The Child Turns 8

birthdaywee

Dear Wee,

I remember eight. Seven, not so much. Eight: yes. I’m not sure why; maybe because eight is the year that little child turns slowly into preadolescent, older child, little lady. But I remember being eight.

I hope you do, too. I hope when you’re twenty, twenty-one, older even, I hope you look back and say, “I remember eight. Eight was good.” That’s my birthday wish for you.

That eight truly is great.
That you begin to push open the door of all the learning that’s ahead of you.
That you dive deeper into developing the talents that you have.
That you try things you’re a little scared of.
And that you have fun trying them.
That you fall down well, gracefully.
And that you pick yourself up, let yourself be picked up, and try again.
That you let yourself be taught, be trained, be shaped.
That you smile, which you already do so well.
That you fall in love with the God who made you and who adores you.

Happy Birthday, Glendy! Welcome to eight.

~Natalia

The Sky

I said last summer, lying on the rocks while the lake lapped easily at the shore, that I don’t like looking up. Star gazing scares me, a little bit.

Not because it’s so big, not even because it makes me feel so small. It’s because it’s so close.

We went up on the roof tonight, the Jenny girl and I. Of course, there are taller buildings all around- this is downtown Chicago, after all- but ten floors up is pretty high. We brought her computer, for the purpose of watching One Tree Hill, but the rooftop Internet capabilities left something to be desired and then we were just lying there, looking up.

The clouds were fat, white, wispy and the sky it’s natural urban glow; I wondered if looking up would feel the same as last summer on the rocks. We could hardly even see any stars.

But while Netflix fought to load, the computer sat to the side, and I looked up and breathed in the orange Chicago sky. I waved my hand towards the sky, telling Jen something, and a second later saw that she imitated me. She laid there on the pillows we had borrowed from the lounge, one hand stretched up, reaching into the swirling clouds.

Do this with one eye open, she said, they’re so close. She opened and closed her fingers, and I imagined her grabbing the clouds, catching a handful of wet, puffy precipitation and twirling it in her hand.

I reached up, did the same.

And the sky is big, marvelously, shockingly so. It’s brilliantly created and beautifully painted, and when you lie on your back and reach hands high as they’ll go- the sky is vast and grand and stunning. And it’s so very close, too.

~Natalia

I’m Sorry

Sorry, sorry, sorry. Six time in half as many days. Not little sorries, either. Not apologizing for stepping on toes, for not having gum, for an oversight. No, this is bigger.

I’m sorry for yelling at you.

I’m sorry for ignoring you.

I’m sorry for hurting you.

Say it because you’re supposed to say it. Sometimes. Say it because you mean it. Sometimes.

I went to church today. Mostly because that’s what I’m supposed to do, and also because my mother would have had words for me, had I not. I thought, as I was walking home, that I’d not apologize. At least not then, anyways.

Too stubborn.

But I came back and before I had time to harden my heart, to balk at obedience, I realized that I had apologized. I meant it, too. There was forgiveness. And it was done.

Relationship restored.

But it’s not undone, unsaid.

Because sorry doesn’t wipe away already said. Already done. Already not done. Those things happened. And their memory holds strong, unbidden.

It’s said that God doesn’t remember these things. Doesn’t remember when I yell, at her or Him. Doesn’t remember when I say what I shouldn’t, don’t say what I should. When I hated. When I fume. When I withdraw. When I ignore.

This is fascinating because it’s also said that He forgives them all. Or, is willing to, when I repent. When my heart breaks over things I shouldn’t have done. Forgives it all, forgets it all.

It’s a perfect set-up to keep on yelling, hurting, falling. To keep on saying I’m sorry.

It’ll all be forgiven, forgotten, anyway.

But instead of giving me freedom- license- to say what I know I should not, and do what I know ends in hurt, this forgiveness offered free turns me away from what I know is wrong.

I suppose it’s because this forgiving, forgetting, came at the price of a death on a cross, and it seems a petty, petty thing to hurt so hard the same ones who come with me to drink in forgiveness.

We’re all together hurting, wronging, receiving forgiveness, and to hurt one of them seems a little thing and a very big thing, all at the same time.

~Natalia

Chalk

It’s always at the same time, the class. Of course, classes are like that. Scheduled. This class is scheduled when the morning sun is growing strong outside. Inside, sitting on cold, plastic chairs with flip-up desks, stomachs begin to grumble hungrily.

There are windows in the classroom. Four walls, of course. Two of them are half wall, up to my waist, other half window, up to the ceiling. A third wall is chalkboard, waist to ceiling. The fourth is wall. Wall and door.

I sit at the front, in the middle of the row. I like the front, in these classes. I can see her. She can see me, I suppose, if she wanted to. And I can’t see the movement, the whispers, behind me. I can hear them, though.

She’s tall. Stands up front in her high heels. She paces back and forth; stands on the right side of the classroom. My side. Stands on the left side of the classroom. I turn in my chair then, to see her. But of course, I could see her anyway, because I sit in the front row.

She stands in front of the board, writes on the board. She writes her thoughts, because she’s the teacher and is expected to have them, but she writes our thoughts more. I suppose that makes her different from most- in her class, we work together to remember, to understand, to learn.

She asks questions, of course. She stands up there in her high heels and her cardigan and she asks questions. It’s a rhythm, a pattern, that I know back and front now. She asks a question. Stands, pink lips pursed, looking over the right side- my side- and the left side. She looks for a hand to answer.

We all sit there in cold desk chairs, waiting for a hand. And meanwhile, her hand shakes, shakes, shakes the chalk.

Long fingers curled, she cups that little yellow stub of chalk and she shakes it in her palm. She looks around the room, waiting for a hand, welcoming a hand. Give it a moment and her eye brows raise, expectant, encouraging. Usually we don’t even get this far; someone’s already offered a response, an idea, a countering question.

And she points and she nods and she listens, and all the while, the chalk rolls gently back and forth in her curled hand.

In a morning class, a different class, we discussed role models. Someone said Abraham Lincoln. I wrote her name on my paper, instead. Then I thought about Abraham Lincoln, because maybe I should scratch out a teacher and write in a president. But I’ve never seen Abraham Lincoln shake the chalk in his hand while he listens to students learn. So I left her name on my list.

~Natalia

Back Then When: Happy Birthday, Dada!

backthenwhen1
Photo taken 1993

It’s my father’s birthday today, and seemed like a wonderful opportunity to remind you how much I love him. He’s a wonderful father to his children, husband to his wife, teacher to his students, and example to anyone who’s watching.

In addition to his gentle demeanor and studious work ethic, my father also possesses a highly refined, subtle-sarcastic sense of humor, which has enriched my life in many ways. I have collected for you this evening some reason posts mentioning my father.

He Hugged my Mother at Monterey Bay

He Took Stevy and I to Mexico and We Almost Got Shot (Or Something Like That)

He Turned 50

He Hashtags

He Influences Larissa’s Sense of Humor

~Natalia

Life Right Now {#43}

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Looking UP at a Moody spring moon on Monday night.

~Natalia

After All

It’s been raining all day and I wore TOMS to work, only to take them off halfway back to the train and walk barefoot through mud puddles all the way to the train stop.

I worked this evening and sometimes my tired, my impatience slips through more than I’d like it to, and I get to the end of the day and it worries me: do these little athletes know that I love them?

I write about what is important to me, what is on my mind, but the end of the semester is occupying so very much of my thoughts, I worry about sounding repetitive.

It’s as dark as a room in the city with no curtains can be, and I’m lying here listening to the hallway, creating this post on my phone.

I saw the mother for seven minutes this afternoon and she gave me a purple umbrella, two clementines, and a box of crackers and I dutifully used that umbrella all the way back to the train (barefoot though I was) and I ate the clementine between the Argyle and Berwyn stops on the Red Line; saved the crackers for later.

I stopped for a moment in the entryway at the pool, talked with the little swimmers waiting there. And one little boy- Tommy, six years old, buzz cut- wrapped his arms around my waist all of a sudden, which shouldn’t have surprised me because his sister, all dimpled smile and grow-up teeth, she told me before that I’m his favorite, anyway.

And I rubbed his fuzzy head and thought, “Maybe they do know how much they’re loved after all. Maybe it’s really just fine.”

It’s all gonna be just fine, after all.

~Natalia

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