Saturday, January 5, 2013

Who I Am

Today I took a few minutes to myself and went outside to let the fresh, brisk, nearly freezing air be my therapy. The ground still had remnants of last week's snow storm and the smell of chimney smoke filled my lungs. I took a quick second to look around and as I noticed that my mom's wood box needed restocked, I was suddenly taken back to the winter days of my childhood that were filled with trip after trip to the forest to gather the wood that would keep my family warm all season. I felt 14 again. I put on my mom's work gloves, pushed the wheelbarrow out to the wood pile and started piling on the Aspen and the Pine. But as I reached for a piece that was farther away than the others, I stepped right in a snow pile and was quickly shaken back into reality. I looked down at my feet that were protected by a measly pair of brown flats. Then my eyes wandered up to my legs that were covered by a trendy pair of yellow pants and above them was a hipster baggy polka-dot blouse accentuated by a thin brown cardigan. Aside from my mom's trusty gloves, I was dressed for a spring day in Chicago, not for a winter day in Eagar, AZ.

And there I stood, trapped between two different worlds, and what felt like two different versions of me. There was the girl who passed the winter hours by chopping wood alongside her brothers, and who celebrated a long day's work by sledding carefree down her uncle's perfectly slopey hill. And in the very same body was the woman who was all grown up, living in the big city, with a husband, a son, bills, debt, and a skin not quite so thick as it once had been. I like both of them, for neither would be who they are without each other. But the busy, sometimes stressed-out woman in me longed for the days that the care-free girl in me had enjoyed.

I took a minute to soak in this rare opportunity I had to really feel like a kid again and then I filled and emptied the wheelbarrow a few more times. As I did so, I tried to really breathe deeply and inhale the air that I grew up breathing. I listened to my cousin across the pasture as he roped a dummy my uncle pulled behind a 4-wheeler since the steers are all out for the winter. I looked at each piece of wood in the enormous wood pile, most of which had been delivered by family and friends  the weeks right before and right after my dad has passed away, and my heart nearly burst with gratitude for the community that raised me. I stacked the logs in the wood box on my mom's porch that my brothers had insisted on building for her so that her house that our loved ones had recently painted wouldn't get scratched or chipped.

I thought about the girl I used to be and the woman I am now, and I'm so grateful for them both. I'm so happy I'm a city girl, living in a place that never really gets dark. I love my hipster wardrobe that will be out of style next year, and I could never bash on my trusty brown flats. I would pay a million bills and live in debt for the rest of my life if it meant that my handsome husband and beautiful baby boy came with it all. And I'd take the perspective of an adult over the blindness of a teenager any day. I love who I am, where I am, and what I am. And right now that's a city girl. But just like I will always be a little bit of my 14 year-old self, I will also always be a small-town girl, who wishes she could feel the pride and the sense of accomplishment that comes with going outside in the freezing cold to bring in the wood that will keep you warm every single day. I wish my summer days could always be filled with crawdad fishing in the river and building forts with my brothers. And given the choice I'd choose a horse over a car for my mode of transportation, any day.

And hopefully, some day, I'll be able to give Nolan the gift of a small-town summer, complete with mosquito bites, star-filled skies, and trampoline ghost stories and I want to show him a small-town winter full of wood-hauling, wood-chopping and wood-stacking, and evenings spent by the fire, playing games and watching family favorites on the TV. But until then, we will cherish every single moment of our busy city lives. We will marvel at the wonder and beauty of a sky-scraper, and we'll challenge our minds at the beautiful museums and art galleries, and we'll make precious memories in our tiny, 1 bedroom apartment on the 8th floor. Because right now, I'm a city girl.

But I'll always be, a small town girl.