Eleven Years and a Day


Eleven years ago today, I sat down and I hammered out a response to something I read on the internet. I needed somewhere to post my response, and to do that, I needed a URL. I knew how to type and how to use Google, and within minutes, I had a Blogger address. On the fly, I had to name the blog, and I glanced over at the dandelions ringing the well of my basement window, and a blog was born.

At the time, I had two tiny boys, redheaded and wild, and hadn’t even dreamed of the next baby yet. My life was ordinary and quiet, I had recently joined my church, was a stay-at-home mom after being a professional for years, and was looking up some questions I had about faith and motherhood. I struck the motherlode.

At the time, I there was no way to have even the faintest inkling of what was coming.

I didn’t know I was a writer. I didn’t know I could write at all, let alone write well enough for anyone to want to read about my ordinary, quiet, life. When I started, I was imagining going through my grandmother’s journals—which never existed—and how fascinating I would have found it to read her thoughts and struggles as a woman and a mother, and about life when my own mother was a child. I wanted to preserve some of the ordinary days of my own children’s lives, so someday, perhaps, a granddaughter would look back and find it interesting. Without realizing it, I was valuing and observing the material culture and invisible work of women, and yearning for insight into my foremothers. So I started to write.

It’s impossible to adequately summarize what followed. As Marissa has said before, “If I wasn’t there with you, if I didn’t see so much with my own eyes, I’d never believe it.” Yeah. Me either.

A few weeks back, I got a package from Marissa, with the gorgeous, pregnant note “It’s time…” The book was The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr. Mo had no way of knowing I had been listening to an interview with Karr on NPR a few days before, and had sat in the car shaking. Like so much in this glorious, messy life, the ribbons change color and weave together into new patterns all the time, even while the greater picture remains hidden.

Today, I find myself having moved worlds, and been moved myself by tides and waves I never fathomed. I am forever away from that window-well basement, but it is still right here, I can see it. I want to bend down close to that young mother, fervently hunting and pecking out her first essay with all the sincerity in her heart, and whisper across the years, across the country, across time, “It’s going to be okay. Hold on tight, but know when to let go, too. You’re going to be okay. I promise.”

And then I wonder who is whispering in my ear, now.

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