May

What a month, ey? May always seems like a train careening down a hill with a sharp curve at the bottom. Should we brake or just take it at full speed? Will all the cars crash into each other? Plans upon plans upon plans until it’s over and we look back wondering where the time went.

Spring

Boston is finally starting to feel like spring on most days, though there are still “high of 50” days tucked in between breezy 70s with sunshine. I’m not mad about it (for the most part). The 18th turned out to be one of the first sunny, warm Saturdays of the month (and year). The sun rises here around 5 AM, which only further supports my theory that New England should be in another time zone. Needless to say, I woke up with the sun and couldn’t go back to sleep – clearly out of sheer excitement over being warm. I walked to the closest coffee shop, Dunkin (of course), and then to Fellsmere Pond where I sat for a while listening to Becoming by Michelle Obama. It was some level of heaven after a long winter. I spent the afternoon watching little league baseball with Natalie across town because… baseball is the best and sometimes quality time looks like sitting on the bleachers in the sun.
Temps have oscillated since then depending on rain and wind, mostly, but I think it’s safe to put away my sweaters. I think.

Current Events

There were some hard “current events” that happened this month that I would be remiss not to touch on. The first, and probably the most shocking, was the loss of Rachel Held Evans. If you’re not familiar with her, do go and look her up. She never shied from hard subjects, from asking questions, from seeking inclusion for the marginalized and outcast. She did not toe lines of mainstream Christianity, but sought to glorify God and love His people. I’ve never met her, but Searching for Sunday made me feel seen and heard and some level of okay with my wrestling.
Second, and way less important but still noteworthy, the Kentucky Derby happened. Contrary to usual years, all eyes were not on the bodacious hats and chilled juleps, but on the most controversial ending of all races. I will go on record that I believe Maximum Security was robbed and that’s all I’ll say about that.
Also in the news this month were a number of bills passed in southern states that drastically reduced lawful abortions. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, I implore you to listen to the Pantsuit Politics podcast episode about this. Sarah (from the left) and Beth (from the right) bring plenty of nuance to all things political. I am firmly against these laws, not because I think abortion is the best way but because I think we need to reevaluate the foster care system, school systems, racial and economic inequality, and so much more if we’re going to require a woman to carry a baby to birth with no exceptions. Life goes far beyond the womb.

Side note: I am also of the mindset that we can’t really force someone to believe/do something we deem “moral” when that person doesn’t ascribe to our beliefs. We can’t expect people who are not religious, be it Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or any other religion, to operate within the parameters of that religion. And forcing them to…rarely makes them see the greater picture of the gospel.

Let’s all take a break for a second and shake that off.

Visitors

Now that school is out and spring is in, flights north are much more fun. The Shaffstalls came to visit around Mother’s Day. We spent hours walking around the Harvard Arboretum smelling lilacs and trying to name all the trees. While they visited we also went to Harvard’s Museum of Natural History, the JFK Presidential Library & Museum, and Fenway (in the cold) for a Red Sox game.
By far, the most notable event of their visit involved Lauren and I being locked in the hallway of our Airbnb for an hour after going to the grocery store. We’d left the key and told Lonnie he’d have to let us in when we got back, but the long travel day got to him and…he fell asleep. We knocked, we yelled, we called, texted, and called again to no avail. We even tried to pick the lock (don’t tell our host). We finally said, “okay, we’ll give him ten more minutes, then we’re leaving for Beth’s house,” and before we left he finally opened the door. It’s a story we will tell for years.

A group of lovely individuals from Perry also came to visit, though not entirely for me. They partnered with Christ Church Charlestown during their stay, but I joined them one day for touristy things, good coffee, and delicious chowder (it’s Boston, after all). Among this sweet group were three people I love dearly: Mother Teresa (who I’ve known for 25 years, so basically my entire life) and the Presse’s – Pat & Ken. I’m a big fan of these three for a million different reasons and I’m glad I got to see them!

Not to be outdone by any other friend groups in my life, several Berry folk came to Boston as well. I had dinner with one of my college professors, Tina Bucher, who consistently sends me information on literary events and “must-see” sites near me. We attended an event at the Harvard Bookstore as well where we listened to Casey Cep discuss her new book, Furious Hours. What a treat of a visit!

Last, but definitely not least, Madison came to visit just after her final days of school (she teaches Spanish in Georgia). Honestly, y’all. My Sunshine Gang will always be so dear to me. We have been through so much life together, through our college years and all the wild adventures of adulthood since. I couldn’t be more grateful for them. Having Madison in Boston was a dream. We saw Frida Kahlo at the MFA where Madison schooled everyone with her knowledge of the great artist. I loved learning so much! We had other adventures like going on a boat tour of Boston Harbor and touring the Mother Church, but we did a lot of “normal” things like….taking naps, walking around Costco, going to the Christmas Tree Shops store, finding random great stores in Back Bay, watching movies, and eating tons of good food. We talked about booty shorts and how Boston is clearly home of the “Bros” and we talked about the abortion laws and theology and how to stick with a hard thing like church. My entire adult life has been full of wrestling with my faith and learning more about God. Madison is one of my home team people who wrestles right along with me. It’s no secret that quality time is my A1 love language, so having this gal pal of mine along on romps around the city was fantastic.

Notable

The rest of the month felt really… normal? I finally found pimento cheese at Wegman’s, so they will forever be my favorite grocery store in Massachusetts. They gained my loyalty in the very moment I set eyes on those little containers in the “specialty cheeses” section.

I bought new Chacos with Smokey the Bear on them in early May and have been working to “wear them in” on warm days. They’re single-strap instead of double like my old orange ones, which is such a welcome change. And they’re not garish orange.

Some work days are so sedentary. We often have meetings that last for nine evers. Those days are so hard for me. I hate being so still. On one day we had a particularly long meeting, so I decided to run (for the first time in God only knows how long) after work. I ran…ehhh…maybe a mile. I felt like death by the time I got back to the house, which was great. Still stressed about the day, I decided on a glass of wine (always a great choice). Who drinks wine after a run? Me. Jesus turned water into wine, so it’s fine, right?

Hard Things

photo creds: Maisie Ayers + Oak Hill Museum

Probably the hardest thing for me (and my bank account) this month involved switching my license and registration to Massachusetts from Georgia. I know, I drove up here in July of last year (and officially moved in October), so why the wait? Well, I like to put a timeline on hard things. When I said yes to New England, I said yes to it with the understanding that I’d stick this out for a year before going back south. Maybe that’s some level of self-preservation or just selfishness. Whatever the reason, I’ve realized in the last few months that Massachusetts may be best for more than a year. It’s been a hard 10 months, but I’ve learned a lot about myself – what I want in life, what matters, who matters, and how to lean into hard and holy places for the slivers of light. I’ve done hard things before, but moving alone to Boston has been, by far, the hardest. It’s also been incredibly rewarding: I now know that I want to own and operate my own bookstore (Donna can mostly stop asking me what I want to do with my life now – mostly) and I have met some great people along the way. I don’t hate my job, but it’s definitely not what I want to do long-term. This job is a stepping stone to something way greater and I am emphatically excited about that.
I know a bookstore will have its own hills and valleys, but the very idea of sharing books and being a community gathering place brings me so much joy. AND I will (hopefully) get to do it close to people I cherish.

So, May. Thanks for bringing warmth, sunshine, and friends – new and old. Full stop.

Three Things

In the words of Barbara Brown Taylor, here’s a few things that are saving my life right now:

  • Julie Andrews announced her second memoir, Home Work, which will be released in September (I have no chill over this)
  • Celine Dion did Carpool Karaoke with James Corden (it is the best way for you to spend 15 minutes)
  • My most fav band, The Head and the Heart, released their new album Living Mirage. Honeybee is my favorite, but Glory of Music hits me in my feels, too. Such good jams from these guys!