I don't know how you do it. I don't know how you come back home night after night and give me your attention and share yourself with me, even if what you're sharing is frustration and disappointment. My dear one, we are not where we thought we'd be. But I have to believe this is where we are supposed to be. And this struggle is teaching us how to walk well, how to walk when we believe we are too tired to pick up our feet, and how to carry each other when the other cannot go on. You have carried me for years here. You have made my path broad, smooth, safe, and comfortable. You have moved rocks out of my way and you have carried me when I've twisted my ankles in the holes of sadness, anxiety, anger, and outright petulance. And although one hand is full, caring for this sweet life that is the very twisting and intertwining of our hearts and bones, my other hand is reaching for you, ready to support you, to carry you, to give you what I have.
There is this tiny, hungry mouth between us.
But the ropes of the past three years of marriage, and the two years before that day we said we would love each other with abandon and without boundaries are also between us, tying us to each other. The cords of our dreams and hopes for the future are braided together with those of our beautiful past. And I believe those ties will bind us together through the difficulties of our present.
There are days when I wish things were different, when I wish I was not where I am, or who I am. But there is never a single second that I wish I was anywhere other than with you. My life with you in the dark places is better than my life without you in the sunshine. You are my half. I love you.
It's your birthday and I'm not sure you believe that you have much to celebrate about the past year, or the coming one. But I hope you can find some sweet moments, some poems, to remember and cherish. This next year is about building our family, making our own traditions, and working hard to stay the people we've always been while adding the layers of mother and father. I know this is hard and heavy. But Mary Oliver wrote this about heaviness:
"It's not the weight you carry
but how you carry it-
books, bricks, grief-
it's all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it
when you cannot and would not,
put it down."
Kenny, we will carry it together. And we will not put it down.
Happy Birthday, precious husband.
I've been thinking about walking a lot, particularly the long distance walking I did every day on the Camino de Santiago last spring. I can't believe it's been almost a year since we did that. I still haven't written about our trip here and I can't find my journal from our travels last spring. I haven't written about what an amazing experience it was because I don't think I fully got to process it. We didn't get to work out what we learned about ourselves as individuals and as a couple in those 32 days and across those 500 miles. Because when we returned to Korea, I got pregnant. I didn't know it until a few weeks later and we had already moved to Seoul and were working out a new plan. And the Camino got pushed into the background and everything became horribly twisted as I entered into the first sixteen weeks of all-day sickness and general malaise.
Yesterday I was walking back from a quick trip to the store for ice cream for another midnight marathon of Parenthood with Kenny, and I wanted to just keep on walking. I wanted to walk past our room in my parents-in-law's house, past our favorite neighborhood cafe, and past the city limits. I wanted to just keep moving, to get back to that place where I felt the earth sliding underneath me, felt I was moving forward, and felt I was earning each day. I wanted to walk myself back to a place of authenticity, a place of vulnerability. That place where I started each morning on that ancient trail with a doubt that I could make it to the next destination, but a tiny mustard-seed of faith in my legs and my feet. The place where you walk past the pain, past the weariness, and past the hunger. I want to walk into a place where I feel fully myself again. I know that will take time and effort and sweat and probably a lot of sighing, sobbing, and cursing. But I am finally ready to get back to work.
I feel I took my entire pregnancy "off." I wasn't working; I wasn't writing; I wasn't committed to anything except my donut-a-day addiction. I'm ready to figure out a way to be my entire self: mother, wife, daughter, sister, and just me. I'm writing this while Jude naps. I would normally be sleeping now, too. But this feels good. I can't walk for 25 kilometers a day with a huge pack on my back, trailing behind my husband and eventually catching up with him to take our shoes off and rest in the warm Spanish sunshine. But I can write for however many minutes Jude will sleep, and I can welcome my husband home with joy and gratefulness tonight.
For 32 days, I walked a trail that millions have walked before me. I walked from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela. And even when I reached that cathedral and sat in the pilgrim's service and watched the largest censer in the world swinging back and forth, filling the nave with incense, I wondered what I had walked towards.
This. This is what I walked toward. I had no idea, but I was walking toward my son, toward my life as a mother. And toward myself. I walked toward 3 am feedings and insatiable appetites and quick words between spouses and tender moments between naps. I walked toward this moment that I'm living. This imperfect, trembling, unstable, but entirely beautiful and full moment.
And now, I keep walking. I keep writing.
I hope you keep reading.
Posted by danielle at 4:02 PM