emotional collage: if you shout honesty, the void will shout it back

I spent most of my time in college working as a tutor. I was a music education major at the time and had been lucky enough to stumble into the gig by way of a genuinely kind football coach named Andy that frequented the bar where I waitressed. The athletic center had been searching desperately for someone to tutor Music 101, a class that students were placed in under the assumption that it would be a blow off class. Little did they know that Music 101 was taught by the most unforgiving of musical scholars - jazz program grad students. Only one semester passed before I was tutoring pretty much every subject they needed, other than math and chemistry. Those were a hard pass for me. My students were all athletes, a lifestyle with which I was unfamiliar that made me love it all the more. I learned something from every single student I worked with. It remains my favorite job to this day.

There were a few students I connected with more deeply, as any person in my position might have. One student in particular, upon meeting her, turned out to have many logistical connections with me - many of her friends were people I had gone to school with (my college was only about 45 minutes from where I grew up). It was fun to bond over these little points of serendipity, but I am grateful that our commonalities stretched beyond that. We would chat about our lives and her sessions quickly became some of my favorites. She was smart and quite frankly, never really needed that much help. It was a joy to help her achieve academic success all the same. Over the years she has become a bonafide friend and even a blogger herself – I urge anyone with a heart for travel and adventure to check her out here.

Self portrait, 3/7/20
Fast forward to today. Overall, it's been a good one. I’ve limited my time on social media (the downfall of my mental health) and focused my energies on what was in front of me. I’ve gotten things done and paid attention to life happening in real time. But my day was truly made when I received an email from said student-turned-friend. It is not uncommon for us to exchange emails and edits, but this email was a little different. Something I had written reminded her of something she had written and her intent was only to share it with me. She allowed me to witness her through words, just as she had witnessed me here. An exchange for the sake of connection. I was moved. I still am moved, as I sit here typing this out. Her email is what brought me to write today. That on its own is a tremendous gift.  

It can be so easy to become afraid of connection. It can be even easier to fall into the mindset that we as individuals are impossible to connect with. As I try to spill my guts on this silly little blog, I wonder who could ever understand the nuance and complexity of my pain - especially when I am trying to further the nuance out of shame. I will find myself writing in short, weird sentences and idioms in an attempt to craft something that allows me to hide myself from whoever might be reading. And though I find it freeing when nobody cares, I cannot ignore the importance of when somebody does. I am humbled every time I am told that someone read something I wrote. Having the courage to relate to one another in honesty intrinsically makes all those involved less alone. The nets of our experiences, especially when shared with others, reach so much farther than we could ever think. Our pain is never as alienating as we believe. Our triumphs are never as insignificant as they seem.

Self portrait, 3/7/20
This ended being longer than I originally intended, but my main point is this: I would love it if you'd write to me. Write me about whatever is on your mind. It can be about words I posted or a picture I took – you can love it, hate it, ask about it, anything. It can also have nothing to do with me. Share your own pieces, your own recommendations, your own stories. Anything that is sent to me will be anonymous unless the sender has stated otherwise. I will write you back if you'd like, but if not, that's okay with me too. The simple act of receiving an email today panged me with a reminder of why I love writing. It is the same reason I love reading, teaching, and listening. Why I love taking pictures of seemingly mundane moments. Every day I learn more about myself through the eyes (and words) of others. We are nothing without one another. 

My email is hazyheatblog@gmail.com – I have also included it in my sidebar bio. I am here to listen to you, just as you have listened to me. Sending love to all.