Thursday, December 31, 2009

One Decade at a Time

A whole new decade is starting in just over twelve hours. And, still being in Christmas vacation mode in Tennessee, I haven't given a thought to next week, let alone the next ten years. What have I done in the last ten years?

The year 2000 opened propitiously. I stood downtown in Salt Lake City, and kissed the boy that I'd liked for years, seemingly unrequitedly, until a week previously when we'd finally come together.. Then, mere hours later, he dumped me, because he was best friends with my sister (I didn't understand it then, I still don't understand what all happened now). Whew, good thing that I don't believe in omens, because the year just struggled onward from there. The next day we went to my Grandpa's funeral. A few days after that, I had a severe stomach ache, which I suffered through overnight, when my Mom finally took me to the urgent care clinic. Where I was in so much pain that after the three hour wait time, as a 17 year old girl, mind you, I was rolling around on the floor of the waiting room, crying from the pain. They tested my white blood count, and it had skyrocketed, which with my other symptoms led to a sure thing - Appendicitis. I spent four days in the hospital from an infection, too.

Two months later, I was skipping backwards down a hill (yes, I know that was stupid. Now.) and I fell and broke my wrist, and had my second, and last, surgery of my life.

After that, I am happy to report the decade improved considerably.

2001 I graduated from High School, and went to BYU, majoring in Near Eastern Studies. I joined the Quill and the Sword, a Medieval Re-enactment club. All of this was very exciting. I loved the spiritual atmosphere of BYU and my own parallel spiritual growth of my first year as an independent adult. I also began a relationship with another freshman, which although did not end in marriage had a long term positive influence in my life.

2002 I became president of the Quill and the Sword, as a sophomore. I was terrified, but also intrigued. I gained my best friend, Michele, who was the secretary in the presidency, and who also worked at the Cannon Center with me. I dropped my here-to-fore double major, Comparative Literature, because I realized that as much as I liked to read Literature, I did not want to spend my life in Literature classes.

2003 I started out this year by having a flash relationship and engagement. I spent months of doubt and indecision after dear johning my missionary (what the freshman relationship had turned into), and eventually I broke off the engagement four and a half weeks before the wedding. After trailing dismally on, the relationship itself ended a month later. This was all in the first six months of the year, after which I'm happy to say the year evened out considerably. I am sure for many people a quick dating stage works fine. For me it didn't. In the fall of the year, I began my golden Junior year of College. It was my best year of the four I attended school, with a great group of friends and an established academic trajectory (good grades, but nothing so good as to interfere with any potential romance or social life). I spent one night a week, as I had since my freshman year, and would continue on until I graduated, at Cooking Guild, a subsidiary of the Medieval Club. It was my major social event of the week, where a bunch of friends got together and made medieval food together. Yummy!

2004 This was a landmark year, although I didn't know it to start out with. I met Avram in January at a Club meeting. We became fast friends. Then in March I decided to go on an Arabic study abroad to Egypt that fall. Two months later, Avram and I began dating, and spent the whole Summer in a somewhat rocky relationship, since the aforementioned missionary was coming home that August. Missionary came home, Avram and I broke up (as agreed before we ever even started dating), everything was honky dory with the Returned Missionary (hereafter referred to as RM), and I went off to Egypt planning to marry the RM sometime in 2005, although we were not engaged. Three weeks later, I wrote Avram and told him that I wanted to marry him instead. After much issues, Avram and I became engaged long distance - something I always swore I would never do. (The RM nicely recovered, and got married to someone else only four months after Avram and I married). We had a rocky long distance relationship, mostly just because it's hard to communicate across continents.

2005 Avram and I finally ceased to have a rocky relationship and ensued on our current wonderful relationship, and we got happily married in the Salt Lake Temple on April 22, 2005, which is also Earth Day. That's how much we care about the environment. For most people, I would not say that a difficult dating and engagement lead to a great marriage, but it worked very well for us. I also finished most of my college education by our wedding, with only a measly 3 1/2 credits left to go - which I finished that summer and fall, and achieved a B.A. by the end of 2005. I also got pregnant soon after our wedding, which we were ecstatic about, and spent much of the summer on the couch, sick with Lydia. That was when we weren't working full time together at DT as Window Washers, where our motto was, "Probably you won't die." We spent vast hours in conversation together, getting to know each other as newlyweds and also as work partners. When I wasn't losing my breakfast. By the fall I recovered, and we had lots of fun with our first Autumn and Christmas together.

2006 Lydia was born on March 2, forever changing our family, my job description and world. I spent a lot of time with the "Madonna Complex" as Avram calls it, where you stare lovingly at your child to the exclusion of all else. Lydia was a demanding child, needing lots of holding, and refusing to sleep well (she never did sleep well until about age two or so). But she was also darling, with lots of smiles, and an enchanting personality. Avram meanwhile continued working on his undergraduate degree in Ancient Near Eastern Studies, and we continued living in Wymount, the married student housing of BYU. We loved Wymount, and living near the mountains, not to mention all of our family walks in Provo - which were still far fewer walks than Avram and I had been wont to take during our dating years. We loved Provo. I still love it, sniff, sniff. I loved that I could walk to the Library, which was a huge old building near downtown, that had been one of the original buildings of BYU. I loved going to Center Street, to the cramped yet still sprawling used bookstore where a mysterious seven foot tall (so he looked to me) man would buy our books for store credit, and prowl through the stacks as king of his domain. I loved the restaurants - Bombay House, and Lon's Cook 'n Shack, and Burger Supreme with the best fries ever. And Two Jacks, which wasn't technically in Provo, but just a short drive away in Springville and had the best pizza ever (Provo apparently has the domain on best things ever). I love that I saw it all through the rose coloured glasses of youth and I know that, but that I still love it as much as ever. I loved my college friends from Provo - Michele, and Travis, and Matt & Sarah, and Samuel (who was also my brother in law), and my Club roommates over the years. My college years, extended to six years because of Avram, were great.

2007 But it had to end sometime, and in April of this year Avram graduated with his B.A. I also had a miscarriage, which was sad, but I was comforted by the thought of having more children in the future. I started a blog, shortly before we left Provo to keep in touch with family and friends. You may have heard of it before. We prepared to go to England for a one year Master's degree at the University of Oxford for Avram, and with this end in sight we moved in with Avram's parents in Virginia for the summer. Avram went back and worked at the restaurant he'd worked at all through his teenage years, and I even took a job there part time, while Avram's family watched Lydia. Lydia charmed our hearts, as all first children have a job of doing. Despite the cruel heat and humidity of Virginia, we enjoyed our ward there, and the generosity of his family in taking us in. Shortly before we left, we suspected I was pregnant, but never did get around to taking a pregnancy test, since I started feeling sick and it was fairly self evident. So we moved to a foreign country with our little family of three, going on four. I started feeling old a little bit when I turned 25 that October. We went through lots of changes in life, but also spent a lot of time with our own little America inside of our apartment. The year ended out with Matt & Sarah visiting us, a bonus excitement, and a unique Christmas eve dinner spent at an Indian Restaurant, where Matt had the hottest vindaloo he had ever eaten. We also visited Churchill's grave. We loved our ward in England (you're going to see a trend here - we've never moved to a ward we haven't loved in our marriage), and how loving and helpful they all were to us.

2008 Another year of Change for our family (what year hasn't been in this decade?) Lydia learned her whole alphabet - to recognize it written, not just knowing the alphabet song - before her second birthday in March, not that this portended any super genius skills on her part. But as first time parents it made us feel special. My Mom and Step dad Don came and visited us around the same time, and we went on a visit to France. Lydia was a trooper of a tourist, and Avram and I enjoyed meeting the lovely French people who helped us out at every turn they could. We also liked seeing Nicolas Sarkozy from a distance of twenty feet, and exploring the random niches of the Louvre. We didn't like the endless sandwich shops, and missed the hearty meat pies and bangers and mash in England, that really stick to your ribs when it's freezing outside. We did more sight seeing in the one week in France than we did in the rest of the nine months in England, but we did get to know the English area of Oxford. Well, the daily areas we visited at least, plus our little town of Yarnton four miles north of Oxford, where we lived in the top flat of a divided Vicar's house that was 350 years old, situated on Yarnton Manor, built in the 1600s and home of some of the Spencer ancestors of Princess Diana. This was all as picturesque as it sounds, but also very isolating. Avram realized that he wasn't built for expat living, but we still plan on going back for our 15 year anniversary for a two week touristy vacation where we actually see England.

Meanwhile, Avram got into OSU with a fellowship (well, all good things must come to an end. Which in a short update, there are 60 people signed up for the class currently, so this means very good things for next quarter.), and we prepared to move to the land of Ohio. Also, on April 28, Elisheva entered our lives, born in Oxford through wonderful midwives. Elisheva had dark brunette hair, a contrast to Lydia's blond bob, and a reddish complexion. She was such a calm baby, that in her early months she earned the nickname, "Lump." We moved back to Virginia, where we sojourned for another couple of months before moving to Ohio. Avram began a Ph.d. program in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. We decided to never move again.

2009 The last year of the decade opens. I started out the decade in High School in Wisconsin, and it ends with me back in the Midwest in Ohio. Our married lives settle down for the first time since Provo, as we spend an entire calendar year not moving. Somehow I never do manage to accomplish as much as I think I will, though. Elisheva turns into an active toddler, with chubby cheeks and a killer smile. Lydia turns three and eventually potty trains at about three and a half. My life begins to be defined by my children, instead of the beginning of the decade, when it was defined by my boyfriends. I visit Utah twice this year, for the first time since we left. I love seeing family and friends. This fall I got pregnant with our third, and try and convince myself I'm not terrified of managing more children than hands I've got. Not that I struggle with managing my hands per se. After the morning sickness subsides, the terror does also, and now we're just excited for the (boy? I think?) on the way (if it's a girl, we're still just as excited).

And now I'm facing a whole new decade. The last one involved kissing six boys. Maybe the next decade will involve kissing six of my children. (well, I've got two and a half down already). Avram and I have been married for four and a half years - we'll have been married for almost 15 years. He was my best friend in 2004, and he's still my best friend now. He even lets me tell him my dreams every morning when I wake up, and always turns out lights for me, even though he's scared of the dark, just like I am. Ten years from now maybe I'll have worn him down enough that he'll even tell me his dreams.

I lived in four states and England and Egypt. I visited three more countries in addition to that - Jordan, Syria, and France (well, the train did cut through Belgium, but I never got out, so I didn't count it.) I hope the next decade doesn't involve so much moving, but you never can tell. In ten years I'll be 37. Avram will have his Ph.d. - in four years or so, and God willing he'll have a tenure track position (maybe even be tenured?) by 2020. I would like to get back to the foreign countries we've already visited, and add Israel to the list as well. I also dream of moving back to Provo permanently, but that all depends on BYU having the right opening, and Avram being the right person to fill it.

I spent the first half of the decade spending all my time worrying and thinking about myself, and feeling like I had the potentiality to do anything in the world. Now I spend all my time in my own life familial world, with Avram, Lydia and Elisheva. I don't even leave the house for days at a time, and sometimes I feel like the world beyond has no interaction with me. But at the same time, I also know that what I've spent the last five years doing has held far more lasting importance than anything I did in college, as fun as it was. And have you ever felt a child's arm's around you, and known that they love you more than anything else in the world?

So yes, it's been a very good decade indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Thora! Reading that made me miss you So much! Hopefully it won't be a very long time before we get to see you agin! ;)