I have a problem. It might not be viewed as a problem for others, but it’s a problem for me. I’m going to call it “my unfinished journal” problem. You see, I have an entire box (let’s be honest – several boxes) full of unfinished journals from throughout my life. For as long as I can remember I’ve kept a journal. And for as long as I can remember I have never filled all the pages of a journal. I start out motivated, but if I miss a few days or weeks and then sit down to write again it feels like weeds have grown over and I’m just not a gardener so I let them grow, toss the journal in to a box and start fresh. This blog is hanging on the brink of becoming yet another unfinished journal. And if I hadn’t told people about it I think I’d find a way to tuck it neatly in to a virtual unfinished journal box and let the weeds take over.
But I have these really great people in my life who are holding me accountable. You know who you are. You kindly ask me why I haven’t been writing, or tell me you miss my writing. (Thanks for that by the way. My love language is words of encouragement and those questions and comments nudge their way deep inside my heart. They give me motivation to start clearing those weeds away.) The thing is, I have another problem. I like order. And if I just pick up right now without filling in this six month gap of memories I feel like I’m betraying them. Then I feel guilty and like I’ve failed at keeping order. I just re-read that and realize how ridiculous it sounds. But it’s true, so I’m keeping it there.
I started this blog to document this life in this city that we still pinch ourselves at the thought of living in. But I need to start giving myself some grace when things get out of order. (I just reread that too and my heart started racing at the thought of things getting out of order. I think I’ll need more than “some grace”. Let’s say I’m going to give myself “heaps and heaps of grace”.) There may be things we experience here that I really wanted to write about, but more experiences got in the way and I never found the time. I don’t want the guilt of that to bully me away from writing again. And I also just want to write. Not only about what we did here, but who we are and what we think and how this life is changing who we are and what we think.
I’m starting something tomorrow to stand up to this bully in me that tells me I should just give up on writing if I can’t keep up with it. I signed up for a six week writing workshop. My hands started shaking as I typed that. I don’t remember the last time I’ve been this nervous about something. Me? A writing workshop? But I’m not a writer. The teacher in me just reminded me of all the times in my classroom students hung their heads told me that same thing. And my response every single time was that if they have a life they have a story, and if they have a story they can write it, so they’re a writer. So there you go. I’m going to take my own encouragement to heart and just do this.
But before I do, I have to acknowledge these last six months in writing. They’ve been pretty great and I don’t want to let the memories fade away. But the recap I had planned started getting longer and longer and more and more list-like. I was up to 7 pages before I realized that this isn’t going to fix my unfinished journal problem. I wish I would have taken the time to write about the Broadway show memories – like singing Amazing Grace with tears in my eyes with an entire theater of people or finally understanding the hype around Wicked with my mom, aunt and cousin, or watching the magic that is The King and I with a sweet friend on a girls night out, or going back again to see A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder because I knew Brett and my parents would love it as much as I did. I wish I would have taken the time to write about all the great music we’ve seen lately – like reliving our high school days with a good friend singing Dispatch songs at Madison Square Garden, or enjoying local blues artists at a pier on the Hudson river on a warm summer night at sunset, or seeing my beloved Brandi Carlile in one of my favorite concerts yet at Radio City Music Hall, or letting Leon Bridges transport us back to the 60s at the Apollo Theater, or seeing The Lone Bellow rock their way on to our list of best performers we’ve seen on their last night on tour at Webster Hall, or having all my teenage dreams come true seeing Mariah Carey belt out Christmas carols at the Beacon Theater. I wish I would have written about the delicious meals we shared – especially the one at Print celebrating Brett’s incredibly big daddy-heart on Father’s Day, or the much needed catch up I had at Pearl & Ash with two of my favorite Seattle teacher friends who were in the city for a conference, or toasting to 9 years of marriage at the James Beard award winning (and well deserved) best new restaurant Batard, or indulging in an eight-course dessert tasting menu called Unlimited Possibilities at a table in the middle of Dominique Ansel’s prep kitchen, or the simply perfect sushi dinner we enjoyed for my birthday at Sushi of Gari. I wish I would have written about our first trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island – and how Norah had a little chat with the statue and then stripped down to almost nothing at the middle of the museum at Ellis Island – really feeling the need to experience her roots. I wish I would have written about the immense joy she found cheering on the Mets and the great date day Brett and I had cheering on the tennis players at the US Open. I wish I would have written about our mornings at the Thanksgiving Day parade and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. I wish I would have captured the memories of Norah water skiing in Montana in July and snow skiing when we were there again for Christmas. I wish I would have written about this city through her eyes – for she really is a New Yorker while we’re just posing as such. Her childhood is filled with swimming lessons in the West Village, carousel rides at Bryant Park, long days at the Bronx Zoo, splashing at the hidden oasis outside the American Museum of Natural History, trick-or-treating dressed as the Statue of Liberty at Lincoln Center, playing in piles of leaves in Central Park, going on animal scavenger hunts through the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and taking ballet classes with sweet friends in our building which kind of feels like a dorm for toddlers. She has no idea how cool her life is. I wish I would have written about lazy mornings getting lost in new books at Book Culture, our very favorite independent book store, or slow-paced summer evenings scootering down the board walk near our building and having dinner at Pier I Café under green umbrellas at dusk before a slow family walk home. I wish I would have written about meeting east coast Gonzaga Alumni at a sprawling farmhouse in Connecticut in early summer. I wish I would have written about our fall visit back to Seattle and how thankful we are to have two places besides NYC to call home. I wish I would have written about how loved Norah felt at her ballet birthday party and how thankful we are that she makes friends so easily.
But I didn’t write about those things. And I’m not going to tell myself I’m going to do better at keeping up with everything we do here on this blog anymore either. I’m just going to write and I don’t know what that’s going to look like yet. I do know I’m done with the guilt over one more unfinished journal, though. So this time I’m clearing some weeds away and I’m just going to continue on with what I’ve already started. It might not all flow smoothly, but I’m not going to toss this blog in the box quite yet. There will certainly still be some weeds left over, but I can see the new growth below and I hope you’ll continue to follow along even if it does start to be a little less orderly.
Norah and I are both starting school this week. She's starting prechool and I'm taking this short writing class. I’m going to do my best to channel her excitement and confidence as I take the seat as a learner alongside her.