Bad, Bad Clam

Kyle and I decided to ring in the New Year with an early bird trip to a local restaurant we’ve been dying to try. My deep fried brussel sprouts with parmesean, chili honey, and Rice Krispies and thin crust margherita pizza were surprisingly delicious (the former) and totally satisfying (the latter). Kyle, on the other hand, opted for the wood-fired oysters and clam pie. He spent the rest of New Years Eve glued to the toilet bowl, with intermittent bouts of shivering under multiple fleece blankets in bed, moaning. The man got a bad, bad clam.

Needless to say, it was not the New Years Eve either of us expected. While Kyle slept last night, I spent the majority of it in a long haze of pregnancy-induced insomnia, cruising Instagram for pictures of drunk friends at cool parties and testing different settings on my noise machine app while waiting for my Candy Crush lives to refill.

We took on a lot in the last year. In December of 2013, we closed on our first home. We moved to new town, a new county, where we didn’t know anybody. We adopted a weird and wonderful adult dog from a shelter, named Donald. We decided to have a baby, and I got pregnant. I changed jobs and stopped commuting into New York every day, effectively cutting me off in an immediate way from everything I’d built for the last 13 years (community, friendships, sense of place and identity).

So here we are, New Years Day: Kyle in a puddle under a mass of blankets trying to keep down water while reading subreddits, me massively pregnant (still waiting for my Candy Crush lives to refill), Donald shedding all over the bed, the cats actively trying to attain linebacker body mass index by returning to their food bowl every 14 seconds to see if anything new has appeared. And then there’s the little goose I’ve been carrying around, who I think about day and night, who I already love more than I’ve ever loved anything, even though we still haven’t officially met.

It’s been a really crazy year.

Even though all of these things seem so predictable (deciding it’s time to “grow up,” moving to the suburbs, getting pregnant), they feel enormous, unprecedented, and scary. It’s hard to live one way for a decade and then throw it all up in the air and start over. It’s also incredibly exciting, rewarding, and liberating.

We had a lot of fun this year, not despite, but because of the growing pains. My relationship with my husband has never been stronger or better. Having all this time and space around us has allowed us so much new creative freedom. Kyle learned how to build bookshelves and closets and wire things. I’ve learned to sit still (sort of) and relax and weave bowls or glue pompoms to various objects. This new kind of work is deeply rewarding and satisfying. It’s much harder to be creative in New York, where everybody lives on top of each other, physically and emotionally, and you quickly become buried under social obligations.

There are so many things I want for the next year. I want to learn to be a good mother and stay a good partner. I want to continue to build my little house into a sanctuary, so it feels like a full-sized blanket fort with rooms and a working kitchen. I want to stop doing things that make me unhappy.

What I’ve learned about wanting these things is that they’re too big to ask for. Instead, I need to ask for some time each day to sit and create something, a little bit of stillness, a sandwich, a glass of water.

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My best friend Kate wrote this in 2010, and it sums up everything I feel about growing up.

I was in the steam room and I sat still in there for a long time. I sat still waiting for the physical stillness to empty my mind. My mind was loud, was screaming, just now: “What the fuck is going on!!! Everything is out of control!!! Your life is out of control!!!”

I laid there for a long time. Then I stood up. As I walked out, I blacked out for at least three seconds, still on my feet. I kept so calm in a way. I told myself: No worries. Your brain is going to sleep but your feet will remain standing. Hold on just a second –

Really: everything is fine. Everything is full of wonder. I just want you to be happy, that’s it. I want you to happy so that you can help other people be happy. But you have to be happy first. You have to be nice to yourself before you are nice to everyone else.

The real truth is that I haven’t spent enough time being quiet today.

Mary Karr wrote a great poem about this, too, The Voice of God (excerpt below):

The voice of God does not pander,
offers no five year plan, no long-term
solution, nary an edict. It is small & fond & local.
Don’t look for your initials in the geese
honking overhead or to see thru the glass even
darkly. It says the most obvious crap—
put down that gun, you need a sandwich.

In 2015, with so much more growing on the horizon, I hope I can remember to be quiet, take a moment, get some sleep, be grateful, ask for help, and eat something (not clams). The broken stuff will heal on its own. It’s been a beautiful year.

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