I totally have a girl-crush on Jen Lee. I’ve been loving her stories for years, but I am quite sure she doesn’t know – neither that I’ve heard her stories nor about the crush – because her stories, while ever-so-simple, are also exquisitely rendered, so that upon finishing one I can never quite think of a comment worthy of the little rush of breathlessness she has invoked.
Sounds gushy? I know.
Time for full disclosure: In case you missed it (and I don’t know how you did) I am actually a rather gushy, mushy, pensive kind of girl, at least by half. I want to be clever and funny, but that only comes out in bits. The mushy-pensive half of me is bigger. It is also at complete odds with the very utilitarian, pull-up-your-bootstraps-and-get-to-work, practical side of me; the side that manages the zoo and the crew and the gardens and raises and processes her own chicken. But she is there. She comes out in great wordy bursts now and then, but mostly lives a life of quiet seclusion like an unloved, unrecognized cousin.
Yeah… I’m sick of that.
What I love about Jen’s stories is that they are small. They are daily. They are coffee and rice and bad hair days and ordinary. And yes, beauty and miracles, too… But it is this direct acknowledgement of the ordinary that feels so huge. It reminds me that this story counts. The one I am living today. Yesterday. Last week. That time I got lost in the middle of the night. That time I cried when I looked through the camera. That time I felt shame and sadness and confusion and surprise in all the most regular (and extraordinary) ways.
Yes, the wedding story. Yes, the birth story. Yes the divorce story and the mother story and the leaving-home and coming-home and making-home stories. The story of right now, with Violet sitting next to me on the sofa studying her toes like a newborn and discovering for the first time how much she likes hair-dos and winter socks and purple. These haven’t been told before. Not my way; not your way.
This morning came cold. Not bone-chilling, but harbinger-of-winter kind of cold. We are in socks and sweaters. It is vaguely dark even with the sun shining. The dishes are done in a sloppy kind of concession, dishwasher running and pans scrubbed, but with counters in need of wiping and forks orphaned in the sink. The dog is barking and I should quiet him; his female counterpart is blessedly silent and watching him with both interest and patience.
Today I’m in the mood to write down a story. To listen and to claim it. More and more lately, both in writing and in living, I’m in the mood to capture and acknowledge the ordinary as the gift it is.
And it is lovely.Read More