Skip to main content

The Sevens: When a New Decade Dawns

Every time I reach an age ending in seven, I feel big changes coming. My Sevens arrive near the end of the last year of the decade, and looking back, I've gone through major life transitions--or initiated them--around each of those auspicious birthdays. This year is no exception.

When I turned seven on the cusp of the 1990s, I had my first experience bonding with a Very Special Teacher. You know those teachers. The ones with Fred Rogers energy, the ones you don't just like but love, the ones that feel like parents or counselors, the ones who know just what to say to truly make you feel valued, safe, and capable. I hadn't had much luck bonding with teachers in preschool or kindergarten (which I repeated), but here's to Mrs. McNeil in first grade. Everything about school changed for me because of you.

When I turned 17 right before Y2K, I experienced my biggest heartbreaks back-to-back. One was an ordinary breakup with a high school boyfriend. It was my first "serious" relationship that consisted of more than going bowling a couple times or making out in a movie theater. And right after that, I experienced a much more profound loss, the implosion of my most important friendship at the time. It was an intense, tender, and fragile thing between me and another boy who was not my boyfriend. It wasn't sexual, nor was it anything like my (also sometimes intense) platonic friendships with girls. Earlier this year, when I learned the word "queerplatonic" and saw that there is a flag for it, I wept. That was exactly what I had lost, which I could never properly grieve because I didn't even know its name. And it's something that sounds stupid and fake to anyone who hasn't experienced it, so I won't try to explain it here. But the grief sent me into a multi-year dissociative episode and changed my sense of self to the core. I also gained certain kinds of strength and wisdom moving forward. I grew and matured. I opened myself to new friendships, and some of those later high school friends are my most cherished people to this day.

When I turned 27 at the end of the Naughty Aughties, I had been married to one of those high school besties for several years. We were already homeowners, which we managed by having a stream of roommates, sometimes a bunch at a time, pitching in on the bills. As our life stabilized, I felt a sudden and needful urge to have my husband's baby. So I told him, and he got me pregnant that spring. Need I say anything about how my life was about to change in that moment?

This week, I turned 37, and I can see the glow of the 2020s dawning above the horizon from here. My parents have just retired and are moving into their dream house in my neighborhood as I write this. I've been helping them clean the beautiful but dirty house, and next week I'll be helping them move in and unpack their things. My daughter is growing up at a shocking pace, more tween than child already. I've completed two fat, juicy novels during her childhood, and it's feeling good for me to take a novel-writing break through the holidays and focus on supporting my family and celebrating happy transitions. Helping my parents create and tend to their literal living space is inspiring me to start renovating my own house so that it will continue to sustain me and my family and our neighbors and friends heading into the brave new future.

I'm no clairvoyant, but I sense the natural shifting of my interests, tastes, friendships, and family relationships. My marriage is stronger and deeper than it ever was. I have a cat now. We're financially stable with no roommates, and I'm looking forward to learning and doing more physical work with my hands as I transform into a super cool middle-aged suburban mom. The whole world is changing as we enter a new decade, and some of the signs are ominous: climate change, political divisions, disrupted economic systems, decreasing human interaction in our youth. No one really knows what will happen over the next 10 years, but to me it feels like a good time to stay flexible, keep learning new skills and technologies, and at the same time settle back a bit into old-fashioned ways of living and loving to preserve our humanity through the changes to come.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

35 Great Things About Turning 35

The prime of life starts at 35! It's the best-kept secret from younger people, but your 35th birthday is a major cause for celebration. For mine, I have made my own listicle of 35 reasons why experts agree that 35 is the best age to be:
You get to say, "I'm 35." The number 35 carries so much more gravitas than 30, but you're only a few years older. At 34, I've started fudging my age--by adding a year. People automatically take me seriously, and if they don't, at least they tell me I look young for my age. (Eye roll, hair toss, "whatever.")  35-year-olds DGAF. Inner chill reaches new heights at 35. Despite its #2 status on this list, it's the #1 response I hear about what's best about hitting 35. My gorgeous friend Nerlie was beautiful and resilient and wise beyond her years in high school, but now, at age 35, she gets to fully enjoy being herself on her own terms. She writes,  "I've survived so much that I don't waste time o…

Happy Spring Awakening of the Rusalki!

The water spirits demand hard-boiled eggs.


According to MagPie's Corner on Facebook, the ancient Slavic holiday week known as "first Rusalii," when the rusalki first awaken in the rivers and streams, is happening now. Apparently, they wake up hangry for bread and hard-boiled eggs.


My family will be baking bread and boiling and decorating eggs, you know, just in case. We do live very close to a river. And traditions are important.

So happy First Rusalii to you! Happy Good Friday! Happy Easter weekend! Happy spring, no matter what or how you celebrate. Where I live, Easter is going to be the first warm, beautiful day we've had in a long time, with many warm days to follow--the perfect weather for a spring awakening.

P.S. Matka Danu Miklagarth, epic historical thriller featuring rusalki-impersonating pirates, is nearly 170,000 words long. If this book ever gets printed, it could be used as a weight to walk across the bottom of a river for real.

The Tiny Tweens

Girls really do grow up faster than they used to! My baby has just started third grade. Here she is looking like a tiny tween. Some of the girls in her class are bigger, taller, and older looking than she is. This is the new reality of girls in elementary school.

My daughter has given away nearly all of her toys and set up a neat and tidy homework desk stocked with notebooks and pens. She's more interested in Minecraft than My Little Pony now, but she still prefers to run around and play with other kids outside than to sit with a device.

Sometimes people ask me if I'm sad that my child is growing up so quickly. So far, not really. She was a very cute baby, but every year older is easier and more fun for me! We haven't yet hit peak enjoy-it-while-it-lasts.

She gets herself ready for the day. She can help with more chores. She sleeps in until about 7:00 a.m. (It used to be 5:00.) She still wants me to read to her at bedtime, but now it's horror chapter books rather than…

My Alpha

It turns out my husband is a fantastic alpha reader. Who knew? We've been married for 13 years and have known each other for 21. And last weekend was the first time I ever had him alpha read for me. Turns out he's the best creative partner I could ever hope for and that he still has the ability to surprise me with hidden talents and acts of love.

My husband is not really a fiction reader. He probably hasn't read a novel since high school AP lit class. It's not that he doesn't love a good story, it's that he doesn't like sitting still long enough to read a book or watch a movie. He's a very active and extroverted man, and he'd rather have a conversation or a real-life adventure than read a book. He's kind of like Gaston if Gaston weren't an asshole.

So until now, I haven't wanted to bother him with requests to read my writing, because reading novels isn't his jam, and also because I've always harbored guilt at how much time I spen…

Word Count Flood

What the meow?

Matka Danu Miklagarth is busting its banks. It's now almost 175,000 words long, and writing it feels like having a weird dream that I can only partly control. I'm not sure I want it to end, but I also know it needs to end soon.

I'm going to be late for work.

I need to have this thing beta read and revised before summer begins, because I don't want to get lost in the fall slush piles.

I also declared on this site that I was "Racing Rammstein" and vowed not to buy the new album until I finished the manuscript. I thought I had plllllenty of time. Ha! My books always run longer than I thought they would.

My husband agreed to be my alpha reader, but now that I mentioned I was writing a sex scene between a mentally unstable serial killer and a man who was recently castrated, he's not so sure. Hmmm, I might have to skip to a group of (all-female) beta readers.

Come on, it's just for historical accuracy.

Gretchen (my cat) doesn't mind me ta…

The Golden Moments

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone. -George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) 

The only time this is not generally true for me is in the fall. This is the golden moment when I feel most alive, aware, and present with everyone and everything around me. This is when my daughter and I begin most days with a walk in the golden hour of the morning, in this most golden season of the year.

It's also that magical time when my little golden child is still excited about school, from our morning walks to seeing her friends at recess to the Scholastic Book Fair to riding the bus home with more friends. She has already earned another "Golden Warrior of the Week" award (for exceptionally helpful behavior) and received an excellent, glowing report at the first parent-teacher conference of the year.

I've extended my "fallow period" from working on my novel, and I'…