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Yesterday was my 30th birthday. I can tell I’m getting older because I have to dye my hair more frequently. Tragically I have been going gray since high school. Also I’m not as skinny as I used to be, though that is probably more to do with a combination of my husband’s amazing cooking and my being a mom.

My 6th birthday party.

My 6th birthday party.

Anyway I had a very nice birthday. I would have loved to have a big party for my 30th, but since we just moved back to my hometown we don’t know many people here. Spencer and I were able to go out to dinner Sunday night with my friend Giselle who I have known since freshman year of high school — which was half my lifetime ago (!). It was nice to spend some time with her as she’s been living in Chicago for the past seven years, during which I’ve only seen her a couple times. She tells me that for my 18th birthday all my friends decorated my locker with pictures of Ben Affleck, but I have no memory of this. I do remember that we ate dinner at the Olive Garden and that my friend Kevin “Prom Date” Bryan wrote me a rap.

On my birthday Marie and I joined my parents and grandmother for breakfast at The Glenwood, where Marie ate about 50 blueberries (also known as “bluebees”). In the afternoon my mom, Marie and I went shopping. Spence made dinner that evening and my parents joined us. We had grilled salmon, asparagus, garlic mashed potatoes, and salad with Chardonnay. Followed by an incredible Sweet Life tiramisu and some champagne. Tiramisu might be my favorite dessert ever. It was the top layer of our wedding cake — because, why not?

And so — goodbye to my 20s. I started dating my husband a few months after my 20th birthday, which means that we’ve almost been together for ten years. My 20th year was quite a life-changing year for me. I strongly reconnected with my faith, started dating my future husband, and spent 6 weeks interning at a newspaper in Ghana.

Have I accomplished the things I had hoped to accomplish by age 30? I had definitely expected to have more success in my career by this age — if you’ve been reading my blog you may have noticed this as a recurring theme. The recession has taken its toll on that aspect of my life, but that is what it is. I seem to be doing pretty well in my personal relationships. That’s really what matters.

I am very goal-oriented and I would use this opportunity to share my five year plan for my life now, but to be honest I don’t really have one anymore. At least, not in terms of my career. For my life, my plan for the next five years is to continue to be a good mother and wife. To build strong relationships with my family and friends. To continue to grow closer to God and to seek His direction and provision for my life. And to keep writing because writing is an important part of who I am. Beyond that — we’ll have to wait and see.

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Colors of fall.

Colors of fall.

It’s September, and I can feel the anticipation that autumn brings. It is time to wrap up old ways and make room for the new. Change is coming.

I have been praying and hoping for the past 2.5 years that God would open up new opportunities and bring us family wage jobs. Our living situation was fine when it was just the two of us. But it is far less than ideal with a little one. I won’t go into all of my complaints here, but I will just say that it is not working.

Yet, our income remains modest, and we can’t afford something nicer here in Portland. I have always loved living in the city, but in recent months I’ve started craving a more peaceful environment. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I’m growing weary of hearing drunks yelling outside my window at 2 a.m.

Portland no longer feels like home.

And that’s it – the gentle nudging of God’s still small voice. We secretly hope Jesus will call us up and ask to meet us for tea one day, at our favorite tea shop that used to be a bookstore and was a train car before that. We could sit across from Jesus and He would say in a kind voice, “Here, take this key to your new house in Sausalito. It’s an easy ferry ride across the bay to your new job as a magazine editor in downtown San Francisco. I called in a few favors from some old friends.”

But that doesn’t happen, does it? As much as we want Jesus to meet us for tea and tell us what to do next — life doesn’t work that way. God speaks to us in a quiet whisper, in the sense of unease that something isn’t quite right. And in the calm peace that comes when things are just as they should be.

So the subtle sense that I am no longer at home in the city tells me that we may be on the verge of a move. We may be getting close to an open door. And yet –

    “these are only hints and guesses,
                  hints followed by guesses; and the rest
                  is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action”
(T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets)

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photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/31246066@N04/5115966185/”>Ian Sane</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Dear former BFF,

I’m thankful for the years of friendship we had, even though it seems now that our friendship was only ever meant to be a temporary thing, and not a lifelong thing as my mom had been told in a dream so many years ago.  I still remember how, although you didn’t know me, you cheerfully invited me to your sixth birthday party, while we stood on the steps outside our school. I attended and we were all entertained by Sparkles the clown. My hippie parents were undoubtedly thrilled that I had befriended one of the only brown kids in school.

It’s easy for little children to make friends, isn’t it? We were so open then, not like we are now. I still remember the sleepovers, the Michael Jackson dance contests, the endless rounds of Monopoly. How we started a band in third grade and we really thought we might become famous, though none of us played an instrument. Then in fifth grade, I remember how I was going to a different middle school and you told me that you wanted to make sure we stayed friends.

In high school we were reunited. We got our first jobs together, conducting marketing surveys over the phone. Remember the weirdos who went through training with us? There was the guy who dropped a condom on the floor, looking at us while he slowly picked it up. And there was that other guy who called his mom to come pick him up next to the jail, “where he’d gotten bailed out that one time.” We only worked there for about a week.

I remember the New Year’s Eve trip to San Francisco with our other best friends, and the time our theater group shared a poster with Slick Rick. And in college, there was the time you stole a kazoo from my ex-boyfriend’s bathroom, and the time our drunk friend got locked in a dorm stairwell overnight. Most of all, I remember the laughter – no one could ever make me laugh like you could.

I’m sorry for the ways in which I failed you as a friend. I can think of a few, and you can probably think of more. Still, I don’t understand why you stopped returning my calls. As an only child, I’m one who hangs on to friendships, who doesn’t want to let them go, and so I’m almost always the last one to call. But it hurt the most when it was you. You were the best of friends, until suddenly you weren’t.

Nine years later, you’ve moved on, and so have I. I have other best friends – my husband, my daughter, my mom. I have lots of good friends from my new, adult life. I wish we could be friends again like we used to be, but time has changed us, and we can’t ever go back to that place where we stood, two first graders on the steps outside our elementary school, fulfilling MLK’s dream without even knowing.

Me with my new best friend.

Me and my new best friend.

Who is the me that writes? (A Noir-ish Poem for Day 9)

The rain is falling oh so fast
and it feels like time is slipping past
‘cuz my reflection in the looking glass
keeps changing

who is the me that writes these words?
a mother, daughter, wife
& are you friend or foe?
i never know
who to trust on the roads of life

beware the ides of march, they say
but what of april late?
who knows what chaos will ensue
when we’re driven to create