03 January 2009

begin again.

In my estimation, this new year is off to a pretty good start. I just put the first roast chicken of 2009 into the oven with garlic, lemon, and a stick of rosemary--the only non-brown plantlife on our porch. The chicken reminds me that we are settling back into a routine of familiar things. And we've seen many friends since returning from a holiday vacation in Pennsylvania that brought a very good end to 2008. At home, we've spent equal time resting and being productive. Aside from the general cleaning, laundry, food replenishing, and un-trimming the house of its tinsel, we also finally got around to decorating Eli's room with a gallery of prints I've had set aside. He still lets me rock him to sleep some nights (an indulgence I know won't last forever), and it's nice to have something to look at by the lamplight while he drools sweetly on my sleeve and drifts off...

We're only three days in and I'm optimistic, as I think back to days behind and look forward to plans for the three-hundred-and-sixty-two before me. It occurred to me, while sprinkling herbs on the chicken, the way that we measure our life in years and mark them as good, bad, difficult, or worth repeating. Jeremy, the history major, says this last year was one of his hardest, mainly owing to the physical and mental challenges of home-renovation, coupled with transitional changes for us as a family. For me, it was definitely transitional, but also filled with a great deal of joy and creativity. I've relished piecing together this home bit by bit, watching Eli grow into it as he simultaneously grows out of his size four shoes. I've painted a lot of walls and produced a lot of art which has been gratifying work. I've sold my first paintings and seen long-forgotten things through a toddler's eyes. (Also, I do not dislike change as much as my husband, and I know his labor this year was far more painstaking, so it's easier for me to regard the time as well spent.)

In some ways, they've all started to run together---the years---into a giant collage of events, some significant, others less so. There was the year I taught myself how to knit. The year we went to Europe. The year we had a baby. The year of the unfortunate eyebrows. The year we got all that snow and people abandoned their cars on the highway.

I know, as I glance at my life backward, that 2005 was my hardest year by far, and sometimes I feel too much altered by the experience of watching my father die up close. Many days I see myself still trying to get back to who I was before, or maybe it's forward; I'm not sure. But to be entirely candid--because possibly this is a year of being even more honest in my writing--I can pinpoint when it happened, on an afternoon that October while sitting alone in the driver's seat of my dad's truck in some Houston parking lot. I had just left the hospital for the day, couldn't bring myself to drive any farther, and knew in that moment that I would never be the same again. It was scary to witness a change like that so sharply, to know that you are being scarred deeply and permanently by such aching beauty with no way to escape it. It was the moment something inside me grew up for the better and that some selfishness was lost, but with it, any lingering innocence too.

When I created this blog just two months before, I had no idea what was coming. Instead, I was grieving the loss of a favorite city after the hurricane. Maybe not grieving. Weighing. I had called my dad to see what he thought about the whole tragic thing. A few weeks later, I was in the produce aisle squeezing avocados when he called me back with news that felt much like the blindsiding unknown of that earlier storm, only standing alone in the center of it.

It is funny the way that we mark our lives by years, and our years by adjectives of what they meant and how we feel looking back on them. I know that for some, 2009 is already a year of heartache and disappointment. I know that for me it is marked by a hope for continued recovery.

Little things are reminders of what is true. Like the chicken in the oven. Good friends who are not afraid to have a fight at your table because they trust you enough. Kids for your kids to grow up with and bake pretend cookies in a cardboard oven. Provision upon provision, in spite of doubt. Hard work and the fruit that comes of it. Memories, and the empty blank slate of a year that holds the promise of being filled, come what may.

9 comments:

The Morginskys said...

perhaps the best post you've ever written. beautiful.

Christine said...

I agree...every word is perfect. This morning, I wore the soft white scarf you made me...I'm glad you had "the year of knitting". :)

jenni said...

Kierst, I really appreciate your honest-writing here. It is beautiful, and wise, and somehow exactly what I needed to read today. I'm inspired by the great woman you've become through all kinds of years. I pray this year is an extra good one for you, Jeremy, and Eli.

jenni said...

Also, I'd love to hear more about "The year of the unfortunate eyebrows." :)

lisa said...

beautiful kierst. you are a wonderful writer sweet friend.

Jenifer said...

truly amazing. blessed to have found your blog, girl. and honored to call you friend :)

jeremy said...

just re-read this again. you are so awesome. i'm so glad you are my sweet wife!

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