"Your domain www.arielle.nyc will expire in 30 days."
"Your domain www.arielle.nyc will expire in 15 days."
"Your domain will expire in 0 days."
"Your domain has expired."
As I watched each email warning come in, week after week, I scrolled past like I was leaving an ex-flame on read (solteres, ya saben). I knew I had to decide whether or not to keep this website open, but honestly so much was going on that I didn't even have the capacity to make a decision about this - for lack of a better word - hobby.
Because in the year of 2020, if there's one thing I've had to face other than unparalleled levels of grief and loss, it is making choices about holding onto what is most important to me and letting the rest go peacefully. Sadly, this year has threatened to steal one of the things I hold dear: my capability to wonder; to dream beyond my current situation and hope for a better future. It is this wonder that fuels my creativity, this "hobby" of writing stories about my life as they unfold through this medium. Unfortunately, this temptation to give up my normal response of drawing a silver lining around my dark cloudy days began to cast a long shadow over an unknown future.
Exasperated, I proclaimed to a loved one: "I'm tired of looking for silver linings and bright sides! They don't exist anymore!"
Ah yes, the proverbial practice of looking for the "glory after this" and the "lessons learned" and all of the "things working for my good." Oh, I was diligently trying to "count it all joy when facing trials of many kinds," but I was regularly coming up short. All of those flowers to lay for the dead and dying and traumatized and depressed and destroyed and jobless and migration-detained and separated and isolated and housing insecure and hungry and abused and neglected and honestly I was sick of it all. I ran out of petals. I too, found myself starting to join the chorus singing the refrain: "Man, 2020 is THEEEEE WORST!"
In August, most days I was too exhausted to cry, begging God for just some relief. I was supposed to be marking my 1-year return to the United States while giving God all the glory for his provision in helping me to finally land the kind of job I've been waiting for since I came back to NYC.
But, even while adjusting to working from home and the new responsibilities and tighter schedule, I also had to make the excruciating decision to withdraw from the graduate program I was really excited to begin, a dream deferred yet again. I attended a Zoom Funeral, grieving alongside loved ones. Three of my classmates from Howard suddenly and tragically passed away (all separate incidents). I was still being put on-demand by people that I had volunteered to support throughout the pandemic which stoked a heightened sense of being taken for granted. I'm still not used to living in a house with my parents, especially while (I shouldn't have to remind you), WE ARE STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC. Wear ya mask.
I was wrestling with bitterness, yet a lot of what I was hearing was that I just needed to be more grateful for a paycheck and a nice title. To God be the glory, yes. Unfortunately for me, however, gratefulness and its effects are not immediate. It takes time to cultivate and my soul was empty. And because I struggle with the reins of anxiety strapped around my chest, some days it is harder for me to breathe, let alone think about what "sparks joy."
Some days I've just had to make it to the end of the day. And even then some nights I've laid on the floor with eyes open wide, praying that the cold hard surface would make me feel more relaxed than a memory foam mattress. Yes, things could have been worse, but that's the wrong thing to say to someone who is already feeling like things are pretty terrible. Nice sentiment, bad timing.
So I wondered: do I even really want to write anymore? Do I even really want to share my stories with anyone outside of my immediate circle? Do I want to follow in the footsteps of my Late Bison Brother Chadwick Boseman and portray the ultimate representation of strength and dignity publicly, while only leave my full self for a small chosen few? Yes, I do.
Yes to being vocal publicly about my life in a way that always points to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Yes to honoring my private life and my covenant relationships with vulnerability and authenticity that is not made available on this platform. Yes to being honest that life ain't no crystal stair but that freedom is possible, and yes, the silver lining is always there even if you can't see it right away.
Yes to embracing even my hardest emotions, yes to counseling and coping mechanisms, yes to healing. Yes to God's word. Yes to gratefulness. Yes to hope and a resounding yaaaaas! to love.
Yes to wonder, to this blog, to one year, to trusting the process and to packing light and being light.
Yes to renewal.
"For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?" Isaiah 43:19a (NLT)