Everything Must Change

In six days, my best friend is getting married. She’s dreamed of this day for many, many years and it’s finally here. And though I’ve been aware of and involved in this dream, it’s still a bit of a shock that it’s happening so quickly. Her fiance is a great man, with a good job and a better heart, but there’s still this teeny, tiny, selfish part of me that doesn’t want her to get married, solely because I am fully aware that everything will change.

I dislike change. I don’t discriminate between significant vs insignificant or big vs small: they are all equally frightening to me. It also doesn’t matter that I’ve had more positive experiences with change than negative, the simple truth that homeostasis will be disrupted is enough for me. And Mary getting married is a big, significant change, though not abrupt. Over the last year, her priorities have changed, as they should, towards Damien and the life they’re building together. Free evenings slowly become occupied and conversations shift. In fact, pretty much the only thing that will change is at the end of the day, they’ll say “good night” instead of “goodbye,” and yet it still feels like something bigger will happen.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen it happen to countless people. They get married and spend less and less time with their single friends, because they have less in common with them. Now they’re worried about balancing work and marriage and bank accounts instead of just themselves. It is a shift from selfishness to selflessness, and it’s got to be difficult. Their problems become different so who they turn to also changes. When you’re having problems communicating with your husband, your first instinct isn’t (and probably shouldn’t be) to run to your single gal pals for sage wisdom. Your life has changed, so you change with it in order to avoid being swallowed up. And we, who are not yet there, get left behind.

I’ve been assured that this will not happen to Mary and me, first with a few vague words about our worth to each other, and more recently with a pact to spend good, quality time with each other a minimum of once a month. But it’s going to change and it’s supposed to. I think what matters more is how we react to it, whether we just passively accept it or we become intentional about sharing parts of our lives with each other.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to end this post. If you’ve read anything I’ve written before (or if you’ve met me), you know that I’m better at beginnings than endings. But maybe this doesn’t have to have a definitive conclusion, as this Saturday will mark the beginning of both Mary and Damien’s marriage and the new friendship we, Mary’s single friends, will be entering into. Maybe that’s enough for this, to leave it like that, with hope.

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Aunt Liz’s Pie Recipe

Ingredients:

filling:
2 Red apples
1 Green apple
2 Yellow apples
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

topping:
1/2 c softened butter
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c flour
1/2 c quick oats

also needed: graham cracker pie crust (either 1 large or several mini)

directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix together the ingredients for the filling in one bowl. Peel and dice the apples, then toss in the dry mixture.
3. Blend together all ingredients for the topping.
4. Spoon filling into the pie crust(s), then add the topping on top. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees, then 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

My mom never really cooked when we were growing up. I remember eating chicken nuggets and french fries a lot during my childhood and not a whole lot of other things. I’m sure we must’ve, but for whatever reason I can’t remember many meals from when I was little. What my mom did well in the kitchen, however, was bake. We grew up knowing how to make everything from brownies to cheesecake, muffins to sugar fudge. (I know somewhere in there we covered “cookies,” as our pantry was stocked with dozens of cookie cutters, but I haven’t been able to bake them correctly in my adult life.) One of my mom’s favorite things to make was her older sister’s pie recipe. She wouldn’t bake it while we were awake, most likely because keeping track of four small children and using a sharp knife at the same time seem like a bad decision. I remember waking up in “the middle of the night” (also known as 10 pm) to the sweet smell of cooking apples. My mom would be sitting on the couch, watching that day’s episode of “Days of Our Lives” that she had taped. My room shared a wall with the family room and I’d sit as quietly as I could next to the door frame, watching the actors on the screen, (thankfully) not understanding what was going on. Inevitably I’d wind up in the family room with my mom, whether it be because she heard me making noises (small children are never actually as quiet as they think they are) or because I got brave and walked in. She’d give me my favorite midnight snack, those handisnacks cheese and crackers with the bright red plastic stick, and I’d sit on the couch and wonder if Bo and Hope would ever be together and why Sami was so mean to her sisters.

We grew up Catholic, and as such, had godparents. Honestly, I’m not very familiar with how many different sects have godparents, but I know that we did and the idea was that if anything ever happened to my parents, we’d be sent to live with our godparents. Only, none of us kids had any godparents in common; in fact, my parents ran out of aunts and uncles so Kelly’s godparents are our cousins. I remember asking my mom if the four of us would actually get split up if anything happened to her and dad. She explained that we’d all go to live with my Aunt Liz, mom’s oldest sister and my godmother. I didn’t know a lot about my Aunt Liz except that she lived in Salisbury, MO on a farm with my Uncle Don and their two kids, Amy and Danny. Every few years we’d pile into our van and drive the 20 hours from Orlando to St. Louis to see grandma before hopping back in the car for the 3 hour drive to Salisbury. I have great memories from the farm, of picking strawberries, going mudding and playing in the corn silos.  We would visit all the animals, especially the pigs, and light fireworks at night. And while it was fun to visit in the summer time, I knew I never actually wanted to live with my Aunt Liz. Not just because Florida winters were already cold enough for me, but because I knew that living with my aunt and uncle meant something had happened to my parents.

Last night I decided to bake my Aunt Liz’s pie recipe. I love baking and hope one day to have a house big enough in which to hold dinner parties. In the meantime, I try to make my apartment feel “cozy” rather than “tiny” when I have people over. My kitchen has never actually been big enough to prepare anything in, and as a result my cutting board is more often found on the coffee table than on the counter. I sat down to watch House and peel apples, trying to see how long I could get the peel to be before it snapped and broke off. When we were younger, we were told an old wives’ tale about peeling apples. The idea was however many pieces you had after you were done peeling the apple was how many kids you’d have. I always wanted a large family so I would “accidentally” break the peel or cut the knife at too sharp an angle in order to increase my fertility. I finally finished peeling, dicing and mixing so I put my mini apple pie creations into the oven. I have learned over the years that you need to have a foil-lined pan underneath your pies. There is always some spillage and it’s easier to buy a new cookie sheet than it is to pry the burnt cement-like topping off. Last night was no exception, as 10 of the 12 tarts had produced an overflow, and even required me to move all the tarts to a third pan to avoid the oven lighting the spilled topping on fire. But, they survived and now sit in my fridge, awaiting visitors.

Letters I Wish I Wrote Part 1

My dear friend,

Last year I decided that I would live a life marked by intentionality. I initially meant that I’d be following through when I told people I wanted to spend time with them, but it evolved into something bigger. It involved into being intentional about loving people. Specifically, quite a few weeks were marked by intentionally trying to love you.

The first time I met you, I saw how guarded you were. I saw pain in your eyes, and loneliness, and I know how those both feel. You were new in town, without roots or friends here, and I wanted to help in any way I could. I thought it would be easy and at first, it was. You were happy and bubbly and though you disliked aspects of things going on, you still had decided that things weren’t bad. Part of me envied that about you. Here you were, away from home and family, deciding that it was all a glorious adventure.

Then you began to trust me more. I, like most people, assumed you instantaneously trusted me from the word “go” and learned more about you. About where you came from and who you wanted to be. About what your life was really like behind the pretty packaging you wrapped it in. And my heart broke for you, because nobody deserves to deal with the things you described to me.

Then came the hard part: you asked me to help. And I tried. I want you to know that I did everything I could possibly think of to help you. But it wasn’t enough. You were still hurting, still unsure whether or not I was trying to help you or tear you away from what you knew as “safety.” You finally gave in and ran, only further than I had anticipated, away from here, away from chaos and pain, and away from me. That hurt, but I consoled myself with the fact that you’d be safe.

I found out, though, through the magic of the internet, that you seem to be back in the same position you were in before, just geographically further away. And it’s frustrating and it hurts because on a selfish level, I sacrificed for you. I tried to put you before me, and you rejected it.

It’s bigger than that, though. I’ve been so frustrated towards you because I don’t understand how you can’t see in yourself what I see in you. You’re so full of life and love and you’re settling for comfort. It isn’t even that you’re settling for safety or security, because I could understand that a bit more. No, you’re settling because you don’t understand your own worth.

As much as I’d love to say it was selfless, I think the reason behind my wanting to help you and love you was because I can see pieces of myself in you. Our situations are different, but my reactions are the same as yours. I, much like you, can’t see all of the wonderful things in myself that others see. Part of me thought that if I could help you, if I could help you to see these things inside of yourself, that there’d be hope for me.

I haven’t given up on you. And I haven’t given up on me. One day, you’ll be able to see all the things inside of you that I can see, and you’ll know that they’re true and that you don’t deserve this life you’re digging out for yourself. And I’m here, if ever you need me.

With love.