I remember, vividly, the day I turned ten. My big present that year – the one I really remember – was that I was finally allowed to cut my hair a bit. Every day was a struggle with my mother tugging at my hair and trying to put it in a pony tail. Always a “high” ponytail. Always with ribbons that matched my outfit.
Big fat yarn ribbons. Completely uncool and colour coordinated.
big. fat. yarn. ribbons.
So yes. Hair was a site for a power struggle between my parents and me. Eventually I won, and on my tenth birthday, in the dappled sun of the backyard, my mother grasped my single down-to-my-bottom braid and snipped it in half.
Such freedom! It didn’t matter that it was uneven, and crookedy (um, don’t try this at home. Go to a hairdresser, people), and kinked from being held in check with the braiding.
Oh! It danced around my shoulders and it was blissfully free from the heavy ordeal of daily scraping with a comb, the daily chore of accidentally-on-purpose losing the damn ribbons….
I’m sure I got other presents that year; I vaguely recall wanting Earth Shoes more than anything else in the world. I do not think I got them. (Hey, don’t judge – it was Rexdale Ontario in 1975, after all. What else was I going to want?)
Vividly, I remember going bravely into school the next day, hair swinging, and feeling proud and a bit anxious. Miss Fox (who wore mini skirts and who turned into Mrs. Smith, after she got married) touched my hair and said to me “Joanie, you are a whole decade old now!”
A decade. A whole decade.
And wow. It was a long time coming, that first decade.
On the other hand, this past decade has flown by. On Friday, Mr. 761 and I will have been married for ten years. Ten long and lovely happened-quick-as-anything years for which I am so grateful.
In some ways it was very hard. Anyone who reads this space knows that some days that decade took about 20 years to pass. On the whole, though?
Nothing. Like the blink of an eye.
It is, I think, because I was in the right place for me; with this family I’ve taken on, who have taken me. This place, where I could make a difference and be changed in the process. This place, with my partner, and my children.
It wasn’t always easy and I’m no saint. I’ve done things that maybe I’m not so proud of, but on the whole I think we’ve all come out the end of this decade much better off than when we started.
A decade ago, our kids were almost-9 and 11. The changes I can see in both of them leaves me breathless. In that way, this decade has been both so very very long and yet over in a heartbeat. How can those sweet things be these lovely grown women now? How can they have changed so drastically when we, their parents, have hardly changed at all?
We have, of course, changed. We’re older and a bit fuzzier around the edges, but I know that speaking for myself I am so happy to have stood in our backyard ten years ago and married my one true love. I won’t go on and on again because I’ve written about it before. Suffice it to say, marrying him was the best idea I ever had. Marrying them was the best idea – and make no mistake, they came as a matched set.
This decade has seen drastic changes in my life – a marriage, two children, different jobs, and the loss of people I love. It has been work as well as joy. Out of those ten years, Mr. 761 has been in war zones for 3 1/2 – almost 4 – of them. Not ideal, but we’ve managed, and taken the good out of each circumstance.
In the dappled sunlight on this side of the last decade, I feel freer, like something is dancing around my shoulders. Like that braid, cut so long ago, we might be a little uneven and crookedy, but it feels good, and I’m happy to be unfettered by constraints.
Thank you, my love, for our lives together. Happy Anniversary.