First Dance 

  
Saturday’s first dance 

Song: God Bless the Broken Road 

And aren’t all roads? 

~Natalia 

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I Saw That

I’ll start right off by saying that my least favorite thing about driving is that I lose the opportunity to enjoy the scenery, take in the sights and sounds, and generally study the hundreds of people that I drive past every day. I count this as a great loss because I am not oblivious to the vast amount of interesting interactions that can be subtly observed from behind the safety of tinted windows, and I am acutely aware of the road hazard I would become were I to choose not to focus on the road itself. No matter how boring the road may be.

I became aware of this when, while teaching me to drive several years ago, the only time my father came anywhere close to raising his voice was when watching a middle aged couple rollerblade up Sheridan Road interfered with my ability to brake, as well as my awareness that the car was indeed, still moving.

Nothing happened, of course, other than a rather forceful braking. But after that, I tried to be more like a horse with blinders and less of a sightseeing people watcher while driving.

But rear-view mirrors are a gift to mankind. Especially mankind who drives more than 30 minutes each way to work and spends much of that in traffic.

That’s how I saw you.

I glanced into the mirror as I slowed, as my daddy taught me, and caught a glimpse of your face, your left hand resting casually on the steering wheel. Your brow was pulled down, ever so slightly, in the concentrated why-is-there-traffic-the-sun-is-shining-in-my-eyes-let’s-just-drive kind of expression that I imagine I wear rather frequently. My rear windshield and your front windshield worked together to tint the color right out of your face, but your short, scruffy hair rested at odd angles around your head, making you appear pleasantly approachable.

Eyes back on the road (where they always should be) I let my own car roll forward to fill in the gap that the infinitesimal advance of traffic had created in front of me, before glancing back to the mirror once more.

And that’s when I really smiled.

I saw you dancing.

In the time that I had driven those two yards, a worthy song had come on, and I couldn’t help but grin as I watched you move, bop your shoulders, swing your arms, and sing the lyrics to a song I could not hear. I felt the joy of your freedom expand in my chest, my traffic-heavy commute suddenly glinting with the silver lining of your personal dance party.

You couldn’t see me, didn’t know I saw you. But, in the few seconds that I watched, you happened to glance up, towards the bus in the lane beside us. The driver level with me, your own headlights stood next to the near back of the bus. I couldn’t see, but someone in that tall city bus must have caught your eye, because I watched your body still, watched the lyrics die, there on your lips. The dance was over.

The light, several cars before us, changed then, and I had to accelerate to stay with the flow of traffic. You switched lanes, sank into the blur of cars behind me, and I never saw you again.

But in those rear-view moment, I saw your dancing. I saw your goofy, your joy, your movement, and it really was the best thing that happened to me that day.

So please, don’t lose that. Keep dancing at stop lights. Keep yelling those lyrics out. Keep letting the small things be the silly things, because then, the big things start to become not so very big, not so very scary.

And we can all use a little spontaneous car dance party in our lives.

~Natalia

Whatever Comes Next

Friday afternoon pushing through the front door, I toss my keys on the dining table, stepping over the welcoming heap of shoes, onto the well-loved green carpet beyond.

In the living room, the mother leans back from her seat on the couch, her inquisitive face sliding into my line of vision.

It’s nearing 4pm, nearing the hour of dance and errands and work and dinner, and she asks about schedule and plans and I stand there, hands on the back of a chair, suddenly realizing the length, the breadth, the depth, of my to-do list.

I think the past 12 hours were a bit of a respite, I tell her after a moment. A respite that I will have again when I’m back here on Wednesday, when I’m done.

And I was right.

Friday evening brought errands, twenty minutes at the middle sister’s dance Observation Day, before work lead to an inhaled dinner, a downtown drive, and back to back study meetings that only ended when the student center closed at 12am.

Saturday morning brought the Angel Tree Party, an event I await with eager anticipation, and relish with joy, every year. Pizza lunch dissolved into an afternoon in the same rolling seats outside the coffee shop, and it’s Sunday night now and I’ve spent so long sitting here, I might as well sleep here tonight.

At least we’ll finish knowing that we worked hard, I told Jesssica not three hours ago, as we trooped through Moody’s underground tunnels to the dorms, for a half-hour dinner break that ended in another hour of conversation, while the evidence of our final project work sat temporarily ignored all around us.

And tomorrow is Monday, the first day of finals week- my last finals week at Moody- and I have a list of things, important things, and the hours will come, and with every passing round of the clock, I’ll choose what to do next. And I hope now, I hope so very much, that I choose the right thing.

I’ve worried before, and maybe I’ve even written here, that I won’t make the right choice. That I’ll get distracted, I’ll stumble, I’ll choose wrong, and the time I might well have used to bless, to encourage, will be thrown to the wind of misplaced priorities and things that hold no real meaning.

But last Monday afternoon, sitting in the warm glow of large-bulb Christmas lights, I said trust myself and she nodded her affirmation. My eyes wandered once more over those eleven dried leaves stuck to the wall behind her as I leaned back and considered what trusting myself might look like, how I might do so when the moments move so fast, the list grows so long.

But today, right now, I don’t worry. Maybe it’s the three and a half years I’ve already spent running, working, living in this downtown space. I can look back, see how it’s all gotten done, it’s all come together in all the long months behind me, and I can know, now, that the choices I’ve made have unfolded into good. There’s trust there, I know. Trusting myself, yes, but also trusting grace and sovereignty, and that the time I’ve been here- and the ticking hours of time I have left here- has not, will not, go to waste.

And with that confidence, with that hope held tightly in my hands, in my heart, I take one step, then another, towards work, play, study- and whatever it is, whatever I am doing, there is joy and there is adventure. Because I’m trusting myself and I’m trusting Him, and whatever comes next? Well, it’ll be just what was meant to come next.

~Natalia

Life Right Now {#60}

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Curious

Patient

Thoughtful.

Watching the big girls dance

While her own sister

Races, stretches, moves

In the studio next door.

~Natalia

This is Summer: Season Two {#2}

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At ballet again,
today’s observation day:
watch this sweet girl dance.

~Natalia

This is Summer {#5}


Two little sisters with our beloved mother at this afternoon’s dance recital, which was every bit as wonderful as last year’s.

~Natalia

This is Summer {#1}


Two little sisters, all fancied up and off to dress rehearsal!

~Natalia

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