Embracing, Not Weeping

September 5, 2010 at 9:59 am 2 comments

On Thursday we swam in the river. If we could have rolled in the gravel and mud without incurring cuts and abrasions, we would have. We were trying to drink in as much of that river goodness as possible, not sure if it would be our last day until next summer, three hundred days away. We skipped rocks, we walked up river and floated back down, we breathed deep the moist cottonwoody scents, and pedaled back home.

Today it is cold. We have sweaters on. The windows are shut. There will be more days of sun, more days in which we walk about with short sleeves, but the days of warmth that doesn’t quit, the feeling of utter safety in knowing that you won’t catch a chill even if you’ve left your sweater at home and the sun is dipping, are over.

Women, I believe are better at change than men. Our bodies, our feelings, our everything changes continuously. Pregnancy is perhaps one of the most roller coaster rides of our life as our bodies become almost recognizable, only to shrink back down again, if not to the exact same form, at least to something that vaguely resembles the original form. Our emotions shift with the tides, flicker on and off, jump wildly with the slightest thought, the smallest shift of a pebble under foot. We are inclined toward change. We are prepared, if not for what change brings, at least the change itself.

The shift from summer to fall is that kind for me. I am not thrilled by what we are moving toward. My mind is quick to fast forward past the orange leaves and Halloween costumes straight to what that introduces; dark days, snowy months, and time indoors, lots of time indoors. But I do enjoy the shift itself. Packing up the bathing suits means that I will never, ever, take that multi-colored basket of spandex and nylon for granted, I will always see it as a precious harbinger of summer fun. Tucking away the sunscreen, the white pants I never wear, the beach towels, means that life is going to be different from now on. Sure we will pull those things out again but the woman who digs them out won’t be the same. In some way, maybe in many ways I will be utterly changed.

I like the sound of that.

Once when I was little, my mother picked me up from a play date and trilled: I have a surprise for you! Guess what it is! My mind jumped to the best possible option and I shrieked: Jenny and Kevin are here to visit!!! A visit from our out-of-state cousins was the ultimate. Tickle sessions, a trip to the Beach Boardwalk, popsicles, out of the ordinary events, I could think of nothing better. But when my mother informed me that the surprise was something else I came back with: You rearranged my room!!! And I was right. And I was thrilled. We both were. Yes, moving the objects in my room was second only to the cousins visiting. Change is appealing.

A friend of mine has recently reached the “totally over it” point with regard to her home. It was painstakingly built by hand over many months as a partner team, pre-baby. It is tucked into the woods, it is well thought-out, it is beautiful. But it also lacks electricity and running water, and she is done. A baby with cloth diapers, multiple outfit changes, and needs more easily met with hot water and electrical outlets, means that it’s time to look for something else. But as she described the situation, and we ladies all nodded our heads with emphatic agreement that no, that situation was altogether not desirable, I couldn’t help but imagine that her partner, a man, was not over it and not looking for change. He might even have imagined living in that very local for the rest of his life.

Men don’t change much. While their partners’ bodies go through mind-bending developments, and while a new human being is even added to the family, men continue much as they have before, going to work, taking out the garbage. The biggest change for them is us, as we behave like never before.

Women like change so much they make it when they need it. Some women break up with their boyfriends, quit their jobs, or start night classes, all to meet the undeniable need for something different. Yesterday I went into a vacuuming, straightening, clearing-out flurry, and found that half of what I was doing was not for cleanliness but to alter our environment. It might seem crazy to my partner, but moving the doll house and seeing the brown square of floor beneath it feels good. I’ve haven’t seen that bit of floor in a while. It catches my eye as I move up the stairs and fills me with hope, energy, and life.

So this year, as we move into Fall, instead of moping, I’ll remind myself that I like change and always have. That I am built for it, that I am it. I’ll settle this reminder so deep within me that though I usually cry as I watch the Virginia Creeper turn to red, this time I’ll see the transformation as good fortune instead. A tiny slip of paper that says: Change is coming.

Change will certainly mean that the river is covered with floating leaves instead of floating tourists, and later by snow and ice instead of tennis balls and beer cans. But it might also mean greater peace of mind, new shoes, or call-everybody-to-squeal kind of news. The woman who again sorts through rainbow-colored bikinis and unfolds the white pants she never wears, might feel more beautiful than ever, might have reached levels of success she’s never known, might just have discovered the answer.


Entry filed under: life lessons. Tags: , , , .

Milestones A Labor Story for Labor Day

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Krista  |  September 6, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Change, for me, would be so much easier if I just had a good sweater that I loved to live in. I don’t. This would help me in welcoming fall a little more joyfully.

    Loved this post. And I know just what feeling you’re talking about that you get from seeing that patch of floor you haven’t seen for awhile. Change is good. Exciting. Scary. Refreshing. Eternally hopeful. I make room for change in my life, constantly.

    Happy fall 🙂

    • 2. nataliechristensen  |  September 6, 2010 at 7:10 am

      Oh man. You are right. So right about the sweater thing. I dug out the same old dingy sweaters I’ve been wearing and my heart just sunk.


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