Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lesson Five: THIS

I stumbled upon an old journal from over a decade ago.  In it was a abruptly written budget from our days as a brand new family. At first glance I was taken back by the amount of money we had budgeted on groceries - FIFTY DOLLARS. I can't even walk through the door of a grocery store without spending fifty dollars these days. I found it amusing that our bill has increased by 500%, of course our family size has increased nearly as much.  The amusement faded quickly as the reality of today's shopping trip surfaced and the business of four kids tied up the hours and minutes of my time. However, I found my thoughts continuously drifting back...

That journal, that writing, is more than just words on a bound piece of paper. It's a time machine of sorts, offering glimpses of the life I was just beginning ten years ago.

We weren't even married at that point, but living together in a very expensive, fancy pants, brand new apartment. It was an entirely empty, just built complex and I am certain the only reason we were approved is they did no reference checking and no credit checks. We had no rental history and no credit - which is just as a hindrance as having bad credit.   It was incredibly out of our price range and looking back, I have no idea how we afforded it. The rent we paid then matches the house payments of today, ten years later.

I was so happy about having our own apartment and it stood such a testament to two young hippie kids trying to prove everyone wrong. We could in fact do this. THIS. This, being a family - this, being parents - this, being responsible, contributing members of society, this, being a young couple who loved each other and actually survived time and circumstance.

A psychedelic, amateurish Jerry Garcia painting I was given hung on the wall, tyedie tapestries draped the windows, bouquets of dried flowers served as borders and candle sticks abounded. My, out-of- necessity, thrift store couch was our only furniture. The over sized, deluxe card table we were given acted as a make shift dining room table, though it held nothing but our dinosaur of a computer and probably a mess of  "Pre-Approved Credit Card!" mail.  Praise Jesus, I had enough sense to not acquire a line of credit at that time. Perhaps He and I both  knew that Pier One around the corner would draw me deep into unnecessary debt or that we'd use it for much more practical things, like paying our bills so we could buy pot.

Our entertainment was provided by a 13 inch black and white TV that had a high pitch squeal to it after you had watched it for over an hour. Not to fear, if you hit it hard enough the sound would stop, and you could watch one of the two channels it received. Showtime at the Apollo, Xena Warrior Princess and Austin City Limits kept me company often as I waited for my not yet husband to return from working late night.  I had brought with me one of the last Christmas presents from my childhood - a very nice stereo system. I'd sit and listen to Grateful Dead albums over and over and over while I pretended to sew a terribly constructed, though loved filled, baby quilt. I'd write pages in my journal and record my unabashed, perhaps naive, view of the future.

The apartment in all it's brand spankin' new splendor, had a terribly tiny kitchen. You could barely fit two people between it's counters but, there, amongst those new appliances is where I began my journey to learn how to cook. I was carrying the baby of a Chef, you know. That fellow introduced me to something called flavor and it was found outside of salt, pepper and garlic. Some of those dishes I mastered still appear on my menu from time to time: homemade Alfredo, scrumptious risotto, and Angle hair pasta with chicken, feta, spinach, tomatoes, and artichokes. We may not have had coca-cola classic, but we always had farm fresh vegetables,  fresh herbs and pasta. Viola. Dinner.

It was the place where I waited out the hours and minutes of the last three months of our unexpected, but welcomed pregnancy. The baby to be had a jungle themed nursery and an antique crib filled to the brim with everything this new life could possibly need and many things that I'd never buy again with future pregnancies. I spent so many hours in that room, looking into that crib, rubbing my belly in anticipation. I was uncertain of the future, but the love in my heart adamantly reaffirmed my decision to do THIS.

The master bedroom was bigger than the rest of the apartment combined with a master bath that could make Kings envious. So would the faux gold plated, hideous, ginormous, straight out of the 50's, Eagle lamp that sat on a nightstand. It was so very ugly but made us laugh every time we turned on the light. We joked about passing it down to our children and making them ask, "Whaaat?".  I lust for the closet space we had there. Of course, at that time, it was filled with bongs and memory boxes and letters from puppy lovers. It was there where we spent a full 24 hours in bed on a rainy day, doing nothing but watching the rain, listening to music, talking about the future,  making love, and napping - only waking to do it all again. I've never had a day like that since - as soon after that day our new baby arrived. 

That fancy pants apartment became a monument of where a selfish, spoiled, organic young woman became a mother. It was where we brought the most beautiful sight our eyes had ever seen home - Where we began fumbling our way around this thing called parenthood. We might not have known exactly what we were doing but man, our hearts exploded every time we looked at what our love had made.

It was also where we realized that THIS wasn't as easy as the movies made it out to be. Two young people who barely knew each other were now entrenched by our own selfish desires to live the life we previously knew, only to find it conflicted with things like bills, work and responsibility. Not to mention a new life that depended on our every decision.  Growing up was now a necessity not just an option.

Communication was not an option either if we were to make this relationship work. Many times I couldn't find the words to verbalize how I was feeling so I would write them in a messy, confusing array of entries in random journals. I wasn't writing them to keep them private; I was writing them to share. I can still see him coming home from work, hugging his baby, kissing me, and then sitting down on that ugly brown, second hand couch. I'd hand over the journal and watch him read my words. He never once made light of my feelings or questioned why I couldn't just SAY what I was feeling. He realized that writing was an innate part of me, and he wasn't just reading my feelings about our latest argument but he was looking into the deepest canyons of who I really was - the real deal that came out through written words.

On that same couch with Jerry looking on, Dave Matthews Band filling the air, early morning sun streaming through the windows, and a baby quietly sleeping,  He took a beautifully dainty, very simple ring and asked me to be his wife.

No matter how hard it had already proved to be, no matter how many people thought we were heading towards disaster, we both knew that we could do THIS.

++++

Today, I am thankful for THIS.