Once a month on Fridays we have men’s group at 6:00 in the morning. We get around and talk about trucks, weight lifting, and our wild hearts. We watch UFC, use war analogies—you know all the usuals. Really what we do is meet together, have breakfast and coffee, and discuss the misused diction of Christian linguistics. What does it actually mean to be saved? What does the word “calling” really mean? Can we question the calling of others when they say, “God called me here,” and we think that perhaps this is just a nice Christian excuse to do what you want to do? Today we talked about being born-again and what that means. I asked whether or not it is natural to want to punch someone in the face when they use this word on CNN. No one acknowledged me.
After breakfast and our chat I go outside to smoke a cigarette. I am preparing to head up to the U to fight my arch nemesis—math—over a two-hour test. Tomorrow I am leaving for Bend, Oregon with my girlfriend to visit her sister, and so I had to take a math test, roast about 15 lbs. of coffee, pack, and see if the pair of shoes I ordered had finally come in. I’d been a nervous wreck the whole week, not sure if I should go through with the purchase of said shoes, when would be the right time to commit my life to such a heavy, and unchangeable path of wearing these shoes.
I looked at the Wasatch Mountains behind the office. They were hazy, blue and shafts of light began to peak through the canyons. I took another drag from my cigarette and felt the dull, indistinguishable rumble of an upset stomach. I thought about how much I drank last night. Not that much. I took a deep breath and tried to pull myself together. Kyle and Jeremy were talking across the street and I didn’t want them to see me if I started, when, suddenly becoming a more appropriate word.
I couldn’t take it. This morning’s breakfast of pancakes and sausage and coffee and orange juice all came out swiftly and relatively quietly. I made it to behind the dumpster in just enough time that no one saw. I stood up for a second and knew there was still more to come. I leaned over again, but this time it felt different, more fluid, less chunky. And as my esophagus wrenched I saw the bright, rich liquid of what I knew to be blood come spraying out on top of my recent pile of vomit. I threw up some more. It was rich, burgundy, nearly sparkling, a purple wine color. It had to have been more than a cup. I placed my hand against the white brick wall and knew that my day was about to get much, much, harder.
I didn’t know what throwing up blood meant. Did I somehow get alcohol poisoning? Or an ulcer? Alcohol poisoning was not a rational thought, since I had only had four drinks last night, but still, I wondered.
I went back inside and my friend and La Barba Coffee Roasting business partner Tim Walzer was still there.
“You have blood on your beard,” he said.
I wiped it off.
Two days ago I finally decided to buy myself a pair of shoes. Why not? Does the why not make it sound less romantic? Probably. But realistically, I don’t have my hopes up for anything much in the purchase of shoes. I am operating out of three basic assumptions about the buying of shoes 1) These shoes will not make me happier. 2) These shoes will never fulfill me in the way I want them to. 3) These shoes will expose my own hypocrisy, selfishness, and ultimately be about my own sanctification and the glory of God. Therefore, though I love these shoes, though I am choosing to be with these shoes forever, though I know it will be hard, that the buying of these shoes makes the most sense, and that I will buy them without unrealistic expectations of what they can do, it just makes sense. Also, the temptation of wanting to wear the shoes without buying them is a little too much for me, so I’m thinking for my own purity (and the shoes) it will be better for the both of us if I buy them soon and then we can both go home and get inside each other whenever we want.
I can’t say it’s been an un-stressful, blissful experience, this choice of settling down with this pair of shoes.
Inside the office:
“Yeah, I just threw up,” I said to Tim.
“I threw up blood.”
“I saw it on your beard.”
“I know. What does that mean?”
“It might be an ulcer, your stomach may be bleeding. Have you been stressed?”
I think about this question, this question of whether or not I have been stressed. I am in the last semester of what’s turning out to be my hardest semester of college, I am starting a business, which has the potential to fail at any moment, I am constantly trying harder to pull myself up by my bootstraps to be a better Christian, and yes, I have just bought a pair of shoes two days ago, and am still unsure of whether I am making the right decision, or perhaps sure, but scared, and nervous for what I am getting myself into.