I feel the pavement beneath my feet and the cold air in my lungs, and I feel all the things that have happened in this long year since I have watched the buildings rise in front of me and passed Pitango, and Red Velvet, and 1615 L St, and the National Press Building, and that church on that corner and the street I passed every morning on the way to work.
This year, I turned 21, learned to be homesick for a city I love, learned to plant my heart in Italy in just ten short days. I learned something about awful obedience and courage. I learned something about love.
The traffic has been stopped on Pennsylvania Ave, so I take a chance and dash across the street to the Newseum, its clean glass giving me a bit of a reflection of this redhead running with the biggest grin on her face.
This year, I wandered through the desert and soaked in the sunshine and tested God and He rained back blessings. He taught me the hard lessons and I learned some of them.
My muscles ache but I push on ahead, straining my eyes to read the signs just one more time. I want to plant the grid of letters and numbers in my mind so deep that crazy New England town maps confuse me. I want to take a picture of all of this so many times that I dream it.
This year, I laughed and cried and got tired and go reenergized and rocked babies to sleep and wrote papers and letters and fell in love with writing again. And all the while, this place has been waiting for me.
Last year I wrote this on Thanksgiving:
But sometimes it is okay to bake from the box. Sometimes what we offer to our thanksgiving meal is humbler than we'd like. Sometimes what we offer from our messy hearts and lives is just that... messy, less than perfect, less than what we expect ourselves to be able to offer. And now, returning to this blog post after a wonderful meal and wonderful company, after a brisk 5 mile walk to and from the World War II Memorial (thank you, Hannah, for the wonderful vanilla chai and the company)... I know that it is okay to bake from a box sometimes. It is okay to be less than the perfection we imagine. It is even, in this day, something to be thankful for.
So give thanks, whoever you are, wherever you are - give thanks as wholeheartedly and messily as you can. Bake from a box. Sing a song off-key. Write a letter and smudge the ink on the envelope. Drink tea and read a good book, call a friend. Give thanks for the mess, for the growing.
As I turned the corner to climb the last few steps before looking at the Capitol, and then turned to run back down Pennsylvania, and took my hair out of its tight ponytail and let it blow in the breeze, I realized that all this life is mess and growing and there is nothing more beautiful.
Love, always, from the city,