old (2009)

and then…

…things work out.

I’m taking the boys to New York City on Wednesday, for Thanksgiving. I came up with this idea after I came back from NYC in late September, thinking that introducing them to the city I love so much would be a grand plan. And so I bought the tickets (back when I had a few extra dollars, before a few disasters struck), and I started getting excited.

But as the time draws near… I’m getting nervous. I’m still excited, but a certain sense of anxiety is setting in, too. Going to NYC on my own is one thing. Bring one child with me is another. But bringing TWO? I’m beginning to think that’s just borderline certifiable.

And beyond that… I was feeling a bit of regret of taking the boys away from their comfort zone on Thanksgiving. What would we do? Where would we go? Could I cook an elaborate dinner for them in my friend’s tiny kitchen? (Not likely.) And then… I received an invitation on Facebook to a friend’s Orphan’s Thanksgiving Dinner. This is someone upon whose futon I stayed at a year ago when I went to NYC… and the day my flight was leaving, I had a chance to walk around Harlem and the area around Columbia with his roommate… and the roomie is the one who invited me. And I don’t think it was anything particularly special — there were 213 people on the invitee list — but it made things a little less glum for me.

And then today… I was talking with a friend in the program about my financial troubles and how I’m worried about NYC with the boys because I have very little money to spend there. Granted, the flight is paid for, once we get subway passes *getting* everywhere will be free, and we’re staying in my friend Jake’s house for free while he’s in Boston with his wife and dog. So there aren’t a lot of expenses… but I’m still worried. And I wasn’t asking for anything from him… but he handed me a $100 bill and told me to pass it on in the future when someone else needed help.

I don’t believe in “god with a capital ‘G” (as I like to say), but I do believe that things have a way of working out, and the biggest struggle I always have — sometimes more than others — is waiting for that working-out. There are definitely times (more and more, the more sober I get) when I can suspend anxiety and focus on the blessings instead of the frustrations. But when I get into the place where those frustrations are, I get tangled up and it’s difficult to get unwound. Still — that is a choice I make, whether to go to Place A (faith) or Place B (doubt), and either way I live with the consequences.

Regardless of all that… in 24 hours two random extensions of kindness and generosity have changed my perspective on this trip. It isn’t so much the Thanksgiving dinner or the money — though food and cash are definitely nice! — but more the affirmation those things contain, a recognition that it’s okay for me to be scared and unsure and unclear about how to untangle all these wicked webs. But that people are there, and people come through, and people are the ones who have always shown up exactly when I needed them, whether it’s been to teach me a sometimes painful lesson or demonstrate that all is not lost. And this? This is what I’ll remember when I’m taking the boys on the subway to Harlem for Thanksgiving dinner, and also what I’ll (try to) remember when we’re getting up at 6am to score a prime spot to see the parade.

Life isn’t just what we make of it, it’s what we want to create from what we’re given. And sometimes the biggest part of that is remembering where we stashed all of our forgotten blessings.

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