Number 35

I turned 35 today.  It kinda snuck up on me, this mid-thirties business.  I swear I’m still in my twenties, but my legal documentation, not to mention the fine lines under my eyes, say otherwise.

I started out the day with a grande pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks (it’s free when it’s your birthday!) and a fancy donut from one of the local shops here.  I took my collective 1,000 calories and sat down on the beach.  The Atlantic was choppy and  I was glad I brought my jacket with me.  The sunbathing days are over for now.  Despite that, the sun was shining and I was in my happy place.  I talked with my mom and wrote in my journal – which had been neglected since last spring.  I took stock of my 34th year, and wrote down my hopes and dreams for the 35th year.

When I was 34….

  • I began writing a book detailing the 20+ years of genealogy stories and trees I have rolling around in my brain.
  • I applied for 3 jobs that are out of my area of expertise in hopes of a career change: thus far I’ve been rejected, and am now awaiting to see if #3 will hire me.
  • I learned how the mind of an addict works on the fly.
  • Roadtripped with my sister-in-law, niece, husband, friend from college, and myself.
  • I started a technical writing certification program.  It was time to put some energy into a passion.
  • I learned how to crochet and improved my craft.  I’ve come a long way from my drunk spider mode, but I still have so much to learn.
  • Discovered the lifestyle of contemplative prayer, and how it fits so well with my worship style.  It is so different from what mainstream American Christianity offers, it was like jumping in the ocean on the hottest day of year: so refreshing!
  • Began rock climbing again, and met some very cool people along the way.
  • I learned French (I started with nothing), where I can read simple things, but cannot actually impress anyone from France.
  • I kept up with my German studies through video, lessons, and reading the Bible.
  • I watched the entire series of Gilmore Girls.
  • Rediscovered one of my favorite authors of all time, Alister MacLean.
  • I started this blog.

As for 35….

  • I want a new career.
  • I want to nail my capstone project for my technical writing certification.
  • I want my crochet projects to benefit the homeless and others in need.
  • I want to expand on the contemplative prayer lifestyle, connecting further with the Lord.
  • I want to travel out into the western part of the USA.
  • My husband and I have been contemplating an exit plan, perhaps moving away from the beach.  The current job situation went from bad to worse with him.
  • A European adventure is on the horizon:  every time I go to Europe, I am inspired to do something and I wonder what this trip will bring.
  • I want better control over my anxiety and lack of confidence.
  • I want to identify and express my emotions better.  I really sucked at that when I was 34.
  • I want to write my book, finish the stories, finish the trees, get an editor/manuscript.
  • I want to surf.
  • I want to open my home to friends, strangers, and those in need; even if my husband is upset at the idea.
  • I want to be a better wife by growing closer to my husband and reflecting the Lord.
  • While a family is not in the cards I was dealt, and my heart is so tender in that spot; that the Lord may fill it with what He so desires.
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All that’s left is a band of gold

Last time I visited my childhood home, my mom set out several jewelry pieces from my grandmother she wanted me to have.  A simple gold wedding band was among them.  It appeared slightly weathered, but it fit my finger as though it was custom made for me.  There was an inscription inside: “RE to GA Dec 29 – 1910.”  I knew right away who it belonged to: RE was my great-grandfather, GA was my great-grandmother.

They were married on a Thursday, like me.  I don’t know how they met or what their relationship story was.  I have pictures of them with beautiful smiling faces, they look so happy together.  I have pictures of her with the ring.  It’s hard to make out, but I can see it.  This union produced one of my all-time favorite people: my grandmother.

If only that ring could speak!

I’m sure it’d tell me of the giddiness of January 1911, every time she glanced at her left hand: I’m married!  Women didn’t have many rights back then, marriage was a step-up for her.  Despite the typically scripted quiet and obedient wife of the time, my great-grandmother was kind, sweet, and quite the firecracker.  She was fierce as much as she was loving.

I wonder if the ring stayed on her finger during her pregnancies, or if the swelling became too much and it was left in the drawer.  I wonder too, what the ring would say to the arguments the neighbors undoubtedly heard: my great-grandfather was a drunk, especially during Prohibition (our family never was one for timing….).  When he was sober, he was a quiet, kind man.  When he was drunk, he would chase my great-grandmother around the kitchen table with a butcher knife, transforming into a monster.  I bet that ring felt awfully heavy in those moments.

It was common in such events, when he was drunk and violent, that my great-grandmother would lock herself and the three girls in the bedroom until he passed out.  Then they would board a streetcar and go to her mother’s house, even in the dead of a cold Detroit winter night.  I wonder if she absentmindedly fidgeted with the ring, as she stared off into space on the streetcar; fighting tears, trying to be strong for her girls, and figuring out her next move.  I wonder if she took off the ring for a time, carefully considering if she’d put it on again.

Nearly 17 years after the band of gold was placed on her left ring finger, she filed for divorce and it was granted.  She was kicked out of her church because of the divorce.  My great-grandmother took things into her own hands by working the assembly line at Dodge to provide for her daughters, despite the small alimony check; she was a welder.  The family lived with her widowed mother.

She had a handy man come to the house to do some odd jobs; they fell in love and married.  This man (my great-stepgrandfather!) was a WWI veteran and beautiful soul who was always smiling.  They stayed happily together until she died in the early 1960’s.

I wonder where the ring spent all those years.

And now it has come me.  I wear it on  my right hand.  It’s a perfect everyday ring, as I don’t have to worry about losing heirloom diamonds at work.  It’s sturdy, and in the quiet moments of work I find myself staring at the inscription.

The three girls from this marriage all died old women.  Their children are senior citizens.  These people are lost to time, only existing in stories and the random documents I’m able to unearth.

And all that remains is this ring of gold, to mark a family united and torn apart. It is a link of my ancestral past, which will always be near and dear to me.