I didn’t want to go grocery shopping. The baby was fussy and she’d finally fallen asleep in the car, so I put the whole car seat in the cart instead of carrying her in the sling. Market Basket is always busy, but not quite as bad in the middle of a Wednesday. As I walked through the door, I immediately felt angrier. People are going to get in my way. A woman looked at the baby and said “Oooo, a baby,” and then kept walking. That is so weird. I only needed a handful of things. I tried to walk in an organized way through the aisles so I would not need to backtrack. I decided not to get two bags of string cheese for my husband. I saw a woman who looked very sad, and I wondered if I looked sad. I didn’t feel sad, but sometimes you don’t look how you feel. I saw a man approaching me with his cart. He’s not going to stop. He’s going to make me stop. I got angry. He looked up at me. He stopped his cart and smiled. I was embarrassed. “Thank you,” I said. He kept smiling.
This morning, I put on my cheap white Old Navy sneakers and headed out the door of our new home.
When I moved to Somerville, it was the beginning of a beautiful summery September. I walked everywhere. I quickly learned that the bike path, while not faster than College Ave, at least offered more beauty and quiet. I peered into shop windows. I wandered into a vegan taco shop (accidently) and was sorely disappointed by my cheeseless/meatless taco. I discovered I didn’t have to go to the artsy, hipster (and, ultimately, quite depressing) coffee shop in Davis, but that delicious coffee was around every corner. I learned that cutting through Nathan Tufts park was the best way to prolong a good phone call or enjoy the last rays of a setting sun.
When I moved to this new town, with its rich history and fascinating blend of socio-economic statuses and educations, it was the cold, snowy month of November. Gabe and I got married Thanksgiving weekend, and even though it was a beautiful and fun celebration (there were points in the evening when he would lean over to me at our little table for two and whisper: I wish we could live this over and over again), it didn’t leave much time for settling in. Christmas flew upon us in a whirlwind, and I was suddenly asked to split holidays and change my ideas of how things go. By the time the New Year started, I had only tried two restaurants in our new hometown, and for this pretend-Bostonian, that is shocking.
I didn’t take a single walk.
I drove to the post office, the town hall. I drove to the famed sports bar/restaurant for a buffalo chicken calzone (not even close to Mike’s). I drove to the YMCA, worked out, and drove home. I drove to the DMV and sat groaning for over an hour, only to be told that I needed to change my name with Social Security first. I gripped the edge of the counter, leaned backward and said through my teeth: “I am not mad at you, but I am very mad.”
Not only had I moved to a new state, but that state was not so sure it wanted me.
It’s taking me awhile to settle in because I’ve been confined to my car. Or I’ve been in our condo, trying to set up our home in such a way that we want to spend time here. We’ve arranged furniture, cooked new meals, cleaned the bathrooms. I’ve been so consumed with teaching and life changes, that I haven’t actually settled in.
So today, I emptied the dishwasher. I prayed. I walked downtown. I looked at the buildings I passed. I smiled at the runners (I am still in awe). I met a high school friend for coffee, and she connected me with a friend who is involved with a local church Gabe and I are considering. I drank a hot coffee and tried to explain my experience with the Church, with church, with God, in a few sentences. It felt new and interesting to do this, partly because so many times I talk to the same people who have known my my whole life, or at least my whole adult life.
I walked over the river to the library and got my library card. That’s how I know it’s official. I checked out two books, partly to show the librarian I mean business.
— — —
As you can see, I’ve decided not to stop blogging. I seriously, seriously considered it. I went over all the reasons it may be time to move on. I had a few good ones.
But then I set up my desk.
It is the largest desk I’ve ever had. Gabe and I found it at a thrift shop and picked it up with my father’s truck two days later. I am still not using it to its fullest potential, but I have a lamp. I have plants. I have a candle.
There’s something about this desk that begs me to write at it, just like this new town begs me to walk its sidewalks.
Discover it for who it is. Bring to it who I am.
That’s what I plan to do here, as well.
Today, I walked into a gift shop and cried.
No, let me try that again:
Today, I walked into a gift shop and teared up.
The woman behind the counter cocked her head a bit in sympathy — she’d only asked if she could help me find anything. I’d spent a good ten minutes picking something up, putting it down, and picking it up again.
“I’m moving away,” I explained, blinking.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said. “Where are you moving to?”
“It’s not even that far!” I laughed a little, swiped at my eyes. Ugh, internal eye-roll. “I’m just looking for something from Somerville, you know.”
“Sounds like you need something from over here.” She gestured to a box on the floor filled with artwork. I knelt down and thumbed through them. I was only sort of looking; I’m picky about art, and I don’t usually drop $35 on something unless it speaks to my soul.
But there it was, about eight or nine pictures in, a framed painting of Mike’s in Davis Square.
In it, two men in hats are sitting outside under an umbrella. A young man with his hands in his pockets saunters out (probably a Tufts student), and there is just enough hidden for me to imagine me and Sally sitting at a table over a beer and buffalo chicken calzone.
I have found this extremely hard to write about. It has something to do with the mixed emotions, the excitement, the sadness, the change. When Gabe talks about all the things he won’t miss about this place (and there are definitely some I’ll be saying sayonara to), I mostly think of things I love:
On my way to work, how the door opens to the world and I actually feel like the female lead in some romantic sitcom.
The way the light pours into my bedroom and wakes me up (sometimes against my will).
The sunset from my bedroom window, how it makes me want to write bad poetry.
The bike trail.
So many delicious restaurants.
Nathan Tufts park and the bench on the slope where I sat and read and talked to my mom on the phone.
Sitting at True Grounds, trying to write but mostly watching, sipping iced coffee, anonymous.
But mostly I think I am saying goodbye to the woman I was when I came here.
As I handed the woman my credit card, she asked: “How long have you lived in Somerville?”
“Two years,” I said. She looked surprised.
“But that’s enough,” she said. “I would never want to leave.”
She sits in front of me on the bus, her dark head barely visible over the blue seat. Pink bows keep two small braids from unraveling by her face, and her head turns swiftly as she tries to take it all in through the window.
I am on my way to church — not necessarily against my will, but most definitely against the yearning I feel to roam all day in the sunshine and write with my friends by the Charles River. But I made plans with another friend (in part to make sure I did indeed get up and go), so here I am on the bus that will take me to the T station. I have been audacious enough to ask to be blessed, to ask that God would somehow bless this thing that I find so difficult to do in this season of my life.
With an old man at the next stop enters the hot stench of an unbathed body, and I bristle, both at the smell and at the rudeness of the girl next to me, covering her nose, pouting. The old man looks at me, and I smile — a peace offering — because it won’t be long before I, too, offend people with aging.
It is the Sunday after a trip to the midwest and the Sunday before I jump right back into all that I left behind. I performed a makeshift grocery-run on Saturday, I diligently did my laundry, I celebrated a friend’s engagement with champagne, and I realized I hadn’t read half as many pages of my stack of books as I had planned. At choir, I leaned in and whispered: I feel like I’m in college choir again. Like those days when I was at the beach but had to come back to campus for practice, and I can’t focus and all I can think about is the ocean and the sun.
I was giddy with something (holiday-high, maybe?), and I sang but I also laughed through rehearsal. Sally and I topped it off with our classic buffalo chicken calzone, and here I am, the next morning, praying that choosing this church to call home, at least for now, is right.
The little girl reaches out and touches the back of her father’s thigh. Her hand is small and her fingernails are perfectly-shaped crescents that I imagine her mother carefully clipping after a warm bath. The girl gazes up at her father’s face. He does not look down, and I realize she is merely checking in. She doesn’t need acknowledgment, only presence.
I am captivated.
We funnel off the bus and onto the T. I do not mean to, but I am sitting directly across from her. Now she stands, her little body full of the confidence so many of us grown-ups lack. She knows to grasp the T pole with both hands — she knows the world loves her.
I snap a picture.
I feel guilty, a thief. But I am spellbound and I can’t explain it.
When we reach my T stop, I get off, knowing I will never see her again. I had wanted so badly to reach out, to cup the top of her head with the curve of my palm, but her ease and wonder would not be possessed. She unselfconsciously took in the world and demanded that it love her.
And I did.
There are definitely some things in life I never saw myself doing. Being a teacher is one (who has the patience?!). Living at home till I was twenty-six is another. Getting on the almond milk bandwagon is yet another (everybody’s doing it, it’s fewer calories, and now I can eat more cheese).
The one that really stands out, though? Online dating.
After dating a few guys in college, going on a handful of random dates with no seconds, getting set up on a blind date and fingers-crossed this was the last first date I’d ever go on, I find myself fully immersed in the bizarre culture that is ONLINE DATING. I don’t think anyone envisions themselves online, trolling through profiles, swiping right, swiping left, liking, what-have-you, but so many people my age are doing it.
Which is good, because that makes the pool just a tad bigger.
Which is bad, because it means that there are hundreds of people on here and each one of them has different expectations, different assumptions, and different ways of expressing this thing called attraction.
For the girl who thought she’d only ever date one guy and then marry him, I have certainly become the expert — at least at the beginning stages. I know basically how interested to appear, how often to text, what topics of conversation to avoid and what topics bring out the side of me that’s just a tad too intense, or how lightly I should graze an arm on that first date.
What I don’t know is how to choose.
I don’t know how to be discerning enough ahead of time. I find myself sitting in a bar with a man I would never go out with had we met in real life. And so, I fill an hour, hour-and-a-half, with questions, just enough information on my end not to be a jerk, and wondering why I didn’t make plans for afterwards so I could make a smooth exit.
I have never been on so many dates with so many men in my life. I fear I am perfecting an art I never wanted to pursue.
As for the array of assumptions, they are vast but they are becoming predictable. There are two ends of the spectrum: the first one is not so shocking, given our current society’s views of dating and sex — a good number of guys are barely able to veil their main reason for asking me out, and I’m learning to let go of my naiveté and accept that we have different sexual ethics and bid them adieu.
The second, though, has surprised me a bit more, and left me feeling a little less sure of my own motives. There is a loneliness in the world that I have rarely observed in the people in my life. It is meeting me head-on, here, in this virtual world, and the deep loneliness reaches out from these men and grasps at me, hoping that I am the one to relieve them of their darkness.
A few have texted me daily even before we’ve met. Once we’ve met, they assume I want to jump into a serious relationship, that I am dating only them, that I am doing my best to be single for as short a time as possible, and that I want to hear trite, romantic bullshit as a symbol of their affection. There is almost nothing that turns me off faster than language that doesn’t convey its truth, and anyone who’s only been on one date with me has no business pretending to know who I am. Isn’t that what this game is, anyway? It feels sometimes like they have a list of bullet points in chronological order: 1. Text incessantly, 2. Find her on Facebook, 3. Find out where she is every evening, 4. Convince her that you are sincere, and 5. Try to get her to see you again and again, even after she has clearly stated she is not interested.
The thing is, I am under no illusions that I can just sit back and wait for an amazing man to walk into my life. I, also, need to learn how to express myself, my feelings, and my admiration in a way that is received and desired by the individual man I am interested in. I have a lot of work to do — learn how to engage people as other, independent creations who have valuable things to offer even if I don’t share all the same values, philosophies, or sense of humor.
Just as much, though, I need to learn how to be straightforward in saying no. In saying, It was nice meeting you. Thank you, but no thank you.
I wish they didn’t make it so difficult. I wish they didn’t make me actually say: “I am not interested in you.” I wish they could receive the truth in softer words, but sometimes (as I have experienced as well) it takes a blow to drive home the truth.
And the few I’ve liked, the few I’ve thought Huh, maybe…well, they haven’t felt the same way.
There’s got to be someone who falls somewhere between these two extremes. Someone whose pace falls in line with mine.
I hope to write a funnier post in the future, perhaps a list of Dos and Don’ts of online dating, or just a story or two (trust me, they’re hilarious…and a little terrifying). Right now, though, there isn’t much funny about the disconnection of human beings, the desire for love that doesn’t seem to get filled, or the fact that I am consistently bashing my head against a dark wooden bar because I had to go through the list of things I enjoy doing “in my free time” AGAIN.
The wooden holy family rests on a stack of old grammar school primers. I remember wandering the cobbled streets of Salzburg, how I picked it out as a gift but then couldn’t part with it once I reached Stateside. Next to it is the delicate hand painted teacup from my old Sunday School teacher. It’s almost too fragile for me to own, so I am trying to enjoy its beauty for as long as I can.
I pounded some nails into the wail to hang my sign and “Alice in Wonderland” caricature from my days of directing. I taped up postcards and photos above my bed, and I’m hoping to buy Christmas lights to string between the windows.
I’m trying to make this home.
My routines transferred easily to this new place. I still get up and grind coffee beans, boil water, fill the French press. I still pack (or forget to pack) a make-shift lunch my coworkers have deemed “college-student-worthy.” I wipe down the bathroom every once in awhile, put the dishes away, and I’ve even swept the floor twice. My domestic side is not exactly thriving, but she is growing.
When my apartment mate plays James Taylor and Paul Simon.
I cut my bangs leaning over the bathroom sink. I didn’t think about it, I just did it. Some routines have transferred easily, others are newly acquired.
When we sit in the living room, some with a book, some with a computer, others chatting, and all of us with wine.
I bought bright blue glasses, and my students said I looked like a hipster. And then my family said I looked like a hipster. I’m wondering how many times it takes before it’s true.
When I walk down the street to a friend’s apartment, and she shows me the best place for falafel.
For the first month, I tossed in my sleep, afraid I would get a parking ticket in this ticket-happy town. I still haven’t parked in the wrong spot and it’s been six weeks. I only believe in spending $50 on worthwhile things.
When my sister or friend comes down to the city, and we make tea and sit in the shady park.
A book club friend and I went into the thrift shop, and I came out with a sequined top. Not just sequined but fully sequined, with swishes and bright colors. “Oh my gosh, I love this top!” the cashier said. “I’ve been eyeing it since we got it.” I’m waiting for a good dancing night to christen this vintage beauty.
When writers’ group is about to start up for the year and I’m itching and waiting to read and write.
Sometimes, though, it doesn’t feel so much like home. Like when I hit more potholes than my little car can handle and the wheels get all misaligned. Or when I open the fridge and realize, Shoot, I didn’t go grocery shopping, and it’s hardboiled eggs and crackers and hummus for dinner. Again. Or when I climb the steps to my front door, feel eyes on my back, turn around to see a rough man leaning out of a large white van, staring, watching me enter my house. Or when I google search for a new church to visit, and I slip in quietly, worship alone surrounded by strangers, and slip out.
When I spend a Sunday afternoon making applesauce from Dad’s bruised apples, listening to a sermon on what it means to be sanctified, and starting the next baby sweater on my knitting list.
I am moved by poetry in the fall. My soul is played out in Chopin and Debussy in October.
I am in love with this poem by John Holmes right now, even though it’s not the first time I’ve read it. Maybe it’s being so close to him, to where he taught, where he wrote. Maybe it’s experiencing these two towns.
Read it slowly. The end is worth it, and the beginning makes the end matter.
Map of My Country
A map of my native country is all edges,
The shore touching sea, the easy impartial rivers
Splitting the local boundary lines, round hills in two townships,
Blue ponds interrupting the careful county shapes.
The Mississippi runs down the middle. Cape Cod. The Gulf.
Nebraska is on latitude forty. Kansas is west of Missouri.
When I was a child, I drew it, from memory,
A game in the schoolroom, naming the big cities right.
Cloud shadows were not shown, nor where winter whitens,
Nor the wide road the day’s wind takes.
None of the tall letters told my grandfather’s name.
Nothing said, Here they see in clear air a hundred miles.
Here they go to bed early. They fear snow here.
Oak trees and maple boughs I had seen on the long hillsides
Changing color, and laurel, and bayberry, were never mapped.
Geography told only capitals and state lines.
I have come a long way using other men’s maps for the turnings.
I have a long way to go.
It is time I drew the map again,
Spread with the broad colors of life, and words of my own
Saying, Here the people worked hard, and died for the wrong reasons.
Here wild strawberries tell the time of year.
I could not sleep, here, while bell-buoys beyond the surf rang.
Here trains passed in the night, crying of distance,
Calling to cities far away, listening for an answer.
On my own map of my own country
I shall show where there were never wars,
And plot the changed way I hear men speak in the west,
Words in the south slower, and food different.
Not the court houses seen floodlighted at night from trains,
But the local stone built into house walls,
And barns telling the traveler where he is
By the slant of the roof, the color of the paint.
Not monuments. Not the battlefields famous in school.
But Thoreau’s pond, and Huckleberry Finn’s island.
I shall name an unhistorical hill three boys climbed one morning.
Lines indicate my few journeys,
And the long way letters come from absent friends.
Forest is where green ferns cooled me under the big trees.
Ocean is where I ran in the white drag of waves on white sand.
Music is what I heard in a country house while hearts broke.
Not knowing they were breaking, and Brahms wrote it.
All that I remember happened to me here.
This is the known world.
I shall make a star here for a man who died too young.
Here, and here, in gold, I shall mark two towns
Famous for nothing, except that I have been happy in them.
Diana walks slowly across the grass, her hand brushing the porch post as she passes. She settles herself into the Adirondack chair and places the bowl of yogurt and granola in her lap. My friend looks six months pregnant, but no, she assures me, she’s due in January. I look at her belly again. Really? Five more months? The thought crosses my mind — twins — but I don’t say anything. What do I know about pregnancy?
We became friends studying music in college, she a mezzo-soprano and I a soprano. I remember meeting her in Music Theory I and how her bubble bangs curled over her wire-rimmed glasses. Neither of us was quite ready for college, but we entered the practice rooms with conviction: we would learn how to sing if it killed us. It’s only since graduation that we’ve become close, writing letters back and forth. I enjoy the way letters force me to slow down, take note. It was one of these letters on pale green paper that told me Diana was expecting and asked me to visit before fall came.
It’s my first visit to Deer Isle in the summer, and it isn’t hard to see why Diana came home. Eating breakfast in front of the ocean, I see two small islands covered in pine trees across the way, a working lobster pound to my left. In the field is an American flag flapping, and beneath it, we sit in two yellow Adirondack chairs. Kiska, their American Eskimo puppy, dashes across the grass flashing her long white fur. She gets too excited, barking and jumping despite Diana’s admonitions.
It’s my last hurrah of the summer. I go back to teaching in a week, and I drove the nearly five hours to Deer Isle with the hopes of rest and sunshine. I didn’t know till I got there that they actually live on Sunshine, a small section of Deer Isle proper.
“Like a borough,” I say. “So you’re Manhattan.”
“Yeah, we’re Manhattan.”
It’s a Manhattan complete with one coffee shop, one year-round restaurant, and two or three seasonal eateries that may or may not be open when they say they’ll be. The coffee is delicious, and I think as I sip: Maybe I could actually live here if there’s good coffee.
I’ve come for rest and sunshine and Diana’s voice recital. Four years ago we gave our respective senior recitals, and now, on a Sunday afternoon in August, Diana stands in front of a small group of people with her four-month-belly and a black floor-length dress. She’s shed the wire-rimmed glasses and grown out the bubble-bangs. I know the work it takes to learn this music and the nervousness Diana must have felt this morning. I know that a tiny part of her just wants this all to be over. She takes a deep breath. Her belly moves out as she inhales and then, as she begins the first notes of Ned Rorem’s “Absalom,” her belly tightens beneath her skirt.
I am aware of every movement, of the muscle strength it takes to breathe and support. Her voice fills the white room, and immediately I see how much she has grown. Not just her voice, not just her musicality. Her face. Her body. Her ease. Diana wasn’t the only stiff performer in college; we all moved with inhibition and a fear of risk. We struggled with too much pride and easily wounded egos. I remember how hard it was to change my focal point, just to lift my eyes from the exit sign at the back of the room up to the right where the sunshine was supposed to be. But here she is, this beautifully strong musician who moves with grace. The piece isn’t happy: her mezzo-soprano voice bemoans Absalom’s betrayal of his father, King David. For a moment, I am David weeping in the high chamber: my child and my betrayer.
Diana ends the final note with an emphatic sadness. She is David for a second longer. Then she is Diana again, snapped back to the small hot room with her belly that may or may not contain twins. She sings through the program, taking on each character and making me forget I’m just an audience member sitting in a hard pew. We clap her back onstage and her encore — “Summertime” — is a show-stopper. Later, the audience lines up to greet her. Too many people comment on the size of her belly, the possibility of twins. She laughs and says something like, “Yes, I’m getting a little scared,” but she doesn’t seem scared, with her dark hair perfectly smoothed back and her diamond necklace and earrings.
She doesn’t seem scared of this baby or spending her entire life on an island of three thousand people. She looks at her lobsterman husband with a gentle kindness. There’s a power in her, a new ease. Maybe a good word for this new Diana is calm; she moves slowly but with thoughtfulness I envy. I read once that “rushing is the sign of an amateur,” and I know this is me, always frantic to do that next thing, accomplish that goal, fill that hole in me or my life. I feel this no more strongly than right now, in this place of steadiness and home-grown families. I wonder what it takes to grow from rushing to rest, and why it takes some longer than others to settle into rhythms.
~ ~ ~
On my drive home to Massachusetts, I think about my next visit to the island. There will probably be a baby — maybe two — and our conversations will not be about pregnancy but sleeping habits and resemblance and how to teach voice lessons with an infant. I will probably knit a tiny sweater that will only fit Diana’s child for a few months, and she’ll marvel because she can never believe I find time to do things like that. She doesn’t understand that picking out blue and white yarn for a sweater with whales on it is how I participate in the changes. I might not be in the same place she finds herself, but I can sit on my couch in the fall and knit something that will keep her baby warm. I like to think I’ll be learning the habit of contentment as I slip stitches from one needle to the next.
“Ha, well that’s terrible timing,” I say, hoping the need is fear-induced.
Suddenly we’re making the ascent, the boys looking back at us with big grins because they know how much I am about to scream. Most people are putting their arms up high in the air, getting ready for the zip, but I clutch the bar instead. This is only my second roller coaster ride, after all.
At the very top is a sign that reads “Absolutely No Standing,” and I barely have time to wonder why in the world they would need that sign before we are careening down the steep wooden coaster and I am screaming like a little girl.
Unlike the little girl sitting next to me. She barely makes a peep, just flings her arms around and looks at me once in a while to see how I’m doing.
I wonder for a minute why I do this to myself.
Why we do this to ourselves.
What is it about adrenaline that is so addicting?
Oh, right, it’s a brain-thing.
As we zip around the corners and I hear the wheels crunching and turning, I’m proud of myself for getting on. For allowing myself to be buckled in. For choosing to feel like my stomach was going to fly out of my mouth.
Because they’d begged me to go on the ride, and I knew for some reason this was important to them. They wanted to share the fun with me, I think, and a little bit of them wanted to hear me freak.
But it had a little bit to do with love, too.
I’ve been thinking about love a lot these days, as I ponder how best to love my family after I move, how to be a good friend, how to care for my students. This might sound far-fetched, but I was loving those kids by getting on that ride.
I was telling them making them happy was more important to me than not dying.
I was telling them that making myself uncomfortable was worth seeing joy in their eyes.
And most of all, I was showing them that sometimes you do things you wouldn’t normally do because you care.
I’m sure they aren’t thinking about this stuff at all – that they are just glad they’d convinced me to get in line and that there’s no turning back now.
But I still want to show them what it looks like to stare an old wooden roller coaster in the rickety rails and say:
It brings it. My ponytail falls out and my hair’s flying and we all stagger a little bit when we get off.
I didn’t die.
She looks at me with her big eyes and says, “Okay, now I really have to go to the bathroom.”
I haven’t sat down to write in I don’t know how long. My journal is a picture that seems to say my life is empty and not worth documenting. My blog is a snapshot of nothingness.
We had this idea to do “LoDe” (Local December Writing Month) because we thought there’d be time during the holidays to write that whatever-we’ve-been-meaning-to-write.
Two more grad school classes down, and I’m feeling a little closer to the goal. I wrote a unit on The Odyssey because somehow I graduated with a B.A. in English and never once read it in class. I read it on my own sometime in high school, but I’ve gotta say: Classical literature is not really my jam. It’s so verbose. It’s so formulaic.
I do love the mythology, though. And I love the themes. I’m hoping on this second read-through I’ll be more appreciative of the artistry that went into crafting this epic.
I wrote a unit on it so I’d be better at teaching it, because if there’s one thing students pick up on right away, it’s if you love your subject or not.
We’re singing Veni, Veni in Latin since it’s the last week before break. We talk about the difference between Classical Latin and Ecclesiastical Latin, how Classical Latin is what was spoken during the Roman Empire and Ecclesiastical Latin is what developed during the medieval period and what was (is) used by the Catholic Church. Then, we attempt to sing, with a little processional thrown in for good measure.
There’s such a disconnect between middle school and high school when it comes to singing; my high schoolers look like I’m asking them to chop their arms off when really all I want is a little melody. I always show this video because I love the harmonies and the beautiful vowels and the hilarious way the men contort their faces to make these beautiful vowels.
We finished up our voice lessons for the semester. Two of my voice students sang in the recital, and all six of them sang in the Christmas concerts. I told them I’d better see them open their mouths on the high notes. We still have some “fig-leaf” positions to address, but overall, I was pleased.
My ivy plant still hasn’t died.
I’ve consumed a decent number of cookies this week.
I’ve attended two Christmas concerts and one middle school play in four days.
I realized — last night, in the middle of the Upper School Christmas concert — that I was so out of it, I didn’t even KNOW I hadn’t bought Christmas presents. Wait. I’m supposed to be doing this. Or at least, I’m supposed to be upset that I’m not yet doing this.
I have three Christmas gifts.
I have a lot more people.
Phone calls with distant friends and letters from Philly and an island in Maine help to hide the fact that we’re far away and spread thin.
I ran into my dear friend I haven’t seen since July, and suddenly her baby is five months old and the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen. Suddenly, time has passed and I haven’t changed much but look at this little human.
Every day in December, I have kept my promise to read the Advent devotional from the local seminary. Haven’t missed a day, and that’s rare around these parts. Granted, they’re short. One step at a time.
I’m still working on my dad’s sweater. Yep. The same one I started last fall. It’s like I can’t finish a project in under a year. In my defense, it is a sweater that will fit my dad, not an infant. And it is hunter green covered in cables.
So, that’s what’s been going on in my neck of the woods. As friends busy about applying for grad school, raising babies, settling into newlywed life, teaching various subjects, I find myself orbiting my little sector, hoping soon to slow down enough to create what I feel bubbling.
[All photos are from the Bachelorette/s. It’s called “Cath didn’t take a single picture at the bridal shower”. Also, the blur effect is all the rage.]
I can honestly say I was scared.
This is the first wedding I’ve ever been in, and the idea of throwing a bridal shower freaked me out.
I’m not organized enough!
I don’t know how to decorate!
I also am not too good at cooking/baking!
I also am not too good at sitting at four-hour-long parties!
(Clearly there are a lot of things I’m not good at.)
[I dared Beth to send a picture to Joel…of her removing her engagement ring before we hit the town. She did, but he didn’t freak out. It’s like he knows her or something.]
Thankfully, I wasn’t alone. The Matron of Honor, while in sunny California, delegated jobs to each of us. I was so grateful because without clear purpose, I’m like a chicken with my head cut off.
Or like me on caffeine.
The girls in charge of the food did a phenomenal job. I grew up with them, and if their family does one thing well, it’s throw rockin’ parties. I’ve never left their house hungry. There was strawberry-rhubarb pie, scones too numerous to count with homemade whipped cream, homemade chocolate fudge, finger sandwiches, cookies, specially-made cake, and tea (because it was, of course, a tea party).
(I stole the best idea from a bridal shower in April: the bridesmaids opened all the envelopes before passing them to the bride. I saved So Much Time and everyone thought I was a genius. I took the credit.)
Best part of the day? Probably asking the bride questions that the groom had already answered…his sister and I (good friends from high school) got the biggest kick out of the answers (“What’s the best meal she’s ever made you?” “Ummm…tacos?!”), and it didn’t hurt that for every wrong answer, a piece of bubble gum was unceremoniously shoved into the bride’s mouth. It’s hard to stay dainty when you’re drooling.
All-in-all, I was very pleased. Even the mother-of-the-bride emailed us, thanking us for a wonderful shower.
I leaned over to S, my partner-in-decorating-crime, and whispered, “Now we know what to do for the next shower we throw together.”
As the guests left, we bombarded them with homemade tea favors shipped up from dear friends in Arizona and
North Carolina. I slipped in honey sticks and everyone left saying, “See you in a few weeks!”
Realizing I can be a bonafide young woman who throws lady parties.
I don’t want to get too good at it, though, ’cause then y’all will be knocking on my door.
~ ~ ~
After bridal showers come bachelorettes. Not only did we have a fun night dancing (where I broke it down on the dance floor, drove through the city in a SUV taxi, and got everyone safely home by 12:30PM), but we also had a “grown-up bachelorette.” We ate dinner and then walked down to hear live jazz and eat dessert. I had foolishly worn a maxi dress in 90 degrees, and I was regretting it now, huffing and puffing down the sidewalk.
[See the trumpet player in the background? He posed perfectly.]
I ate this delectable hazelnut gelato with homemade whipped cream.
That was just two days ago. A mani-pedi, panera date, rehearsal, and rehearsal dinner later, here we are on Friday, June 27th, 2014.
My college roomie, my gym buddy, my Starbucks friend, and my loyal recital partner, it’s your big day.
I said I didn’t think I’d cry, that I’d be brimming with smiles.
But the thing is, I’ll probably cry, because the way he looks at her – his eyes soft and his grin unstoppable – is enough.
[Just wait for pictures of the wedding. It’s gonna be a partaaay.]