Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Frosting in the Northeast

I wrote and posted this post on In the Warm Hold last night and then it occoured to me that it really belonged here as well. As I've said many times, I try not to cross post too much because what's the point then? But I started this post thinking it'd be a picture post for the regular blog and it spiraled into a bunch of my thoughts on staying and leaving and beauty and difficulty, which is the kind of post I like to share in this space. It actually occurred to me awhile back that there are a handful of post here that I want there as well and a handful there that I want here, so I'll be doing a little reposting. More on that later, though...

We got our first real, big snow a few weeks back. They were predicting we'd get a lot more and people were kind of going crazy worrying about the "historic blizzard". Well, mostly Minnie. I got this frantic email from her about it, warning us to stock up and prepare for the electricity to go out (not really a concern in our massive complex). Between ISIS, the "riots" Fox News convinced them have been happening here for the last four months, and this I'm almost sure I'm going to come home to a couple of patients with massive stomach ulcers. [Mick's comfort item is his Pepto bottle, FYI.]

But also I actually saw someone comment on a friend's Instagram that she was in the Trader Joe's in Brooklyn and there was a woman griping about them being out of goat's milk and organic kale. Because those are necessities in a weather emergency right? If you're a North Brooklyn hipster, they sure are. So the fear was real. Even for the Yankees.

Anyway, I was so excited Peyton had the day off. It was a real experience. We thought we'd head over to an adjoining neighborhood to catch some friends sledding, but we realized quickly that was not happening (some areas hadn't been plowed yet). So we just walked to our little neighborhood park. We did spot a bus with chains all around its tires, which I thought was interesting. So much I didn't even think about before living here.

The snow at the park was basically untouched. It was soft and fluffy and perfect. Cold, but as perfect as six inches of frozen matter can be. There's still a good bit of snow on the ground, but these days it's brown and hard as a rock.

I wonder if when we get home, I'll remember the snow as a freezing cotton ball of beauty or as my rock hard nemesis- a potential danger at worst, an annoyance at best. I sort of hope it remains the former in my memory, although that might bring some heartache so maybe it's best if I remember the most of the time (hard, brown) reality. I don't know, even if the snow remains pure and perfect in my reflections, I feel confident the hardships of Winter are etched on my memory. It is clear to me that my body wasn't made for this climate and this Winter I've wondered if my soul maybe wasn't either.

Last Winter I took to it so easily. I was talking with Minnie about why and I think a lot of it was knowing that a good bit of Winter had already passed when we moved. And knowing how much fun we'd have in the warmth if we were having that much fun in the cold.

But I also was God's grace. I have a friend and it's almost a running joke now how much I've been attributing to the Lord's grace lately. I think, for some reason, it's just become much more evident to me and I see Him in the details more. And as I look back on those early days here, equally cold if not colder than the days I've been surviving lately, I know it was. Because my first six weeks here had been this tough and this bitter and this cold? If they had left me so physically dry and so emotionally isolated? I don't know that I ever would have let my heart love this place like it did.

But here I am. Loving the place to the point of grieving our departure in a pretty intense way already. Loving it so much that I often tear up thinking back over our adventures here. Loving it in spite of the chaffing lonely parts and loving it because of the soothing words and friendly faces that ease that pain and discomfort. 

I know I'll remember the hard things about this journey and the beautiful ones. I'll likely remember the snow both on the days we played in it, fresh fallen and pure and the days I shuffled around it, hard and ugly and a hazard particularly for my small people.

I'll remember Brooklyn as a difficult dirty place to live and also as the setting of one of the most incredibly beautiful adventures of my adult life. I'm thankful for both, actually, because both have transformed me and I know I'll never be the same. And I'll treasure the memories of both in my heart.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The First Goodbye (or "Damn,That was Draining")

I had thought that tonight I'd either work on recapping my 2014 goals on the main blog or that I'd not blog at all and go to bed early. I realized I needed to get a few things out, though.

I'm super hormonal (not the pregnant kind, the kind that indicates one is not pregnant), I've been struggling with some stuff lately, and I had a really restless night a couple of nights ago and I woke up this morning just feeling like I had already been run over by a bus. I hate WAKING UP feeling like that. It took us (read: me) forever to get our stuff together and get on the road for the day's adventures and Peyton was understandably frustrated with me and I was with myself. Graves had a generally cranky (and also quite disobedient) day for some reason and really, Annie was the only one of the four of us that didn't spend the majority of the day in some sort of funk. It was extremely out of character for Peyton and Graves (less out of character for me than I'd like to admit).

Anyway, we walked to the piers and played on some awesome playgrounds because though it was cold, it was sunny, and by Yankee standards not unbearable. It's a long walk and we were hustling and I was carrying a book I had gotten to give as a present to Annie's ballet teacher. I actually ended up getting warm and taking off my coat and carrying it as well. So carrying this really bulky coat and also a hardback children's book with a book jacket that I'm trying to be really delicate with so it won't tear (which is why I didn't shove it in a bag or in the stroller). The whole thing was just physically uncomfortable. Then this lady kind of fussed at Peyton because he didn't "let her know" we were behind her when her and her dog were taking up the entire sidewalk. We didn't run her over or anything, of course, she just didn't realize we were there until we got pretty close. He got so irritated with the situation and again, that's so unlike him.

We got to the playground, though, and of course it was totally empty. We played with the kids and slid down the slides ourselves and climbed up them and played in the "bamboo forest" that surrounded them and just sat in the warm sunshine. It was wonderful. We ate a quick snack and headed to ballet.

It was Annie's last class and observation day and I took a bunch of pictures with the big camera and even some videos. Graves behaved so incredibly well. And we gave Miss Patty the children's book I had told her about awhile back and knew I had to get for her when she mentioned her own little girl last week.

I was a little sad to say goodbye to this little piece of Brooklyn that's weekly been a part of our lives for the last six months. I realized last week I would be. I'm not sure if it's because I just love Annie's teacher (a Southern transplant herself) or because I saw how much Annie adored it or because it was our first real goodbye. Or because of those non-baby related hormones. Whatever it was, it was pretty draining. Especially after already having that hit by the bus feeling.

I think some of it has to do with the fact that it's a very permanent, very definite closing of a chapter. While I don't know the extent of how strongly the friendships we've made here will be maintained, I know the important ones will be on some level. I know we'll come back and worship at our old churches, eat dinner with our old friends, and visit our favorite spots. Peyton and I have resolved that we'll visit as frequently as is practical and I know with modern technology, we'll be able to keep up to some degree with our important people and groups.

That's not really the case with Annie's little ballet studio. Tonight we closed the door on that forever. The chaotic waiting area that I used to dread sitting in for an hour with Graves but then became such a special time for just us. The worn out ballet slipper attached to a key that you picked up from a basket to unlock the restroom (shared building, so Brooklyn). The split second strip down from her street clothes to her leotard in the chaotic waiting area that Annie got so skilled at executing. The studio area that was separated by only a curtain so we could hear little girl giggles and classical music (as well as some Cold Play, on occasion), and Miss Patty's kind voice that had such a fancy, proper feel to it when she said "time to begin, my ballerinas in blue!" with almost the pitch of an opera singer. And Miss Patty herself, who I had just recently made friends with and discussed the struggles and joys of city life and who encouraged Annie, and also specifically Graves (she asked several times if he would like to learn when he was big enough), in learning a love of ballet.

I'll probably never see Miss Patty again. Never take the G train two stops and walk down Schermerhorn and do that split second strip down. Never break up a fight over who gets to hold the shoe key. [I mean, unless of course we go home, conceive another child, wait three or so years and move back to Brooklyn where she (or he) then takes ballet from Patty Foster and uses a shoe key for the bathroom and watches her (or his momma) handle the train with three (or so) kids. We've talked about it, actually.]

So it was a sad sort of goodbye, being such a final one.

And being sentimental is pretty much my spiritual gift. Or the curse of Satan. Whichever way you want to look at it.

Awhile after we started walking home Graves began crying and when we asked him what was wrong he said he "didn't get to hug Miss Patty". It broke my heart a little but Peyton sort of scoffed it because he said Graves barely knew her (of course he didn't say that to Graves, just to me). I explained that we had started visiting with her some because we're the last people out of there after Annie's class because I have to get Annie dressed and take them both to the bathroom (part of having a compulsive child means she teetees before she leaves any building with a bathroom). He understood, but he was tired and frustrated and after a good while of moaning, he got on to Graves a bit and then told him he needed to try to take his mind off of it. That's not how I like to handle emotions (distraction) and we had that talk later and Peyton agreed and said in the future he'd engage or step back and let me if he was too frazzled (which I get...sometimes I'm too frazzled and distracting is all I can do). And so that was fine and worked through. But it did leave me a lot more drained.

I also realized tonight that, especially if we stick with homeschooling, it is incredibly INCREDIBLY important that the children's teachers/coaches in extracurriculars are not just good at teaching them a skill but are super encouraging, passionate people who exude kindness and have strong character. That is a tall order, but I have no doubt Jackson is full of people like that. So I learned something new! But still, DRAINED.

And I have cried off and on all night and have such a terrible headache from it. The worst is that I know this is just the beginning of saying goodbye (and of helping our children say goodbye). And that's a little frightening. And draining.