Monday, October 17, 2016

I've Seen That Smile Somewhere Before

Matt and I had a busy week. 
We had a banquet that we attended in the city with the NYC Business Professionals something or other that gave an award to the head of the Catholic Church in NYC, Cardinal Dolan.
It was a fancy night with fancy people and fancy food that I didn't eat because I'm picky and have the refined pallet of a six year old. 
It was a fun night, but a late one.
The next night we had tickets to a play.
It was an off Broadway production that I've been a little obsessed with the soundtrack over called Tick Tick Boom.
Great show, great performances-- but another late night.

Two late nights in a row really reminded us that we are old.

I think I am not an 'old soul.'

I'm still a pleasantly surprised at  things like the sun coming up each morning and seasons happening and time passes so quickly for me a lot of the time. 
There are dark times when it's harder, when it feels like everything is standing still- but I'm still always kind of caught off guard over whatever happens next.

You'd think life would feel...predictable now, that I'd know more of what the heck is going on, but honestly, most of the time- I'm still walking around with my eyes wide, a little startled at what's going on around me, trying to catch up.  My life is still just a series of run-on sentences because I don't really know where one thing stops and the next thing begins. 

That could possibly be in part because of the ADHD, but whatever....

I am not sure that I am going to grow old 'gracefully.'
I suspect I'm going to do it the same way I have 'grown up'-- with noise and a lot of stumbles. I don't plan to fight it, but I'm not setting a metaphorical place at my table for it.  
I don't feel like I'm in my 40's, but my body- especially after late nights in Manhattan- reminds me that I am.
Saturday, Matt and I could not ignore the screams of "YOU ARE OLD" from our bodies and we spent the day just finishing up stuff around the house and watching movies.

One movie we watched was the new version of Saturday's Warrior. 
Have you seen it?
Oh, it's good.
The first 10 minutes make you worry that it is going to be dumb, but then it changes directions and gets much, much better.
It's an actual movie with a plot and real characters with motives instead of a bunch of morons who sing and dance and treat each other like crap like they 1989 movie version. 

As we watched, the early Julie and Tod scenes played and I looked over and Matt and smiled.
We certainly had one of those "I've seen that smile somewhere before...." love stories. 
Matt says he knew the moment he saw me. 
I suspected, but it took me 24 hours to admit it.
I knew I'd seen him before- and not as the handsome guy in wool pants (I will never let you live that down, Babe) on my doorstep that January night. 

It really was a love at first sight situation and even though we are getting older and he snores and I change the thermostat 20 times a day-- we are still super in love. 
I love him and I like him. 
He's the person I knew from Before.
I looked over at my husband, and he smiled at me and I knew we were both happy and thinking the same thing- that the cheesy circle of our love goes on forever. 

I suddenly had a realization that made me so happy.
I said "I can't wait for all of the fun things we're going to do when we are young again."

I am a person who has an irrational fear of my own death. 
Okay- it's a scary thing, period, but one of the awesome things about the Gospel is a knowledge that we live after we die, that Earth life is a super short stop on our eternal journey and it's supposed to be temporary. That knowledge brings most people a lot of comfort and acceptance about the Lord's timing.
It's never done much to help me feel better and ever since I was small, I have been terrified about whatever comes next. As I had kids, it got worse, and I am a person who is scared to trust any of it, to let go and be okay with those things we cannot change- things we agreed to and things we need in order to progress.  
I know it's a big obvious sign that I have things I don't understand and I have big areas where my faith is lacking.
I haven't figured out a way to fix that yet- because I am afraid.
I feel bad that I am afraid. 
And when it comes up, my fears halt my progress and I get stuck, so in order to keep moving forward in life, I just put it all in a place inside of myself that I plan to get to later, when I might better be able to process it. 
Anyway- my point.
For the first time in-- ever---that I can think of, I thought about the life that will be after death and I felt something positive. 
 There are those I love that I have always looked forward to seeing again on the other side, but not enough to say I'd be okay with leaving THIS place for.

Matt and I met when we were in our 30's.
We were just about to start a season of life where age is real. 
As we watch our bodies get older, as things get a little harder, take a little more out of us and we struggle to be okay with the knowledge that we WILL have to settle down one day- I am aware that I have never known my husband as a young man.
He never knew me before I had a body that gave birth to four kids. We never knew each other before we were already showing the wear and tear from time, and from some of the hard things we had been through and choices we had made. 
There have always been responsibilities- responsibilities we welcome and cherish- but he and I will never know that season of being young and carefree and the only thing holding us back is the limits of our imaginations.
Yeah.... we WILL know that.

If I choose the right, if I grow, if I learn what I came here to learn- if Matt does, too- we will spend way more time in our younger, perfect bodies- having whatever adventures we can dream up and we will be able to do that every single day, forever. 

So maybe- just maybe- getting old isn't so bad because it means I am closer to being young again and we are closer to getting to be the people we were before we came to this Earth and I can only imagine the great time Matt and I will have when we don't get tired, when we always look cute (he always does anyway) and when we know that everything is not just okay, but perfect- forever. 
Maybe I can do this, maybe I can start to stop being so afraid.
Maybe I can see those wrinkles as evidence that I'm getting closer to something with Matt that we didn't get to experience on Earth. 
I want to be young again--with him.
I think I understand better now and I am still freaked out and still annoyed that by 10 pm my body says "Yeah, I'm done." 
In less years than have already passed for me on Earth-- I will be in a place where Matt and I can be sweethearts always- and we will be young again. 
That's a real thing and I know it is real.
It's something to look forward to.
I think I am going to let 'old ' happen and even though I will still be constantly caught off guard by life and I will probably never feel as if my legs weren't wobbly underneath me, I am going to be okay with the next season happening.

This blog post was brought to you by The 2016 Great Midlife Crisis of Clarissa Anne.
And the number 9, Yo.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Filling in the Dots

Hello, Old Friend.......
Remember me?

I tried to reconnect a couple of times, but I just wasn't feeling it. 
On Tuesday, I was having a hard time, Emma had just returned to Utah and I was sad.  
I dealt with it by cleaning my house until I was too tired to feed sad anymore. 
That's what I do. 
If it doesn't help me to feel better- at least I get a spotless house out of it.

As I was wiping off the handles of the fridge (why do they still get sticky when I have exactly zero small children?) I grabbed the marker to update the Missionary Countdown for Zane. 

There are way more filled dots on there these days.

When I first put it up, it would make me cry- so many days ahead- but it also helped because I could see an end. I knew that eventually, each one of those days would be a day we filled in with the marker and one day, it would be the day for Zane to come home. 
At first, I filled in the dots every day. 
I cried every day as well, so I make the decision to only fill them in once a week.
That helped me so that I didn't obsess over how many days we still had ahead of us. 

After that, sometimes, I didn't fill in dots for a week or longer. 
Other times, it was my one accomplishment of the day- that I'd made it through a whole day, missing my son, and there were days that just one little dot seemed as big as the whole world.  I let myself do a dot a day during those tougher times.

I looked at the dots and thought about how we had been talking about doing something and we were factoring in what Zane would want to do, if he'd come with us. 

I realized I had ONE more missionary Skype, and there were only going to be two, possibly three more transfers for Zane. Two or three new companions. I didn't need to buy him Missionary stuff for Christmas, just some socks and sweets, because he is the kind of kid who would want to spend that last part in shoes kept together with duct tape and threadbare shirts. He would see that as an honor and a rite of passage. 
I realized he would totally be here for next Mother's Day, for whatever our Summer vacation is and he would even be here by Spring Break.
He's going to be coming home, and there are more filled in dots than there are empty ones by a long shot.
His coming home felt real, and I am starting to let myself get excited for it.

His mission was not what I expected.
I had in my mind, the Mormon Normal Rockwell version where we'd exchange hundreds of letters full of shared spiritual insights, where our family would walk around with this magic halo of blessings and protection and all of our testimonies would soar.  

What happened instead was that my heart broke when he left.

I mourned and it hurt.
My testimony didn't suffer, I didn't regret his going- nothing like that.
I just missed him, and missed being able to talk to him and see him. I missed having him around and what he brings to our home. 
Then I felt ashamed because if I was just righteous enough, if I was faithful enough, I would be happy and I would never ever sit at the bottom of the stairs and look up towards his old room and cry and say to the ceiling "just come home, please, just come home."

Apparently, life isn't all butterflies and gumdrops- even when you are doing the right thing. 
You'd think I would have learned that by now, but nope.
Every time something new is coming, even when it scares me, I can't help but imagine it's going to be amazing.

It usually IS amazing when all is said and done, but it's not all a Disney Sing-Along. 

Another thing that happened was that when I would post about or talk about Zane's mission experiences- I felt super exposed.
  I felt like it wasn't the right thing to do. 

It wasn't my story to tell.
 I've always been sensitive about making sure that even as I share about my family and my kids- that there is a clear understanding that I am sharing MY version of events and MY experiences. It matters to me that each of the kids had their own story about any event- and their story was just as accurate of a telling as my story, even if it was different.

I grew up in a family where every single thing we experienced was told to anyone who would listen by a parent who didn't care that we wanted some things- any things- private. Her knowing them did not mean they were her's to share. Her experiences were not the "true' version of events, just the events as she saw them, from her position and through her filters. 
If that hurt us, we were quickly told that if we didn't like the way she told the story, then we should make different choices, choices that didn't make her mad, or give her a reason to make fun of us. 
It was awful, always knowing that anything she knew about in our lives would be something she repeated to someone else, we didn't own any narrative in the story of our own lives because we were born to a storyteller with a social presence. 
We should have been able to tell our own story- or not have it told if that was what we wanted.

I've worked hard to not do that with my kids- to tell their stories for them and assume my experiences are the only ones that are real, that I am the narrator of the story of our family. 
In blogging about Zane's mission- unless I was sharing his emails- which were written to me- he wasn't telling his story. 

I am not there, I cannot and will not speak for him, and these past two years are his. They are special and sacred and totally his to share or to keep. 
I didn't share his emails with others as much as I thought I would, I didn't make a big forwarding email chain, I didn't do a blog and I didn't make that missionary scrapbook I had planned on doing when he left because it felt wrong to me. 

So I've share pictures and some anecdotes, but not much else.  I know there are people who wanted to know more, but it felt wrong to do more than I was doing in this situation.
That is not to say anything negative about those who post emails and make up to date missionary blogs- it is just to say that MY kid- didn't want that and I knew it. As fun as it would have been to post his journey, it's HIS journey and he gets to experience it and define it as he chooses. 

So I just kind of haven't written much of anything on the blog. 
Because my story isn't very interesting and it is basically this : 
It didn't feel like I thought it would feel, so I didn't do what I thought I would do.

People on Facebook have a pretty good idea as to what we've done since Zane left for his mission. I don't need to update it on the blog. 
I can just start where I'm at and where I'm at is a quiet house with not one sound being made, save the tapping of my fingers at the keyboard.  
Weird and temporary, because the Holidays are not far away and the house will be filled with the sounds of my kids again. After that, Zane will be coming home soon and we need to decide how we're going to situate things in the house.

It is nice to have some quiet.
It's nice to have each of the kids exactly where they wish to be in terms of schooling. None of them are actively stuck right now, and neither are Matt and I. 
Life is good, and it's about to speed up as those dots get filled in over the next few months and I'm looking forward to it. 
I am attempting to start again with the blog. 
I survived my mid life crisis this year and I'm ready for the next season.
Hopefully, I will resume telling my story here on the blog- because Lord knows Facebook is going to keep getting more toxic until this horrible election is over and I like having a place to write about my little  life just outside of this big city. 

In an effort to start over from where I currently am in my life, I have a confession:
 I want to move. 

We won't move.
Not before Romy graduates, but every day I am more pulled to that crazy city and I want to have it as my full time, for reals home.  
 I think once she does, we are going to ditch the American Dream of home ownership and get a rent controlled apartment in the city. 

I'm liking Harlem a lot. 
Brooklyn is fine, but I can't deal with the hipsters and their toddlers in skinny jeans and infinity scarves on scooters. 
Tribeca would be insane, but I'd rather have a second bedroom thankyouverymuch.
Jersey City looks good, but if you don't have an apartment on the waterfront- it's just Jersey. 
Hoboken- same thing only higher rent. 
When the time is right, I know the right place will be available and we will know it is right, but my point is- I don't think I am going back to Utah or Arizona anytime soon. 
I can't predict the future, maybe there will be a job change and we'll load up the Tahoe and find our way back West- but I hope that we stay here for a long, long time. 
I love New York and I'm not sick of it yet- at all. 

(not New York, but something else I am not sick of)

What I am sick of- is that once charming sound of the squirrels dropping acorns on my roof as I listened from my bed. 
Super annoying and I hate the squirrels. 
They ate EVERYTHING from the garden this year- EVERYTHING.
I'd rather hear neighbor's footsteps because at least they will leave my freaking tomato plants alone.