The counselor at our church told us that we should remember our love story. He said that we should be intentional in remembering the time we spend together. He looked at us and the other couples in the room on Thursday night, each of us seeking the same thing: marriage; and he warned us that it wasn’t going to be easy. He warned us and told us again to hold on to memories, because they would remind us what intimacy looks like and feels like. And maybe if we held tightly to the feelings these memories brought, we would all be happier.
This reminded me of a meal I had shared at my grandparents house as I child. I remember specifically sitting at their dinner table one afternoon in a late summer of my youth. The sun was bright and in my eyes, so my grandmother had pulled the drapes closed. They were heavy drapes that let dust onto our dishes, and even when they were drawn the sun would sneak through the dimples, casting rays of light through my grandfather’s cigarette smoke. (It was the nineties then and no one put their cigarettes out; not even at the dinner table.) My grandmother would dishes of food to the table from the kitchen as we fought over the coveted seat next to grandpa. When she placed them on the table, he looked at her and smiled, saying “thanks babe.” This made my sister and I giggle. Later we asked my mom if she knew that he called grandma “babe”, because “isn’t he too old for that?” She told us that he wasn’t and we giggled again. There are some lessons that take twenty years to learn.
When Sean and I came home from our pre-wedding counseling, we sat at our small table sharing a late dinner. I hadn’t felt like cooking and Sean was too tired to mind the frozen pizzas I prepared. When I placed it on the table he looked at me and said, “thanks bug” then pulled down the curtains in our dining room.
Like our dining room and wedding bands I believe that life is circular. A babe or a bug, we all develop our own levels of consistent intimacy. There isn’t a right answer for marriage and love, there’s just the answer we are willing to give. And maybe our love stories are more than just our own relationship memories. Maybe they’re deeper in the well, swallowed by our grandparent’s love, waiting to be drawn and brought to the surface. Maybe if we pour our drinks from this water and offer a cup to our loved ones, we will feel these stories transcend into our beings, quenching the intimacy we thirst for in our lives.
The thermometer in my car has not read higher than 8 degrees since Sunday. My mornings have been consumed by weather in ways I can’t remember acknowledging before. Typically I get ready for work and leave my house with few moments of staying present. I am quick to dress and pour coffee in my to-go cup. I am quick to strap up my boots and get to my car. I am quick to turn off lights and lock the door behind me. Everything about my mornings is centered on quickness. But this week has been abnormal. The cold weather has found me procrastinating what I should be focused on, looking for excuses to stay inside. Three consecutive mornings I found myself on the couch with my coffee, savoring a few moments of morning silence. Once I caught myself looking at my boots on the rug, thinking that the salt stains add a chapter of intimacy to their story; the weather they have encountered has heightened their awareness of inner-strength. I have slowed my morning routine just enough to notice my mother’s reflection in my eyes as I’m applying make-up. I have also recognized it is a personal challenge to slow my pace. My natural speed is not lackadaisical. But in taking hold of these small moments to shift from drive to neutral, I have discovered another layer of my day I didn’t have before. A sweet and salty layer that belongs to only me.
I had to answer my phone on Sunday when it rang; even though I was trying very hard not to do anything for an entire afternoon. But as it rang it also flashed a photo of my greatest friend and I knew it couldn’t be ignored. Ten minutes later, she stormed into our house, simultaneously declaring her love for Sean and falling dramatically to the couch. At the time I was working on a plant holder for an idea that’s been brewing in my mind for quite some time now. As we spoke I finished Part One of the project, leaving Part Two and Part Three for another day.
Well, it’s another day later and my project is still laying in a heap on our record player, not yet done. Looking at it tonight, I realized, Danielle, you’ve got to stay on task this year. Part of BEing this year, must include following through, because how can I expect to BE at peace when all of my projects are only half done? When all of my ideas are only half thought? And even though I love the distractions and the serendipitous moments that pull me from my tasks, I’ve got to learn to go back to these projects and ideas– to finish them.
I circled around our office tonight and gathered my many to-do lists. Simplify. I know I must simplify. To not become overwhelmed, I’ve got to get things down to the essentials. So, I’ve edited and revised and made a plan for myself. This week, I’m getting things done. There’s no other way around it.
Tuesday: Make a loom with Sean
Wednesday: Paint planters.
Thursday: Buy soil.
Friday: Replant house plants. Hang new and FINISHED plant hanger.
Saturday: Drink coffee in living room, looking at my plants and putting my loom to use.
I had to make a great goal for myself. And coffee, at home, while looking at the fruits of my labor is the perfect motivating factor. Things will BE complete this week. I just know it.
It is bitter weather today. Walking outside reminds me instantly that winter life in Michigan is not for the weak. There is a woman who lives across the road from us, who, each day starts her snow blower and clears her driveway. Her daughter stands on the porch, a pair of eyes peaking from her neck warmer and hat, watching her mother, amazed. I look at the two of them and think, women in the Midwest are pretty amazing. We possess a strength that is inherited from watching the women before us survive. We learn to take care of ourselves and our families without complaining. We survive together with knit mittens and knee high boots. We are a community that will not give up. We are strong. And when I think of Michigan in this way, my story becomes more than bitter weather and snow blower fumes. My story comes alive; and I am no longer tired. I am ready.
And this is the week where I take a deep breath, and relax, and calm myself. Life has returned to normal and it’s time to get back into my routine. There are still lots of things to do and accomplish, but that’s life, and I’m lucky to be living, so I will embrace it all, not be stressed.
Resolutions this year? Of course I have some. But mostly, this year is about the word “BE” for me. I want to be content. I want to be present. I want to simply BE. And if I can keep my focus on that, then I am doing okay.
I want to keep chugging away at our new space; making things and decorating, trying not to put too much money into a rental, but also making it a space Sean and I can live in for the next few years and feel content in. I want it to be a place where we can BE.
And I want to make some changes on this site… a challenge for sure. Details to follow.
But for today, I want to relax and drink my coffee.
It’s hard in the winter. You start to go a little nuts. You start to think Michigan is a terrible place. The only thoughts that consume you are negative. But that’s not good for the spirit. And it’s also not entirely true. The reality is that what is NOW, will not always be. So we have to hold on to hope and try to make the best of it. There is sunshine in people and conversations, warm soup and dark beer, in a Christmas tree still decorated for the season and lingering traces of wrapping paper beneath. There is sunshine in coffee and friendships, and sunshine in pictures, too, that hold the memories of a season long past. So we hold on here in Michigan and we love a little extra, because more than anything else, there is sunshine in our love.
It is a day of preparation. My best friend get’s married tomorrow, and so our list is very long today. Mostly I want to be present today. I want to be there for her: to calm her and remind her to take it easy. And I want to be celebrate, after all, you have to have fun in the midst of your giant to-do list, right??
So CHEERS to that and CHEERS to her and CHEERS to a great New Year of Love and Celebration.
I’m still here, I promise! And posts are on the way. Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve shared anything. New material for a new year will be out soon.
On day we looked at our new house, Sean and I came home feeling lot’s of emotions. The biggest was a shared need for escape from the city. The sun had been tucked behind clouds for days, and suddenly seeing it in the sky we had to grab our coats and hats, and go play under it! So where do we go when things get tough and need fresh perspective? Pickerel Lake, of course.
I have never hiked hiked the lake in the fall before. And this time, instead of taking the path that winds around the lake, we went higher into the woods, where I quickly learned that Sean’s long legged pace leaves me gasping for air and running to catch up. The entire time we hiked we talked about the house we had just seen. We talked it about like it was already ours. I said to Sean that we should be careful about getting our hopes up like it already happened. And Sean told me to think positively and send our confidence into the world through our speech habits. I smiled, remembering how we had met in a literature class, and how this part of our beings will always find a way into our lives. Even in conversations about houses there is language to discuss.
Leaving Pickerel Lake we felt content. We had found the peace we were seeking. And the next day, we got the house.
My lull in writing in this blog can be attributed to life becoming unexpectedly busy. Sean called me some afternoons ago mentioning a house for rent. While we had briefly discussed the idea of moving from our complex, it wasn’t an idea I was actively pursuing. However, tired of the neighbors upstairs and weary from crating groceries as Sean was, and fueled from hearing my complaints of a laundry-machine-less home, Sean, unbeknownst to me, had been scouring rentals for some weeks. So, when he called about a home for rent, I was instantly surprised and super curious. Sean is certainly a doer and he certainly never says anything without strong intention. Knowing this, I took his interest to heart and said, “yeah, sure. Let’s drive by.” Which, we did later that night. And after seeing and loving, we expedited our opportunities by nagging the rental placement agency until they promised to allow us to be the first to look at it. Which was all it took: that one look inside, for us to know that we had to have this house to grow in our first years of marriage.
I believe in feelings and first glances. That is, after all, how I knew Sean was the one for me. Why would our first little home be any different?
We spent last week moving and unpacking, and now with only my wedding dress, a tall plant, and some various boxes waiting to be moved from our old apartment, I can say with certainty that this new house already feels like home. Tonight, Sean and I will head to our apartment to clean and gather our lingering possessions. It will be sad to walk out. I always think about the last episode of Mary Tyler Moore when they close the lights on the newsroom. Moves always feel that way to me: sad, but thoughtful. I know I’ll get sentimental about our first apartment in the city, that’s just who I am. It was the place Sean came back to me after a long summer abroad. It was the place we had our first disagreement. It was the place Sean played his guitar late into the evening each night. It was the place I hosted parties and showers for my best friends. It was the place we learned patience, where we grew fresh tomatoes, where we sat for dinner each night. It was the place I found peace in the quiet mornings. It was the place we came to after our proposal. It was our place. But I will be ready, when the lights turn off in our apartment, to head home to our cute new home. Because we have a new place now, for new memories and room for growth.