July 31, 2012

Saying Goodbye

This post has been running through my head for days now, but I'm not sure how to say it.  I'm not sure I can condense it down enough so that anyone would be interested in reading.

How do I say goodbye to this place?

Well, first let's start with why.  I had plans to make an official announcement on my blog months ago, complete with the film images I shot of us apple picking upstate last fall.  But the roll of film is still undeveloped (go figure).  So news spread a bit at a time and now a lot of you already know, but I'm still going to brag about it here.

This guy...
(always looking for an excuse to post a handsome photo of him)
...was accepted to Cornell University!

Not just accepted, but offered an amazing fellowship as well.  I am so very proud of him.  I was proud of him for the job he landed that brought us here, and now I am proud again for his achievements, his drive, and his overall amazing-ness.  But this move - it is very hard to make.

I will miss New York City more than I thought I would.  It's only been two years, but already this place feels like home in so many ways.  I'll miss our neighborhood - the sweet Jewish couples on either side of us, even the somber rabbi that Ellie called Santa a few months ago.  I'll miss the woman down the hall with the beautiful sleeve of tattoos and her charming curly-headed daughter.  I'll miss Bennett playground with the helicopter parents that have become so familiar.  The old ladies sunning in the park who bless my children as we walk by.  On a bright, breezy day there is no place better to walk than our little neighborhood. I'll miss the cabbies on 187th and the smell of laundry on the street.

Of course there are lots of smells and sights I will not miss when we leave here, but why spoil a good post by mentioning them? (I'll just remind myself of those things when I'm buried in snow upstate)

I plan on posting a list of my NYC favorites, but it's not the museums or parks or anything else that has made living here completely unforgettable.  It is the people. They are what we will miss the most.  What is it about this city that attracts the most vibrant, interesting people in the world?  How were we lucky enough to know so many phenomenal human beings in our short stay here?
Ellie even found love in NYC.
Oh Bea.
There are lots of photos of her here.
An entire post could be devoted to how much this woman means to me.
But I know she hates sentimental goodbyes.
So we'll just leave it at this:
My girls sure love her.  And so do I.
Our friends here have been like family in so many ways.  I love each of them and we have all shared so much in these brief two years.  They have been companions in adventure and helping hands in times of need.  There are far too many stories to recount here.  So much laughter, a fair amount of tears; hugs and meals and advice passed across the mother's lounge.  The give and take of everyday life that makes a friendship well worn and comfortable - how readily I found that here.

I think it's hard to imagine leaving because I feel that here is where I really began to grow into myself. 

I remember standing at the top of the subway stairs when we first arrived here, completely lost as to how I should get myself and my baby down to the platform.  Now I lift the stroller without hesitation and feel the strength of my arms and the determination in my gut.  I am more sure-footed than I was two years ago.  More comfortable in my own skin.  More open to experiencing all that life has to offer.  NYC has taught me that I have the strength to do it alone, but also that it's a small miracle to rely on the kindness of strangers and passers-by.  It's here that I worked up the gumption to birth my baby at home, to chase a dream, to wear jeans that taper at the ankle.  So much LIFE has happened here and I will take it with me.  I'll pack it away within my heart and take the pulse of the city along as I go.  Turning toward the next adventure, I feel so grateful for everything this place has taught me. 
My home is wherever these people are.  And now that we've made it in NYC, I can't wait to see how we'll make it home, wherever we are.

July 24, 2012

Birthday Eve

Hi friends - it's me.  See me up there? I'm rowing in Central Park.
Well, Joe is rowing.
I am posing for photos.

So it's my birthday tomorrow.  I'm sitting here thinking about how 25 didn't feel as epic as I thought it would.  For some reason I thought 25 would be the peak of my young adulthood.  It was definitely not the year I was expecting.  And tomorrow I will be 26.  I don't think I'll feel much different from the way I feel now.  Strange thing, birthdays.

I wonder if I'll think of Mom tomorrow.  Afterall, she did a lot of the work on my birthday - the work of getting me here.  Maybe I'll summon the courage to crack open my baby book and read the handwritten birth story she recorded.  But maybe I'll save that for another day.  I've never read it, and I wonder how her thoughts about bringing life into the world will seem to me now.  Now that I have brought forth life and hers is no more.  A lot can happen in 25 years.

I had a much different plan for how this year would go for me - even made a list of things I'd hoped to accomplish.  I did birth that baby (a story I've been meaning to share, but have yet to sit down to) And I did a lot of reading.  My favorite books were In Defense of Food and This I Believe.  I didn't make it to another country or go sailing but I did pick apples in the fall.  I purchased a couple different eyeliners but have yet to open any of them.  The list I made last year looks so girlish to me now.  So naive.  It's as though years have passed instead of months.  I know I'm not that much wiser than I was a year ago, but I have figured out one thing.

I am not in control.  Of any of it.  I could write a whole novel about all the things I once thought I could control but have since realized I cannot.  Suffice it to say, this year there is no real list.  Nothing I can check off.  This year I will continue my journey toward living the most authentic life I can muster.  There is so much to learn about surrender and acceptance and love.  My goals for 26 are not as defined as they were for 25.  But if I had to put them in writing, it would look something like this.
                                                                More digging in the dirt.
                                                                    More deep breaths.
                                                              Less television.
                                                                  More books.
                                                             More letters.
                                                      Less internet.
                                                          More inward reflection.
                                                                           Less comparison.
                                                   More art and laughter and creation.
                                                                   Less consumption.
                                                         More time outside.
                                                              Less drive for perfection.
                                                         More hugs.
                                                               More giving and receiving.
                                                         More honesty.
                                                                More abundance.

I don't know how to end a post like this, so here is a photo of Joe.  I don't talk about him much here, but he is absolutely my solid place. 25 would have been unbearable without him.  The kindness of his heart comes right through his eyes, and I am so grateful that he's mine.
I love him so much, in fact, that I accidentally picked out glasses identical to his. 
So now when people see us on the street, there is no mistaking that we are a match.
Lucky me.

July 21, 2012

How She Grows

Well, this little one will be 7 months old tomorrow.  But today she is still 6 months old, so in my mind that makes it more OK for me to show how much she's grown in the last few months.  Poor Wren, the classic second child.  I do take plenty of pictures of her.  It's just not always a photo shoot, and it's not always on the day she hits a milestone, and it's not always with my professional camera.  But there are benefits to being the second child as well - so I think she'll turn out just fine.

Here we have a little collection of photos (point and shoot, SLR, and phone images)to show how my sweet bird has grown.  Prepare your heart - it's melting time.
4 months old
Spit up on the face - a common occurrence for little Wren.
Also common - the concerned face.
It is the expression she wears most.
But when she's not worried, she is SUPER smiley!
5 months old
Those eyelashes, those teeth, that super efficient scoot.
At 5 months she was a full fledged baby.
6 months old
She is adventurous, smiley and super cuddly with her momma.  She is growing her top two eye teeth before the middle.  So right now she looks like a hillbilly, but I hope she'll be a vampire in time for Halloween.  Her dark hair always elicits comments, as do her Disney princess eyes.  She likes to wrestle with her dad and Ellie and hates to be left out of a party.  On the verge of crawling, but I think she won't do that long before she stands.  She chirps when she's happy and squawks when she's angry and has an ear piercing cry if you can't figure it out quickly.  She is our tiny adorable bird, and we are so very glad she's ours.  We love you, Wren Josephine!

Reviewing my Blog

Wow.  I have been away from this blog for so long.  But this blog has never been far away from me.  It always lurks in the back of my mind - I just don't know where to start.  There is a list on my phone of things to blog about.  Everything from updates about the growth of my girls to soul searching posts about the meaning of life.  There are titles ruminating like:

How to mourn with those that mourn - a guide for dummies
Losing your mom means never having to say I'm sorry
Mothering should be a half day activity

I want to write the thoughts that constantly course through my mind, the lessons I learn everyday, and just the mundane stories that will mean something to my family with the passing of years.

But I get stuck when I try to make things make sense.  [like that sentence for example]  It is hard to blog about life when life is so hard to nail down.  It's sloppy and unorganized and real.  It's a mish-mash of emotion.  It's difficult to organize my thoughts in my own mind, and harder still to prepare them for publication with matching photos and put them up here in an order that makes any sense at all.

I've thought about doing a Flashback Week - because we've had adventures that I'd like to share and memories I'm desperate to preserve.  Flashback Week represents my need to keep everything in some kind of order.  My obsession with perfection.  Isn't so much of blogging about that, in one way or another?  Searching for a way to present our lives to each other?  Trying to present it in a way that's neater than how we live it?  Ah yes, that is a post for another day.

I'm rambling now.  Let's get back today.  Today I sat down today to put up a post about Wren and how much she's growing.  And I looked through my old posts to figure out the last time there was a documentation of her age and development.  And in looking through the last few months, I realized how much this blog is a true reflection of my life.  Crazy things have happened!

I had a baby in December.
When that baby was 1 week old, my oldest daughter went into the hospital.
When that baby was 3 months old, my mother took her life.
These are all big big things.
And along the way there was normal life - and that baby just kept growing.
And now the baby is almost 7 months old.
We move to a new town next week.  Starting over in so many ways.
A birth, a death, a move - it's a lot to experience in the course of a year.

Looking over these old posts of mine and actually seeing a record of what we've been through has helped me stop obsessing about this blog.  It's a record.  It's not perfect, but it's authentic.  And that's what I've really been focusing on lately.  How to live the most authentic life I can.  And how to like the fact that it's not perfect in any way.

Kind of like these photos.  It was Memorial Day and I just really wanted that perfect, family-history-worthy photo of my daughters together.  But that's not what I got.
I didn't get a single photo where they were both smiling and someone's hand wasn't in the way.  In fact, I didn't get many photos where one of them doesn't look on the verge of death.  I was so frustrated at the time that I couldn't get my perfect photo.  But now I'm glad.  Because these pictures show so much more about who we are.  About what life is like right now.

And that is what I hope for this blog.  Maybe I will still do Flashback Week.  Hopefully I will one day find the time and the words to talk more about the lessons of grief and the lessons on life.  And I hope it can be forgiven if all is not presented here in a chronological order.  Because this blog is going to be an honest, authentic record of who I am and what I think.  And thank you, whoever you are, for reading it.