they pay to kiss your feet

since there's no one else around, we let our hair grow long and forget all we used to know. then our skin gets thicker from living out in the snow.

Friday, December 16, 2005

365 days to get it right

It never fails. Every year about mid-December, I take a look back and examine how I spent that year’s days. I’ll admit there have been years when I haven’t like what I’ve remembered. Years spent in selfish pursuit. Years spent stewing over the little things that affected me in huge ways — ways that I let them affect me, ways extremely blown out of proportion. Years when it seemed I was the living example of an emo song, a rollercoaster of emotions and tears and smiles and joy and pain, all meshed together to form a really good looking scarf or something. You know, something to adorn myself with so that I didn’t look so broken or so confused or so emotionally spent.

And even though those years look a lot like a matronly shift dress, grey wool, itchy with no lining, the kind that is painful to wear unless it’s placed over full-body covering undergarments and thick tights, looking back, I see the value of a shift dress kind of year. Going through those years, climbing those foothills that lead to mountain after mountain, made me stronger. And mostly, those kind of years make me appreciate the value of a year like the last one.

A year that I turned 26, which sounds much older and more mature that 25. A year that saw me run my first road race ever — a 4-miler— and then months later, run a half marathon. A year in which I made the very scary decision to run a full marathon in the fall of 2006. I also braved my first business trip and completely alone hotel room stay. I made great friends this year, friendships that helped me grow in my relationship with God, friendships that helped me feel needed and beautiful and smart. I switched jobs, took on more responsibility and successfully gained new freelance clients. I became a better wife and a better friend and a better daughter. And, I’ve become an aunt before my time to my best friend’s baby. I was there the day Liliana was born, and I continue to marvel at the way that Rachel really is a mother now and the way that Lily seems to know just when to make me laugh.

But it wasn’t all easy. From afar, I watched a man find out he had cancer and then lose his leg to the disease. Now, he’s learning to walk with his prosthesis and learning to live with one limb forever gone. I’ve watched another friend come to terms with a gay brother and, I’ve seen him make the very conscious decision to love him anyway. And I watched my own family become two separate units — an ending that seemed already written has now become open-ended with the possibility of step-parents and step-siblings and weddings that I never imagined I’d attend. I’ve watched my brother move away, again, but I’ve seen him happier than ever and now, I’m helping my sister plan her wedding, in which I will be the matron of honor.

This year has been anything but a shift dress. Instead, it’s been an a-line mid-weight wool skirt with lining. One just sharp enough to wear to work for a meeting or to dinner on the weekend. One that doesn’t need the addition of a slip or tights because the inside lining is silky and soft. One that with the adjustment of the shoe and blouse component can take me straight through winter, spring and autumn. One that in the summer, sits in a garment bag because it’s that special, and because with it hanging in my closet during the hot, terribly humid Midwest summer, I will remember that it will be wrinkle-free and ready to send me out the door singing when the weather is right.


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