not now.

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“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.” -Leo Tolstoy

Most of us periodically take some time to stop and look around. We reflect on how we got to where we are, and with whom. We glance in the rearview to see how far we’ve come.

To say the past year wasn’t easy for me is a laughable understatement. I have learned more than I can put into words- both light and dark aspects of life, of love, of human nature- in such a short amount of time. Oh, year-ago me: if you only knew.

There’s one lesson that helped a lot as I struggled to put two feet solidly on the ground again, one in front of the other. As I got the hang of a new normal, of life as a full-time working mom. As I got better at not wincing when people casually asked about my boyfriend, as I got more graceful at laughing it off and encouraging them to send any eligible bachelors my way. As I continue to watch my daughter develop a personality and learn and grow and blossom.

The lesson that has helped most of all is this: ‘not now’ doesn’t mean ‘not ever.’

It came to me one chilly February morning, tossed out at a seminar with a lot of other really great advice. At a time when I so desperately needed to be reminded of the virtue of patience, of the truth that great things take time. Wine and cheese get better with age- why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t life?

There are plenty of things I don’t have the ability to do right now. They’re expensive or time-consuming or irresponsible. When you have someone else to consider, depending on you like no one ever has before, you start to think the opportunity to do the things you had wanted or dreamed has passed, that the doors are quickly closing on you.

And then you remember: ‘not now’ doesn’t mean ‘not ever.’

One day, you’ll go on that trip, you’ll buy that house with the wraparound porch you’ve always wanted. You’ll drive across the states and see the Grand Canyon and drink a beer in every state in the country, just like you always thought you would.

One day, you’ll fall in love again.

And then you realize: you get to do all of this with the most wonderful little human being you have ever had the pleasure of knowing. How much sweeter will it all be with them by your side?

You’ll get to do all the ‘not nows’ you want- maybe not now, but someday. You may hit a ‘not ever’ or two; but the truth is, everyone has some ‘not evers.’

A year ago I didn’t fully understand that my life was going to take on a lot of ‘not nows.’ I didn’t really comprehend the way my life would have to shift and brake to adjust to parenthood.

But I’ve come a long way, and when I start to get frustrated or feel like I’m missing out on certain experiences I remind myself: ‘not now’ doesn’t mean ‘not ever.’

The really good wine and cheese won’t be ready for another few years, anyway.

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saying goodbye: seeing through the rearview mirror

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“It’s the emptiest and yet the fullest of all human messages: ‘Good-bye.” – Kurt Vonnegut

The last month and a half has been one of the busiest, most unpredictable times in my life. In the past few weeks I’ve seen many endings, and beginnings.

I graduated from college. I went to senior formal with my best friends and I said goodbye to the place I’ve called home for four years. I spent one last week in our apartment giving tearful hugs to friends I don’t know when I’ll see again, finding closure, having a few last family meals and getting completely pulverized in slapcup. I ended my career as a student and looked towards what would follow.

I moved home to welcome post-grad life, I reconnected with my friends and family and I started the job search. I teared up with pride as I watched my little sister graduate from high school at the top of her class, knowing that she has an amazing four years ahead of her.

And then- a few days ago, I lost my grandmother.

It wasn’t unexpected; my family had been preparing for the news for a couple of weeks. My grandma turned 90 two days before she passed, with a group of us singing “Happy Birthday” around her bed on the hospice floor. The news came late one night, and we weren’t surprised; my family had reached another ending together, said another goodbye.

And then the stories were told, details of my grandmother’s life I wish I had thought to delve into sooner. I can’t help but think I should have asked her more about her time in the Navy and her work in D.C.. I should have talked to her about how she met my grandfather, the one I never got to meet (but that my dad assures me would have “liked my spunk”). I should have asked her what college was like when she went, and for more stories about what dad was like when he was little.

Realizations came in waves that grandma’s story is, of course, an important part of mine. That her story is something I should take pride in, and I can only do that if I know what it is.

It’s so easy to see the older people in our lives as stable constants. We’re so focused on our own stories, on the ones we carefully edit via filters and captions on Facebook and Instagram, that we forget to ask about the stories that came before us. We neglect the photos that look old because they ARE old for the ones that look old because we carefully layered ‘Walden’ over ‘1977’ and upped the contrast.

We only learn about grandma’s service in the FBI after she’s gone, and then it’s harder to picture her in her 20’s: serving her country in the war, going to college and falling in love. Meeting grandpa and moving to what became home. My home.

All the endings I’ve witnessed recently have made me pause to reflect on where I’ve been, and where I’m going.

I’m keeping the camera around to take pictures of the stories I’m still writing, and still living- because someday, maybe someone will want to hear them. But I’m putting the camera down long enough to pick up the photo albums that will show me the sides of my family, and myself, that I never knew. I want to ask about the stories that those pictures bring back before there’s no one left who can tell them.

Sometimes when we’re saying goodbye to what’s familiar and don’t know where the road is headed, it helps to glance in the rearview mirror and remember where we’ve come from.

525,600 minutes later

IMG_1328“525,600 minutes. How do you measure a year?”

The end of 2013 is quickly approaching, and just like any other year (however arbitrary that measure of time is) you start to think about how much is different, and how much is the same. Thinking about what’s happened in the past 12 months is enough to make anyone’s head spin. 

2013 was the year I cruelly and selfishly broke someone else to heal myself, and ran from the guilt. It was the year I hugged some of my best friends goodbye on the morning of their graduation and then cried like a baby as soon as they left their apartment.

It was the year I found happiness in London and spent the 4th of July playing foozeball in a pub with the owners after-hours while Rebecca poured her own beer and Victoria flirted with the bartender. It was the year I turned 21, fell unexpectedly but not reluctantly in love, and discovered a passion for pastels.

It was an entire year without Chris and Mr. G, but a whole year with William and Chase.

So, okay, Rent: how do you measure a year? Is there an equation to determine how much you lost, how much you gained? Is there a way to tell how much you’ve changed? Because I know I am not the same person I was last December- and I don’t regret it in the slightest.

Self assessment: since last year, I’m happier but more scared about the future. I get less stressed about the little things but more stressed about what it all means. I’m better at giving myself credit but just as bad at opening bottles of wine.

Benjamin Franklin, that wise, bald man, said something along the lines of ‘when you’re finished changing, you’re finished.’ I couldn’t agree more, Benny. I guess it doesn’t really matter how much I’ve changed- that I’ve changed is enough. And I’m nowhere near ‘finished.’

Maybe I’ll remember 2013 as the year I was ecstatic that I got to be a bridesmaid at Taylor’s wedding, despite the pit in all of our stomachs that one Donato was conspicuously and painfully absent.

Maybe I’ll remember that The Ionian won Organization of the Year and we celebrated with custom-made shot glasses, a scrapbook, and a gin bucket at Meg’s.

Maybe I’ll think of moving into our senior year apartment the day after my 21st, hungover as only a new 21-year-old can be, my parents pointing at me and saying, “do you see what happens when you drink too much?” to my little sister.

I can’t tell you what will come to mind first when I look back on 2013 a few years from now. But I will remember that these 525,600 minutes have changed me- for, I think, the better. I hope I can say the same next December.

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