Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"This Splendid Inconvenience"






Do you remember this post, last summer? Do you remember when I first saw this image depicted? It was sketched on canvas and etched on my brain. From that summer day in Kanosh to now, I have thought of this scene each morning. And each morning has been a struggle. Each morning I surrender my will (which is to allow my tired mind and bones a few more moments of sweet rest) to the will of four small, demanding, people: my children. They, not I, get me out of the sheets each and every morning. My lot, I've concluded, is to truly surrender to this Will. To wake up with love not resentment. To start the day with a gentle smile, not a furrowed brow. To rise to the occasion. To love our four. Craig's and mine. Seth, Lucy, Hazel, and Avery.



I want to tell a story. It's a love story. This story has a history. The history starts at the beginning. It starts in the summer of 2001 with wedding bells and moving trucks set off simultaneously ringing and roaring. We landed in the Bayou and I, though deeply, madly in love, was also deeply, madly confused.



The question arose in my mind, "How is it possible for Man and Wife to coexist as 'one' when it is obviously impossible for one to understand the other?" This of course demands we address an age old interrogation of the psyche of man and woman and their universal journey through love and war and the toils and triumphs of family life. For heaven's sake! I'm a nursing mother, I broke my rib last week, I have an annoying head cold, my husband works at night and sleeps all day, and the kitchen and upstairs hallway are full of dirty dinner dishes and laundry, respectively. So, I will address this subject not universally, but personally, in my own personal corner of the universe. Because that is what I know and because I'm tired.



Where were we? Oh, yes, confused in the Bayou. As a newlywedded woman I was hyperbolically distressed (because as a newlywedded woman everything is hyperbolic) at my inability to communicate myself to my husband. Literally, get him to understand what was in my head. After about a year (Craig may claim longer, I don't know) I began to calm down and accept that we just might never really understand each other. And, more importantly, that this was okay. We were experiencing obvious growth as Seth blossomed in my belly and the months--years, ticked on. Two more babies later (Lucy and Hazel), we were going strong.



Insert here: a period called Residency also known, for young couple's in the medical profession, as Refiner's Fire. I will not take this opportunity to complain (because I was wisely cautioned against this by a fellow warrior from the trenches). Nuf said.



Enter 2008. My birthday came and went, I was thirty now. February and it's Day of Valentines snuck by. Angel Avery was born in May. The job search was well underway, Graduation crept up, we celebrated and anticipated. Craig even made mention of "the greatest gift" that he was planning to give to me. The school part of our lives was beginning to wind down. The long-awaited "Summer of Transition" (new job, new town, new house, now four kids) was looming. Man, we were stress balls! And I was particularly uneven, bouncing off the walls at strange angles going every which way, definitely nowhere close to anything resembling repose.



Fast-forward just a bit to the front porch of a rental home in Durham, NC. It was exciting and a relief to have, at least, arrived. And just like in college, after my last final of the semester, my body, finally, after having been given a little room to breath, to exhale, would give out and I would get sick.



On a larger scale, I felt like I had reached that point. I was sick. And this certain sort of "sick" untreated turns into resentment. The ineveitable let down. A culmination of "sores gone unlicked" in the early years of family life. I guess.



One particularly bad night, I ended up on the front porch with my groom (I'll spare you any more gushing) for some fresh air, though it was also a particularly hot night (we hadn't quite left the desert yet). My head ached, I remember, because of all my crazy crying. In fact, I could barely squeak out the words,



"I just *sob sob* want to wake *sob sob sob* up....*uncontrolloble sobbing*"...then, for the first time in seven years, Craig interrupted,



"you just want to wake up in the morning and be the Mom that sings happily to her children while she makes them breakfast."




I've written it here before: all anyone ever wants is to be understood. That was "The Greatest Gift". His particular understanding of my particular frame of mind. And with the usual Craig flare, he went so far as to present this "understanding" originally recorded forever in oil and framed. The sketch from Kershisnik's studio last summer, beautifully complete.






The story he told to get me here (see a teary, shocked, thrilled me above) to show me "my painting" was that his credit card had been found and was being held for him at this gallery in Park City (the painting had been in storage and was re-hung for the occasion--as well as the lights being dimmed and music muted and gallery door locked). Our quiet, intimate, exchange in front of "This Splendid Inconvenience" had even the gallery owner getting all misty-eyed . That was the beginning of August in Utah.











This was in Durham, on Monday. I was so nervously excited, the UPS delivery dude, I'm sure, thought I was a loco lady.







Here it is, yet to be hung on our mantle. And some close ups below.





I love sitting on the couch nursing Avery, staring at this. I love that the kids have already determined who they are in the painting. I love everything about how it looks and what it means to me and to Craig and to the family we've established together.



And, no, this does not mean we will be having six more children. There is such a thing as eternal increase, you know--meaning after this life.



In this life, we are already full. We are filled. I am filled by the man whose arm is around me and by the children at the foot of the bed. To these, I wake up each morning. And sometimes I smile, sometimes I sing, and sometimes I make breakfast.

34 comments:

Becca said...

Wowowowowowow!

TX Girl said...

Your post has left me speechless. What an AMAZING gift from an AMAZING husband.

rebecca said...

Yes! The greatest gift!!!!

Shawna B. said...

Oh, Jordan.

Splendid! All of it - the painting, the thoughtfulness of Craig, the story, your life.

Please do write that book, and make sure you include this most beautiful story.

Katy said...

Beautiful, Jordan! I'm glad you got your painting!

misadventuresofkellyandkelly said...

Beautiful story, also beautiful is the way it is written. The painting is fantastic and your husband too.

Crystalyn said...

so happy for you. it's beautiful. all of it!

SoCalGal said...

Beautiful!!!

Kurt Knudsen said...

Craig. You are wise.
Jordan. You are a sage.
Gorgeous painting.

Rebecca said...

There you are--in your angle of repose! Well said, well done, Craig!

michelle said...

Oh, my. I am bereft of all speech.

But I will make an attempt... I love your story, Jordan. I can relate to so much of it.

I love your love story. I love that Craig was paying attention. I love that you feel understood. And most of all, I love that you have this beautiful reminder to look at each and every day. Wonderful.

biguncletom said...

You guys inspire us. Life is BEAUTIFUL and so is your family. You're the man Craig Mangum! Jordan...I'm convinced you are superwoman:)

Love ya,
Robin & Brent (& Dakota)

Michelle said...

How wonderful it is to be understood! Especially for a spouse to understand how desperately mothers want to fulfill that "good, happy" mom role. It really is the best gift. And that Kershisnik painting is too perfect, I'd love to have something of his one day, so much of his stuff I can identify with. So happy you have something so beautiful to look at.

Ann said...

Oh Jordan, wonderfully expressed. love you.

TX Girl said...

I had to come back and look again. I really is a beautiful depiction of life.

S. Schuller said...

Anything I say will seem trite and awkward compared to what you've just written...you are so wise and I appreciate how you have expressed yourself so well. Thanks, Jordan. Beautiful painting.

Melanie said...

Jordan I don't know if you remember me, but we lived in the Uptown branch with the Alders...I just read your post, and I am still crying...it was so beautiful!! I got to know you a little bit when you worked for Dr. Regenstein & Slakey @ Tulane...thank you for sharing.

bethanne said...

Jordan, I am now a confessed lurker here! I haven't seen you for so long but I see people who connect between us once in a while. I can so relate to what you say. I have to admit I covet what is now above your mantle. Such truth. Beautiful! (In case you were wondering, it is me, Beth (Call) Hulme)

birdonthelawn said...

jordan. i glimpsed and then i came back for more and then i glimpsed and closed it down- all in an attempt to really read it.
your post out loud to cade (my husband) and i felt like you were speaking to me from my future, from every mother's moment.
you are great.

Ingrid said...

To be understood really is the greatest gift. I agree with Shawna...write that book and include this story! Absolutely beautifully thoughtful.

Amy said...

Wow. This was beautiful. And that painting is definitely yours.

Jenny said...

Beautiful in so many ways. That photo fits you like no other. Love it!

Tasha said...

Jordan, How is it that you are able to say exactally what I feel or have felt, from across the miles, and through cyberspace. I want to be the mom who gets up in the morning and sings while she makes breakfast too.

I LOVE that painting. I LOVE that Craig surprised you with it. I love the devotion that the two of you have for each other and your friendship. You weathered that giant storm J, be very very proud.

annalisa said...

That is so tender. Wow. I loved your description of hyperbolic first years of marriage. Every once in a while when I get that my husband really does get me it blows me away. That is such a sweet gift.

Sara said...

I was hoping you would post about this when it arrived. It is more beautiful than I imagined Jordan. . . beautiful! So glad it made it safe and sound.

Jessica said...

Sheesh, does this make you like a one million cow woman?

The Original Mangums said...

What more can be added to all of the above! Love you both, Mom M

amy m said...

a full life. a good place to be. a beautiful story.

it's amazing.

Jenny Dahl said...

This could possibly my favorite post-which is saying more than you can imagine because I love reading your words Jordan. You tell and live a beautiful story!

...Tali said...

You brought a tear to my eye Jordan....and once again I am uplifted by visiting you! Thank You , Love You, cousin natali

Geo said...

Exquisite. That's all.

Katherine said...

Beautiful, your words, the painting, your family, everything. I feel speechless as well. Miss you.

Tracy said...

Wow, what a perfect gift for you from a husband who knows you well. How wonderful just to have a husband who knows you well. I think you are brave to share all you do every day.

Erin said...

Totally in love with this painting. I stumbled upon your post, and was super excited to see that you live in NC too.

I would love to see this painting in real life... nothing like inviting oneself over... being a complete stranger and all...

Erin
erinbehnke(@)yahoo(DOT)com