I am the happiest I have ever been in my life.
It frightens me to say this, because I have learned the lesson about constant change well. I know that nothing lasts forever, not even the things you really, really want to last. But being afraid of that universal truth won’t make it less inevitable, so I try to just put that fear away and focus on the big fat box of gratitude I’m walking around with instead.
I also try to ignore the guilt that reminds me that my little brother spent my happiest year in jail. But even that, somehow, has created this very odd and unexpected mixed bag of blessings. His son, whom neither of us has ever touched, is a source of so much love and joy and healing. Knowing that baby Jude is in this world makes this world a place in which I want to live. I am awed and eternally grateful to discover how much you can love a child that is not your own, long before you hold him in your arms or see him without the filter of an LCD screen. I am thankful, to Jay and Bre and God, for creating this brand new tender spot in my heart that swells so easily.
I am grateful, too, for my own babies.
Of course, they are not at all babies anymore. Even the tiniest one is a full fledged child now with ideas, mannerisms and attitudes all her own. They are both so very alive and being near them makes me feel more alive myself. I find that I suddenly have a constant hunger for them. I hate the idea of sending them to school every day, especially if I’m going out to do something really cool that they would enjoy. I want to give them the same freedoms that I have, to explore and think and rest and grow at the pace that is best for them.
I don’t even recognize this mother I’ve become, the one who cannot wait for her children to begin homeschooling. I am not that woman. I am not that mother. And yet, here I am, counting down the hours to our long weekends together and the months until we can spend weeks upon weeks wrapped up in the world together. Who the hell am I?
It’s hard to think about the man I am somehow still married to without losing my breath for a second. I wonder if there will ever come a time when I don’t look at him – at us – and think about how close we came to losing it all. I wonder if we will ever not be the couple who almost got divorced. It’s been over a year since we began to put back together what had been broken, and we still haven’t lost that sense of holy shit, we actually survived that. I’m not entirely sure if I want to lose it, because gratitude mixed with love mixed with a deep appreciation for the fragility of it all is pretty damn intense and its own kind of wonderful.
But sometimes the gratitude of merely surviving is so big that it blocks out the things that drew you to one another in the first place. Sometimes you forget to think of each other not in terms of someone you almost lost, but in terms of someone you love. Just because. Just because they are good and strong and kind and open and the most pure-hearted person you’ve ever met. Because even if you don’t seem to speak the same language and you live on completely opposite ends of all the personality charts, your souls are the same. And together you make up one super soul or something, with every strength and weakness the world could imagine all rolled into one.
And it’s awesome.
And that is not even all.
Then there are my friends. By some twisted path of learning and falling and scraping my knees and getting it all wrong, I have managed to get it all completely right at this exact moment in time when it comes to girlfriends. And did you even know that women could be such good friends? Because I did not. But there is Megan and there is Becky and there is Erin and there is Samantha and there is Courtney and there is Angie and there is Maria and there is Lisa and there is Faiqa and MY GOD it brings tears to my eyes when I think about these women. I keep having to go back and add more names and I am still thinking of more and more and more that I could add to that list of amazing women who I admire and who, somehow, love the shit out of me right back.
I can’t go on without using ridiculously flowery words and superlatives, so I will just say that yes, yes women can be very, very good friends. And there are people in this world who are so damn good, good at their core, that you will weep when you realize that they have deemed you worthy of friendship. Go thou out and find them.
And then – AND THEN! – there are the things I get to do every day when I get up in the morning.
The trips. The writing. The learning and flying and packing and blogging and adding it all up at the end of the month and going holy shit this is a living. And every time I think it can’t get any better, it does. I wonder if the river has dried up, and then it doesn’t. I have no idea what next month or next year will look like, but I just keep getting up every morning and doing what I want – what I love – and somehow, it keeps working out.
Today it is Thanksgiving. Obviously.
I will not be cooking turkey or gathering around my grandmother’s table or eating my mother’s stuffing. My dad and I will not fight over the skin and my kids will not chase their cousins round and round and round the house. This hurts my heart, and I know that Jared is really struggling with missing family back in Iowa right now. Holidays without extended family are strange for people, like us, who were raised to see family at the center of everything.
But even while missing our families, I am still grateful and happy and wholeheartedly convinced that this is my best Thanksgiving ever.
Instead of enjoying familiar traditions, the four of us are getting in the car and driving to St. Augustine for the weekend. We’re sleeping in a hotel and letting someone else cook for us , deciding as we go what local attractions we’ll take in. It’s not what we would normally do, but it’s where we’re at right now and we are rolling with it. We are getting up this morning, like we do every morning, and doing what we want – what we love – and trusting that it will just keeping working out, somehow. And we’re doing it together.
For that, I am thankful.
And, too, I am thankful for you.
Happy Thanksgiving to each of you reading this. You coming here has played such a huge role in me being as happy as I am today. In a million and one ways, those of you who read this silly little blog have helped make this silly little blogger’s dreams come true. Thank you.
Now, let’s all get off the computer and go do some celebrating. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!