For Mother’s day, my mom asked for a letter talking about our past year and what was happening in our life. (She wants them going forward too.) Writing this sort of thing can be difficult, but here is my result.
So you want a synopsis of my life currently and my past year. There have been years in my life when I could have written a very interesting synopsis, full of fun things I learned and did. I am afraid, however, that 2003-2004 has not been one of those years. You see, A. and I are in the between times. We have left the time of life where every year came with its own markers and built in pieces of conversation. I can’t tell you what classes I took this year and about the fascinating concepts I encountered. I have not yet entered the time of life when every year – or every month for that matter – is full of someone else’s markers. I have no one to report on. The in-between times are pretty good times. We have time and resource to work in our garden or watch a movie or fly to Mexico for a week. They’re just not particularly notable.
That said, it’s not like nothing has happened this past year – it’s simply that my life could be encapsulated in the phrase, “It was nothing to write home about.”
Work has definitely taken the bulk of my time and energy. Isn’t it amazing how that happens? I have been with my company for the longest I’ve ever worked for anyone. Unfortunately, that’s still only a year and a half. I’ve learned a lot in the past year and a half. I’ve learned about my industry and how it operates. I’ve become a deeper programmer with a more accurate and available command of syntax. I’ve learned some new and interesting algorithms and methods of handling data. I’ve also learned a lot about how companies grow and operate. (Snip)
Another really neat thing about work has been my coworkers. Last time I counted, we have 9 first or fluent languages in the office. We speak English, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Russian, Tamil, Teligu, Malarum and Hindi. I have made some really good friends. One Indian woman is a terrific programmer. I am eternally grateful that women’s liberation came to India in time for her to pursue her true gift. She is an astonishingly brilliant programmer, a cheerful personality and a good friend. She is also an “orthodox” Christian – a branch of Christianity in India that traces its heritage back to the apostles. I guess what I’m trying to communicate is that my actions and relationships at work are very real and inter-related with the rest of my life, and that since so much of my time is given over to work, that’s a good thing.
The second biggest commitment in my life is church. My obituary resume (you know how when someone dies the first or second thing that gets mentioned in the newspaper is how they’re a Sunday school teacher?) is pretty extensive. A. and I teach Sunday School at (ugh!) 9:15 on Sunday mornings to 1-8 kids between the ages of 11 – 16. We taught confirmation to the 16 year olds this spring, which was a particularly interesting experience since one of the kids was a very curious and interested agnostic. I co-lead the Cool Comings youth group, which is an evening youth group for the same kids I teach in Sunday School. I’m on the Board of Deacons, which usually involves me feeling guilty, but should involve me participating in the care of the community. I’m on the Christian Education committee, where we constantly wrestle with having many kids and few resources. I lead monthly “Prayer at the Close of Day” prayer services (when I don’t completely forget like I did this week). I frequently play my trumpet in church, and periodically get dragged into singing in the choir. I lead pre-service “praise singing” every Sunday but communion Sundays. We finally finished up the Mission Study Taskforce. I also maintain the website, which probably takes me between 1-4 hours a month once I got it all set up. In a typical month I attend 3 committee meetings, actively participate in 3 church services, lead a youth group event, update the web site, lead a prayer service, and have one miscellaneous activity.
These things feed me differently, spiritually. I think that the work I do with the kids is some of the most fulfilling stuff I’ve done since college. Teaching Sunday School has actually been intellectually challenging for me – which means that our curriculum is atrocious, but I’ve definitely enjoyed it. For example, I’ve done all the lessons in the curriculum that I think are worth doing, so I’m hoping to have the time and energy to do a two part class on the history of Jerusalem – the first section being on Jerusalem in the Bible, and the second on Jerusalem since then. I think that understanding how the history they’ve been working on still affects us today is a very important and key lesson. And I find it interesting.
I am very, very, very fortunate in that A. is my complete partner in all these activities. He is a serving Elder and leads up the finance committee. He is with me every Sunday morning, and often there if I have to miss. He’s the one who gets me up on in time for Sunday school, and he makes a long commute up on Fridays for Cool Comings. When we host coffee hour, he’s in the kitchen washing the cups, and when I am practicing after church, he’s talking to the kids in our youth group. I don’t think enough about how lucky I am that he also has such an active life of faith and service.
The third of my big commitments is sort of the flip side of our church commitment. Every Monday night, we play a role-playing game. We have been doing so for four years together, and A. played for the year we were engaged. We’ve been playing with the same group of people for the last 2.5 years… it’s A. (our usual game master, although he takes breaks), M. a composer who loves meat and reminds me strongly of a cat, E. who stitches (makes costumes) for the local theaters, is trying to gain admission to Harvard Divinity School, and is a dear friend (and M’s girlfriend), and D. who was a fellow trumpeter from Conn and serves as the battle sink of our group. They are an appreciative audience for dinners, so most of the time they get pretty good ones. After eating dinner together so long, we’ve started to feel a bit like family. They are people I can just talk to. We have been playing the same game and characters for nearly the entire time we’ve been together. I play a cleric named Terwilliger Bunswon who serves the god of Prophecy and has quite a lot of swagger. The session before last we finished our first quest. It was a strange feeling to finish what we started in 2002, and see it all come full circle. There’s a sense of loss that comes from not playing a character I’ve played for so long. Fortunately, I think that we will resume that game after a summer’s break of space adventures. Right now we’re playing a scary horror game, which is delightfully creepy.
As if playing once a week every single week isn’t enough, A. also plays every Friday night with another set of friends, and is currently also in a Wednesday night group with a bunch of other people from church. Amazingly enough, there are quite a few other gamers in church. A.’s background in Dungeons and Dragons was one of the ways we really earned credibility with some of the kids in our youth group. Life has strange twists.
Other than those things, I manage to listen to or watch nearly every Red Sox game played. A. and I have been much better about exercising in the past year, and while I haven’t lost a single pound, I can now do 4 pull-ups. (Right now the very concept of moving my legs makes them hurt. We went jogging yesterday and ouch! I haven’t done that in a while!) I periodically waste time playing computer games. I’ve been enjoying my hobby of rubber stamping. (Although I discovered tonight that I have absolutely NO mother’s day appropriate rubber stamps! Sheesh!) I’m hoping I’ll have the time and energy to finish what I started in the garden this year. Your mom gets the full details, but so far we’ve planted: lilacs, pansies, raspberries, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, yellow squash, cucumbers, zucchini and parsley. I donate blood as often as I’m eligible, and platelets about once a month.
A. and I moved houses this year, which was a good choice. We took a vacation to Mexico, which was lovely. We have gotten to spend time with our friends, although not enough. We are quietly preparing ourselves for the possibility that this will be the last year it is easy to do the things we always wanted to do. That’s not for sure – God often has strange plans. But I want to enter this autumn with few regrets for my young life. (Well, other than that I didn’t do something wildly adventurous. If I knew which wildly adventurous thing it was that I was mourning not having done, though, I’d probably up and do it.)
A. and I are very, very happy together. He is my best friend, without a doubt. I love him far more now than I did when I married him. I can spend every hour for a week together with him, and not be tired of his company. But we can also spend a few days apart and not fall to pieces. He is the best husband I could possibly imagine.
And that, in a nutshell, is our life right now. It’s a good life. It’s probably not quite as interesting as I’d imagined my life would be, but I’m only 25. There’s a lot of living left to do.