In the Hebrew (ha! I love starting a sentence that way. Makes it sound as if I have a clue about anything in Hebrew. Kind of like when people say, “Now that I’m in my forties…”), the word Feodora means gift, so it seemed fitting that we chose that as the name for our current house. Stop pretending you haven’t named your house, you’ll just embarrass both of us. There is a lot to love about this house. It is a company house, part of a salary, and that by itself is a gift, but it is also full of thoughtful details, brick, pine planks and a galley kitchen, which is probably my very favorite thing about Feodora. My kitchen sink has a large window above it, and two towering Camilla bushes stand sentry on either side. This was fascinating to me when we moved in at the end of February nearly three years ago, because it was blooming — in February. One has red blossoms, the other white, so it looks like the cards got interrupted in the middle of painting the roses red. But I digress.
The sun shines in, hot and bright, in the mid afternoon and while I am a huge fan of light hitting prisms in the window and scattering rainbows all about, it can be on the oppressive side, so this year the Beloved hung a shade that can be rolled up or down — it is fabulous. The only downside is that I am not the only little critter who finds those Camilla bushes inviting. It is a spider mecca. It is a Renaissance fair for nerdy spider teenagers, it is Woodstock for the aged out hippie spiders, it is the antiques roadshow for… well… for whatever demographic that hits. My lovely shade hangs on the outside of the window, through the vale of complex spider webs, and to reach through for the cord is a bit like unplugging the sound system at a frat party: it gets an unfriendly reaction. Perhaps I can’t blame the buzzed up little fellows. I mean, there they are, sucking fly blood and minding their own business, talking up their next epic skiing trip or whatever spiders talk about, and along comes this nosey parker, swinging her giant arms about and making a mess of the place. I’d be sore about it too.
It is an astoundingly kind thing that we change.
Freshly eighteen years old, I shared a house with my best friend from high school (we played the quads together in the marching band. Quad Queens. There were crowns involved…) while we finished our associates at the local community college. I cannot imagine a better way to strike out on our own for the first time. Her grandparents were snow birds, and we house-sat in their peaceful home and generally had the finest of times — when I need mental escape these days, that is where I go. I still remember how the light filtered into the kitchen in the early mornings before class as we sat at the counter with our chocolate chip bagels, coffee and prayer list (and oddly, we both spent that year at our smallest clothing size ever. Maybe the problem was that we gave up chocolate chip bagels and Mountain Dew at some point. When I am finished writing this, I’ll get working on getting my diet plan to market). It was ideal for me in more ways than one, and it was of no mean importance that my roommate was fearless in the realm of spider killing.
I admit it. I was squeamish about things that lived in the corners of bathrooms and lurked in closets and on more than one occasion, shrieked for Mindy, who came faithfully, like Saint George with his shoe, and sent the offending arachnid into oblivion.
Did you know, incidentally, that where bugs are concerned, oblivion is an actual place? Nowadays, Mindy has her own brood to kill spiders for and I have had to learn to use a shoe on my own. The Beloved is obviously first string when it comes to killing, not for the least reason that he is able to kill monstrous, hairy and villainous spiders that lurk over six feet away, tucked in the corner of a vaulted ceiling — by shooting a rubber band. The mind reels, the people cheer, the cry goes up about Feodora that this is truly what it means to be a man, and the daughters of the house are exhorted never to marry a man who cannot send a spider into oblivion (which is where he tells us he has dispatched them to, and he would know) with nothing more than a steady hand and a rubber band pulled from a bunch of asparagus!
As I reached through the threatening mass of spiders to close my splendid blind the other day, I had to smile (which was a mistake — blech, mouth full of spiderweb) to realize that God lets us change. As much as that can frustrate me when I am attempt to use liquid eyeliner (the days are numbered. It is becoming like trying to draw a straight line on a ball of crumpled up aluminum foil), it is also such an enormous mercy. It means there is hope that someday I could mature to the point where the kids could just say outright, “Mom, there is a slug on the recycling bin” rather than coming inside looking overly innocent, insisting that there is absolutely nothing on the recycling bin… which I don’t recall asking, so that is a bit of a giveaway. The Beloved has trained them that they should never alert me to slugs. In fact, there have been extensive campaigns to try and convince me that there is actually no such thing as a slug.
Whether or not I have decided to believe them has yet to be determined.
When we moved to the West side, there were about three things that really gave me the willies: slugs, mandatory recycling, and the way folks over here vote (what if it was something in the water? What if it was inevitable?? I have since developed a theory that the bad voting is actually connected to the time spent sitting in traffic addling the brain, but that probably deserves its own post). When I first read the instruction packet on how to sort my garbage, I panicked and thought it was actually quite conceivable that I would be arrested and brought up on charges of crimes against garbage and would die in a slug-infested prison.
But there again — we get to change. Eventually, I transitioned into reckless rebellion and started sneaking unrinsed milk cartons into the recycling bin and smashing through spider webs. Who knows that the next twenty years will bring? The temptations I can see tripping me up run in two different directions: shame about the past, and impatience about the future. But God is making everything perfect in its time. The experiences, people, thoughts and foibles He gave me twenty years ago served good purpose — they made me who I am today. If the Lord sees fit to bless me with another twenty years, then the person I am today will be the making of that person. I can be content with this process because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. And He is with me. The changes need not be frightening, my foolishness has met its match in His forgiveness, and my future is not uncertain — it is His.