graham's quiet book

This post has little to do with Graham's book. Sure it's cute + clever + most of the ideas came straight from this talented lady, but it has nothing to do with the book. It has everything to do with me + motherhood + the crazy space I was in as I cut out 50 felt leaves, hand stitched miniature petals on to miniature flowers, and taught myself how to do a blanket stitch.

Mexico, 2006

I sobbed as I waited to board the plane. Giant tears streaked my sunburned face as I clutched my boarding pass + rumpled passport in a sweaty fist, my body shaking. The loud + happy travelers in line with me glanced nervously around, awkwardly avoiding my gaze. My mind shouted + screamed at my legs to turn and run. GO! my mind shrieked, this isn't how your story ends, how your life is supposed to look. Turn now, catch the first crazy bus through the heavy jungle heat, and find your way back to hazy-golden Mexican dreams. Turn your back on home + love + whatever that future has waiting in the wings; change your mind, run away, get lost, Go! Now! Go!

My heart sighed + sank. The more wise + forever part of me knew how this story played out. She somehow knew this flight was taking me home to become someone's wife. And that a few short weeks after becoming a wife I would discover I was to become someone's mother. Somehow she knew that this one decision at this one moment would require me to turn my back on a version of myself that would be gone forever. forever.

I stepped forward + boarded the plane. 

As I shoved my backpack in the overhead compartment, I felt her low familiar voice vibrate through my body, "Cry now, baby. Things are about to get crazy, and there is no time for mourning tomorrow. Let it out and let it go." So I did. I folded my exhausted body into my seat like a small child seeking refuge in the lap of an indifferent mother, tucking my legs under my brightly embroidered dress. Resting my pounding head against my knees, I began to cry. I cried until my dress clung to my heaving chest, cold + heavy.  At some point, I fell asleep; disappointment, betrayal, anger, and most of all fear, emptied from my weary heart. As the plane touched down in snowy Salt Lake City, my mind wandered to curious golden-brown faces, deep staccato rivers of language that wrap around you + hold tight, and endless boiling highways, stretching a million miles into a desert sanctified by the sun.

Home, 2010

I am sitting at my kitchen table sewing a blue felt octopus into a quiet book for my son's first birthday. I am thinking about my life now and the one I had dreamed for myself. I am comparing my life to the lives of other women my age. I'm thinking about decisions and destiny and another version of myself who walks along dusty highways, holds the smiling faces of beautiful dark children in her hands, and shouts the deepest yearnings of her heart to the ocean + inky midnight sky.

I'm thinking about Mexico and late night flights and heartbreak and healing and the big decision followed by a handful of small decisions and marriage and baby and baby and life. My life.

I realize now that the moment I stepped forward and boarded the plane, I said yes. I said yes to a life with a gentle + kind companion. I said yes to a belly full of babies, and yes to a lifetime of holding my breath hoping those babies don't break. I said yes to a body that changes and a heart that grows to welcome all of the new + wonderful people who show up + stick it out.

I said yes.

To the happiness and heartbreak, dreams and disillusion, sorrow and serendipity, breathtaking and...well, boring days that I stack, ever so carefully, on the creaking shelves of my lifetime...

I say yes.


Hayley said...

very beautiful.

Emily said...

so beautiful miss rachel. I love your writing and reflections. I like honesty, and the portions of your life/parts of the story you choose to share with us feel honest and thoughtful. well articulated sincerity goes further than the picaresque in my book... which is not nearly as adorable as Graham's book, nor does it have nearly as many blanket stitches. xoxo

Rachel Swan said...

h: thank you, friend. btw....did you ever get your package? i keep messing up addresses, so i just thought i would check :)

e: so i'm pretty sure i had to google 'picaresque'. i'm relieved to discover that is was a compliment (not one that i'm sure i deserve with my limited vocabulary!) thank you for your kind words, deary. have i told you lately how much i love our internet friendship?

Lacey. Kellen. Beck. said...

Amen to saying yes! Thank-you for this. It's made me reflect back on the times in my life where I personally have said yes to get me where I am today. Although I consider myself lucky, I realize that this is the life I have chosen for myself. A conscience decision. Hell yes to being a mother and wife!! It's amazing. Rachel- I love your blog! And you! Thank-you!

laneandkelly said...

Love this entry! And now I am curious... what were you doing in Mexico?

Rachel Swan said...

l: thank you, lacey. the first year of motherhood is brutal, or at least it was for me. i was constantly wondering how in the world i ended up someone's wife + someone's mother + what had happened to me. thank you for your insight + comment, i truly appreciate it.

k: i moved to a small fishing village in Mexico with some friends for a semester. things kind of fell apart and i ended up leaving early. and i was sad - obviously :)

Hayley said...

Rachel: Yes I got it! I can't believe I didn't tell you! I've been eating delicious apricot jam on everything, the packaging was simple yet beautiful...thanks so much :)

*rOcKiN rIcHiNs* said...

ah. moving. deeply moving! i miss tuesdays.

Briana said...

I love you Rachel, thanks for this post.

Rachel Swan said...

n: I MISS TUESDAYS, TOO!!! we need a pastry pub reunion, my friend. remember tina louise + siroos raheem saifizada? do you ever see them?

b: i love you , too. i'm sad that thursday didn't work out, let's get together soon. xoxoxo