Welcome to SLO; Chapter II, The Seasons
Chapter two. Has taken longer to write than predicted. It’s been progressive like my ever-changing, ever-fading newer darker hair color. Progressive like driving a car. Like you can’t drive the car around town before you actually have one. Which is why I’m still riding my bike. Still working at Abercrombie & Fitch. Still loving my new life and enjoying moments in the sunshine. And that’s what I’ve been busy doing lately: riding bikes, learning to love, and living chapter two. Because its impossible to reminisce about things that have taken place until you reach a mile marker; a resting place along the way where one can plop down on a fallen tree branch, slide the oversized pack off the shoulders, and take a cool drink of water from the Nalgene with the karabiner and the “Keep Tahoe Blue” bumper sticker stuck to the side. But I’ve finally reached that spot on the trail where I can take a breather and turn around to admire all the crevasses and caves I’ve just conquered; to admire the view from the place that I’m now standing. In fact, this resting point just so happens to be the same place I reminisced from almost six months ago; back when my life was a pirate ship and even the good things weren’t mine to keep. The back deck to my mother’s house sits upon a hilltop with towering Evergreens and brush surrounding the lake-cabin-like shelter than was formerly known as Home. I’ll be there in November. And let me tell you, the view from where I now stand is breathtaking and life-giving and the best part is I’m not standing in this majestic moment alone. It’s incredible, and worth every upward motion in both thought and deed that it took to get here. So here’s what’s happened:
I found out Freedom is a person and I finally know him. I found out I wasn’t who I thought I was and that despite my logical protesting I had no doubt been playing church for the past eight years in a lot of respects. I found out that redemption is a season and I’m currently living in it; currently running and playing in piles of orange and brown leaves of joy and a newfound steadiness of heart. Found out that right now God views me like a seven year old and I’m content to be his little girl. And as the summer season of fun and all things new has just slipped under the covers to sleep, Autumn is emerging as a time of clothing myself with some layers that are a bit thicker and meant to protect everything that’s now been established underneath all the skin and what people can see with their eyes. Yet Autumn has never looked like this before. This is the first time Autumn is, and will continue to be, a season of hope and not the beginning of an icy downhill crash. Partially because this is not Washington and the iconic leaves I’m playing in actually aren’t really changing colors all that much; stuff around here is still looking pretty green and the leaves tend to stay on the trees. And I’m confused when I walk outside in the mornings and expect to see my breath cut through the chilled air like an exhale of thick cigarette smoke; expect to spend fifteen minutes scraping my car windows with icy fingers and hot swear words because I’m already late – and like I said, I don’t even own a car here. Because this year I’m not preparing myself to suffer through a cold, dark, terribly long winter. I’m preparing to let things settle; settle into what I am becoming. Settle into this new life that I’m convinced I’m never going to leave behind now. This year, Autumn holds the promise of beauty and the new habit of early mornings spent gripping a warm cup of coffee and everything I’m now convinced is mine through True Love. And as this season slides further into focus and clarity and Change continues to be my new best friend and trusted guide, I’m predicting only good things and that this newly established pattern in my life of embracing everything that God has for me will continue to bring me further into the loving arms of Freedom.
On life at the Lighthouse: Sometimes, you find yourself in a certain place where you can honestly say, “I wouldn’t change a thing.” Well I’m currently living in that place, minus the fact that I would in fact do a little something more with the color scheme of our living room. Not that I don’t appreciate the twelve different shades of tan that accent the almost-tan walls, but I think a few green house plants and a picture hanging on the wall might eventually be nice. But my issue with the color tan aside, really, I wouldn’t change a thing. Not even the spacious kitchen that amplifies every tiny clank of the ceramic dishware to let me know that my roommates are up and beginning their days before I’m ready to crawl out from under my covers. However, most disturbances to my sleep simply tend to remind me that I have people in my life who are worth waking up for; worth knowing to the fullest, even at 5:00 a.m.. So I don’t mind. And with the new Autumn season settling in, and the chilly night air pushing us to go inside, to build a fire, and to sit down with one another, we are on the brink of seeing springtime flourish inside the walls of our home despite what the calendar says. Our yellowish house with the purple trim (God help me) that goes against every vow of loyalty I made to Washington State University and the “I bleed Crimson” mentality and against my lifetime vow of hatred towards the purple and gold breed of the Greater Northwest, is becoming our safe-haven and a place where our secret prayers about who we really want to be and the reality of our lives are rapidly merging like rush hour traffic on the Autobahn. Because we’re all determined not to be alone anymore. Because we’re realizing we don’t have to be. So our times at home have been spent with each other in a perpetual game of hide-n-seek that we’ll continue to play until we all get found and manage to remain there. So I’m looking forward to many more memorable nights at home where watching television is a thing of the past. Because like I told someone the other day: “Why would I watch TV? For the first time in my life I think that what’s going on in my own life is more interesting than what’s going on in theirs.” And what’s even more enchanting is that I’m convinced this trend will never die. Like skinny jeans, it’ll always come back around; they never really go away in the first place. I think even the Pilgrims wore skinny jeans. And instead of TV we’ll continue our tradition of filming Sunday night dance videos where we’re discovering that five off-beat girls really do know how to get down. So it’s good to have friends and we’re all learning how to be one. But maybe even more so we’re learning how to have them; how to let other people in because we’ve all got our closets. I’ve got a garage, actually. So during these months of seeking coziness and people who are comfort like blankets, I’ll continue to barge into their rooms because Lord knows they’re already barging into mine; because that’s really what we all want if we’re being honest. It’s funny though because when we named it the Lighthouse I’m not really sure we knew what we were in for; not sure we realized how prophetic that name over our house would be. But it is, and so as we continue to settle further into each other we’ll keep striving towards a colorful horizon that will not disappoint. Because if there’s one thing that California knows how to do best, it’s put on a vivid display of color every night as the sun hits the hills. And it’s obvious: sunsets are meant to be shared.
On becoming a Christian: My flip flops are almost comfortably worn in now. The once hard, flat brown leather surface has taken on a softer side; like new mothers and Meg Ryan before Botox. When I kick them off at night and tuck them into the shoe rack that hangs over the back of my bedroom door you can see the places where my toes have pressed against the soles all day long and made little imprints; see where my heels have dug down into the leather. See where they’ve changed. It’s funny though because I’ve only been wearing them for approximately 41 days now. I bought them brand spanking new 41 days ago from a quiet, hip surf shop on Monterey street. And 41 days of wear and tear have made quite the impression on these adorable little flops with the signature Rainbow tag. Such is my spiritual life right now: I’ve only been here in San Luis Obispo – and really living, for approximately 41 days – yet my life here is like a pair of brown leather flip flops. 41 days ago everything was brand spanking new. And upon departure from the Spokane International Airport my heart was hardened and flat; a real wasteland void of any real beauty or character. Void of any fresh impressions from that which is higher. Enough to fake it at times I suppose, but I knew the truth about myself and the truth included a lot of descriptive words about what it was like to be lonely and crushed. But I’m not miserable here. And I’m not lonely – far from it, in fact. Still daily claiming the extreme statement of “I’ve never been better” and my two former friends, Lonely and Misery, are on the other side of the oceanic expanse and I want nothing more to do with them other than to wave at them from across the deep gulf and mock them with a smile of sincerity and a goblet of hope raised high. And as I’ve continued to live out my days in this new life these flops are beginning to fit me well. They’re beginning to take a form; I’m beginning to take form. It’s the first time in my whole life that I actually like my life and don’t wish that I could borrow someone else’s. But it’s a strange and radical feeling when you’ve been alive for just north of twenty-two years, but you’ve only been living, really living for approximately 41 days. It’s completely unexplainable like spumoni ice cream and math. There’s a lot to take in and still mountain ranges that need moving, but I’m learning to have patience because everyone tells me it all comes in due time. I’m not sure how it all happened, but the cogs began to click, spiritually, as soon as I arrived in San Luis Obispo and they picked up pace when phrases like “freedom” and “healing” became common speech among those I’d been getting to know. And like a wave that doesn’t really know its part of the ocean until it crashes up against the rock, I guess I never really had an appropriate encounter with the Rock in the first place. Never really lived different but just knew that different existed. But everything has changed. For one, I got healed. Which is a statement that tends to catch people, even those closest to me off guard. But like literally, the stomach condition I’d been ailed with since last December because I was swimming in deep pools of venom, is now gone for good and eating is finally enjoyable again. And I got made new. Like in my spirit. You know, as in all the sickness that made my insides feel black and decayed has been removed and I’m running through the wide open fields with dasies in my pockets and and real turquoise dangling from my ears and clanging on my wrists. The pirate ship is gone. And life is finally the opposite of what it once was. It’s been humbling. But like repentance, it just feels right. And I’m okay admitting that for the past eight years I had been going through my days with a baseball cap of deceit covering my head. Because I’m not wearing a hat anymore; I’m wearing a crown. And like Jenna’s favorite song says: “I’m never going back to okay.”
On the topic of love: Well I had a buddy in college who had a tendency to drink too much beer and then when the commotion of the night came to a close, in a very serious manner would sit me down on the rugged green couch in the living room that faced the mounted elk head, named Eleanor, that hung above the fireplace and there he would tell me all about how love was a lot like fishing. Now seeing as I’m a city girl – who holds a definite attraction to country music, but nonetheless has spent the majority of life listening to Kenny Chesney and Garth Brooks sing about the cowboy life from within a world of suburbia where my dad taught me how to grab a phone book when I needed an oil change or my tires rotated – I no doubt had a lot to learn. And although my buddy was influenced more by the infamous Jack D. and sly Mr. Coors than any other reliable source of wisdom during those late nights on the couch with me and Eleanor, he sure did teach me a lot about fishing. So as certain events have been unfolding in my life with a certain incredible someone, I’ve found myself thinking a whole lot more about fishing and thinking that its just about time that I start living out my own song and not just singing about someone else’s pretty story. And I’m discovering that it really is quite enjoyable and I’m thankful that I’m getting to build a genuine friendship with this someone amongst the growing backdrop of relationships with my new family here and within the reservoir of a church that is destined to do mighty things. It’s amusing though because I’ve been forced to swallow my own flippant statement as of late regarding the peculiar title of “special friends” that the twenty-somethings in my church have creatively placed over developing guy-girl relationships. I remember the first time I heard someone mention the phrase “special friends” I almost choked on my carrot stick. I had only been in San Luis Obispo for about a week and upon hearing it, in a careful whisper, I turned to my new roommate Jenna and said the words: “Seriously shoot me in the face if I ever have something called a special friend.” But God is funny and in recent weeks “special friends” has become the official title mounted above my ever-changing, ever-redefining relationship with this special someone. And honestly, I have never been happier to have my own words come back around to bite me. In fact, I’m considering allowing more ill-thought out statements to come flying out of my mouth just in hopes that they might come true as well. So for now, I’m content to feel silly and feel like I have no clue as to what I’m doing in all of this. Because the reality is that I don’t. God is helping me to re-learn how to do everything. Yeah, really, everything. And I’m also content to sit through about three minutes of laughter during phone calls with friends back home that can’t get over the fact that it sounds like some sort of handicap (my own father included). But you know, in a lot of ways there is a handicap placed over my relationship with the boy. Yet I’ve confidently determined that it’s a wonderful self-inflicted, self-established handicap that I fully believe is leading to nothing but great and even greater things. So with that said, I suppose I should claim it with some pride, right? So here goes: “My name is Erin Lockhert and I have a special friend.” (“Hi Erin!” –spoken in unison). There’s certainly a lot more that I could say about it all and would like to actually, but for now, in this season of settling in, I’m content just to share a lot of secrets with God and some with my roommates as well. And content to live out my days at work with a particularly silly smile plastered across my face that my coworkers now recognize and call me out on every time with comments about how I’m “so done for.” And I’m also content to sit still, or rather move forward with God, and allow him to be the one to totally belly hook me at this point. Because love begins first with falling in love with God and right now as far as things between me and Jesus go, my coworkers certainly are right: I’m so done for. But I can say that I’m intensely looking forward to experiences of actually really going fishing with this boy. Ya know, I actually wanna stand on the edge of a body of water with a pole, or a rod ‘n reel, or a stick or whatever you call it and with the boy standing next to me I want to catch a fish. He seems to like doing these sorts of things. So whenever we actually get to “go there”, I’m determined to be ready with a tackle box, hopefully a hot pink one because honestly what could be better than that, and a giddy smile plastered across my face. I never thought I’d care so much about fishing, but I’m really kind of liking the fact that the new, the awkward, and the surprising are becoming a trend. But Autumn isn’t fishing season. And there’s always the potential for ice fishing during the winter months I suppose, so in the meantime I’ve got a little while to figure out where in the world I’m going to find a pink tackle box and a decent stick with the yarn dangling from the end; maybe I’ll find it sooner than I think. God help me, I’m going fishing!