Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Outside Moment

When I first met Julie I wasn’t impressed. She wandered from here to there with little intention but to live. When she told me about the trip I was hesitant, but that soon faded to anticipation. I was going to spend a bit of my life with these people that I had heard about, famous in their own way, but never met. They were legends to their kind, full of burning madness and wandering passions. Their trails spiderwebbed across the country, converging at separate points to form rectangular markers of the places they had meandered through.
    I met Julie and her boyfriend, Alex, at a rinky-dink place called Hal’s, handed them a rolled up twenty dollar bill and pumped gas into the bottomless pit of the El Camino.
    “What’s the gas mileage on this thing like?”
    “Aw man, you know, it runs,” I received with a smile and a wince inducing “yoohoo!” Alex gave me a pat on the back that expelled all the air from my lungs and then handed me a cigarette. “We gotsa a ways to go, Poncho, best get in the car.”
    Alex was a misplaced texan. He was raised in the backwoods of Tennessee and only ate what he could shoot. He dressed like a mexican, flamboyant colors of pink, purple, and red woven into the shapes of buffalo and antelope, a felt hat, and a pair of boots complete with jingling spurs.
    I climbed into the back of the El Camino and we began our trip. We started in the wandering plains of Kansas, but our trip would be ending in the rollercoaster mountains of West Virginia. We drove through corn fields, miles and miles of corn fields. A person doesn’t realize just how boring corn is until it’s their only visual companion for ten hours. Suddenly you begin to notice differences in the corn, this one is maiz, that one is white. This one is above our heads, that one is up to our knees. Either way the corn was all encompassing.
    Slowly a single hardwood would begin to speckle our horizon, and as we got closer to the mountains it was joined by other various friends: chinquapin, poplar, and then more rhododendron then there was corn. As we traveled farther into that maze of rhododendron I found myself missing the corn.
    Julie and Alex rode up front, occasionally switching drivers by climbing over top of each other. I personally preferred Julie driving, she was the only one of us that was completely sober. When she took the wheel the speed of the car went from lightning fast to one closer to a snail stuck in molasses. Suddenly we were also on our side of the double yellow line, and as we maneuvered the switchbacks of the mountain roads I found myself appreciating that more and more.
    Alex was a person and a half. When he was drunk he drove with a passionate rage, cussing out our fellow sojourners. When he was high he drove with the most angelic kindness, pulling off the road to let others pass him. When he was high we spent more of our time in the grass then on the blacktop. When he was high and drunk it was multiple episodes of whiplash. He would pull off the road to let someone pass him, but just as quickly he would change his mind and pull out in front of them laughing and cursing all the while and sometimes chucking an empty beer bottle at them. Julie would sit beside him and laugh. I sat in the backseat and downed more whiskey - the drunk people always survive the accidents, I would remind myself while taking another swig.
    At last we got to the point where Alex pulled that beat up car into the trailhead parking lot, which was really just a patch of gravel long enough to fit a bike and wide enough for a single person. By magic, he shoved that car into that spot. We climbed out of the Camino and pulled out our packs, at least I did. Alex pulled out a duffle bag that he had finagled with twine to somehow stay attached to his back, and Julie pulled out a burlap sack that she had sewn two straps onto. I suddenly felt very out of place with my internal frame Kelty.
    “Now we walk,” Alex said and then slapped me on the back again. This one sent me flying forward which caused Alex to chuckle. “Ol man here can’t hold his liquor worth a blood nickle.” After an intense internal struggle about whether or not I should tell him his sentence made no sense, I opted for taking another swig.
    Hiking with Alex was only slightly less frightening than driving with him. He was completely wasted and constantly stumbling off the trail. Under normal circumstances this would’ve been okay, but these were not normal circumstances. On one side was a sloping granite wall, dispersed with its fair share of the accursed rhododendron. Our other side was a steep drop for eighty feet, equally dispersed with rhododendron. As Alex began to stumble off the side of the mountain he would throw out some butchered quote, “all you need is a will to trudge,” or “I took to the woods to find when I died I had lived.” I have never in my life felt so sorry for Bartram and Thoreau as I did in those moments. I found myself praying that he didn’t stumble into the realm of Wordsworth or Frost and effectively ruin those authors for me as well.
    After hiking for a few hours on that rhododendron blazed trail we wound up by the river - our final destination. Julie took the sack off her back and unloaded a tent and a pair of jeans. “I like to pack light,” she said with a grin. I watched her set up her tent and then pull on the extra pair of jeans over the ones she was wearing.
   Alex, however, was completely different. He set down his duffle bag with a clunk, and proceeded to pull out a stereo, several blankets, a few bottles of whiskey, and about ten cans of beans. “Gotta eat something, and y’know beans are almost a complete protein.”
    “You’re only eating beans?”
    “Don’t ruin a not broken thing, man,” he replied and handed me another cigarette. Julie just chuckled and took the blankets into her tent.
    “How much does that duffle bag weigh?”
    “It ain’t about the weight, it’s about the journey.”
    I had no idea what to say to that and instead unloaded my tent and sub-zero, down sleeping bag.
    Alex built the fire with one match. A feat that I could never hope to achieve. Julie supplied him with kindling and firewood.
    “You wanna see something downright neat,” Alex asked me with a broad, terrifying grin.
    He proceeded to walk over to those stinking rhododendron and pull off a bunch of leaves. Then he threw them in the fire. They exploded with loud pops and snaps, making tiny sparks in the fire. “I love rhododendrons,” he innocently informed me. That was when I knew Alex and I were from different species. My hatred for corn was only outweighed by my hatred for rhododendron, which, in my opinion, was the kindling they used in hell.
    Alex passed me the whiskey and turned on the stereo. The leering voices of Dwight Yoakam and REM streamed out into the night. Alex pulled Julie to her feet and began waltzing with her to the slow rhythm of A Thousand Miles from Nowhere. I sat on a log and sipped my whiskey and watched.
    Alex and Julie swayed together as though they were the only two people in existence. They didn’t care that my wondering eyes followed their feet as they moved from side to side. They were blissfully aware of the moment. Routinely passing a cigarette between them as they danced, and I watched from the outside. My point of view skewed by the knowledge that soon it would be very cold, and in the morning we would have to pack up dew wet tents. They didn’t care about that, Alex with his jingling spurs and Julie with her two pairs of jeans. They lived on the inside, acutely aware of the passing of time, and yet not caring. They would never have to wonder if they had wasted time, because they were always living.

And I sat on my log and watched.

In the morning we packed up our wet tents, hiked out of the woods and climbed back into the Camino. Alex was dropping me off in Slatyfork, where I would meet up with friends heading to New York. I climbed out of the Camino and took one last swig before handing the whiskey over to Alex. He laughed and handed me a cigarette.
    “Adios, Poncho,” he said and slapped me on the back.
    “Thanks for the ride, Alex.”
    “Tain’t no thing, just giving us a little more mountain to see, right Babe?” Julie just nodded and gave me a swift hug.
    “I’ll see you later, Julie,” again she just nodded and climbed back into the car.
    Alex grasped me by the shoulders, “the only reason you’re a stranger is because you don’t experience, everything is not meant to be surreal, dude.” And he climbed into the car, leaving my head reeling. I sat down on the curb and watched the Camino disappear into the distance as I waited for my friends to come pick me up.

Friday, April 10, 2015


But were there ever any
Writh’d not of passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.
-Keats, “In Drear Nighted December”

    There are many stories I wish I could write. Stories of love and happiness, of being young and carefree, of faith. These stories are the ones caught, trapped in my head. I feel them bubbling inside of me, but I can’t get them out, because I’m just not quite done with this sad story I’ve been compiling. And I have to finish.
     This sad story of mine follows the lives of two people, a man and a woman, that have difficulty going the same way. It’s a series of moments, the split second of doubt, the passing fancy, the aberration.
    They were perfect. They loved each other to the moon and back. Never a squabble. They lived peacefully and happily. But there was always something tugging at her heart. An aching feeling, not painful, but not subsiding. There was always something telling her to go a different way. To the left instead of the right. Sometimes...she did.
    He was steadfast, most of the time. He always walked straight, and he always walked behind her. He wondered if it was because somewhere something told him she wanted change. He had to stay behind her to make sure he could follow if there ever was a deviation. And there were.

    “Sometimes, at, like, midnight, I wake up and sit up in bed and tell myself that I could hop in the car right now and leave everything behind, start over.”
    “That’s when I pull you back down to bed, and apparently earth too.”
    It’s followed by a chuckle, a smile, and a wistful look in her eyes.


    She sometimes tries to run away. She darts behind trees and people quickly, trying to get out of his line of sight. She was successful once, but when she turned to look at his face one more time it broke her. She went back. He reached for her and held her, and promised he would never lose her again. He apologized, and that broke her as well.
    When they walk now he remembers that time. It’s impossible for him to not think about. It’s constantly reminding him that she wants to stray. And, given the chance, he knows she would. Sometimes it makes him feel like a rock or an anchor. But, is it really good to be the one thing holding a person down?


    “You’re back.”
    “Don’t sound so surprised, you knew I would be.”
    “I never really do, actually.”
    “What are you trying to say, that I’m unreliable?”
    “No, well, maybe.”
    “When we first met you told me to always be honest with you.”
    “Then could you please cover up your honesty with a few white lies?”
    “Yes, actually, I can.”
    Because that was how he kept her. A little honesty here, a bit of dishonesty there, all blended together to form pleasing, untruthful compliments - the perfect recipe for staying put.


    He was always steadfast. He was always predictable. He was always.

Monday, August 25, 2014


    When we were young we used to run around the yard shrieking like indians because nothing mattered - it’s the beauty of youth. When we were young we got to live out freedom, we laughed in the face convention. We ate fruit off of the ground under apple trees, and we drank water straight from the stream. We ran barefoot through the woods ignoring the needles and thorns that would tear our feet. Beauty was a sun that was so bright it illuminated the person in front of you and reflected off of their skin. Everything was different...when we were young.
   With age comes reality, no longer can you lounge a day away, no longer can you mess up your hair, discard your shoes and jump in the nearest pond with your best friend. No longer do your parents scold you when you come home sopping wet in your clothes. No longer do you get to live for the sake of nothing at all.
    We were all friends, when we were young. He and I, her and him...brother and sister to brother and sister. We would romp about hand-in-hand scheming and planning great adventures - Tom and Alice, me and Eli. We caused the most trouble to our parents, Tom and I used to come home and go straight to our rooms in the anticipation of punishment, we figured we would just beat them to it. Parents don’t like it when you do that, they don’t get the opportunity to remind you of what it is that you’ve done wrong and why you should never do it again, they really hate it when you rob them of their responsibility.
    Alice and Eli never did that to their parents, they went home and let their parents have their satisfaction before they went to their rooms. It seemed that they never incurred such a harsh punishment as Tom and I, because they actually let their parents punish them.
    I remember when we were getting older, Eli and I were laying in the woods staring at the sunshine coming through the leaves above our heads.
    “I wish I could stay here forever,” he said to me.
    “Why...that’s such a simple question, why?”
    “When did you become a philosopher, Eli,” I laughed at him.
    “I was reading-”
    “You can read,” I joked, cutting him off. He fake punched me in the arm before he smiled and continued.
    “I was reading Thoreau, about what he said about going to the woods, it made me want to follow him.”
    “What did he say exactly?”
   “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
    “You think you’ll lose yourself as you grow up and go on, don’t you?”
    There was a long pause so I turned my head to look at him. He was staring at me with unblinking eyes, it unnerved me, but I couldn’t break the gaze. It was so rare for us to have a moment where we were so open with each other. Regardless of my lack of trust in Eli, he was the one person I trusted most in the world and I was the same to him. It scared me to see his eyes wide open staring into mine. It scared me to know that he was trying to communicate with me through that gaze, and that, although I knew him so well, I couldn’t figure out what he was trying to say. Finally he opened his mouth, but his eyes remained on me.
    “I know I will,” a pause, “and you will too.”

    Eli’s words followed me throughout my adulthood. Haunting, taunting, toying with me. I tried to live and grow as though it would never happen, and as I aged those words became more prevalent to me. As I went through college and as I graduated, when I got my first job. I tried to learn what life had to teach me, but learning is hard when you’ve grown up, and sometimes you forget things that were once important to you. Eli’s words, which had been so defining to how I tried to live, were easily replaced with dreams of success, wealth, love - the frivolous things in life.
    But, every year we would all get together, Alice and Tom, me and Eli, and we would go outside like we did when were young. We would run around barefoot, and jump into the pond with our clothes on. We would play and we would remember.
    “Eli, wait for me,” I yelled, running as fast as my short legs would carry me.
    “Just run faster, you can do it!”
    “It’s not fair, you’re taller than me! I’m gonna make Tom beat you up if you don’t slow down,” I screamed out between gasps for air.
    “Fine,” he slowed down, “slowpoke.”
    “I’m not a slowpoke!”
    “Don’t be so sensitive!”
    “I’m not sensitive,” I yelled.
    “Stop yelling at me,” Eli was getting angry now too.
    “You deserve it,” I said, upset.
    “If you don’t stop yelling I’m gonna run really fast and leave you behind.”
    “No, Eli don’t do it,” I yelled, and he took off. “Eli, wait for me! Please wait,” I was crying now as my anger turned to frustration. I ran after him struggling to see through my tears, and tripping over roots and stones.
    “You can’t catch me,” He yelled back laughing.
    “Eli, please!”
    That was the last word I heard him say because right after that I ran headfirst into a branch and knocked myself out. I had a history of head injuries from when I was very young, and having a concussion was a very big deal for me. I don’t remember anything between running into that branch and waking up, although Eli tells me I was mumbling something when he found me. I do remember waking up to screaming.
    “Wake up! Wake up! Please wake up and I’ll never leave you again,” Eli was screaming into my face, shaking my shoulders. I could hear him first, and then I opened my eyes and saw him. He was crying and looked more frightened than I had ever seen him look.
    “Eli, you need to go get my mom,” I said.
    “I can’t, I’m too scared,” he cried.
    “Eli, you’re the bravest ten year old I know, please go get my mom,” my encouragement seemed to give him the strength he needed because he nodded and ran off in the direction of my house.
    I ended up needing stitches on my forehead, and had to get a CAT scan of my skull because the doctors were afraid I had fractured it.
    The scar on my forehead had gotten bigger as I grew up, but the bright white color has faded. I fingered it as Eli recalled the incident. His eyes glancing towards mine, and then moving up to my forehead.
    “I think Eli cried more than I did,” I said after he was done, Tom and Alice laughed while Eli punched me in the arm.
    “It was a traumatizing experience for a ten year old.”
    “If anything I should have been the one crying, not telling you what to do.”
    “Shut up.”
    “It’s okay, Eli, she lived,” Tom said with a grin.
    “Just barely,” I reminded, although we all knew it wasn’t true.
    “Hey,” Eli shrugged, “All that matters is that you’re still here.”
    “And in one piece,” Tom added.

    Now, we’re all a little old. We have jobs, family, children - we have lives. We don’t get together anymore with the express of purpose of remembering what it was like to be young and free. We don’t need to. We see those years live on all around us, through our children and their friends.
    Eli once told me that growing up was a curse. That when someone grows up they lose themselves, they lose to the world and its faults, and traps, and vices. But, as we move on in life, and we get nearer to our end, I find that I don’t regret losing myself - if that’s what this is.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Many times I look up into the sky and wish I were a contrail. To be something so fleeting, but to have that perspective. To be suspended in the sky for a moment, over cities, countries, continents...people. To find meaning in minutes and not years - what an amazing idea.
When I was little and dreamed about the future it extended to ranches with a zillion horses that I would ride all day, and never have the bother of jobs, work, money - all of those horrible things that make the world go round. I dreamt of simplicity.
Now, I dream of places, things I want see, stuff I want to eat. To attain that cultural, palatable, visual realm of exploration and experience. And the older I get the more I wish it could be true that I could just go, and maybe (just maybe) come back.  
I’ve never had that satisfying taste of adventure that Mark Twain would say is necessary. I read the books, and I watch the shows, and all it does is whet my appetite, it makes me hunger for those experiences that are as exciting as they are terrifying.
When I look out of my window the contrail in that picture is now a highlighter pink stripe across the sky, a testament to the vibrant beauty that comes from that magical scientific process of the refraction of light - I have scarcely seen a thing so beautiful, so enticing.
To be a thing left in the sky for all to see, to make poor dreamers like me wonder, and to aid in the desire to be on the plane that left that mark. To be the white flesh of a scar on Earth’s wide atmosphere, but to be impermanent. Wow. It’s truly terrifying...and yet, what I want most.
These thoughts make me feel young and ill-prepared for what my future will really hold. But I really hope that someday I get to be on something that makes contrails, going somewhere strange and wild...maybe to stay.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

i care about you

     I watch all the time, everything that happens. I watch her walk in and out of your life as if you were only one part of her reality. The sad part is - you don't care; you always welcome her back with open arms. No matter how badly she treats you, you always take her back, and in the end she always leaves. 
     You get upset and quiet, and then you disappear for awhile. Eventually you come back to me, and I always welcome you with open arms, but not in the same way you welcome her.
     I try to keep my distance when she's here, because it burns me up to see you with her, and because I know you know. You know.
     "Hey," you say as you walk through the front door.
     "Hey, what's up," I try to hide my smile, but it's useless - seeing you always makes me smile.
     "Is your sister home," you ask and my smile fades.
     "Yeah, she's in her room," I say, holding my breath, "do you want a drink before you go face the dragon," I hope the answer is yes.
     "Sure, I'll take some water." I put my laundry down and get you the water. "Your sister isn't that bad."
     "She's leaving again, did you know?"
     "No, where to this time?"
     "Out West, she says she needs some adventure in her life. Not just the same old, same old she gets here," your eyes fall as soon as the words leave my mouth and I'm instantly sorry. "She probably won't last long."
     "Well," you sigh, "she hasn't got much to keep her here."
     "Hey, you know that's not true," I pause, "she cares about you." You smile and walk down the hallway. She was gone the next day.

     Things are different when she isn't here. You come over more often, and things aren't so awkward between us. Things are so much easier when she isn't here. I'm not always reassuring you, and you're not always asking for it.
     When she's gone I don't resent either of you. It's so easy for me not to like her when she's here, because I know she's going to hurt you; but at the same time I resent you for giving me those feelings. If you would stop taking her back I wouldn't need to dislike her on your behalf.
     I like you the most when she's gone because you need me in a different way. Suddenly I'm a friend, not just your girlfriend's sister. My time is no longer spent comforting you.
     "Hey," you say as you walk through the front door.
     "What's up," I say, smiling full-on.
     "What'd you think of that Statistics test?" We fall into comfortable conversation, but we both know you aren't here to talk about school. "Has she called?"
     "Yeah, she's coming home next week," and just like that we're back to that place where I'm not your friend, just your girlfriend's sister, but I'm not ready to go there yet. "Why?"
     "Why what?"
     "Why do you stay wither her," you look at your shoes.
     "She's the one," you whisper to the floor.
     "How," I feel angry now, "how can it be her? She doesn't care about you, she never has!"
     "But I care about her."
     "All she does is hurt you, over and over, why?"
     "Why what?"
     "Why her," 'why not me' is what I'm really asking, and I know you know.
     "I can't-" you stop talking.
     "You can't what? Face the truth?"
     "I can't do this," and you leave.
     Every time it ends like this. I yell and beg and cry, but all you do is hurt me. I tell you the truth and give you my heart and ask you hard questions, but all you do is leave. I should be asking myself those questions, 'why you?' I don't. I don't because I already know the answer.

I care about you.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Expectations Exceeded

     They’re playing. I can feel the wind rush across my face as they pass by, everything is moving quickly. They pass the ball too and fro, and they run up and down the field. Each one of them is engraved in my mind – their movements, the way their hair bounces when they run. It’s a picture that is stored away forever.
     The grass I’m sitting on is wet. The sun is glistening off of it in dew-ey sparkles and I can’t help but stare for a moment. Everything stands still for a second as I watch the raindrops begin to fall on the grass. The rain transforms the scene. Suddenly everyone is wet. Their hair sticks to their faces and necks, it doesn’t bounce with their steps anymore – it’s contained.
     I glance at the cool metal sitting next to me. Its presence is a constant reminder that I’m stuck like wet hair sticks to people’s faces. I’m stuck. The machine taunts me in a way that no one will ever understand. I can never be out their with them. I can never play.
     The ball is black and white, but it’s stained by mud and old age. It’s obviously used. They kick the ball around, and every time it flies through the air I can see the mud and water flying off of it in droplets. Every time it flies it leaves the person who kicked it splattered with dirt. But they don’t mind, the dirt is exhilarating to them.
     As I watch I can see their chests rising and falling heavily – their pulses are racing – and I’m reminded of why I can never play. My heart can’t race. A rising pulse equals death for me.
     I undo my long hair from its braid and pull it up into a ponytail. I stand up. Already I can feel it, my heartbeat has begun to quicken. I unhook my arm from the moniter by my side and I leave the AED behind. I walk with determined steps through the rain and onto the field.
     I feel their eyes on me; they’re confused but afraid to ask. I take their silence as permission and continue across the field. At last they stop staring and the ball is back in play.
     Slowly I begin to move. I walk towards the ball. Then I begin to run. A slow jog at first that gradually quickens, I’m running for the first time in seventeen years – for the first time in my life.
     Knowing my time is shortening I jump. I feel what it’s like to not be touching the ground at all, and I’m amazed. It’s not like flying. There is no essence of weightlessness. There seems to be no crest to reach, no pause before I descend. Disappointment overcomes me for a moment, but excitement takes over once more when my feet touch the ground again. The reality is, I got to jump.
     I continue to run, my legs hurt already, but I still lift my feet from the ground. I can feel my heart racing; I can feel the offset beating – the mistakes. But I still run. My legs feel like deadweight, but I don’t stop moving. It’s becoming clearer now, the arrhythmia, but I can’t stop yet.
     I know it’s almost time when people stop moving and begin to stare. My face must be betraying me, reflecting the shutting down of my body. I know it’s time when I try to step forward but my leg gives out. I know it’s time when I try to catch myself from falling, but my arms are too heavy to outstretch in front of me. I know it’s time when I feel the wet grass on my face, and I can’t open my eyes. I know it’s time.
     I can make out the screams of the people around me. I can hear their thudding footsteps on the ground as they get closer. I feel them turn me over, yelling about getting the AED, but it won’t work. They don’t know that it won’t work. They don’t know that they’ve just watched me die. They don’t know that it was the happiest day of my life. They don’t know that my doctors told me three months ago that I was supposed to have died yesterday. They don’t know that today I ran, and I jumped, and heard my heart pounding in my ears. They don’t know that in death I found life.

This is something I've been thinking about writing for a long time. Several years actually. I intended on writing this as a multi-chapter story (and I even wrote the first three) and this scene would have been the end of the book, but it didn't turn out as well as I planned. So to give you some background so that you understand what you're reading I'm gonna tell you a bit about this story that I have titled "Expectations Exceeded." 
The main character is a seventeen year old girl named Rina. Rina has suffered from a disease called Long QT Syndrome (LQTS) since birth. This disease effects how the heart beats when a person gets excited or scared or shocked or exercises or whatever might raise their pulse. So when someone with LQTS experiences one of these things they experience an arrhythmia and  often lose consciousness. They then require the use of an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) which shocks their heart and brings them back. 
Please leave a comment and tell me what you thought!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Altar Call

     The pastor calls the people forward, following his opening about miracles and demons, but what he says effects the people, "Come forward, come. Forget that this is a service and let us pray for one another as a family." His words effect the people.
     There is only one at first, hands reaching out to see, but soon they come by two's and three's, feeling in their hearts - nay, souls - the need to be heard. They place their hands on each one, on their shoulders, face, and arms and they pray. They send up their pleas for healing, and peace, and for compassion. They lift up their faces to a white-washed, popcorn ceiling, but their eyes seem to go beyond, they delve deep into the heavens to the throne of God. They enter with humility and grief, but they return refreshed; some ready to stand with the boldness of a lion, others with broken spirits, their tear stricken faces speaking of their patience and their fears.
     One by one they all descend to their seats, and as they return others get up to take their place. Prayers travel across the building in waves.
     "We pray for sight."
     "We pray for peace."
     "We pray for healing."
   The soft music of the piano urges the onlookers to partake, and, all at once, heads are bent and prayers are being whispered and songs are being sung.
     The pastor ends with prayer, "The Church is a body that functions as one." And, sitting amongst the congregation, one can't help but feel as though unity has been experienced. Entering the building, leaving, the service, and the prayers - it was whole.