We stayed in the hospital for two nights, taking advantage of every moment of rest when the nurse took Micaela after feedings at night. I was only able to take two or three days off work.
After answering a hundred questions from the nurse about Micaela’s health, everything from vaccines to car seats to Pediatricians, we stepped out into the bright sunlight. I pulled the car around and cautiously strapped Micaela into her car seat for the first time, wanting to make it as secure as possible. Her head seemed so delicate, and I feared that any bump might send her head flying upwards from her body, severing her neck completely. Rachel took the extra new-mom precaution of sitting in the back with her on our way home.
Somehow, we managed to get the apartment painted and half-unpacked during our those few days with newborn Micaela at my parents. I know we had plenty of help from friends and family, Mr. Miller painting “Nurture” in our bedroom, and “Dynasty Celadon” in the living room.
* * * * *
The evening light shone bright in through the tall windows. For the first time, we were on our own. Money was tight, but that didn’t seem to matter. And as the light shone into our home, so it did into our marriage.
It is hard to remember anything hard, dark, or difficult from those precious four months. That is to say, even the hard things now seem like faint and distant memories.
The sun is slowly rising, not yet risen
Silhouettes of tree branches slowly
Deepening into their true form.
I perceive, also, hints of color.
Is color held in the leaves or by the sun?
Surely, without the sun there would be no green,
Yet at noon, we know and bow beneath
The holy whiteness of its blaze.
But within white, all other colors lie.
My daughter’s eye has yet to learn
Their distinctions, my fallen eye
Can only worship the hands
That made the sun
And painted color with its light
Onto every living thing on earth
And all yet unearthed.
Every time it rained harder than a drizzle, rain would stream and splatter into our little sunroom, which we had hoped would be a cozy reading nook. So we set up our desk at the edge of the room, and it became a deep frame to sit at and look out into the trees, to sit writing or reading at the desk. Three steps up into our yellow kitchen, we spent many hours preparing many meatless dinners. Through the door behind the refrigerator, we would hear the landlord yell at his family, anger breaking hearts. His empty promises of things he would fix also echoed in our ears.
There were the hot nights, sprawled on the third floor, all windows open, both ceiling fans running full speed, and a fan in the window, trying to suck some freshness into the steaming jungle of our bedroom. Rachel slept sporadically, between feedings which seemed to last for hours, sometimes falling asleep on the wooden rocking chair. I would get up at four, sometimes three in the morning to prep for work.
Rising in darkness to take a seat,
Though you cannot see His feet,
Everyday you wait and long to meet
And stare at His radiant face.
We were tired, but for the first time, we were truly happy together.
It seems like each period of our marriage brings with it particular meals. Almost every morning it was Greek yogurt, sliced apples, bananas, chopped dates, and pepitas. On the weekends it was french toast made with Ezekiel break, with Greek yogurt and berries dolloped on top. For dinners we regularly resorted to a bed of arugula with black beans, tomato and goat cheese with a lime dressing.
We did a lot of walking at that time. Just about every evening we’d head out after dinner, admiring the architecture of the homes in our neighborhood. We’d talk about the things we did or didn’t like about each house, already taking mental notes for the day (if that day ever comes) when we would be able to afford a house. Regardless of the course we’d set out on, we usually managed to end up in front of a brick house with a slate roof, and every manner of nook and cranny, windows looking out in every direction. A trove of delight and imagination for children, and space to read in front of a window while the rain pattered.
On Saturdays we would often walk to the local Farmer’s Market for produce, eyeing up all the food too expensive for us to buy. I always had a particular ache for the baked goods stand, and it was near torture to walk by the apple cider donuts without picking up a fresh bag to-go. Instead, we’d fill the bottom of our stroller with huge Portobello mushrooms, a loaf of bread, and arugula. Splurging for us was purchasing a basil plant which we sat on top of the board which covered our kitchen radiator. In the evening we’d pluck leaves off and cut them up with scissors to blend up in our salad dressing.
One night we were watching Good Will Hunting when a few innocent spiders rappelled down from the ceiling. The first few swiftly met their death, but then there were more and more. Soon we paused the movie to track down the source. There was a faint trail on the ceiling, leading to the bathroom. It was like a scene out of a horror movie. I turned the light on, and their they were, pouring out of the light. I panicked. I wanted to scream. Rachel ran and grabbed the hand vacuum. “Use this!” Rachel yelled, shocking me out of my frozen stance. Vroom! I swept those poor critters right into their oblivion. From that night on I feared they would creep out of the vacuum and show up on my face in the middle of the night.
It was also the first time we had written music together. One afternoon I sat on the floor with my guitar, plucking out some simple chords, while Rachel wrote lines inspired by a story we had recently read from Mark 2. Jesus’ disciples plucking heads of grain, while the Pharisees looked on in disgust, condemning them for doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.
On the sabbath day
Jesus – walking through the fields of grain
As they made their way
They plucked some heads of grain
The grain in their hands
Into their mouths
Something to eat
In the quiet heat
Of the afternoon
Looking from afar
The eyes of the pharisees
Saw their hands
The standing grain
The falling chaff
On the sabbath day
We rest today
Why do you pluck?
Why do you rub?
The standing grain
This day of rest he gave
To know by whom you are made
And how you are sustained
The Lord of life is here
Rest now in me
Freedom I bring
Every need I meet
In all I give
Rest in who I am
This grain from my hand
All this I give
Rest in who I am
Living in that apartment, we had come to what felt like a period of our own Sabbath rest. I see myself looking at Micaela, propped up in the corner of our love seat while I played guitar, singing hymns to her. Rachel takes a break from the stove and walks to the doorway framing the kitchen above the living room. She leans against the frame, smiling as she looks over at us, then starts to sing along. We are happy together in our house in the trees.
*Poems by Rachel