Violent Delights

“These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph die, like fire and powder. Which as they kiss, consume.” – William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet)


“I wonder if I’ll be able to see the ‘Hollywood’ sign as we fly over L.A.?” No sooner did I think it then I saw it – there – nestled in the hillside – its white letters gleamed in the afternoon sunlight, which matched the snow-kissed mountains in the far horizon.

The sigh I let out was a mix a pleasure and pain. Pleasure at spotting the sign and the beautiful, sunny, colorful California I soaked in all weekend. Indeed all of nature seemed to be pointing out and worshiping its Creator. Pain, because I am leaving behind my best friend and former DC roomie, Michal in Santa Barbara.  We are two people of the same soul. It was a great weekend full of tears and laughter – including the tears from laughter and laughter through the tears. Precious moments. As I grow older and gain more life experience, I find myself savoring these moments while they last, for they are over far too soon – some detrimentally so. God is glorified through them all.

Flashback of my weekend

The flight into Santa Barbara from LAX was breathtaking. The plane flew along the coast, so there was nothing but deep blue water that glittered in the setting sun on the left and the coast on the right. The coast reminded me of a three-tiered cake.  You had the adobe houses along the shore, more houses and mansions with their personal golf courses and tennis courts nestled in the hillside and the white snow-capped mountains in the background, reminding me it was still February.

The little jumper plane landed at the tiniest airport I’ve seen right outside of Santa Barbara (it was a tiny adobe building with terra cotta roofing – even the baggage claims were outside under overhangs). The captain made the usual sort of announcement over the loudspeaker and added much to my bemusement, “You will then be de-planed by stairs.” That is awesome. Two things flashed in my mind immediately: 1) I feel like a celebrity getting off a private jet. 2) A scene from the Ryan Reynolds movie The Proposal when his character and Margaret land in the remote town of Sitka, Alaska.

Michal and I had a great reunion with hugs all around. So much had happened since we saw each other last in December right before my graduation. The last time we had greeted each other it was under different life circumstances that were filled with a sense of joy and hope at the things I thought certain. This time we hugged with the knowledge of those dreams and delights that were no longer mine to claim. Shakespeare rightly said “these violent delights have violent ends.”

Thursday night was spent eating at an Irish pub called Dargan’s. Incredibly tasty food. We then returned home to her cute bungalow and fell asleep talking just like old times.

The next morning I woke up, after Michal went to work, to the gentle pitter patter of rain. I got ready, grabbed my umbrella my mom had me pack and with map in hand I went out to explore State Street in downtown Santa Barbara. It felt amazing to get out and walk around. Everywhere I looked there was beauty. That night Michal got a phone call from her boyfriend in DC, after which she made this incredible homemade pizza. As we stuffed our faces, we watched the Count of Monte Cristo and sipped wine and ate dark chocolate. Traditional DC girls night.

Towards the end of the movie something happened to once again zap the shred of hope that I didn’t think I had left. It left me reeling. I doubled over in pain, feeling a part of me had died and was bleeding inwardly. I curled up in the fetal position and laid my head on Michal’s lap as she lovingly, patiently stroked my hair and let me cry. I was a complete mess. It reminded me of Matt Chandler’s message on Habakkuk, “How the Righteous Roll,” where he said that it was okay to bleed, to morn, to feel a sense of loss and agony because we have Jesus Christ who empathizes with and prays for us to our Father in heaven. As Michal sat there and talked to me as I groaned out words, I was praying so hard for Christ to give me the strength to hold fast to and to take comfort in His truths and promises I blogged on in my last post.

Saturday we expected more rain but were instead blessed with magnificent sunshine. Michal and I listened to Colossians (Part 3) of Matt Chandler’s sermon podcasts. The next part of the day was epic awesomeness. We ran all the way to the beach, along it, and back – four miles in all. I hadn’t felt that alive in a long time. With a great sense of pleasure I felt the California sun kiss my skin and my eyes greedily drunk in the vivid blue of the sky and the perfect fluffiness on the white clouds. It had been six months since Michal and I had run together. We are an awesome team.

With another girls night on the horizon we both showered and got prettified for a quick happy hour at Blush with dinner at Dargan’s. Michal looked so chic in her red Tam and wore it even better than Kirsten Dunst did in the moive Elizabethtown. She has inspired me to get one asap. When we arrived home we once again stuffed our faces, but this time with animal crackers and some hot Lady Grey tea, while we watched Letters to Juliet.

Goodbyes are bittersweet

French toast for breakfast, packing and then church was just this morning, which already feels like a lifetime ago. As we left church, Michal said to me, “You’ve inspired me to dress more girlie.” No girl had ever told me that before so for me it was a sign of progress in the Rachel fashion department. (Note: So inspired was she that she went out that very day and bought a cute new pair of peep toe heels). Michal and I grabbed coffee at The French Press and Michal prayed for us both. We hugged goodbye – several times. All good times must come to an end, as the old saying goes.

I arrived at the LAX airport and purchased a drink and began to watch a movie on my laptop, hoping to make the three and a half hour layover would go by more quickly. As I once again went to take a sip of my drink and opened the cap – it happened – another shining, dynamic klutzy moment – I felt detached from my body and horrified as I saw what was happening uncontrollably in front of me:

My diet Pepsi suddenly decided it was the next nuclear bomb. It began spraying soda everywhere – I seriously thought it was reaching all four corners of the gate waiting area. I hosed the guy next to me down as he yelped in surprise and I stunned couldn’t get my drink to stop. I really could have put out a fire with how much liquid manage to come out. I looked down in horror as I saw the liquid all over my brand new MacBook Pro and my iPhone and everything else I had attached to my body. Disaster averted. The guy and his wife were very sweet as I apologized profusely and turned 10 shades of red. They helped me get everything cleaned and mopped up and fortunately my computer is just as beautiful as ever and I’m none the worse for wear. I was shaking like a leaf as I cleaned everything up. Everyone was starring at me (and it was a full waiting room) and made me feel naked. But they’ve since passed through and I’m wrapping up this post because I’m about to board the plane home to Dallas and my family. Even our Jack Russell, Riley will be there to greet me. I shall be arriving at midnight with work tomorrow.

Note to self when flying

It is really tedious travelling alone. Luggage is extremely annoying to lug around through the Starbucks line and in and out of the cramped bathroom stalls.

Airport gate waiting areas are a great op for people watching – very weird and unsavory looking characters lurking around.

My prayer this week and that I hope each of you will pray is to seek to know more of Christ and ask Him to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Peace out,

Rachel B. Duke

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