A year older (and grayer)

The past two weeks saw me through into a new decade. I celebrated my 30th birthday with lots of smiles and my sweet family by my side. I also celebrated my 9th wedding anniversary with Jeff. So many big things, big feelings. I was asked what I felt about it all, and mostly what I could think about was how much gray area there is in this life. I keep running up against situations and moral dilemmas and hear friends speak so firmly about what the right things are, and my wheels just keep turning. I mean, it's an old cliche, right? That the more you grow the less you know? Something like that. Anyway, it's true and it's profound to me. It's reassuring in a way. I'm so glad I don't have to hold all the wisdom of the world, you know? I just get to play my part and live my story, and to do my best to appreciate others and remember that they are living their own. I'm coming into situations and ideas that are genuine in a way I haven't experienced before- less influenced by a desire to please or defend but more to understand. I'm feeling my age starting to free me from some of my old worries (oh, to be replaced by others, surely). I like it. It's a little scary. But definitely awesome. Scary awesome (my favorite thing).

While in this transitional time, I've dealt with some discouragement and feelings of sadness that can't really be placed. I'm also simultaneously kind of elated about everything. I'm sure it's a really complicated thing. Moving is hard, uncertainty is hard. But living out our desires and working towards this life we want is nothing short of a dream for me. I'm finding that I'm doing better and better at allowing these kinds of complicated feelings to exist all at once without trying to banish one or the other and "make sense" of anything. But of course the ability to sit with the strangeness gives way to strange feelings, and so I'm weathering some personal storms. My hope is that with trust in the process and the deep love and support of my people, it will all benefit me in the end. I'm just doing the soul-work needed to open this new big chapter of my life.

Actually, on that note, I have a story about Jeff and I that felt really wow-we've-been-together-a-long-time. We went to my grandmother's funeral. It was a small thing with just family about an hours drive away, and I was really looking forward to it. Not the funeral, exactly, just having us all together as a family. Jeff had a meeting scheduled for that day in the evening, and so we'd hoped to have time for the funeral and the lunch afterwards to visit with folks before we had to leave. Things ended up taking longer than expected and we needed to leave before people even left for the restaurant. We said our sweet goodbyes to family, but as soon as we started the drive home scowls appeared on our faces and tension filled the space between us. I said something about how irresponsible it was to keep a meeting on the day of an important family event. Jeff said something about how he'd checked with people on timing and that this really should have all worked out, how was he to know it would all run long? He then felt bad and wanted to cancel his meeting and turn around. I told him he couldn't- people would be there and he was needed. It hit us. There is no good answer, it just feels bad and didn't work the way we wanted it to. We are disappointed and that's all there is to it. I talked about missing my grandma, he talked about being sad to not fulfill the day we had planned to honor her. We held hands and determined to stick together the rest of the night. We all went to the meeting space together and I got the kids milkshakes and macaroni and we took a walk while Jeff did his thing. We ended the night feeling together and grateful for our full lives.

I guess it seems like nothing, but it's amazing the things we used to bicker about over just generally crappy feelings about things we couldn't control. We'd scramble to make sense of things and unintentionally try to pin it on the other. It sounds mean, but it just happened- a product of defensiveness and youth and fear and lack of introspection and empathy. What do you do but work to grow? But over the past few years? We are so much better at holding each other through the awkwardness and discomfort. We're so much more compassionate and forgiving. I'm so grateful that we ended up in that kind place together, rather than some of the other alternatives. This year I felt really grateful for our relationship, particularly because I've witnessed a lot of other relationships fall apart. For better or worse, it's not my place to say. It just gives me a better grasp on my own real gratitude and the "whys" of all of it, for me. Each time I see someone around me say "no more" I've had to turn to my partner and say "yes" again. It's no small thing to me, and I now know how precarious these things are in a way I think I took for granted before.


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