A Personal Renaissance

It’s crazy how life chokes out one’s artistic and intellectual pursuits.

Secondary school was my first golden age of expression, a time when my emotions and intellectual curiosity bubbled over and found their outlet in sappy love poetry and prose about God and our place in this world. Like most protagonists in coming of age stories, I was caught somewhere in between the carefree imagination of youth and more mature endeavors of the heart and mind. This was a unique station of life that afforded me both the drive and time to cultivate the fertile soil of the adolescent soul. It was at this place where motivation and opportunity met that a more defined image of myself emerged.

Puberty came like a thief in the night. I wanted so desperately to love, but I didn’t know how. I had a vague sense of what I wanted, but I had neither the skill nor the experience to navigate the treacherous waters of adolescent romance. Though it didn’t feel like it at the time, I had it pretty easy.

I went to school in Tianjin, China, but my family returned to my early childhood home in Roseville, MN my freshman year of high school. Going from a small private Christian school in China to a huge public high school in the States was difficult. Naturally, I had few friends and felt somewhat isolated from my peers. I sought refuge through an explosion of romantic and spiritual poetry. I lusted after girls from afar but never had the courage or opportunity to make anything happen.Limitless time for tortured introspection breeds great art, I suppose.

Things got better when I returned to China. I spent the better part of my sophomore year of high school with my heart wrenched over a seemingly unrequited crush I had on a friend. Not surprisingly, this led to my best, if even more tortured, love poetry. When I finally got up the courage to get my feelings out in the open as a last ditch effort to relieve my burdened heart, I faced neither rejection nor humiliation. To this day I question the motive and sincerity of the girl that accepted me in such a lovesick state. Perhaps it was sympathy or even boredom.

I didn’t want to admit it at the time, but the relationship had an expiration date. Her family moved to Bangkok, Thailand the next year. In retrospect, I got off easy. Though there wasn’t any overt tension, my ceaseless paranoia made our bond tenuous at best. She was, for lack of a better term, a starter girlfriend. Without the benefit of perspective that comes with experience, I was in an emotional free fall after she left. I’m glad we’re still Facebook friends, Paige.

I didn’t eat for the first half of that summer; I drank only juice. I lost about 60 pounds. I bleached my hair and grew a wispy little goatee. I reinvented myself. When I showed up for school my junior year, my own friends didn’t even recognize me. I was eager to try out my new persona and jumped headlong into an ill-advised relationship with another long-time friend. I was more interested in proving my own self worth than in the relationship itself, and not surprisingly, it was short-lived. Things ended amicably, but to this day I still feel like a douche because, well, I was one. I’m glad we’re still Facebook friends, Shireen.

Near the end of my junior year, I started dating a cute freshman I’d had my eye on. A friendship was not at stake this time. I had burned and been burned, and I was the better for it. My experience, though minimal, was enough to give me the maturity to let love grow at its own pace. As time went by, my need for creative outlet waned — not because I felt less, but because I had the benefit of a little perspective. Life just seemed to choke out the need for excessive introspection, and the art born of passion was no longer fighting to escape. I’m glad you’re my wife, Kyla … even though you were the end of my first golden age of expression.

I want this blog to spur a sort of personal Renaissance in me. I will rant. I will rave. I will post poetry, some old and maybe even some new. This is my outlet, and I hope you will be interested in at least some of what I have to say.

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