I’ve spent the last half hour reading old column, something I like to do when I don’t have a topic in mind for the week. Generally, I look back on what was happening last year at this time, in part because it gives me ideas but also because it’s nice to nestle into the memories for a while.
While I’ve been reading, I realize that it’s once again the anniversary of my column. For seven years now, you’ve been patient enough to read about my life.
Thinking on it, seven years is a good, long chunk of time. Not a decade, mind you, but enough to make one itch, enough to make a person evaluate. Because there is a big difference between age 28 and age 35, especially in the tick-tock life of a woman.
When I moved to Kentucky, it was at the end of October and I’d freshly returned from a six-week trip to Europe with my best friend Kristin, for which I had scrimped and saved for more than a year. We’d had an amazing time, staying in the cheapest of hotels, drinking ouzo on the beach in Santorini, winding through the narrow, enchanting streets of Venice and Rome, eating chocolate gelati and yogurt with honey, and never running out of things to talk about.
So when I landed in Kentucky with the best tan of my life, I was, needless to say, woefully unprepared. Here I’d come not only from Europe but from a single life in Winnipeg with a hip, downtown apartment and a cool magazine job. Now here I was in a big house in the suburbs with a 4-year-old girl who wanted to be my best friend, a boyfriend who was as freaked out as I was, no job and a culture so foreign sometimes I couldn’t even understand the language.
It hit me hardest on Halloween that year when the then-boyfriend went trick or treating with his daughter while I stayed at the house and handed out candy. As I sat at the dining room table, miserably eating chocolate bar after chocolate bar, I wondered what, exactly, had happened. Where was the Halloween party? Where was my costume? When were these kids going to stop ringing the doorbell?
In so many ways, it was The Sentinel-Echo that saved me from suburban oblivion six months later. Not only was I able to write again, once a week I could write about whatever I wanted. And people would actually read it. What a gift.
In the seven years since, I realize how much my life has changed since that Halloween night.
This morning, I drove Gabrielle to school while she balanced two platters of deviled eggs on her lap. She has to do a how-to speech and decided to teach her classmates how to make the lovely, little appetizer. She practiced her speech as we curled around tiny Frog Hollow Road and when we got to school I helped carry in her props. As I drove back down the road and noticed the sunlight filtering through the trees, I felt absolutely content. There was nothing cool or hip that was going to be part of my day. But I felt bone-deep happiness as I thought about her speech, the strawberry jam I would can, the writing I’d do, the walk I’d take with my friend after work, the Moroccan chicken I’d make for dinner.
Then I realized maybe that’s what getting older does. The excitement of youth is replaced with the contentment of being adulthood. You’re not dating, but you do love your husband and your calm relationship. You don’t live downtown, but you do live in a place where everyone waves to each other. You’re not in Europe but you do get to hear about how the speech went at the end of the day.
And I realize I’m not the only one rejoicing in what I guess I’ll call a quiet life. Last night, my best friend Kristin sent me a picture of her husband and daughter Greta planting a garden. In it, 2-year-old Greta is holding up a stake while David drops the seeds in a furrow. “Here’s our garden plot,” she wrote proudly, adding another photo of the planted product. The husband, the baby, the garden, none of that even crossed our minds as we zipped around on a moped in Mykonos.
Man, life changes in seven years. But it could just be that it changes for the better.