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all we can do is stand up tall

This past weekend we had a family reunion at Brighton. The only other time I’ve been to Brighton was in the winter, and I was attempting to ski.

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It didn’t work out. I got off the ski lift and was waiting for Alyssa to catch up to me. She got off the ski lift with a little too much momentum and slid right into me, pulling my legs out from under me. We slid halfway down the mountain in this awkward position and sat like this until my dad took a picture.

It was nice to go back to Brighton and revisit these lovely memories. In fact, I even found the building that Alyssa crashed into. She was going too fast down the hill behind it and decided that, in order to slow down, she would squat lower to the ground. She accelerated and ended up plowing through the orange, plastic construction fence and into the side of this building:

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We haven’t been skiing since.

It was a completely different experience in the summer, lacking both my sister and snow. We stayed in cabins up in the mountains and were led by our fearless leader Camping Deb—the outdoorsy counterpart to Prison Mike.

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What a doll.

It was wonderful being outdoors. Other than girls camp one week a year, I never really saw the foresty side of nature while living in Florida. There was a whole ropes course where the non physically disabled family members could climb and swing and hang and balance.

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Here’s the thing. There was a zip line. I was scared of it. I was using my broken collar bone as an excuse to not participate. I debated for a while, not wanting to go because I didn’t feel welcome there or because I didn’t want to hurt myself anymore, I was just full of endless excuses. Twenty minutes before they shut down the zip line for the day I remembered how I was trying to be more adventurous, to pull a Natasha Bedingfield and release my inhibitions, feel the rain on my skin. Minus the rain. So I went. I hiked up the hill, strapped up, climbed the ladder, posed for a picture, hesitated for just a minute or two, and stepped off. The first step is always the hardest. Especially in zip lining because it’s the only step you have to take. Ha.

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What do you know, I survived!

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I took plenty of time to detox after that. It was a wonderful place to be, full of beauty to marvel at and observe, and plenty of space to be alone to think and write.

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You better believe I did plenty of both.

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I thought about this past summer and how I feel like I’ve been around the world and back. I like the excitement of traveling and adventure, but I’m growing a little weary of moving from place to place. Growing weary of meeting new people and making new friends and then leaving them behind. I don’t enjoy knowing that everything I love about the people and places I encounter is fleeting. Wile the experiences are wonderful and I’ve been able to practice enjoying everything in the moment, it’s a little disheartening not having any stability. I worry about getting too attached to any specific person or place. Which is quite a challenge for me because I like liking things. I like finding the best in every person, the beauty in every place. I love things so quickly, so wholeheartedly. And then I leave.

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On the other hand, I’m getting really good at being “new”. I’ve always hated being in that role; being the outsider, the stranger, the one unfamiliar with her surroundings. I hated having to introduce myself, to have to adjust to my surroundings. Things are different now. I don’t feel uncomfortable in situations where I don’t know anyone. I’m beginning to see where Jada got the idea that strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet. Though I will still choose not to befriend certain strangers (like the creepy, old, perpetually shirtless biker guy that used to live across the street from us, aka love of Jada’s life), I’m having an easier time being myself in new situations. Heck, I just went and lived with strangers for a week. It doesn’t get better than that.  

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I thought about my life while I was up there in those mountains. My life is…unique. Most people’s lives consist of events. This past summer my life has been an event. When I think about being a kid I feel wistful for those days when things were simple. Even just thinking about a year ago, when being home for the summer meant sleeping in and cooking for fun and relaxing and letting my parents be the parents, I’m envious of the girl that I was. This summer is different—full of weighty responsibilities and emotional burdens. I never thought I’d take a semester off of school but that’s a likely possibility this fall. I don’t mind my problems really; I’m just living a different sort of life than I thought I’d be living at this point.

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This is where the hard part comes—starting a new life. Not having specific events to look forward to. Not counting down the days till you can see old friends again. It’s easy to keep my chin up when great things are happening, when miracles are occurring, when I’m having exciting adventures, when everyone’s looking out for me. This weekend was sort of a reality check for me. I was seen as the black sheep of the family, the stereotypically negative, boring teenager. It sucked. I couldn’t do anything to change the way these people saw me and, quite frankly, didn’t care to. We’re sort of on our own now, my little family and I. I’ll have to fight to be happy, hopeful, hardworking. To show everyone who cares to see that I’m not just a fluffy dark animal.

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When I wasn’t up in the mountains being all pensive and emotional I was usually in the lodge hanging out with my easy going, non-judgmental cousins.

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I find that kids are frequently the safest people to be around. Maybe this says something about my maturity level? Oh well. I’ll take it.

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It’s a good thing there were so many of them around.

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Besides being wonderful companions, they are top notch face painters and have flawless fingernail designs.

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My mother now has the most beautiful nails in the world.

We were concerned about Kenyan being able to participate in all the activities, but we shouldn’t have worried. She used her walker as a true all-terrain vehicle and went places the rest of us didn’t. It was an adventure for her, climbing up hills and rocks and keeping up with the non-handicapped cousins.

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She also took the liberty of winning the games. She had extra energy being temporarily released from the use of a walker. Two more weeks until she’s walker-free!

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True to the nature of family reunions, we had enough food to feed a small army. I was honored with the privilege of food prep and cleanup. It was honestly something I miss. One day I’ll have a kitchen to cook in again. One day.

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done

I spent a lot of time missing Canada, where things were peaceful and calm. Where the family loved each other and worked together. Where everyone, especially me, was happy and enjoyed being in each other’s presence. Things were easy there. I was safe there. And there’s not been a day since coming home that I haven’t wished I was back there, flying across the fields on a four-wheeler listening to Anberlin, feeling on top of the world.

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The hardest part of the weekend was when we watched a slideshow recounting memories of the past year. I was intentionally sitting by myself (because everyone clearly hated me. clearly.) watching pictures of me and my family appear one after another and was, out of nowhere, incapacitated by despair. I had a my-life-is-totally-awful moment. It is ridiculous, the amount of changes that have taken place in the past year. One year ago I was at school in Hawaii, preparing to go home to Florida. Now my family lives in Lubbock, TX. I have no dad. I’ve lost one of my favorite sisters. I can’t even move the right side of my face. My life is completely different than I thought it would be. Self-pity and absolute depression were my friends for a minute, punching me in the gut and throwing me on the ground, then picking me up and doing it again. Yet after a few minutes, a great sense of peace washed over me. I may not have envisioned myself being in the situation I’m in now. But I also wouldn’t have envisioned having the adventures I’d have, the peace I’d feel, the pure joy I'd experience. Those things are all quite wonderful, in ways that I never would have imagined on my own.

If I could choose one picture to sum up the reunion, it’d be this one:

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Eating and crying. Holla.

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[Brushing our teeth was an adventure that needed to be documented.]

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Two other friends showed up at our family reunion, just to keep things interesting. The first…I’m not sure what it was. I think it may have been a fox, but foxes are supposed to have pointy ears. Therefore it was clearly a baby bear. No one else agreed with me, but I was convinced. I didn’t actually get close enough to find out.

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The second friend was human, I’m fairly certain.

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As we were leaving, the mountains were a little bit overcast, trying to block out the setting sun and failing. The deep blue clouds were edged with integritous gold. It was a good reminder of that cliché saying that every cloud has a silver lining. Except that this one was gold. Even better.

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Gold lining is how we roll—nothing but the best for us.

[Title from These Are The Days by Sugarland]

7 comments:

  1. This weekend I also went on a zip line that I thought was far too scary. go Brid :)

    Also, no one hates you. I think more than anything they don't know what to do with you... how to treat you, what to say, how to act...

    But they love you

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  2. Thanks for all your help at the reunion, Brid. I wondered what the drawing of the sheep was about. I'm sorry there were tough times. I can't speak for others, but I, for one, can not find a stereotype for you. You are beautiful and unique and I have loved having you around this past week. I'm glad I can spend another few days with you on our trip back to Lubbock.

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  3. Love reading your posts as always! I'm so glad I was able to see you and your family. I feel your pain you talked about in your post about facing things now and figuring out what's next for you. It can be scary, but awesome! Just be positive (I know you've probably heard that a million times lately) - the world is yours. You are an amazing young lady with tons of potential and life can really be great for you if you keep your chin up and just move forward. I know you will have awesome adventures and touch many more lives wherever you head and whatever you decide to do.

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  4. Oh Brid! You're so much wiser than you're supposed to be at your age. Text me your email. I've got to send you something.

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  5. I just can't get over you thinking you are the black sheep... WHAT!? I can give you a little family history lesson on my family where the black sheep has been X-ed from the church. Just sayin! I can't pretend to know what life is like for you buy just know you have all the support that you need! We love you and you need to call me! Let's get together!

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  6. Beautiful pictures, Bridian. You have many talents. :)

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