Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Settled Life

I feel like I just finished running an exhausting year-long race. Maybe even a life-long race. Before the dust began to settle, I was worried what I'd do with myself, what I'd do with "all that free time." David always says I don't know how to relax—so what would I do with nothing to do?

The leaves are beginning to change, slowly but I see it, and the dust, too, is settling around me—us—in our new life together. I've heard some say that getting married doesn't change much (especially if you were already living together), but I'd have to disagree. There is something different between us, something I can't quite put my finger on. I know the honeymoon period lasts a while, but I feel a new-found sense of respect, trust and responsibility. I've also never been happier, never felt more calm. Maybe this new, settled me is the best version of myself.

I learned early on in life to roll with the punches, to stay on my toes—whichever cliched expression you prefer—but I'm beginning to wonder if all of that is fading away as this new period of my life begins. For once, the constant moving, rolling, jumping, twisting to get out of the way, has ceased, and in its place a comfortable stasis has developed, one where I'm free. More than ever I feel like I have the power to figure out what I want to do with my life, not my career, but how I'd like to fill up my days. I think: dancing, baking, cooking, reading, writing, playing, traveling. I've already started planning trips up and down the coast.

I never considered the thought that once I was settled, feet firmly planted on the ground, I could finally begin to really move about and see what life has to offer me. I always considered any movement positive movement, a step in the right direction. But I think I was wrong. Sometimes there's nothing wrong with standing still, or taking a step back to really see what is in front of you, to take it all in. The stillness over these last few weeks has shown me more beauty than I've experience in a while. All I've seen for a long time is the whoosh of the trees as I go zipping by.

I think I like this new, settled life—whether it means I am flying above thick, wet clouds or slouching into our soft, comfortable couch. It's a happier life, a lighter load to carry and, so far, a better me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over

Well, almost six months later, I'm back. Hopefully to stay, hopefully for regular visits. It's been hard—given the craziness of the last year—to feel sane enough to sit for a moment and collect my thoughts on a page. To be honest, I feel like I've been a writer in hiding. I even scrapped the idea of writing my own wedding vows. I sometimes find myself scared to sit down and write, afraid of what might rear its ugly head on the page.

It all started last September, in a mad-dash to wedding planning, that was quickly stunted by my grandmother's upsetting diagnosis in early October. Then it was the praying, the praying, the planning, the waiting, the listening, the confusion, the payments, the tears, the guilt—all the while the guilt for spending even an ounce of my time planning a joyous event while the minutes ticked by and it became evident we were losing her. But, then suddenly she was gone. And we let her go, whether or not we have fully accepted it yet. I'm not sure what I'm here to say, I didn't intend on touching the subject, but, alas, she comes up. She always does—my missingness of her, the lack of her, the lack of color in a room.

Despite it all, I am so thankful that now, she is always around. Always in earshot. I know she was there in the front row as I said my vows and David said his. I know she appreciated each and every flower—its intricate design—at each table at the reception. I could imagine the twinkling reflection of the sparklers in her eyes as we made our final exit that evening. I felt her wrapped around me, her arms like a blanket, warm, almost smotheringly so. At times, I could barely breathe. She was not there, but I felt like her presence was filled. Like that number of bodies gathered together, tied together with so much love, made the absence far less noticeable. I heard her laughter echoed in theirs, I saw her proud smile in their faces. I felt her shining within me.

Her pride has become my pride. I haven't always been the most positive, the most loving person. I have been quick to judge, quick to criticize, but lately I just feel aglow. For the first time in a long time, I feel a profound sense of joy in my heart. I feel joy in being who I am, and in doing what I do. And I know she taught me joy, so perhaps part of it is seeing a bit of her in myself. But I have to say, I feel so much genuine happiness when I think of the people I love, and I think it comes from pride.

Through our pasts, through struggle, disapointment, disaster, look at what we've become. My friends are brilliant, fresh, following their passions and their skills, working towards the goal of a masters, a degree. They don't know where they'll end up, but it doesn't scare them. They keep pushing, and despite deadlines and papers and endless tasks, they still make time for me. They still reach out to make me feel special, appreciated, like a celebrity. My family is an astonishing army. My sibblings are these little soldiers, shaped and buffed, willing to take on anything. So adaptable to what life throws their way, without complaint. Always willing to serve, to console, to support, to text, to pose, to LEAP. For me. My husband is the hardest worker I know. Whether he puts in 12-13 hour days, or takes on a whole other set of responsibilities on top of the ones he already has, he never complains, he learns fast and excels at everything. And he pursues me with the same level of tenacity that he does his job—always willing to step up, always willing to fix things, to take the fall, to scoop me up when I need it.

My cup runneth over with joy and thankfulness for this confidence, for these people who have grown this confidence, my person, into what I am today. The ability to live life without regard to the judgement of others, the worry of what someone might be thinking, is the most freeing feeling. I finally feel myself letting those old concerns go. I am open to what life has to offer me, open to let myself relax (for once), because of the support system I have. If I slip, slack, I won't make a crash landing, I will land gently in welcoming arms. And I know her arms and her hands—glistening with colorful jewels—will be Gracefully weaved into that web, too.

Thursday, September 16, 2010