there’s one on the way

by christie shumate mcelwee

“And when a small southern town finds a rope in a tree

We’re all once again trapped in the past”

~ The Age of Miracles by Mary Chapin Carpenter

flag (from Merriam-Webster.com)

noun

1: a usually rectangular piece of fabric of distinctive design that is used as a symbol (as of a nation), as a signaling device, or as a decoration

symbol (from Merriam-Webster.com)

noun

  1. something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance
  2. an act, sound, or object having cultural significance and the capacity to excite or objectify a response

The meanings of symbols are often connotative in nature. What visceral response do you have to a symbol? Does it make you proud? Does it give you goosebumps? Does it fill you with dread? fear? pain? What emotions do you feel when you see the Stars and Stripes waving over a ball field? What goes through your mind when you see a swastika spray painted on the side of a building? How about a cartoon drawing of a depiction of a smiling Native American holding a tomahawk? A cross hanging in the narthex of a church? Or a burning cross placed in a yard?

Symbols are weighty in their power. They represent human relationships to cultural ideas. We are drawn and repulsed by symbols, but symbols change as society changes. Some are cast aside. Others torn down. Yet some continue to fly in the face of such change, screeching myths about heritage and tradition.

And when a noose is placed in the garage of a Black NASCAR driver, the power of the symbolism is on display for all to see. It says “Our flag is more important than your body.”

Throughout history, we have carried symbols into battle, fighting over land and religion and ideology. Each side believed in their cause, even if it was later deemed wrong.

What is happening now is a reckoning. We are attempting to face our wrongs and respect the pain of others. Flags, statues, and monuments are coming down. Demeaning stereotypes are being removed from products.

Yet…yet there is still more to be done: the name of a NFL team, a chant emanating from the stands of a MLB team, the state flag of a southern state, and many more examples of antiquated symbolism that no longer represents the collective ideas of its people.

And for every noose there are streets filling with peaceful protesters, rainbow Pride flags waving from porches, and a nine-year old child writing Black Lives Matter in chalk on her street. We are no longer standing still. This is the miracle.

Seems we’re just standing still

One day we’ll ride up that hill

In the age of miracles

There’s one on the way

The Age of Miracles ~Mary Chapin Carpenter

How About Love?

 Green Gables Cottage
Green Gables Cottage

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure,
Measure a year?
In daylights?
In sunsets?
In midnights?
In cups of coffee?
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,
How do you measure a year in a life?

— “Seasons of Love” Rent, Jonathan Larson

How do you measure a year? 

On May 12, 2017, we traveled, with cats in tow, from our old hometown to this new place, this new town. We signed stacks of papers and eagerly entered a different phase of our lives. We downsized. We minimalized. We put together furniture, arranged throw pillows, and planted flowers. We hung a white swing on the porch, and quickly settled into our little house with the green gables. This cottage would help tell our next chapter.

A year and a few days have passed since that warm Friday in May. We have acclimated to living in a bigger city, discovering cozy breakfast joints and maneuvering chaotic expressways. I’m not clenching the steering wheel as hard as I did last summer, but traffic still accelerates my heart rate. And no one, except maybe my husband, needs to be subjected the language that spouts from my mouth when I encounter a distracted driver swerving from lane to lane as he texts at 70 miles per hour. Nope. It could make a burly truck driver swoon.

We love all the choices: of restaurants, of grocery stores, of places to walk or hike. There are wineries that snake down 94 we will explore this summer. Seat Geek will get us into Cardinal games. Our weekend galavants will include the Missouri Botanical Gardens, a new museum at the Gateway Arch, bike trips on the Katy Trail, and even a road trip up to Mark Twain’s Hannibal. 

As I rejoice in our not so new abode, I do miss certain things about our hometown. It holds our stories, our families, our histories. I miss running into friends at the store. I miss having the grandchildren over for Sunday night dinners and hosting big holiday meals. I miss long walks at Rock Springs with my sister. I really miss the timed stoplights that run the length of the downtown center.

This past winter I went through a few blue months. At first I attributed it to the cold, dreary weather, but I soon discovered I was grieving, truly grieving for what I missed. My yoga tribe. Our favorite Mexican restaurant. Weekly lunch dates with my mom. The grief was real and palpable.

That grief has lifted with the coming of spring. I sat with my winter sadness of what we left behind, but after a year, I welcome what we now possess: a community, a cozy place to land, a home filled with laughter and music and wine and pie. My friends here are no longer new. My husband and I have another favorite Mexican restaurant. My brother’s family and our new grandchild live close. Our gatherings are more intimate. We welcome visitors. We are surrounded in love. 

This is how we measure a year in the life.

 Our New town
Our New town

 Finn kicking back in the kitchen
Finn kicking back in the kitchen

  cozy office/home yoga space
 cozy office/home yoga space

 tribe
tribe

 family
family

 holiday pies
holiday pies

 birthday sunset
birthday sunset

 morning coffee with zozo. i sure do miss her highness.
morning coffee with zozo. i sure do miss her highness.

 This is us: crazy, complicated, weird, drunk on love
This is us: crazy, complicated, weird, drunk on love