Monday, August 31
Fall 1995: There was never any question that I would go far far away for college. In my mind, it was always BYU, and though there was a brief season where my mom was convinced I'd shot those chances to hell with my slacking off in the grades dept., somehow, in spite of the Cs in Spanish my junior year, I managed to squeak into the college of my dreams. I wanted to be far, not because I didn't love my home and family, but because I felt bold and brave and itchingly ready to stretch my wings and fly on my own. I was exhilarated at the idea of a 30,000+ student college, almost 2,000 miles away. It helped that BYU was near extended family, and was filled with like-minded young, spiritual idealists. Seemed less scary, somehow, to share the vast newness with thousands of other un-edgy Mormon kids.
So I took the leap, and when my parents left me behind in my new apartment with 5 new, unknown BYU girls for roommates, and a fridge full of groceries they'd insisted I didn't have to reimburse them for, I was ready to fly. I wasn't even scared, really. I was so ready for the adventure of figuring it all out on my own. How to get to classes, how to begin making friends... How to dive into the BYU experience full-throttle.
And it was good. Really, it was. I loved being in an apartment versus a dorm. I loved my singles ward and loved having roommates. I loved my corner of my shared bedroom, a statement area that declared my leftover quirkiness from my high school years and my attachments to loved ones, as well as my devotion to my Savior and my faith. My sacred space, that corner of my bedroom.
But in addition to being really, really exciting-- really, really satisfying to begin to figure out how to be truly independent, it was also hard, of course. Isn't it for most of us? I'd come from being able to slide through school with not much extra effort to having to actually MAKE myself attend classes. I went from being the alpha sibling in a houseful of kids to having to learn how to be diplomatic and compromising in an apartment full of vastly different personalities. I missed my (ex)boyfriend. I missed my best friend. I didn't really know how to manage my money. I was far, far away from home.
And so my anthem that fall became "Nothing Else Matters", by Metallica. Before my senior year of high school, I'd never have imagined I'd even KNOW any Metallica songs. But my boyfriend my senior year had a deep love for their music. And he knew me well. Knew I'd probably never love the hard stuff they played. But their ballads.... oh, he knew they'd speak to my soul. So I fell in love with "Nothing Else Matters" that year, and when I went away to school, he put it on a cassette tape for me. It's funny how well he knew me, because as he handed the tape to me, and I expressed excitement at finally having my own copy of the song, he gave me a gentle warning-- "Be careful with this song. It's pretty potent. Don't overdo it."
But you know what? In the depths of the hardest moments of my freshman year at BYU, I overdosed on this song. Oh yes I did. I'd lay on the floor of my bedroom in the dark and play it over and over and over, hugging my whale pillow from Polly and letting the tears stream down. Letting it all out. Letting myself hurt and worry and grieve the things I'd not done well, the people I missed, the idealistic vision of how this whole thing was supposed to go. And Bruce was right: it WAS potent. But also healing. cathartic. A place to release my hard, confusing emotions during a new, strange, exciting, hard phase of my life.
Even now, I keep this song close-- and I've not outgrown its power. If I turn to it in the right moment of need, it can still fill my every bone and vein and give voice to my ache.... And help me let some of it go.
Posted by Emily S. at 11:59 PM
Saturday, August 29
For this week's Five for Friday--
Some last images of our summer.... Because even though we technically have a few more days of August, the start of school effectively nipped the summer vibe in the rear. I am really glad for the new routines and the fresh schedules.... But I also already miss the looseness and freedom and togetherness we had all summer. Anyone else?
We didn't do any major trips or things this summer, but I think we still managed to rock it. Between trips to Six Flags, Johnson's Shut Ins, swimming lessons, City Garden, Ballwin pool, time in Columbia, Mo, Grant's Farm, the zoo, the Science Center, using our own back yard for camping, fire pit fires, wading pool time, slip n slide, sponge bomb wars.... Metrolink adventuring, playgrounds, food trucks, the Meadow, the Magic House, Ballwin Days, lots and lots of Lego time, Monkey Joe's, the movies.... So many good memories this summer. So marvelous-- this particular season with my kids at these particular ages.
I'm excited for fall--- it is my absolute favorite time of year, and I almost ache with the anticipation of it all.... But these five photos give me a hefty dose of natsukashii, and it is joyful and sad and fleetingly lovely to look at them tonight... And I say a prayer of gratitude for all of it.
Posted by Emily S. at 12:26 AM
Tuesday, August 25
I've been getting a great Project Life habit going this summer, thanks to an amazing birthday gift from my bessie, where she provided basically everything needed to make Project Life happen. (If you have no idea what that is, stay tuned-- I have a Project Life post in the works this very week! All shall be explained!) The point is, one key component to keeping up on this weekly album is keeping up on sorting and prepping my phone photos to print for the project. So I've gotten into the groove of sitting and editing my phone photos for the week on Sunday evenings, trying to take care of ALL of them, even the ones that I won't need for the album. And so far, I've done a pretty good job keeping up! So this week, for fun, here is a roundup of the majority of the phone photos I took last week. Just the minutia and moments of everydayness... the moments that call to me to take the phone out and grab it in a photo for my own memories. Fun to see them all in one spot. Fun to have them off my phone and available for these sorts of things. Enjoy the randomness!
Schoolwork by Noah * Fresh haircut for Quinn * Working on Project Life on Mondays * Giving Quinn screen time while I clean my way-overdue bedroom
Shopping with my two tag-along yahoos * Lucy bedtime shots * Visiting the Museum of Transportation with our friends Annelies and Avi Meun
A shipment of shoes, indulging my obsession with Livie & Luca footwear for Lucy and Quinn. (Thanks, Carrie!) These will fit my kiddos for the next year or two, hopefully. * Q and I, keeping Noah company as he waits for the bus * August stitching is all done! * Playing at Longview Farm Park while I attend a Jamberry meeting
A beautiful evening, so we took a family walk to Oberweis for ice cream. * Noah bedtime shots * Cute kiddos on a sunny Friday morning
Heading off to Chicago on my own * a cute French patisserie and great conversation with my soul sister, Sam * Time with Steph and her family, including yummy food and a great family session at the Chicago Botanic Gardens
A second fun day in Chicago, with a lovely visit with Beth and her family and a session with them * a leisurely lunchtime stroll around Naperville, IL, where I happened upon a cute craft fair * Argentinian tapas for lunch * country roads to head home, and a visit with Anna
Posted by Emily S. at 10:42 PM
Friday, August 14
Back to school for my two older kiddos. Noah is off to second grade, and Lucy starts her second year in preschool, but in a new school. Five For Friday this week are photos from the morning of their first day, yesterday.
1. Sleepy Noah, saying goodbye to Old Mai.
2. Dappled morning light, waiting for the bus.
3., 4., 5. One hour later, these two are ready to get in the car for Lucy's preschool drop-off. Quinn insists on his backpack, and I'm not quite sure he knows he's not going to get to go, too.
Both had great first days, both came home tired. Quinn and I had a lovely morning just the two of us, sorting toys and playing. All in all, a good first day. I think it's going to be a good year!
Posted by Emily S. at 9:45 PM
Saturday, August 8
Tuesday, August 4
I was nearly 16 and I was on an unforgettable adventure in Virginia, miles and miles from my home in Missouri. It was summer, and I'd been gifted a solo trip to visit a long-distance girlfriend I'd gotten close to the previous summer when she'd stayed with her brother and his family for the summer as a nanny-aunt to their kids. Her name was Becky, and she had an infectious gappy smile and a generous helping of freckles across her nose. We'd bonded immediately at church and spent that summer, when I was 15, practicing makeup, singing along to the radio, talking about life and love, and mooching rides to get ice cream from her brother or sister-in-law.
When she had to head back home to Virginia at the end of that summer, we vowed we'd write, and that we'd see each other again. With the help of plenty of letters and one midwinter visit back to Missouri, she and I maintained a deep enough friendship that when we told our parents of our wild plan to get me out to Virginia the next summer, somehow they let us make it happen.
And so, right as I was about to turn 16, I found myself on an airplane alone, looking down at amazing clouds and reveling in my first airplane flight since I was 4. Upon landing, I found myself double-hugged by a smiling Becky and her near-carbon copy twin sister, Jenny, just as freckled and gap-toothed. The promise of adventure and fun was heavy in the air.
Along the way, some of that anticipation waned.... Some of the magic got tarnished by basic reality. Jenny and Becky had a huge gaggle of friends and much of the time I was there, I was thrust in the midst of a crowd I barely knew. There were awkward moments when the sisters would pick at each other, or argue with their dad,who had custody of them for the time I was there. Becky had a boyfriend by then, and sometimes she opted to give her attention to him instead of me, leaving me feeling more like an outsider than I'd expected.
But there were moments of pure magic, too. Visceral moments seared into my memory of a humid 4th of July night in a small school stadium on the grounds, on quilts, watching fireworks. Swimming in the James River in my favorite swimsuit ever, a photorealistic print of fresh fruit. Touring the beautiful house and grounds of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home. Going to Virginia Beach. Celebrating my 16th birthday at her dad's house, where, unexpectedly, her stepmom had even thought to get me a couple of sweet gifts and a cake.
And the moment I remember most of all-- such a small, ordinary thing, but one of my favorite memories from my teenage years: one night, Becky, Jenny, and several of their friends crowded into a few cars to cruise into the twilight night along country roads.... windows down, the smell of cigarette smoke wafting from one or two of the kids who had lit up... and the sound of Becky and her twin singing along to "Ghost" by the Indigo Girls in strong harmonies, not missing a note. One sister took the higher part, the other seamlessly flowed to the lower harmonies, and the song itself haunted all of us in the darkening night. There was freedom that night. The winding, tree-lined roads, the open windows, the muggy warm air... a few fireflies along the roadside... the smell of smoke (to this day, I feel a deep nostalgia at the wafting hint of cigarette smoke in the summertime)... And the sound of two perfectly-matched voices singing a plaintive, beautiful, haunted song I fell in love with that night and have never stopped loving.
To this day, if the stars align and my iTunes gives me "Ghost" through my car speakers on a summer evening, I have to roll my windows down, let the wind fill the car with muggy warm air, and I have to sing. Sing and feel and remember what it was like to be an almost-16-year old with undefined wishes and hopes and ideals. An almost-16 year old learning about herself and a little more about the world, that summer she got to spend a string of days in Virginia, far from home and happysadexcitedgrowing.
Posted by Emily S. at 12:50 AM