These days I step back a lot and think about the absolute absurdity of my experience here. It has been ridiculous in so many senses - a ridiculous amount of playing violin and piano, a ridiculous amount of pages of epic poetry read, a ridiculously small amount of sleep I've gotten some weeks, the countless ridiculous things I've done with friends that we laugh about, the ridiculousness of some of the deepest and most thoughtful conversations I've ever had happening with people I've known for nearly three months and in all that time the ratio of laughing to quiet, pensive conversation.
I've learned so much about myself, I don't even know where I would begin in telling you. If you care enough to want to know, ask me questions and I would be happy to answer them. God has shown up in places I did not look for him and situations I would have dismissed as impossible or unlikely four months ago.
I laugh a lot here. I sit back and watch as my friends interact and laugh at it all, at myself, and how absurd we are and nonsensical and I marvel at the loveliness of it. I've learned that I need to escape sometimes, so I disappear, leave my phone in my room and walk to green places to sit and think and let my soul be still for once. People are everywhere here and sometimes you need to be the only person in a place, not just the only person you know in a place. Or sometimes you need just one friend, a restful friend. Someone who will sit with you in silence and marvel at creation, or cry with you, or pray with you.
Last week I had office hours with a professor that I very much admire and respect. I went with a friend and we entered with questions that were so simple on the outside and had fathoms of meaning underneath. I wonder what we looked like, to that professor, two freshman girls sitting at her desk asking her those serious questions. When we sat down and she asked us how we were, we just looked at each other and chuckled a little and only said "alright," because the question deserved an answer.
Today I am introducing you to this friend because I'm adding her as an author on my blog. Our friends joke that we are the same person, which sometimes seems true, when we look at each other and don't even have to speak because we both know we are thinking the same thought. We talk about poetry a lot, which is why she's been added to Under the Mercy - she writes beautiful and profound poetry and I want you to be able to read it.
Her favorite poet is E.E. Cummings, she is from Bend, Oregon, and the theme song for her life (and our friendship) is Yakety Sax. Of all beautifully coincidental things, her favorite book is A Severe Mercy. We talk about life, and love, about pain and truth and beauty, about relationships, Meyers-Briggs, Milton and Spenser and Dante and Vanauken, and often those conversations happen far too late at night. All of that to say, Aliza is joining me in this endeavor and I am quite thankful for it. May you find her words as meaningful as I have.