Hey there. (I killed ‘hey guys’. HUGE CHANGES AFOOT!)
Happy New Year! I have smudged the house, sprinkled water from the rose of jericho on our doorstep, and burned the Christmas tree.
I spent the last few days thinking about what happened for us in 2016 while I planned for 2017, and remembered that for our little family, it was a pretty big year. For instance, I found out that if you put your remote door lock / panic button to your car in the dryer, the panic button (alarm) will go off randomly and then turn back off while you run frantically around your house trying to find your keys. It will later that day go off whenever it feels like it – like, in the parking lot of Trader Joe’s, in downtown Portsmouth, or in your very own driveway of course, terrifying you and/or your neighbors until you run to your car, unlock it (manually, because the remote only works to lock it and set off the panic button) and start the car, which requires three turns of the ignition.
OR, until you use a hammer to smash it after the 7th time this happens.
Also, though – good finds.
Anna found a love of sports – I am not a sports lover. Mostly because I totally sucked it at every sport I played – and it’s legit no fun to do something you’re not very good at. This isn’t one of those low self-esteem things, I am healthily recognizing that I am not good at something, and don’t have any interest in focusing energy on it. I do, however, recognize the good that it brings to the little ones – learning to collaborate as a team, developing self-esteem, leadership skills, self-discipline, doing something that contributes to your physical well-being – there’s so much good for her. The bravery of Anna – who had never really played anything – walking onto a team of girls she didn’t know to play a sport she didn’t know how to play, and then loving it, was a pretty good lesson for both of us, and I’ve tried to remember that over the course of the year when I’ve been forced into social situations (or any situation) that I might not be all that excited about – the benefits of challenging yourself and remaining open – to whatever, can be pretty rewarding. (Below after a tournament in which they kicked ass)
I found myself a little bit more – I’d give up the additional eye wrinkles, and the deepening of that one solid one between my eyebrows for anything, of course, but a big part of me really does love getting older. I think with each additional day, month and year, I feel a little bit more comfortable in my own skin. I still wake up at 3:00 a.m. on a regular basis and question every decision I’ve ever made, and then when I get to the same answers, start all over again. I still (sometimes) get caught up in where I am compared to where I thought I’d be, or who I am compared to who I thought I’d be, or worse – who and where I am compared to anyone else, or the very worst, why I can’t ever get the Christmas tree up and/or down successfully without breaking things in the house, breaking a part of my body, or breaking my ongoing resolution to stop saying ‘fuck’ so much (because it bugs Anna) but eventually, I remind myself that where I ended up, where our family is now, is pretty great. And not just because it’s in Maine. (And so close to the Rite Aid?)
We found our family – it is an ongoing mostly uphill battle to find your family when one third of it is in Chicago. Anna’s father had been here a few times, but by himself, with just the two of us, which mainly meant that everything was on my terms, on my turf, in my surroundings. And at least one third of each trip, for me, was spent in the corner of the kitchen of whatever house we were living in, glass of wine in hand, exhaling. Because I was scared, mostly. I don’t know of what. I mean, I have some ongoing theories, of course. Maybe in a few more years I’ll have better perspective on it. Maybe you guys are shaking your heads knowingly, having a better view into what it might have been. Y’know when you’re listening to someone else talk and hoping they get it sooner than they do? Maybe that’s what you’re doing. Don’t go up the stairs Erin, out the front door! So we ventured west this year, which took some courage from all of us. It was good, though – almost all of the time. Not because it was actually good, really – there were as many tough or difficult moments as there were good ones. Right when I thought I must have just hopped onto a unicorn that was galloping over a rainbow, dark clouds would settle in. I knew it though – I recognized the tough and managed it, we all did, in a way that felt like we’d finally found each other. And with each of the tough moments (even more so than the good ones, I think) we get a little bit closer to some state of normal – what feels like it could be our normal. Whatever that might end up being.
And on the last night there, when we were ushered so lovingly into her father’s sister’s house – her aunt’s, for dinner, and Anna settled in to play with one of the grandkids, and I sat at the table with photo albums of her grandparents – ohmygoodness you guys. I don’t know. That one night was worth all of 2016.
So. If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s to stay open to everything, to trust everything, even when – maybe especially when it’s completely terrifying.
And don’t wash your keys.
(And don’t take off your clothes in front of a backlit window. And don’t burn the Christmas tree next to the planted tree in your yard. And don’t leave rice krispy treats uncovered next to your SUPER FABULOUS fur coat during a snowstorm-car-ride. And don’t rip the smoke alarm out trying to get it to stop, when you’re prone to fires?)