April has been belly-full of everything. We moved in to our grown up apartment in our new suburb where the grungy hipsters go when they trim their beards, get jobs and begin to procreate. I had the realisation that I am a full blown yuppy, what with my disposable income expended at the kinds of cafes and restaurants that are as pretentious as they sound but that I love still without irony, or in spite of it.I started Arabic classes. I went to No Lights No Lycra after a year of talking about it and danced in a hall in the darkness in my active wear with a few hundred strangers. I joined a month-long letter writing challenge that I only completed three days for. I stopped going for runs between the madness and began surviving on late-night overpriced convenience store snacks, take-out, expensive dinners and injections of sugar in various forms. We bought furniture and a fridge and a rug. This month I grew up fully into an adult in a fully committed relationship whose biggest joy is buying flowers for her breakfast table and plants for her balcony.
And every day is a struggle. Up, up, down, down, up, down. You know how it goes, everybody knows. Yet in every day of that struggle there are moments, keepers, not always more than one but there is always at least one moment worth holding onto. Today it was getting to practice the few phrases I learned last night in my first Arabic class with an Iraqi woman I work with whose personality is embodied in her clothes, loud and warm and full-on.
What keeps you going? What makes the days matter? Do they matter?
Every morning I have been getting up a little earlier than usual to sit on my balcony with a mug full of hot tea and my hot pink bathrobe to stare at my flowers and wonder if today will matter. Can I make it matter? It’s a big question. Though I’ve always been about the big questions. What I love when I’m sitting there, staring at the apartment blocks across the road and listening to the world wake up is that no matter how terribly the day ends up, I’ve already done something to make it matter.
So I haven’t been beating myself up too much about not running, about eating an entire tub of ‘The Tonight Dough’ (I love Ben and Jerry’s puns almost as much as their flavours), about not doing what I said I would, not being who I said I would be today or whatever. I’ve done one good thing. I’ve woken up and gotten out of bed and given thanks. If there is one thing I can take away from the legacy of my Catholic upbringing it is gratitude. The simple act of reflecting on all that has happened in the world that allows me to stand where I am, as I am and to give thanks for that.
I am thankful for the work I do that gives meaning to my day. I am thankful for the friends I have with whom I can talk about all things big and small. I am thankful for people who see me, who really see others, who take the time to put down their phones and look at you and ask you questions and connect. What a rare thing that can be.
I am thankful for my better half, who really is my better half. I am thankful for my family who helped move all of my furniture, piece by piece, no matter how many trips down the free way and back and forth between the furniture warehouse that took. I am thankful for a place to belong, culturally and otherwise. I know what it’s like to be an outsider and almost a year and a half back in Australia and I still give thanks that I get to be the local. I am thankful that I listened to my gut when it said that I should come home, that it was time to come home. I am thankful for all the books, so many books that have helped me live other lives and see other places and make my world and mind and heart so much bigger than I ever could myself.
I am thankful even, of course, always, for the struggle. I am thankful for the anxiety I felt when I first started my job and didn’t yet know how to ‘adult’. I am thankful for the doubts I had about being a young worker, a young female worker and all the insecurities that came along with that. I am thankful for all of the challenges, the shed tears, the frustrations, the when-will-this-ever-ends and I am thankful for all the support and trust and independence I was given to grow and to overcome it all. I am thankful that I was instilled with such a strong sense of self as a child, that I was given the belief that was always proven to me to be true through the actions of my parents – that problems could be overcome and that soon I would be giving thanks again. I could give thanks all day, you see?
We always gave thanks at my house. Thank you was a prayer we said all the time and never got sick of saying. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you April – you whirlwind, you saucy minx, you fickle friend. Up, Up, Down, Down, Up, Down. You know how it goes.