Every seven years the Israelites would have a sabbatic year, a respite. There was neither sowing nor reaping nor pruning of vines and everyone was expected to live on what the fields and the vineyards produced "of themselves;" no attempt was made at storing up of the products of the land. Nothing was expected during that time but faith in Yahweh and confidence in His power.
The crowning point of all sabbatical institutions, are the finishing touches of the whole cycle of sabbatic days, months and years, the Jubilee, which is a year of rest for the land, a call for the simple life, so that at year 49 there are two sabbatic years, back to back. According to Leviticus 25:9 a loud trumpet should proclaim liberty through the country on the 10th day of the 7th month (the Day of Atonement), after a lapse of seven sabbaths of years = 49 years. Therefore at year fifty a Jubilee Year was to be observed after the manner of each of the sabbatic years, making 49 and 50 both years of rest.
There are three reasons why this is pertinent to me at this moment in time:
Seven by seven
I don't remember much that happened in 1977 except that Star Wars opened in the theatre, though I didn't see it until 1982, when the Empire Strikes Back was re-released for the second time. Seven is formative; everything that happens up to that point makes us who we are for the rest of our lives. It's not to say that lived experience doesn't play a part, but how we decide to face our lived experiences is completely determined by the time that we are seven.
Everything happened to me. Daddy getting remarried happened to me. Graduating from eighth grade and starting 9th grade happened to me. Mr. Johnson kicking me out of Biology class every Tuesday morning because I was late happened to me; never mind that I was late because of my violin lesson. Life was awkward. I can't say anything happened because of me, except maybe talking with random guys on the phone, with my girlfriends, that sabbatic year, New Years Eve 1984, while Aunt Bernyce was upstairs. I totally set a precedent for my future dating life by asking, when the phone was shoved at me through stifled giggles, ". . . so . . . what are you eating?"
We snuck into San Francisco to dance and for me to have my first adult beverage. We drove all the way from St. Helens in the Napa Valley, where my college was nestled high in the hills above the sleepy wine town. I had a beer. It was okay. The dancing was awesome. Being out at the club, feeling attractive and alive. The shy, introverted me discovered I could soar when I was just an anonymous form on the dance floor, without expectation, without rules, without the bar being set too high. The fact that they called her the "Girls Dean" the one who called me into her office, speaks volumes as to why a fully grown, now legal young adult women like myself would get three pink slips (points against me in behavior ratings at the aforementioned college) because I stayed at my roommate's older brother's apartment rather than, in my mind, unsafely navigate the treacherous Silverado Trail to get back to the dorm, on time. That sabbatic year was a lot about rules - living by them, breaking them softly, pushing to reform them. My college boyfriend and I were often trying very hard not to rip each others' clothes off. In hindsight, our intimacies over the clothes were far more risque than some of my future under the clothes encounters.
All hell broke loose when Saturn returned at 27 and stayed in my planetary collection of sky until my 33rd birthday. So that in some ways this sabbatic year bled into the years to follow by a good five years. By the time the calendar shifted from 1997 to 1998 I had already had an epiphany that changed the course of my life forever. I decided to stay in Walla Walla and commit to teaching. I felt strongly or the spirit impressed upon me, that it was not time to leave this profession, yet. When I had my epiphany and decided to stay it kept all manner of things from happening and opened the door for other things to occur - I went to Europe; I bought my first house - I actually signed papers while standing in a dingy dormitory in the Bloomsbury district of London where I was living for a month that summer traveling with and teaching students about theatre, and religion, narrative and history. I started a love affair with a younger man; I took up smoking (and I quit once Saturn again left my night sky.) I smoked my way through Europe, one time going all the way to the back of the train, thinking I was pulling the wool over everyone's eyes, by saying I just needed to be alone and reflect. Oh! How I celebrated life that year - backyard redo, planting, churning, and trimming. Backyard fire pit nights. Parties: mystery train dinner , Christmas "White Elephant", a birthday for which I cannot recall how I ended up so drunk from margaritas and boxed wine that I crawled to my room, only slightly aware enough to be disappointed that I was going to bed alone. That sabbatic year stands out because it went on to become the year that I was "run out of town"; the year I also sat on my back porch and chained smoked my way through grieving for a community I thought was mine on the sheer basis of our shared beliefs, only to find that there was no flexibility, no room for interpretation. Again, a pushing against the rules. Running in wheat fields. Summer performance in New York City. Squashed into a small Greenwich Village apartment with the entire production team, who had followed me from the sleepy college town in Walla Walla because they believed in our creative right to ask big questions. Then moving uptown to the Upper East Side, sleepy in the guestroom of the pre-war apartment where I used to nanny, while the family summered in Southampton; gathering my thoughts, while working on a photo cataloging project; deciding to move to Portland, Oregon. And then, just 30 days shy of the end of this sabbatic year, with car and life in tow, I made my way across the Columbia River Gorge to find myself here. Driving over the Morrison Bridge, on my way to a G Love and Special Sauce concert, there were fireworks and bridge lights, welcoming me home.
Sabbatic year 35 started quite literally with a marathon; a 26.2 mile run. Then a trip to Vegas to toast my best friend (we'd made amends sometime the in the seven years in-between, thank goodness!) We did one of those free timeshare tours where they tried to sell us a package for "family" vacations. I feel I was so much younger than the 35 years actually imply. I was living alone in my second house, trying once again to get to the love, to be chosen. There was Missy's wedding - an absolutely beautiful event that I helped plan and execute as the maid of honor. I may also have crashed her car and slept with the groom's younger brother and missed my plane, all which culminated in my playing "thank you note scribe" for the newlywed couple the night after their wedding, when they were supposed to be alone. I came back to Portland that winter and fell into romance with a bass player. That spring, I flew to New York City , reconnecting with my high school best friend, going to the Botanical Gardens, feeling incredibly fit in my new marathon runners' body, to only have the romance begin to crumble before it had even begun. There was a trip to the other side of the world - Australia. And a life-changing sailing excursion in the Whitsundays; a birthday celebration; the call from IFCC (Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center) offering me my first managing director position, all ending that sabbatic year, twice - in two time zones - a Syndey Harbor cruise, a new dress and on the plane home a real deep sleep, almost as if to explain away the year before, as a dream.
Finally chosen, connecting my life, for the first time, with another human being who was not my family but who would become my family and make Home with me, for me, because of me. All this happened in the time between 35 and 42 and also Daddy got really sick. There was hospice and death and very very hard goodbyes. So the sabbatic year 42 started drunk but happy with friends in a Portland Bottle Shop - a place that had become an extension of home for him and I, with people I called my tribe and wine and snacks (probably too much of the former and not enough of the latter) so that I don't remember how I got home, only that he was there when I woke, like he'd been every day before that and for many days thereafter until he wasn't any more. So much of how this sabbatic year started forecasts how it was going to end. Alcohol. Food. Binge-watching Alias and Lost! The 50th anniversary dinner for my parents-in-partnership and Christmas in Seattle, all as the relationship began to disappear, starting on the glorious Thanksgiving trip we'd come to chart our years together by, because I was starting to see again. Through my grief at losing a parent, I saw babies and marriage and I saw that we were without these things, which I had been promised going into the relationship. Betrayal is the toughest of feelings to get over. The trust goes. It doesn't come back. This man had promised me all that and here we were almost four years into this and nothing like that had manifest; he was becoming more and more distant each day. I spiraled into winter doldrums and drank and ate and binged-watched as the relationship dissolved. Neither of us trying to hold it together. Too much disappointment. Too much bitterness. Too much distance. So that by the time spring arrived, with it the light coming back into my eyes, there was, at once, clarity. I needed to get out. I needed to reclaim the promises I'd made to myself. And so this sabbatic year, 42, drew to a close with separation and dissolution. With some triumph too - a TEDx talk, a move closer to work. The sorrows, though, were great - failed attempts at getting pregnant, three times before the year drew to a close. A trip to ACE, to the Wild Horse - don't think the gambling references have not escaped me. Then a frantic plane ride home one day early in September, too late, resulting in a failed IUI. In between there was New York City in 48 hours; Philadelphia and Pendleton. There was a Dinner-vention and a WESTAF gathering and life starting to feel whole again. The prior seven years that had started in two time zones ended on a Sabbath morning in a darling cottage on B Street and the revelation that I wanted, needed desperately really, to go to church. The seven years that had been the biggest heartbreaks - the bass player, the selling of my house, the losing of Cousin Jan, the continued failed attempts at a forever kind of love, Daddy's illness and death - the most heartbreaking seven of them all, out of which came the best relationship of my life (or so I thought - a great epic love) the job that placed me as a household name in Oregon; the theatre role of a lifetime, Lopez Island and Thanksgivings in Eugene. The best man (to date) to partner me through the worst four years. The beauty and the sorrow that is being truly present when a parent is dying. All the little joys that are too small and basic to name.
So fitting that the sabbatic at 42 and this one, seven years later, both started in a church; listening to the still soft voice, calling me back to a life of faith. A life of gratitude. A life of courageous acts of joy. Between 42 and now, I stepped fully into the most courageous act I could muster - motherhood, on my own. I crafted a village, curated a tribe, made family the only way that I knew how - with all the love I could muster, all the love I had been fruitlessly giving away - I coalesced it all into manifesting motherhood as only I now know I can - with a pomegranate, a room full of powerful women, and a prayer.
I notice how the desert creatures scurry along,
Stopping every few feet to rise up,
I remember scurrying along, my twenties and thirties,
Fast and furious; the busyness of life.
I wonder if I had stopped, raised up, looked around,
Would I have shifted course? Would I have made family,
I regret nothing, save the love.
This much I know, I missed that family
Comes when it comes, how it comes,
When you slow down, shift course, rise up,
Face the unexpected.
I'm Kimberly. Single mother by choice. Now also wife. Holder of space. Maker of place. Mom. Mama. Mommy. Mitch. These are my thoughts, reflections, ideas and random observations about raising twin sons.
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