I rarely link my poetry blog with this blog. Today, however, my Wednesday Poem and this blog entry seem to dovetail nicely. So, I am not thinking about present-day Egypt (although, it is now in a wilderness period of sorts), but Biblical Egypt, the one of captivity. When the Israelites finally were led out of Egypt, but before they found the “next big thing,” during their time in the wilderness, they often looked back on their lives in Egypt with longing, thinking thoughts like “at least we knew where our next meal was coming from.” This, even when God had promised manna enough for their daily needs. It goes to show we can idealize almost anytime in our life when faced with the present moment. At least in the past, from the vantage point of the present, we knew what to expect. What are we to do when faced with a wilderness time in our own lives, caught between what was and what will be? Perhaps, every moment of our lives could, more or less, be categorized as such a place. Still, some periods stand out more solidly as a wilderness time than others.
I remember when I was a senior in high school. Oh, how I longed for the year to be over. I felt so done with that place–ready to move on to the next phase. Yet, when summer arrived, I was completely lost. The interval between high school and college was one of the most difficult of my life. I constantly felt anxious, at loose ends, without a stronghold on which to place my feet. (Oh, yet that I should have clung to Psalm 40, for there is always a rock on which to stand). I did survive the summer, with my two jobs, one at an independent video rental store (unheard of today) and one at TCBY yogurt. I arrived at college in August of 1988, wearing a black and green plaid J. Crew skirt and forest green J. Crew turtleneck. I still wear that J. Crew turtleneck (just shows you that it pays to pay for quality goods) and if I were still a size 2, I might also still be wearing that skirt (alas, no). I had the longest blond hair and the biggest 80’s bangs that you can imagine. I wore a black fedora over that wild mane of hair. And thus began the next phase of my life.
I guess, in part, I am thinking about that summer because Hannah fast approaches that very same summer of in between. There is a possibility that she will begin a critical language intensive at her college of choice (yes, we are closing in on that decision folks–soon to be revealed, but not quite yet) in June. I think that would be great, as she would completely avoid this wilderness. Perhaps the wilderness teaches us lessons, but I think Hannah has had enough teachers/hard lessons recently and she is showing plenty of character for her eighteen years.
I also feel that I too am again in a wilderness of sorts. I am between careers (for I fully expect to be career-mindedly employed again, but likely in a different field once Josh is either in full-time preschool or in Kindergarten). I am, however, now in this place where I read the same three Richard Scarry Word books about four times per day. Everyday, I again note with surprise the trains that have smoke coming out of them and the trains that have no smoke. I count the same eighteen gum drops, guiding a little pudgy pointer finger from one to the next. I study with Josh the same classic Scarry home plans (undoubtedly, a colonial house sliced down the middle), and note that Lowly Worm is coming down the stairs in one house, or still in bed in another. I make the “sweep, sweep” sound every time I see a broom, emphasizing the “ssss” and the “eeee” (both Ling sounds). Throw in some Annie’s Organic snacks, a few diaper changes, and the occasional temper tantrum, and you pretty much get the idea of how my everyday is spent right now. Often, I feel as if any progress that might happen with Josh, on the language front or otherwise, is barely perceptible. Always an overachiever in the past, I have to say, this makes for a very challenging job situation. So, sometimes, while waiting for the pages to turn, I am given to either romanticizing my former job as Publisher (which was not without problems and headaches, I know) or fantasizing about the “next big thing.” Today, I was thinking that I might become a documentary film maker (where do I get these ideas?).
And tonight, Josh is in bed and I am thinking about my daily manna. Josh made progress at our infant/parent speech therapy. He said “ahhh” for airplane (also a Ling sound). And Josh (an airitarian) ate 1/4 of a banana for Chris tonight, while I was at my lovely Zumba class. Progress on both fronts, feeding Josh and exercising his mom. Manna enough. Manna enough. I stand on a firm foundation, an unmovable rock.