First things, first.

“We do not want anger and joy to neutralize each other and produce a surely contentment.

We want a fiercer delight and a fiercer discontent.”

–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Up before dawn, I’m waiting for the sun to make his grand entrance, watching the sky, the people, listening in to nature, trying to capture its rhythm and cadence. The song and thrum of the town, the dance of the stars and moon.

This slice of my story took place during a year we lived on the fifth floor of the timeless and romantic Baxter Hotel on Main Street. We’d just sold our family home [link]. Much of this story is in Thirty Years or Forever, our story about marriage, the woof and weave being inseparable from this one.

We’d gotten through the roughest waters and were hopeful for some stability in transition, or at least a few months to breathe. The relief of renting month-to-month and letting the dust settle sounded like heaven. We’d downsized (oh, the weight carried in that one word!) and I’d finally come to a place of letting life define me as it would, as a mother of adult children, of daring to live again, of trying things previously left untried. 

This story is about identity, aging… gender and grace, a sense of belonging, beauty and romance…

When everything is in flux:

Our children, parents, friends and community

Our faith (are we outgrowing familiar expressions of worship?)

Our careers and life vocations

What now?

Our daughter, an international traveler, was approaching her 25th birthday and I was careening headlong into my 50th. Our mother-daughter dynamics were shifting. Were we long distance friends now? I’d just get accustomed to the distance and she’d boomerang back home for months at a time, just long enough for me to fall into step with my this young woman, my new BFF whom I’d come to not only admire, but thoroughly enjoy.

Our son had just gotten married to a lovely Carrie Underwood look-alike, at one of the most memorable parties—though, in hind site a party, no matter how fancy, does not a happy bride and groom make—at the wedding destination of all time, an intimate gathering on the lawn of Charleston’s, Daniel Island Country Club, orchestrated by an Infamous wedding planner who featured the marvelous event in Southern Living magazine. Not a detail was missed from the hand-dyed ribbon adorning the calligraphered invitations, to the send off in a vintage Bentley. 

Wardrobed for several days of extravaganza and fun outings, among other outfits James was fit for a handsome suit and I purchased a size 2 from the store front window of an upscale boutique. Of course, I spent hundreds of dollars on shoes and clutches and accessories. All this and I was still simple girl: rebel, wild at heart, Montanan’s, free-spirited as wild horses running at the base of mountains that kiss the sky. You can dress us up, but we are who we are.

I’m not quite ready to be a middle-aged woman, but in the meantime, I’m setting out to make each day count, wanting the people in my life to become detailed characters in the telling – they matter. I’m giving special attention to capturing dialog, expressions, physical traits. I’m dedicating time to descriptions of place – being fully in; sensing without critique; letting emotion run its course, without defining reality; remaining curious, imagining something new; recognizing this story is still in its arc—