Friday, September 24, 2010

That teenage feeling

August sky from the front porch of my house in Challis, Idaho

Sometimes I miss high school crushes; my heart racing at a glance. Unintelligible fits of giggles rising from my stomach and pouring out of my mouth. Feet floating like feathers, but eventually crashing from the overly drawn-out, dreamt-up heights. Love was not a tree, rooting deeper and growing stronger with time. It was a comet, bright and powerful—one I thought would last through the millenniums.

I think of the nights I spent staring into the clear night sky, the vast amount of stars hanging overhead—infinity spread out with an unmatchable palette. The whole world laid under one blanket, but I had no knowledge that I would miss this one spot the most.

That feeling of not knowing, but sensing something so big and incomprehensible sitting on the other side of the mountains. Like a sleeping giant, it laid just under the surface waiting to be woken from its slumber. What was waiting for me outside of the valley walls? How far could I follow the sun before I ended up back where I began?

Emotion dripped from everything I touched. Creativity and restlessness outlined every scrap of paper within reach and manifested in doodles and poems. Homework was only a means to an end, because deep down I knew my education rested in the hands of the world and school was just the vessel to deliver me there.

In those years I heard the word “success” often, and “potential” became a common identifier.

“You’re really going to do great things with your life.”

“You’re going places.”

“You’re going to be great.”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was because I saw the world through such rosy glasses that people said this. They saw that pessimism had yet to get its grip. Optimism and wonder were my confidants. It wasn’t that I was especially talented, or that I was privileged. It was my small town naivety mixed with an adventurous soul. It was my glass-half-full musings that I wondered out loud.

I was gregarious, but I was timid. I wanted to conquer the world, but didn’t know how. I was a teenager.

These people saw someone who hadn’t been told they couldn’t yet, and told them they could. They wanted to banish the timid, and plant a seed for the future when pessimism and hatred would eventually break down the walls of the small valley. They wanted to dig deep in the heart of a teenager, the face of the future. Because talent will only get you so far, but heart will get you all the way.

Today my determination and will have grown strong like a tree planted long ago. The roots dig deep, and the boughs reach high. I am sometimes subdued, feel small, and lose my way-- but never for long. I was built strong, fashioned for work others weren’t meant to bear. I was built by those around me.

But sometimes I still miss the feeling of a high school crush…feet floating.

The feeling of not knowing--

Of something waiting just on the other side of the mountains.