Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Multiply life by the power of two

Sitting in an airport for six hours on standby gives a woman plenty of time to indulge the wandering and thoughtful mind. Literally, thoughtfull.

How about the incredible success of technology? Without a computer or lap-top, still I have the world wide web at my fingertips. The Blackberry was perhaps a dangerously efficient invention. It allows me to be "plugged-in" and "connected" at all times. What happens to one's love of books when the newer more interactive FACEbook is around? I look around me and see phones even greater than mine... A seven year old child across from me is watching the movie "Up" on her mother's remarkable iPhone.

I find myself straying from topic...

I wanted really to talk about growth, and the creation of families. I had the wonderful blessing of spending the last few days in the lovely Columbia Missouri visiting my childhood friend. Married three years ago a month from today, she and her husband have a new 9 month old baby. Having known Jessica for 10 years, half of which were explosive adolescent years, much history has been logged in and between us. At 25 going on 26 now, the changes do not seem to have slowed. If anything, they've excellerated, but with much greater meaning and more expensive implications.

Children, for one, are at the forefront of such changes. I long for a child myself, but having not yet gone through this particular change do not often grasp the magnitude of the change behind my procreative desires.

What has made my relationship with Jessica such a deep and profound one is the propensity for empathy with one another that allows us to understand eachother - usually without words - to such a degree that my own feelings can sometimes be indistinguishable from hers. This remarkable gift allows me to feel, or empathically grasp, an experience she is having that I have not yet had; in this case, a child.

Of course, there remains some basic level of separation in that I cannot fully and completely know her situation. However, there are definitely moments of enlightenment, moments when the separateness of my experience from hers fades enough for me to become aware of the experience as she is encountering it. The result is such that, in short, I've been blown away.

What does it mean to have a child? Starting your day at 6am, regardless of your own needs. Strict routines, constant watching-out, and countless personal sacrifices. Among these challenges though, there is a joy I've never seen before, except perhaps for rare moments with my own mother. The joy is untouchable, and for the most part unexplainable as well.

The first night there Jess's husband was finishing his nursing precept, which meant he wouldn't be home until early the next morning. To keep one another company, Jess and I slept in the bed together. Like children again, we stayed up long after the lights had been put out, tucked in the covers chatting about boys - old loves, new loves, our mothers, thoughts, lessons. In the morning, like an alarm clock, the baby woke right on queue at 6am. Obediently, Jess went to the baby's crib and brought him into the bed with us. This was the rare moment for me that I wouldn't have ordinarily been able to have... Experiencing what her life is like as a young mother, - the more intimate hours of dawn when her and her husband would be the two lying with the baby. Like a true 9-month old who has first learned to use his arms and legs, Finn climbed on our bodies like they were new mountains to uncover. Baby hands grabbed at my nose, pressed into my stomach and chest. The sounds of his cooing, not unlike a bird's, were the fresh morning sounds I had the pleasure of waking to.

I don't think these experiences have pushed me in one direction or another as far as my desires for motherhood are concerned. I've been more moved by the transformations I see in my best friend and the love that exists between her and her young family - husband, wife, and baby. On a more personal note, I've turned inward and given more acceptance to where I am now in my own life. A single woman in a new relationship. Unmarried. No children. Fresh out of college. I'm still figuring a lot of things out. Simple things, even, like what I prefer to wear to the grocery store: jeans or a skirt? Am I more casual or concerned? How can I meditate more? These kinds of questions are happily at the forefront of my mind.

I always thought the saying "be where you are" was somewhat cliche. But I think I've actually begun to really understand the importance and the gift behind that neo-phrase. Whether I am me or her, embracing where we are right now means opening ourselves to the gifts life has for us each as individuals. I enjoyed this trip immensley, and I am looking so forward to being home with the many awaiting projects. Even sitting in this airport, now in the fifth hour of what will prove to be an eight hour delay, I'm embracing the gift of time - the gift of the present.
(Me and Finn with Mr. Blue Elephant)

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