Category Archives: months

month twelve + a few days.

So… it’s not the 11th, but even though JVC officially ended for me on August 10th, I was in Boston until the 13th, so that’s why this is delayed.

In short, I spent month twelve saying goodbye. The first week: end of camp and most of the kids. Second week: Dis-O and most of JVC. Third week: Casserly House, the rest of the people there, and S. Nancy. Fourth week: Boston, our house, and my community. Honestly, I have just felt overwhelmed by emotions; I’m not kidding when I say that this past month was one of the most emotionally intense experiences of my life.

However, while I did cry more in public during this past month than I think I ever have before (you will not be seeing those pictures), month twelve was a fitting way to end my time as a JV. Yes, I had to say entirely too many goodbyes, but that is a testament to the beautiful relationships I spent this year building. And the fact that those goodbyes were so hard is a testament to what a wonderful year I had.  I have consistently felt overwhelmed by gratitude, and having the chance to say thank you to the most important people from this year over the past month meant everything.

I had the blessing this year of never once doubting that JVC was the right choice for me, that Boston was the right city, that Casserly House was the right placement, and that this community was the place where I belonged. This year was right for me; it was where I was supposed to be, but somehow it is now time to move on. Month twelve was about beginning to figure that out.

Transitions are never easy for me, even when I know that they are necessary, and month twelve had extreme highs and extreme lows. But when I think back over this last month, I mostly think about faces. Hugs that couldn’t last long enough. “Till we meet again’s” and encouraging words. The promise of being together in prayer. Shared meals and final drinks together. Laughter and even more inside jokes to add to our list. Promises to call and text and Facetime and visit and generally still be obsessed with each other.

And once again, I am grateful. Thank you, JVC, for a beautiful ending to a life-changing year.

month twelve.

the end of astronomy. movies, movies, movies.  revere beach sandcastle competition + fireworks.

camp: week 2 – africa. an emotional upset. sleeping on the balcony as a form of self-care. jvc year timelines + high’s and low’s. mfa fieldtrip. pizza + beautiful sunset. mud. amanda’s visit. thank you party + a well-represented casserly house. boston movies.

batman. wawa + live tweeting. dis-o. swimming. reflection. community time. forgiveness. finding peace. realizing that this is only the beginning. fireflies.  emotional exhaustion. the final roadtrip. amish country + lancaster brewery. ain’t no party like a scranton party. the end of days. so. many. goodbyes.

the tub fiasco. “what a joker.” the final week at Casserly House. scrambling to finish everything. basket shopping. new irish intern. the fighter. letters from the ESOL students + pizza with the kids. the most extraordinary kindness + the last day at Casserly House. final sam adams tour. gone baby gone. mass at st. cecelia’s. maggie’s birthday cake. jfk library. naptime. the roof of DR.

a last week in Boston. monday night beers at foley’s.  jar + bracket of top moments. cleaning + packing. goodbyes to fjvs.

the beehive + top of the hub on our final night out. saying goodbye to kateleigh. one last round at sissy k’s. wheat thins. one last mass at st. cecelia’s. target with maggie. philadelphia. running around finishing everything. “where is macedonia?” all of us sleeping in kateleigh’s room. 6am with maggie. breakfast with abby. lunch with cristina. one last round around the common + a red sox hat. leaving 7 patten st. crying in public. the kindness of strangers. re-reading my journal on the plane.

and finally… home. (for now at least.)
p.s. This doesn’t mean that I’m done with this whole blogging thing. I still have a lot of things left to say!
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month eleven.

Towards the end of the school year, one of the After School kids (we’ll call him J.) developed the habit of telling me that I was “breaking his heart.” The reason for this was usually because I informed him that it was time to do his homework. J. was known for being just a little bit melodramatic.

The best was the day when he yelled, while walking out the front door of Casserly House, “MEGAN, why are you always BREAKING MY HEART?!” It was all I could do to not start laughing in his face.

Those who know me well will know that, like J., I harbor some over-dramatic tendencies. These days I feel a little like him when I think about the impending end of JVC. I just keep thinking, “JVC, why are you always breaking my heart?” Honestly, it’s almost like JVC is trying to break up with me, and I just don’t know how to let a good thing go.

—–

In the spirit of Month Eleven, here’s the letter I wish I could write:

JVC, why are you trying to end things? I’ve given you almost a year of my life–eleven months to be exact. (But let’s be honest, I’ve really been infatuated with the idea of you for much longer.) It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that our relationship began, but in other ways it feels like a century has passed.

We have shared some great moments over the course of the year; we laughed, we cried, we sat around and talked all night about nothing. You have taken me from Baltimore to Blue Ridge to Boston… then up and down the East Coast, from Philly to Portland to DC to NYC and back again.

Of all of the gifts I have received, the people you introduced me to is what I cherish the most–the strangers who became my community mates who became some of my best friends, the ESOL students whose kindness and hospitality floored me, the kids who left footprints on my heart, the other members of JVC East who made my year so wonderful, even the people I didn’t meet–the kids, clients, and women whose stories I just heard pieces of.

But I also gave up a lot for you–most importantly, being near my family, my friends, and my beloved Missouri. I worked for less than minimum wage, moved in with strangers in a city I had never set foot in, and committed to challenging myself on a daily basis. I gave up my pride, my comfort, and my preconceived notions.

I gave myself over to you, for better or for worse, crossed my fingers, and hoped that it would be for better–that I would be for better because of you. And I like to think that I am.

But now, after all that we’ve been through together–the good times and the bad times–what do you mean, you just expect me to leave? That in two weeks, you are going to “De-Orientate” me, send me to one last week of work, then you expect me to pack my bags, leave this house, and fly away from Boston?

Letting go isn’t easy, and much like the way relationships can slowly, gradually decline, while I’m clinging to these last moments, part of me can already tell that you’re slipping away. I’m slipping away.

Endings are so bittersweet. I always knew this wasn’t forever, but I also thought that this year wouldn’t end quite so quickly, that I wouldn’t leave it so… attached. To Boston. To these four faces around the dinner table every night. To the life that I built for myself far away from all that I had loved.

Oh, JVC. By the end of this, I’m pretty sure you’ll have ruined me.* 

month eleven.

the last week of after school. saying goodbye–for now. shoe shopping. reading tattoos on the heart in the common. 80’s milkshake at max brenner chocolate. harbor islands trip. georgetown cupcake grand opening.

three day weekend: bunker hill day. a schedule change. seeing the kids in a new light. strawberry planting: part 2. newark weekend. visiting nyc: bryant park, a failed shake shack trip, the highline. sundresses and watermelon. the ironbound.

pre-camp craziness. jim’s last day. dinner with some hometown faces. fro yo by fenway. cops vs. kids softball game.

pizza, gelato, and hanging out in the north end. nahant beach day. flying kites. sailors + sissy k’s. early monrings at st. cecelia’s. lots of job hunting.

fourth of july in boston. abby’s week. asian food in cambridge. red sox-yankees at the bleacher bar. a day at the cape as a community. the start of summer camp.


* For those who don’t know, JVC’s really cheesy tagline is “Ruined for Life.” Sorry I’m not sorry.

month ten.

 

Yesterday was the end of the year celebration picnic at Casserly House. During the afternoon, the ESOL students, After School kids, their families, neighbors, and other community members gathered to celebrate the end of the school year and to enjoy being together. We had food, games, and a raffle, and each student received a certificate acknowledging their participation in the programs. I loved the entire afternoon–meeting the family members of the ESOL students, being around the kids in a different atmosphere, and seeing my housemates experience Casserly House.

But the most touching moment was easily when one of the ESOL students gave a short speech after receiving her certificate, during which she said the following: “At Casserly House we are like a family. S. Nancy is your mother, Jim is your father, and Megan is your sister.”

That is one of the biggest compliments I have ever received, but I think it says less about me personally and more about why Casserly House is so special. I always say that I’m grateful for the people in my life. I am even more grateful for the people that have let me be a small part of their journeys over the past ten months. I will carry those memories (and so many more from this year) with me long after my feet have left this place physically.

month ten.

picnics at the public garden. fro yo. being a grown up. foley’s. st. cecelia’s. loving people well. baking baking baking.

making challah with the roommates. earthfest. harpoonfest. afternoons reading in the arboretum.

 
dinner with sarah. countdown to memorial day. red, white, and blue. 

road tripping to maine: the way life should be. jvc spring break ’99. sun’s out, gun’s out. #hashtags. sonic, fog, and going out in portland. bromance.  jumping in the ocean. an afternoon at the beach. 

grendel’s. goodbye beers. abby’s birthday. watching food stamped. rainy. weekend. free doughnut day. popsicles with mike. haymarket. :[ last spiritual direction session at athan’s. pierogies. fjv barbeque.

seeing fr. greg boyle speak. castle island with the esol students. the scooperbowl. the aquarium. roslindale farmer’s market. fornax bread co. finishing the freedom trail. climbing the bunker hill monument. going out downtown. visitors. mass by myself. casserly house picnic.

month nine.

So, Month 9 — well, frankly, Month 9 was the month where I was barely in Boston. First, I was home in Missouri for a week, then gone for a long weekend in DC, and then we had our JVC Silent Retreat. They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder. Well, I certainly did miss this city over the past month. While I was at home, I even dreamed about the Casserly House kids two nights in a row (now that’s dedication!). In all seriousness, as wonderful as all of the traveling was, it is nice to be a little bit more settled for the time being.

The end of the school year is quickly approaching in Boston, and I’ve had to say a lot of work-related goodbyes lately: to our most recent intern from Ireland, to our college volunteers, and to a large chunk of our high school volunteers. It’s strange to feel like the goodbye process has already begun when I still have a few months left, but it’s true. And let’s be honest–I am nowhere near ready to say goodbye yet. So, thank goodness I still have 3 months to go. I am sure they will go faster than I can even imagine, and before I know it, I will be writing the Month 12 post!

P.S. On a related note, this recent blog post about Americorps sums up so many of my feelings about this year.

month nine.

making it through. sissy k’s and kitty o’shea’s. balcony nap. shawshank redemption. packing packing packing. mass at st. cecelia’s. target. direct flight from Boston to STL. the best kind of homecoming. sleeping in my own bed. a surprise. lunch with grandma. haircut. sunshine. an afternoon with first graders. family dinners. sonic. nail polish. roma reunion. slu reunion. humphrey’s + jimmy john’s. homemade doughnuts. family birthday parties. a flight back to Boston.

ivc fundraiser. my last CH board meeting. the first four day week. dc weekend. two really early flights. fro yo, brunch, cupcakes, chipotle. dresses and dancing. wandering around georgetown. seeing the monuments.

cristo rey academic signing. john harvard’s. wider horizons graduation. lots of work goodbyes. cinco de mayo. trust falls. stolen billikens and sunglasses. silent retreat. just being. peace vigil. not talking (and it being really, really hard). wegman’s trip. fjv visits + amanda at casserly house. jp licks. foley’s & dogwood. theology untapped. making pretzels.

jvc new england at our silent retreat.

portland + boston.

month eight.

Month eight = 2/3 of the way through! It’s hard to believe that I’m already at this point. There’s only four more months left of JVC, and I’m so excited to see what they will hold. I feel like month eight contained a lot of my favorite memories of JVC so far, and I have a lot more to look forward to coming up. From St. Patrick’s Day to spending a weekend on Peak’s Island in Maine to Easter weekend, I just had a lot of fun this month, which is always a good thing! That’s not to say that it was perfect or always exciting. Some of my favorite moments were just being with my community and just sitting around talking about nothing and everything. I guess that’s part of what JVC is about though–embracing simplicity and just enjoying being with people. In short, I am especially grateful for the past month and all that it contained. I’m thankful for the people I have in my life in a special way.

month eight.

st. patty’s day prep. the arrival of the notebook. the most beautiful weather. enjoying our balcony. baking, cooking, and cleaning. green beer. late night arrivals. saint patrick’s day. chocolate chip pancakes. running through back bay to sakshi. playing tour guide downtown. a trip to foley’s. dancing dancing dancing. late night tunes. southie parade. jp licks. writing in the notebook.

post-st. patrick’s day slump. a rough week. speakers and workshops at CH. friday night vampire diaries.

the hunger games. a bus ticket. a really bizarre night. stolen cupcakes. a first cab ride. life chats and popcorn and maggie’s floor.

st. cecelia’s and sowa. sunday afternoon naptime. vampire diaries season one: dominated. anticipation & counting down. new irish intern. ch gardening workshop. running through south station. riding the ferry. arriving on the island.

sunrise & sunset.

watching the sunrise off the coast of peak’s island. long walks on the beach. homemade ravioli. being able to see the stars. lifting boulders. livin’ like we’re mayan, part two. rules 4, 5, & 6. life lessons. palm sunday mass. getting our markers back.

easter prayer at casserly house. judy bloom. taking chances. the best postscript ever. a day off. spiritual direction. cafenation. fish tacos and good friday services. cinnamon sugar pull apart bread. lazy easter weekend. easter services at st. cecelia’s. planting herbs at home and planting strawberries at CH. community reunions.

month seven.

So, I’m now officially seven months through this crazy journey of JVC, and the most surreal part (at least the most surreal part today) is that I spent a large part of the afternoon talking to potential JVs for next year, ie. the people who will possibly be my replacement (the “new Megan” just like I was/am the “new Amanda”). It was almost exactly one year ago today that I was exactly in their shoes: interviewing with placements (while on spring break no less!) and trying to sort through this whole process.

I’ve come a long way since then… but I’m not done yet. I’ve still got a lot of learning left to do, and while it’s sometimes tempting to put myself on autopilot, I don’t want to coast through the rest of this experience. It deserves more than that. I deserve more than that. Most importantly, the people I walk with deserve more than that.

The conversations I’ve had recently about Casserly and JVC as a whole have reminded me of why I love what I’m doing and why I’m here, which is a good reality check, because that’s something I feel like I’ve lost lately in the day-to-day mundane business of life. It is a blessing and privilege to be here, even when I don’t see or feel it.

And in closing, it’s good that it’s almost spring. Happy Daylight Saving’s Time. As Florence & The Machine says, it’s always darkest before the dawn, after all.

month seven.

boston movie day: the departed. district attorney visits to Casserly House. valentine’s day craziness. chocolate covered strawberries. the cold that wouldn’t end. fundraising workshops. many, many meetings. theology untapped. jvc staff visits part 2.

our president’s day party; bobby kennedy, jackie o, an intern, & teddy roosevelt.

jvc weekend visitors. too much public transportation. bc hockey game. feeling really inappropriate. the purple cactus. partying like the presidents as jackie o. remember the titans. afternoons at the common. mass at st. cecelia’s. president’s day off work. exploring cambridge. toscanini’s. infinity scarves.

brown butter brown sugar brownie from toscanini’s in cambridge. so good.

february break. beignets and king’s cake. ash wednesday. journaling every day. science projects. lots of library books. st. cecelia’s. pavement. bridesmaid dresses. jp licks with sarah. dinner with drew and trisha. no more facebook.

hillary’s visit. some thoughts on lent. st. patty’s invites. one-on-one. dinner at the dogwood. abby’s parents visit. really bad movies. brunch. target. dinner at bread co. glitter nail polish. the pour house/foley’s. being overdramatic. st. cecelia’s.

s. nancy’s vacation/no after school. being the boss and getting better at it. game night. lots of new volunteers. community reflection time + prayer partner beginnings. call me maybe. speakers at the bpl. the laziest weekend ever. buying my plane ticket home for april. becoming addicted to the vampire diaries. daylights saving time. spiritual direction.

month six.

It’s almost 8 a.m. in Jamaica Plain on Saturday morning. A mixture of rain and snow is coming down outside my window, and the house is quiet, as the rest of my community members are either still asleep or out of town for the weekend. This is early for me to be awake on a Saturday morning, but I can hardly sleep in anymore. That’s just one of many things that these past six months have changed about me.

Exactly six months ago today, I was in transit from St. Louis to Baltimore for JVC Orientation. I think about those early moments of JVC frequently–awkwardly meeting my community members for the first time, some of our first pivotal conversations, finally arriving in Boston and being welcomed by the FJVs, walking to Casserly House during Local-O and meeting S. Nancy and some of the ESOL students, riding the T, wandering around downtown…

For some odd reason, one of the moments that sticks out the most vividly in my mind is the first night sleeping in what has become my room for the year. I remember falling asleep that night with the bed a mess, the room halfway rearranged, my possessions in a jumbled pile, the windows open and the sound of the commuter train and traffic passing by outside. I was completely exhausted, physically and emotionally, and I just kept thinking about how surreal–and exciting–all of this was. This was going to be my room for the year; I was really going to call this city home for the next 12 months.

Over the past six months, my walls have become an ever-evolving collage of sorts with the things posted up that have been meaningful to me this year so far (rest assured that if you’ve sent me a piece of mail, it’s probably on my bedroom walls); it hardly looks like the same place as that evening, but I still recognize that same potential when I look around at night.

At the beginning, JVC felt like a chance for reinvention: a chance to start over. While that was true in some regards, I think that I sometimes forgot that even though I’m in a new place where I’m surrounded by new faces, at the end of the day, I’m still me. I still have the same flaws, memories, and quirks to deal with on an everyday basis. But I’m learning.

Month six was a difficult one–probably the most difficult one yet, on many levels. I have had some real struggles on both personal and professional levels–or perhaps more accurately, in the strange mixture of personal and professional that I now inhabit on an everyday basis. The interesting thing about JVC is that we really can’t compartmentalize our lives here; what we do at work is so intimately connected to our personal lives.

As I am now at the real halfway point, I think about what I have already gained over the past six months, but somewhere along the way, that question stopped being as important to me as a few of the other ones. These days, I wonder what have I given? What am I giving? What do I have left to give?

I’m in the middle of it all, which is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

month six. 

short weeks. submitting my first grad school application. re-o. many, many good conversations. board games. hot chocolate. not stepping foot outside for days. lots of laughs. the pastoral circle. another jv talent show. lunch at bread co. with portland.

back to reality. realizations. burn out. s. nancy’s birthday. happy birthday in six languages. frolicking on the boston common + public garden. dunkin gift cards. trader joe’s. cookies and cream cupcakes. foley’s. champagne. st. cecelia’s. sunday afternoon naps.

my birthday. cake with the after school kiddos. surprises. balloons. crisitina dancing in my room. brittle. kate’s package. cards. belated packages from mom with coffee cake. intense weeks and conversations. finishing grad school applications. casserly house board meetings. sissy k’s. the mfa. movie nights. st. cecelia’s and spiritual direction. hot chocolate.

getting accepted into grad school. being an emotional sponge. the end of the casserly house book off. stress baking + homemade oreos. one of the most exhausting weeks. the eneagram (i’m a four). new york pizza + wally’s cafe. homemade challah. movie days. st. cecelia’s. foley’s superbowl party and stories with dave. not caring about the patriots.

visits from jvc staff. learning patience: with myself and others. making valentine’s. mid-year evaluations and positive affirmations. casserly house valentine’s day party. sam adams brewery tour + doyle’s.