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water paints

Sometimes I’m amazed by the life I lead. Unlike most children, I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about the future (it can only be supposed that when one thinks about marriage at 3, one falls to planning fame, fortune, and offspring by 11, 12, and 13). It was always, “Imagine when you’re 18 and I’m 16!” I’d say to my sister (16 being the age Liesl was seeing Rolf in the Von Trapp gardens: 16 was full of promise). “Imagine when you’re 23, and I’m 21!” and “How many kids will I have when I’m 25?” (My mother already has 2). Imagine when…

Yet here I am now—older than I dared imagine, life careening on year after year.

I never thought I’d spend so much time thinking about money. I spend a good deal of time on money: making money, finagling budgets, calculating taxes (dreaming of returns), bonuses and raises and laterals, estimating down-payments, comparing health-care packages, and planning for retirement.

This is not, mind you, due to working in finance.

No, indeed. Most people don’t know what I do for work and that’s partly due to its being so complicated. “Political big-data” was easy enough at my first job—then my second, “marketing for pharmaceutical consulting” had an alluring (albeit ambiguous) ring to it.

But what do I do now? Well. Today I spent the morning in a dungeon, subterranean, windowless room under a Boston skyscraper. We were removing (recently rediscovered) plans for said skyscraper—enormous scrolls so coated in dust they sent billowing clouds of white smoke into the air upon disturbance (and I and my companions into coughing fits). Documents coated in nearly 25 years of neglect—untouched since I myself was a baby.

Forgive me, perhaps this is why I am a little nostalgic today—this step into the past.

From dust thou art, and to dust thou shall return.

We unearthed plans for storefronts with my childhood color pallet and kiosks from the space age: relics of a bygone late nights spent stressing by architects and engineers.

I have the task of assisting in bringing order to this abandoned chaos—to sift through these dusty, antiquated plans like some kind of modern archeologist.

Not all days at work are so romantic. Most of the time I work in the office with contracts, invoices, and proposals. But other days include something special—like touring a new building we’re constructing (the cutting edge of all things green)—or the one day I buried a children’s book (in ceremony) under one of Boston’s next-most-hottest-spots.

Little me. So old, somehow.

Rushing home from work to make a spectacular dinner, squeezing in the cleaning and the shopping and the volunteering for church, then falling into bed exhausted.

Stolen moments of joy—my husband and I sharing the secrets of our lives together.

Moments of humanity: simple and unheralded.

Getting pizza when we’re too tired to cook (and it being positively perfect pizza).

Sitting whole hours in silence—holding one another—reeling from bad news, new grief, holding each other’s pain.

New stories of old stories. “When I was sixteen, I…”

Surprise over who we once were. Thinking about who we will become.

I find I must still learn to think about the now. I’ve always tried to live in the moment: to appreciate the peculiarities which make each day special. But I’ve also always been an idealist—whether about the past or future, and I find myself in a time and space which I never imagined.

How do I spin the tapestry of my life today? how do I tell its story?

I can not always live—now in the in-between catch of breath between what was and what is coming.

These years keep going by. They are ours only for a little while.