~a guest post by Julia at Dearest Most Darling~
A few weeks ago, my dearest darling friend Chelsea, the super brilliant and beautiful mastermind behind 100 Ways to Write, asked if I would write a guest post. Wait. Maybe she just mentioned how in July she will have a lot of guest posts on her blog and I just assumed…whatever. The point is I have been wracking my brain, trying to make my “meh” thoughts into something you might enjoy reading.
I wanted to present to you a little work of art. Literary art. Literature. Yeah. I had my topic picked out, and I was organizing days of brainstorming into something poetic when I completely changed my mind.
For the last few weeks (and for the next month), I have been living in my grandparents’ house in Warsaw, Poland. People message me occasionally and ask me about the trip, but I don’t have the time or capacity to really explain it. “Great,” or, “Fine,” or, “It’s nice to be with family,” suffices. I can’t really express how difficult certain aspects of being here are. That is what my blog post was going to be about. Below is the main point in a poem:
When does a war end?
Is it when the last bomb is dropped? Maybe when the last blood is shed?
Or when the treaty is signed? Or when we’ve buried the dead?
Perhaps when the nights become quiet… Perhaps when the streets are safe- calm…
But I don’t think it’s all the way over yet.
I was born in 1995.
On the way to preschool, I walked past houses textured by shrapnel and bullet holes.
And sometimes on the weekends, my dziadek would take me to see the old tanks.
When his friend’s favorite tune was sung, he would sit by the piano and cry.
When I was 14, my granduncle paused his happy chatter when we drove past the place where half of his in-law’s were killed.
When I was 18, I was finally able to listen to a history lecture about communism at school without falling apart.
Without crying in the bathroom.
Without heaving up my heart.
And now, I’m almost 20. And I’ve returned to my grandparents in Warsaw after living in the States for 12 years.
Just for a little.
Under two months.
I pass the shrapnel and bullet holes on the way to the mall.
Some houses have been rebuilt with smooth outer walls.
I pass the old tanks on the way to work.
All of the architecture is described as pre-war or post-war.
Or during communism. Or after communism.
Compliments about buildings lead to comments about whether they were rebuilt
or never bombed.
Pamietamy. We remember. graffitied under bridges.
I sit where the Warsaw Uprising began, waiting for my taxi.
At breakfast, I listen to stories
about the first time my babcia saw someone get shot by a Nazi.
At supper, I listen to stories
about the first time my dziadek was handed an automatic gun.
At nights, I fill myself with television until I am too exhausted. And I fall asleep
deep enough to not wake up when my next-door neighbor screams wails shouts
in the middle of the night.
It’s over. And yet history is kept so alive that I don’t feel well.
Know it’s over. Just don’t feel it yet.s
It’s 2015, but it is everything that was as well.
When does a war really end?
I don’t know.
Maybe when the last veteran’s dead?
Maybe when the last nightmare’s gone?
I hope soon.
It breaks my heart how many people cry at church.
I was going to make that a 2,000+ word piece of prose. It would have been a sad little essay.
Yet, as I walked to the bus stop on the way back from work today, I was really, REALLY hyped up on coffee. My mind was running at a million miles a minute. I was simultaneously trying to prioritize my fall activities and start a good-habits-implementation regime and figure out how to eat healthier practically and how to get my startup off of the ground.
And write this sad little blog post.
THEN a completely new train of thought collided with my busy, little mind kitchen. It struck me, in the midst of my list frenzy and post-war blues, that I am so blessed. We are all so blessed. On the bus ride home, my prayer was one of great joy and thanksgiving.
Counting blessings is a super important part of the day. Someone told me that Mother Teresa started her daily examination of conscience by rerunning her whole day and seeing all of the blessings in it.
I think I got a pretty accurate estimate of how many blessings there are in the world:
So I present a different kind of literary piece. Not a poem. A never-ending list. Not so much a work of art as it is an allusion to other beauty.
Enjoy! LIFE! (I don’t really care how you feel about the list itself.)
A BAJILLION Blessings
When the shower is just right.
When someone makes you breakfast.
When flowers bloom.
When you pass a pretty building.
When you meet a really cool person.
When that really cool person becomes one of your best friends.
When you meet a beautiful person.
And share a beautiful moment.
And let go. With no bitterness. Just a warm and sweet and mild feeling.
When a family member gets married.
When a baby laughs for the first time.
Or when he finally stops crying.
When a little kid likes you.
Or when they finally leave you alone.
When the wifi connects automatically.
When you don’t need the internet because you are enjoying someone’s company.
The scent of the day becoming the night.
The scent of food when you are hungry.
The scent of clean sheets.
And of your favorite person’s favorite perfume.
When it pours at night and then is sunny during the night.
When you watch a movie and cuddle.
When someone brings a beautiful grey cat with green eyes onto a public bus.
When you have someone to sit with on the bus.
Or when a stranger makes space for you.
Or when the bus is empty so you get the whole row.
When a baby stares at you and doesn’t cry.
When you finish your work on time.
When you don’t, but the deadline isn’t that strict.
When your friend messages you randomly exactly when you needed them.
When your friend tells you exactly what you need to hear.
When a stranger makes your day.
When your cousin dances with you to keep that one way too drunk dude away.
When you have the same taste in food and interior design as your roommate.
When your friend likes to cook and bake AND share.
When someone gives you a perfect hug.
When someone hugs you because you need it even though they don’t like physical touching.
When your favorite song comes on the radio.
When it doesn’t, but technology allows you to change the radio station.
When you stop having teen acne.
When your period ends early.
When the sun rises.
When the sun sets.
When the sun is scorching and you find AC and shade.
When drinks are refillable.
When you can afford to eat out sometimes.
When you overcome a health problem.
Or accept it and move on.
When your plans explode in your face and it all works out.
When things are different from how you expected them to be.
And they are better. Because they are real.
When your friends throw you a surprise party.
When you hide in your friend’s house for an hour and a half because she is late to her own surprise party.
When you lock yourself out but you have the spare key!
Or you know how to break into your own house.
When your neighbor takes out your trash for you because you are too old to do it.
When your roommate brings in your mail.
When a package arrives.
When a letter arrives.
When an e-mail arrives.
When your friends or family arrive.
When a brand spanking new baby comes into the world.
When a person goes to Heaven.
When you love someone enough for it to hurt when they are gone.
When you love someone enough to miss them.
When you love someone so much, you forget about yourself.
When you love someone AND they love you back.
When you find a great quote.
Or a great song.
Or a great picture.
When you run into an old friend.
When your friend does something cool so you get to brag about them.
When your friend makes time for you in their busy life.
When your friend changes without changing how they feel about you.
When you have enough money to feed yourself and a homeless person.
When a homeless person asks for a parting hug.
When you have plans.
When you don’t.
When you are happy.
When you are sad but it doesn’t last forever.
When you count your blessings and are overwhelmed because you are so blessed.
When you get home after a long day at work.
And you have a home.
And you have a job.
And you have enough love in your life to sustain you even if you lost the house and the job.
When the sky is blue.
And when it is gray.
And when the ocean is vast and full of life.
When the mountains are lush.
When you can see snow in the middle of summer.
When you can feel beach-y breezes in the middle of winter.
Really cute animals.
Really interesting animals.
Super interesting plants.
Watermelon on a summer day.
Butter to go on your bread.
When you find food in the fridge you like and it is not expired.
When it is expired but you checked before eating and through it out.
Friends that hold your hair back when you puke.
Friends that puke at the sight of puke so they abandon you but not before getting you a bottle of water.
Friends that also happen to be your cousin.
That one friend. The only one you need.
When you are reunited and it feels so good.
When you learn about yourself by being alone.
When you learn about yourself by being with others.
When you get a scholarship.
When you keep said scholarship.
When school is fun.
When school is not fun but it is useful.
When school is not fun or useful but you don’t have to go to work in a factory as a child.
When you have a job in a factory as a child and can help support your family.
When others help you.
When you get the opportunity to help others.
When someone likes the food you cooked.
When you love someone so much that you don’t even care that they don’t think about the fact you always take out the trash without being asked.
When your hair doesn’t look too bad.
When an old dress fits.
When you find something you lost long ago.
When you find out that a guy you know is awesomer than you could have ever imagined.
When he has a beautiful girlfriend and you are fine with it because you want them to adopt you more than anything.
When someone chooses to have you in their life.
When someone you really don’t need in your life leaves.
When you get to live in the same place for a long time.
When you settle in to a new place.
Colorful magazines and catalogues.
When someone shares your name and you like them.
When someone spells your name right.
When you get invited to a wedding.
Or a graduation.
Or a toddler’s birthday party.
When you dance like no one is watching.
When the couch is comfy.
When the ads aren’t annoying.
When your car works great for many years.
When you check the oil minutes before it would have been too late.
When you realize someone has got to be looking out for you.
When the gross is soft enough to lay in.
When you think you won’t make it, but you do.
The list could go on forever.