have ectodermal dysplasias and found that they too need nice, long sleeps, or else they feel sluggish, have more eye problems, and get sick easier. 

So now, I make bedtime a priority, knowing that anything that’s not life or death can just wait until the next day. I’ve also made arrangements to go in to work a little later, which gives me some more time to sleep in the mornings, and also gives me more time for my next life-improving activity:

Getting my walk on!

I truly love taking walks at the beginning and end of the day. Morning walks are nice, because everything and everyone is just waking up. It’s quiet and calm, and you’ll see wildlife – deer, rabbits, tons of birds, squirrels and chipmunks, turkeys – and even the occasional skunk.

I like evening walks even more, because the light after the sun sets turns everything into a Monet painting.  All of the colors and shapes soften and blur – it’s very calming. Plus, I like looking in people’s windows when their lights are on. (Just in passing – not in a creepy way!)

For a while a tried running, but I felt like poop half the time, and I decided that since I don’t actually need to lose weight, and have no plans to run a marathon, I should quit suffering and just go back to walking.

Eating like I give a damn

I have a bumper sticker on my car that says “Eat like you give a damn”.  I’ve always meant for it to remind people to think of where their food comes from, and that you should give a damn about it and not eat crap, and not support factory farms and not eat animal products. Yet, I tend to get lazy about the vegetarian food I eat… I will eat salads for lunch every day for a week, but not really pay attention to whether I’m getting enough of what I need. I will eat bagels for breakfast, because they are easy to throw in the toaster and heat up – but deep down, I know they have very little nutritional value. I will eat more carbs and veggies for dinner, but again, whatever is handy for me to just throw together quickly. I love vegan chick’n and veggie burgers because they are easy to make, but I know that even though it doesn’t contain meat, it doesn’t equal healthy food.

So, I’ve resolved to make a better effort to buy healthy stuff in the first place, and take more time to prepare my meals in advance. It’s going to be the hardest thing for me because I really don’t enjoy food prep. But I have to make the commitment if I want to be healthier… otherwise, what’s going to fuel all that walking? 

The end!

Let’s see how long my resolve to do all of the above lasts. Most of it is normal daily routine stuff, but I tend to fall out of these habits and make excuses about being too busy to be able to fit them in. But that’s just foolishness. I’m going to MAKE the time, baby!

Pro tip:  Not being Facebook is a totally rad way to gain more time in a day. 

A Vermont Wedding

On July 1, 2017, my brother John married his longtime love Cara, in a beautiful Vermont wedding.

The party began on Friday afternoon, when many of the guests began arriving at the Echo Lake Inn in Ludlow, VT.  It was raining off and on, so we were mostly confined to the porch, where everyone was gathered at tables, drinking beer and wine and getting to know each other.

Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration. Some people were getting to know each other, but my family was clustered together at one table, trying to catch up with each others’ recent life events. Still, I did get to meet some of John’s college friends and Cara’s friends and family.

After a BBQ dinner, the plan was to have a bonfire, s’mores and lawn games – like the customized cornhole game that Cara’s dad had made, and the giant Jenga blocks that my dad made. However, the weather was being uncooperative, and after only a few s’mores had been constructed and only a few corn bags tossed, the rain picked up and everyone ran for cover on the porch.

Kris, Grey, Nick and Matt, Bruce (my dad’s dog) and Dave and I all shared a condo that weekend. It was in a separate building from the Inn, though not very far away. We had envisioned that we would be up late in our party condo, sharing hilarious tales while we drank and played games into the wee hours of the morning. However, by the time we got back to the condo, we went right to bed. (We had to save our energy for the big day!)

Saturday dawned rainy and dark. Checking the weather forecast left us with little hope of the day clearing up in time for the 3:30 pm wedding ceremony. We ate breakfast in the inn and proceeded to play some Jenga during a break in the rain.

Giant Jenga

Grey cautiously removes one of the super-sized giant Jenga blocks from the tower…

After a while, the rain picked up again and we retreated back to our condo. Dad and Lisa brought us sandwiches from the general store and we all ate lunch while watching reruns of Roseanne. I began working on my hair, although I knew it was probably a waste of time since the humidity was guaranteed to undo any styling efforts I put forth.

We rushed back to the porch to be in time for our 1:30pm photo session, only to find out that the photographer had gone to Echo Lake Lodge near Lake George, NY – a vast two hours away! Luckily, one of Cara’s friends offered to take some photos of us while we waited for the hired photographer to get there.


As the afternoon went on, the rain would let up for a few minutes at a time before returning at full force. Would we be able to have the wedding ceremony outside or not? We all hoped for a miraculous clearing of the clouds, but alas. It was not to be.

It was interesting to watch the Inn staff turn the reception tent into a wedding tent in less than 10 minutes. I suspect they might have done this before.

The ceremony was beautiful. Cara looked stunning in her gown and birdcage veil and John was handsome in his navy blue suit. Their friend Dana officiated and did a really nice job of it. No sooner had the ceremony begun, when the sun broke through the clouds and a sunbeam shone right through the plastic tent window.


The moment the sun came out…

I was honored to participate in the ceremony by reading a wedding blessing. I rarely get emotional at weddings – but as I looked up from my reading and saw John and Cara watching me intently, I was filled with emotion. I steeled myself and finished the reading without full-on weeping, but the floodworks burst forth when they exchanged their vows (which they had written themselves). To be fair, I think everyone in the whole tent got misty-eyed.

Watching my little brother, now all grown up, marrying the love of his life tugged at my heartstrings like nothing else. It made me feel nostalgic, sentimental, happy and excited all at the same time, and it all came leaking out of my eyes. I think the fact that they have already been together for 10 years and been through many ups and downs made their professions of love for each other all that more meaningful.


The happy couple

That night, the reception was filled with laughter and fun. John and Cara’s bridesmaids and groomsmen gave hilarious speeches about the two of them. The tent was decorated in a constellation/starry night theme, with twinkling lights wrapped around all the poles, a star projector shining up on the ceiling, and custom centerpieces on all the tables.


We hit the dance floor and the party didn’t stop until 11pm, which must have been the curfew set by the Inn. We all migrated to the bar in the cellar of the Inn, though unfortunately we could not get the dance party to resume there.

The next day, we gathered for breakfast together before all heading off on our separate ways. John and Cara would be going off to Portugal for their honeymoon!

Regrettably, I did not take more pictures during the weekend. Actually, most of the above photos are thanks to Kris McKelvie, Grey Houle and Kaitlyn Clifford. So thank you all for letting me use them in the blog.

After we said our goodbyes, Dave and I were off to Londonderry, VT, where we would spend the next few days relaxing and exploring the great green mountain state. Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Vermont!

Throwback Thursday – Little House on the Prairie

If I’ve ever loved anything in my life it has been the Little House books. Last year, my mom gave me a new book, Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, and I was once again able to connect with a kindred spirit from so long ago.

The book contains some early drafts of Little House in the Big Woods, and reading them just melts my heart. I intensely relate to the feeling of being a tiny girl in a big, vast world and being so eager to learn about it all. I just want to transport myself to that little cabin, even though in real life it probably smelled weird, had fleas and was dead boring during those long winter days.


Notice the taped-on covers of Little House on the Prairie and The Long Winter… those books got a lot of love!

I don’t even know how many times I read Little House on the Prairie. I remember my mom giving it to me one evening and telling me that it was a story she thought I would like about a little girl during the pioneer days. Right away, I fell in love with Laura and Pa’s adventurous spirits, and the thought of being able to explore the wild, undeveloped woods and prairies of early America.

As I grew up, we would often look back and laugh at some of the situations described which would now be considered highly inappropriate for a children’s book – Ma describing Indians as savages, Laura demanding that she wanted to have the Indian baby with the beady black eyes, the scene with Pa in blackface… (I had NO idea what that was about and didn’t even comprehend that it was a racial thing until like, 20 years later.) Not to mention the fact that they built their “little house” in Indian Territory.  Of course, I wouldn’t understand any of these things until much later.


This illustration baffled me as a kid.

Those things never took away from my love of the stories or of the people in them. Times change, and people learn from past mistakes. I will always hold Laura Ingalls Wilder as one of my favorite storytellers and hope to follow in her footsteps with some books of my own someday.

What do you think? Average-Sized Ranch in the Suburbs doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

Remembering Gram

I wrote this post last spring, and it’s been sitting in my drafts folder ever since. I’m not sure what held me back from posting it then, but reading it now makes me smile. Everything I wrote here still holds true. I take comfort in these memories.

Yesterday as I knelt in the garden to clear away the winter rubble,  I thought of you. Of your scarf tied down over the curlers in your hair as you showed me how to pull up a whole weed – roots and all – so it couldn’t grow back.

I think of you when I stand at the sink and scrub potatoes. Your fingers could so nimbly skin a whole pile of them, with a knife, no less, in the time it took me to fumble the peeler over just one lousy potato.

Sometimes just the smell of soap as I walk into my bathroom will remind me of the tiny bathroom at your house, and I’ll think about how you kept three toothbrushes at once so that you would never brush your teeth with a wet toothbrush.

When I’m driving with my windows down and the breeze through my hair – too fast, of course – I smile and remember how they called you “Leadfoot Lois.” You were brazen when you wanted to be, but mostly you were calm and level-headed and I always felt safe when I was in your presence. Okay, except for a few times when you were driving too fast.

On the weekends, when I prepare coffee in the afternoon, I smile to think of how you and Uncle Rob would have your late afternoon coffee and chat.

I often think of the joy I felt in my heart  upon seeing you for the first time when you’d come to our house to visit, or arrive at meeting on Sunday mornings. You always dressed so smartly and wore your trademark lipstick, so you didn’t “look dead.”

Sandwiches always tasted better at your house. To this day I can’t pass a loaf of marble rye without my mouth watering at the thought.

It’s been more than two years since you’ve been gone. I hope you’ll forgive me for being sentimental. I was so fortunate to have a Gram like you, and I really do miss you every day. I know there will always be a part of you in me – you have touched my life so deeply.

Gram and Me 2

My sweet Gram

What is my life?

As I sit down to write tonight, I’m already irritated because I can’t find the list of writing prompts I thought I’d saved somewhere on my laptop. I’m annoyed because the screen is too bright, even when I finally figure out where to go to turn it all the way down. I’m frustrated because I keep pushing my own creative pursuits to the back burner, because of my job.

My job. Why do I let it consume me so? I never planned for this. In fact, I used to scoff at people who worked at corporate jobs, those fools who were trapped between cubicle walls in the fluorescent hell of the rat-race. I would never be one of those people, I said.

Yet here I am, going on year 5 of being loyal to the same company. Granted, I’ve never actually had to sit in a cubicle this whole time, and never far from a window, so that may have helped. And of course I have gotten to travel more than I ever have before. So that’s definitely cool. I also get paid more than I ever have before – but that’s not really saying much when you consider what I got paid before.

I work really hard. I work my ass off. I work through lunches. I stay late. I hunch over my laptop in hotel rooms, desperately trying to connect through the VPN so I can catch up on work in the middle of the night. I worry I’m not doing enough, that I haven’t proven myself yet, that I am dispensable. I tell myself that soon I will have to ask for a raise, but I need to prove myself first.

Over the summer, one of my coworkers left to go to a better paying job. As she was leaving, we had a meeting to go over her projects and divvy up her responsibilities among the two of us who would remain. In the meeting, it became obvious that this girl was barely pulling her weight. She was only working on three projects, and even those were shittily done. I get it that she already had one foot out the door, but what the hell? At the time that this happened, I was so busy, I couldn’t take on anything else, so in a way, it worked out that there wasn’t much to actually take on.

As I sat in the meeting where she carefully outlined the three projects she was going to turn over to us, I felt sick to my stomach. It was like there was something wrong with my cognitive function because I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing. All along, I had just assumed that she was working as hard as I was. How silly of me!

Obviously, I had assumed wrong. Once I got in my car and started driving home, I actually cried and ranted as if I was going through a breakup. I felt so angry and betrayed.


Expressing my rage through Snapchat. Note my “personal kanban” system behind me.

So anyway, that whole situation was the impetus for my most recent feelings of frustration at work. Of course I would like to earn more money, but as I mentioned above, I always thought I had to prove my worth before I could ask for more.

The other day my boss told me that she realized I’m not getting paid enough. I guess in light of the aforementioned spoiled millennial coworker leaving, it really became obvious how unbalanced the workload in our department was. She did point out that when people are good at their jobs, and they get things done, they tend to be asked to do more and more –  because it actually gets done and done properly. So that’s kind of a backhanded compliment because it basically means that I will just keep doing more and more because I am a nice, conscientious person.

On the plus side, I will hopefully be getting a hearty raise before long. It is interesting because the amount she told me she wants to give me is the same amount I was planning to ask for, but I was hesitant because it would be a big jump. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will happen. Otherwise, perhaps I really do need to put on my big girl panties and go out and find somewhere that will compensate me for my work.

Of course none of what I just wrote really addresses my true problem, which is finding time to dedicate to my own, personal creativity. The truth is, I am usually so worn out by work that when I come home, I just want to eat dinner and then veg out. I basically have no friends right now because I never make the effort to reach out to anyone outside of work. I don’t feel like I have the strength.

It’s really bad, and I know I can’t let things keep going like this or I am going to end up being one of those people who has a midlife crisis. Since I spent most of my 20’s in an existential crisis, I really can’t afford another one.

So yeah. That’s where I’m at right now. It’s why I suck at blogging lately, and you never see me posting pictures of my art anymore. It stinks. I don’t like it. I’ve got to get it figured out.

15 Years Ago…

In September 2001, my friend Sarah and I took a trip to Oregon to visit her family, who had just relocated there. It was my first time traveling further west than the Mississippi River, and my first time on a plane since I was 16. Dave and I had only recently started dating, and I cried when he dropped me off for the shuttle to the Newark Airport. I was nervous about flying and being so far from home.

I don’t remember what it was like to go through security, or if there even was security. I just remember meeting Sarah at the gate and commencing the trip. We kept joking about the scene in Meet the Parents where Greg Focker has an altercation with a stewardess over his luggage and keeps saying the word “bomb” over and over. Bomb bomb bomb. You gonna arrest me? Bomb bomb bomb bomb! During the war I was a BOMBadier! Hilarious, right?

As the plane took off, the pilot pointed out how we’d be able to see Manhattan and the Twin Towers as we flew over New York City. The flight seemed like it took forever. We had a layover in Minneapolis which was foreign and weird to my young self. When we finally got to Portland, it was dark and felt like it must have been 2 am, though it was probably more like 7 pm. Sarah’s parents met us at the gate – you could do that then – and drove us another 2+ hours to Newport.

The Oregon coast did not disappoint. We spent the trip exploring the beaches and various scenic overlooks along Route 101. We hung out with Sarah’s family and met other Christadelphians in their area. I played Nintendo with her little brothers. We visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory. It felt a lot like Vermont, if Vermont had been plopped next to the ocean.


Celebrating Sarah’s birthday!

Jet lag hit me hard out there. I was always one for staying up half the night and sleeping in late the next morning, and every night we were staying up so late, it was getting to be early morning at home. My internal clock had no idea what was going on. The day before our flight home, I woke up to one of Sarah’s brothers shaking me and saying my name. I rolled over groggily and somewhat confused. He quickly told me how planes had crashed into the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon, and another one had crashed in a field in PA.

I didn’t really comprehend what he was telling me – I thought maybe he was just pulling my leg to get me to wake up. When I headed into the living room, I saw Sarah’s whole family was gathered there, eyes fixed to the TV. On the screen, black smoke billowed from the towers. It was surreal. It looked like something from a movie, but from the emotions in the reporters voices, it was clearly real and happening live.

The shock of something like this happening in our country was immense. Our plans for that day fell to the wayside. Our flight home the next day was cancelled. The jolly mood we’d been enjoying came to a screeching halt. Personally, I was absolutely terrified.

If you are a Christadelphian, or ever were one, you will get what I am about to say. There was excitement in the air among the group. Christadelphians are constantly on the watch for “signs of the times” pointing to the return of Christ. Usually, to read these signs you needed to be a dedicated student of bible prophecy and have a keen understanding of foreign politics (neither of which I was interested in doing). Well, this particular sign was written in smoke and flames, so even the lowliest among us would see it.

That night, we went to a bible study group at the home of a Christadelphian family nearby. I sat silently as the others chatted excitedly about the possibility of these attacks meaning that the end was near. Maybe this would be the beginning of World War III? Christ’s return was just around the corner! Christadelphians love to fantasize about the Kingdom. “It will be just like being at Bible school!” they always say.

Well, I certainly hoped that wasn’t true that Christ was about to make his way down through the clouds. I had already been questioning my faith and thinking about leaving the Christadelphians, although it would take me several years before I would finally cut the cord. I was still very much afraid of the wrath of the Lord Jesus Himself if he returned.

Since our return flight was cancelled, along with every other flight in the nation, we weren’t sure how we were going to get back to the east coast. No one knew when flights would resume, or if we we’d be able to get on one right away once they did. We looked into renting a car, thinking we could make it a cross-country adventure. But we were too young to drive a rental car across state lines.

I emailed my family and Dave, and my friends back home. I wished I could transport myself through the phone lines somehow. Not knowing what was going to happen was stressful. My mom told me that my Uncle Bill was stuck in Alaska, and my Uncle Brian was stuck in Boston. He had actually been scheduled to fly out the next day on the same flight as the one that hit the north tower.

We were able to get a flight home on the 16th. We left Sarah’s parents house at 12:30 am. We had to arrive at the airport really early because security was expected to be extremely tight. We got there at 2am and got in line. I can’t remember how long it took to get through security – I wrote surprisingly little about it all in my journal. I do remember that once we got through, we bought bagels and they wouldn’t even give us plastic knives to spread the cream cheese. We had to use spoons. And of course there was no joking about bombs this time. Everyone was on edge, but at the same time, it felt like we were all in this together. People actually looked at each other and made small talk.

The flight was direct to Newark. One thing I did write in my journal was that they let us watch movies for free, so we saw Dr. Doolittle and Bridget Jones’ Diary, and I was glad that there was something to keep my mind occupied. As the plane descended into Newark, the scene in lower Manhattan was visible. Smoke was still rising from the rubble.

Sarah and I parted ways and I took a shuttle back up to Connecticut. It was a somber scene as we drove across the George Washington Bridge and looked towards where the towers had been. There was a haze of smoke and dust where just a week before, I had seen the two towers standing. Again, the feeling was surreal.

I was so glad to be home again. I held so tightly to Dave in the days thereafter. We watched so much news coverage and cried so much in those days. I had nightmares about it being the end of the world. I felt sick with grief and worry, even though no one I knew had been directly impacted. The following weekend I drove up to Vermont so I could see my family and hug them all tightly. Everyone was so emotionally raw at that time. It really made you think about what was important, and what wasn’t.

Of course I am grateful that nobody close to me was directly impacted by the events that day. Inconvenienced, maybe. Frightened, definitely. My still heart aches for all the families who lost loved ones that day. In reflecting on the past 15 years, it saddens me to think that we really haven’t come very far, in terms of feeling safe, or unified as a nation. In fact, it seems that we are more divided than ever, and that animosity towards “the others” is growing stronger every day.

Next week, I fly out west again. This time for a business trip. I think I will make more of an effort to keep my head up and look people in the eye. It is so easy to pretend to be occupied on the phone, or so busy with responding to emails that you can’t possibly make small talk. But it helps to remember that we are all just fragile human beings. You never know what difference one small, kind gesture can make.