My sister Jessica was able to call me two days ago from the airport on her way to Lithuania. It was so strange hearing her voice after three months of being away. It was so familiar, but in a lot of ways so different. I thought there would be too many things to say - too many emotions to express, but it was actually so normal which I loved more than anything. It's like she hasn't been gone at all and we were just having a quick chat to catch up.
We talked about Kevin's new job, about his med school interviews, about what was going on with the kids at church. She told me about her roommates and her flight so far, and about the food at the airport. She told me she was afraid a little bit about moving to this foreign place but then said quickly, "I'm trying to stop thinking about fear, because fear is not of God" and I remembered what I had to tell myself three months ago when she left. That sometimes courage is saying goodbye to someone else you love who is doing something hard - shared courage.
She spoke a few minutes in Lithuanian to me. The language sounds so smooth and liquid and in some ways reminded me of Parseltongue :) So many "S" sounds, with long, flowing words. It sounded so beautiful the way she spoke it - I wished I could understand what she said and then I realized that she would be speaking it to people who do understand. The message they need to hear the most in their own, native language and I said a prayer in my heart that they would listen.
We didn't cry like I thought we would, because I was trying to be brave and she is always more brave but I cried after we hung up because I didn't know it was possible to miss someone with this same heartbreaking urgency. Then I thought about her hanging up the payphone with tears in her eyes which made me me cry more.
The missing is not the thing that pains, but the love. One thing I have learned from this experience so far is that love is hard but it is so good. It is the best thing.
Kevin and I consider ourselves pretty lucky so far this year. We live in gorgeous Utah, both have jobs we love, and got to spend the month of January with the people we love the most since Kevin's dad is here from Ohio, and my sisters and their kids came to visit from Tennessee and North Carolina.
January is typically a dreary, sad month for me since December is full of so much action and joy but I can safely say that if the rest of my year goes as well as January has for me, 2012 will be a pretty great year.
p.s. if you have instagram follow me @mvoisin so I can follow you. It is definitely my favorite thing about having an iPhone - being able to capture small moments like my mom helping my sister with times tables by the fire and the beautiful January sunsets Utah offers us.
I felt misunderstood then - as does probably every High School girl, and I felt so inspired by the Transcendentalist's. Their quest for truth through thought and nature was beautiful in a new way.
Then in college I took a class about Judaism and this was our text book. (Which does not read by a textbook at all.) It explained Judaism clearly and concisely and actually - very beautifully. My appreciation for the Jewish culture expanded and I began to really appreciate the history of this sacred and devoted people. Wouk says that his work is, "For people who have at least an open mind on God, and who would like to know something about the Jewish way to him." While reading I often thought to myself - if I were not Mormon, I would convert to Judaism.
I was thinking about both of these experiences on my long commute to work. About Transcendentalism, about Judaism - about Mormonism. It seems like every day I see a new article on Mormonism (many having to do with my friend Mitt). There seem to be a lot of people lately who have a lot to say about my religion. In some ways I think it is wonderful and it some ways I feel much like Emerson - - that we as a people are terribly misunderstood. That we are seen as maybe something we are not. The thing is though, I am not a Transcendentalist. I am not a Jew. I am a Mormon - and I am a Mormon very consciously, despite having been raised one.
I have explored other faiths, I have studied them and I find truth and beauty in almost all of them. In a time where many are afraid of religion or perhaps merely apathetic to God, I find need for Him more than ever. Wouk's title, "This is My God" is very appropriate for this time where Mormons seem to be misunderstood and sometimes judged because of "Our God." We get to choose our God and I have chosen mine decisively and resoundingly.
I think if we took the time to learn more about other faiths - other belief systems, we would understand each other much better because even though Emerson says to be great is to be misunderstood, I want people to have the chance to understand me and why I believe what I believe.
I might be the most suspicious of all, but that can't stop the wonderful from happening anyway.
My dad shared this poem with my family earlier this month. He said that some critics suggest it is about suicide, or misery. My dad suggested that it is quite the opposite.
He said, "We do hard things, go to school and go some more. We’re willing to move away into the unknown because it’s the right thing to do. We’ll read and pray and work and endure because it’s what we've been taught and it feels right when we do right. We press on though frozen in the darkness because we have promises to keep and do so with the faith that the days get longer from here. That is what this poem is about."
I think we all need a little more hope after the holidays die down and life - the average parts of life, resume. It is cold, and sometimes so hard but we press on because that is who we are. We are promise keepers.
"Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."
- Robert Frost
A few weeks ago my friend Stacey (2nd picture far right) threw an epic Christmas party, and I just got the pictures back from it. Kevin and I found the ugliest sweaters we could without having to spend any money, and this was the result. Stacey is the best party planner - and this party was no exception.
My favorite part was the White Elephant gift exchange. Kevin and I brought our old, (think 90's) tv and put it in a garbage bag. Of course Tia (very center) chose it first. Watching Dan her new fiance (!) lug it up to their car after the party was so funny it brought me to tears.
p.s. If you want a good read, read this Stuff White People Like on Ugly Sweater Parties. So spot on.
But then sometimes I wish I could have known Kevin longer. That he could have sat next to me in grade school, and pass me notes. That I could shake my head at his messy coloring job, and move my arm so he could see mine, and learn how it should be done.
I wish we could have danced in junior high together, amid my awkwardness and braces - his 9th grade status making him much cooler.
I wish I could have watched him play basketball in high school. I wish he could have hugged me when it was over, and we could go get ice cream and burgers with our friends and he could drive me home and walk me to the door the way he always does and kiss me on the mouth with my sisters peeking through the window.
I wish we could have written the two years he was in Argentina, because I feel like he maybe needed me then and I always wanted to fall in love over letters and far away words and distance.
Part of me believes we must have crossed paths at some point. Some grocery store, or carnival, or street where we maybe looked twice at each other, and moved on not realizing we would meet again.
A lot of times I live in the future, but sometimes I let myself live in the non-existent past. I think more than anything it is the desire that he could have been a part of my life much longer. I think of the times I needed him and he wasn't there, or even more - the times when he needed me. Some of us maybe need the fresh place but when I see old pictures of him, or I think about something hard we went through alone, I wish we had each other longer.
and he said to me,
"Can't we just live a simple life?"
And I said,
"Is that what you really want?"
And he said,
"I think so."
And I agreed with the I think so part,
because sometimes I am not sure,
but most of the time simplicity is elegant
and real and exactly what I want.