On the radio a couple of days ago, an NPR commentator summed up the last decade and it was the first time that I actually paid attention to any of the decade-in-review-stuff because I finally made the connection that this decade that we just finished up exactly parallels my first decade as an adult grown-up person. In 1999, I graduated from college, got married and got my first job. Since then, I've been on tour with a theatrical production, become a fairly decent high school teacher, gotten a divorce, got fired from a job I loved, lived on an island, broke my addiction to shopping, built myself a supportive community, developed my storytelling skills by dating some really different men, gotten a Master's Degree, built a fairly gigantic craft supply collection and become a little bit of an artist in the process, gotten married to a man who will help me become everything God wants me to be, and have taken a job that may very well be my niche in the world for years to come.
When I look back on all of that, there are two fairly powerful things that I have experienced that can't be summed up in perky little phrases that pass the parallel structure test in grammar class.
The first is that my relationship with my family has become something that's pretty amazing. We have gotten to a point where we can say to one another, "That thing hurt me," and, most of the time we can get the response, "I'm sorry." Generally, the conversations put us through the wringer emotionally because both of us have to examine ourselves and look at what is ugly in there out loud and using words. But the ultimate apologies (since once we pull apart the situation, it's pretty clear that both of us need to apologize) are not as important as how much better we understand one another. And this repetition of positive conflict resolution just makes home safer and safer as the years go by. How many people can say that? I feel astoundingly lucky. When I say that Jacob has become family, it is this dynamic that I am referring to and I am lucky to have found him, as well.
The second powerful thing is this new person I have become in the last decade. I look back at the woman I was in 1999 and she was sparky and intelligent and passionate and so very, very innocent. She felt like the oldest woman alive but was completely uncomprehending of how the world actually worked and the affect she had on other people. She hurt a lot and was hurt a lot. But she had the space to discover and think and sit down with caring people over tea or dinner and tell them stories and listen to their stories. And so she emerged from the tunnel of her own experience.
I can only imagine that when I look back on 2009, the wide open space around me that I experience now will be a relative tunnel to the place I am when I'm 42. It is a beautiful prospect.
I have recorded only a few New Years on this blog (2006, 2007, and 2009) but I am struck by how tumultuous the first two feel and how much hope is contained in last year's. I am grateful for the progression and, although I know that life is cyclical and I will go back to the tumult, it will be different and there will be hope again also. This decade, it was about finding my place in the world. What will next decade's be? I'm ready to put down roots and stretch out my branches and learn what the weather is like by experiencing it rather than just speculating about it.
Welcome 2010. Let's hold hands and push the door open together, shall we?
as chaperone - I'm just home after a fun and busy week on an island, chaperoning Calvin's cross-country team's annual "running camp". A whole lot of cooking, cleaning, ch...