I’ve been living inside of a to-do list the last several days. The result: far greater productivity and far less giddiness than I’d hoped. I miss the agonizing buzz of joy that used to haunt me for weeks leading up to kid’s camp. The wriggling, sleepless nights… the obsessive daydreams… the hilarity exploding like a string of grenades in my mind… I’d like it all back now, please.
Natalie sat down at the breakfast table this morning, put her head in her hands, and sighed, “Mommy, I want a beer.”
My daughter, taking underage drinking to a whole new decade…
A storm hit last night, the kind with rhythmic bass notes, strobe light effects and raindrops like overzealous bouncers. Being the hard-core ravers we are, Dan, Natalie, and I made sure to run through the worst of the rain. (Three times, in fact; we weren’t quite drenched enough after the first two.) As we collapsed inside, I discovered a Perfect Moment right there with my little family, thoroughly soaked and laughing out loud.
After 7 months of being told “your papers will come any day now…”
After 960 unanswered phone calls to The Godfather…
After 2 summer moves to homes that aren’t actually ours…
After 6 excursions to the Italian Consulate…
After 38 emotional upheavals in the last week alone…
…the real countdown begins:
6 days until we leave for Italy.
Naturally, my brain has been replaced by a kaleidoscope. Cheerful orange elation clashes with deep purple worry, which keeps running headlong into clean green practicality, which occasionally shifts into an absurd yellow panic. And then there are the sudden revelations speckling across my vision like a TV gone haywire:
We won’t get Mac ‘n’ Cheese in Italy! (How will we ever survive?)
I’m going to be delivering this baby in a foreign country! (Do they know about C-sections over there?)
Italians speak Italian! (Why, oh why didn’t I put more effort into becoming fluent?)
We’re leaving behind some of the best friends we’ve ever had! (How have I never realized how much I’ll miss them?)
But then my less-placenta-brained husband reminds me of that day three years ago in Venice when we talked about throwing away our return tickets. And then I remember early morning bike rides and noontime strolls through the open markets and lazy afternoon drinks in the piazzas, sunset walks through the parks and hilarious late night gatherings in the pizzerias. I remember how effortlessly the Italians talk, their whole bodies animated with the joy of carrying on conversations. I remember the lovely winding roads and the rolling hills lined with grapevines. I remember the pizza and the pasta and the coffee and the wine and the chocolate.
And then all the pesky, swarming details seem less than important because, hey — we’re moving to Italy!
Yes, I know, too long without writing. Inexcusable. (Except that it’s very, very excusable.)
While I’ve been itching for a quiet hour or four with my laptop, the world has been spinning a little too fast… cartwheeling too, and back-flipping, and careening through all known variations of insanity. If I survive it with enough brain cells to count past 4, this summer will end up on a “Top 5” list (most likely Top 5 Reasons I Can No Longer Count Past 4).
Natalie tends to say things best these days:
“Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, I love you, Mommy, I want to go home now.”
Me too, kiddo.
(Stay tuned for exciting news!)*
*As soon as I figure out what it is…
Personal injury, from a 2-year-old’s perspective:
“Mommy, my face hurts. It bit itself.”
And that, my friends, is why I love my daughter.
Today was going to be The Day, the Yes or No Day. And, instead, we’re still very much stuck in the familiar territory Not Yet. A measly computer glitch now stands in the way of us seeing whether the door to Italy is open or closed.
And I can only find the energy to wonder…
Does he want to keep us pinned to Delaware, though our hearts are far away?
Is it punishment? A test of faith? A test of commonsense? A test of patience or emotional breaking points?
Is he stringing us along for a laugh? Is he simply standing by and watching bureaucracy string us along?
Are we supposed to be learning some grand life lesson? Is this all for the sake of a dinner-party story?
Because this is not dinner-party material. This is raw and murky and too agonizingly real to share a laugh over. This is our faith on the line–we’ve sold and packed and moved and tied off loose ends and trusted since November. We’ve used up our Plan Bs and our Plan Cs, and we’re still no closer to knowing whether our faith will be validated or thwarted.
And now comes that time of the show when my sinking mind finds out how much it believes a certain man called James:
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who ‘worry their prayers’ are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.”(1:2-8, The Message)
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