While we are still in a ruminative mood, the setting of 2010 marks the ending of another decade. Okay, you’ll have to start off by bearing with me as I intend to define the past decade as 2000-2010. Yes, I can do math. I realize this is actually 11 years. If this annoys you now, just wait another decade for my 2020 decade in review post where I’ll include 2010. Is this cheating? Yes. If this alters your paradigm a little too much just start reading at 2001. It’s going to be fine.
2000 found me in mid-stride of my Newsboys groupie days, highlights being the Love Liberty Disco Tour and Night of Joy. I know you are sorry you missed it. It was beautiful. It was ridiculous. I never got worked up about another band before or since. Any embarrassing band obsessions you can to divulge?
2001 led me to London for spring break with friends. I was introduced to Jaffa Cakes, bar food, hard cider, street musicians and learned my favorite saying care of the Underground, “Mind the Gap.” I saw paintings by Caravaggio in person, mere inches away from me. A chunk of my heart broke off and it’s still there. My best friend, Lily, and I lived in an apartment on the outskirts of Winter Park, cooked Cheriyaki Chicken and watched Blockbuster movies on VHS. Yes, I was slow to convert. Surprised? Of course, September brought the life changer. I was at work, paralyzed behind my desk as we all listened to the news reports coming in over the radio. It wasn’t until I got home that night that I saw the images I will never forget. Where were you?
2002 brought big transitions. I graduated with my B.S. in Psychology from UCF. My Orlando family seemed to dissipate. Lily’s father, Kevin, passed away. In the few years I’d known him he’d become a father figure. I’ll always remember those last moments but more than anything his last words. “Live for Jesus.” I’m still trying.
2003 came into being in the middle of a move to Nashville, TN. Lily and I moved in with her mom, Penny, after Kevin died. It was a hard time in the job market (not unlike now) and I couldn’t even get a job at Starbucks. I can’t say that it was a hard eight months… it was a growing and stretching time. I was rebaptised on Easter. I was spiritually and emotionally fed by amazingly wonderful women and I learned a lot about myself, about forgiveness, and God’s provision. Penny sent me to my first writer’s conference in Ashville, NC. The writer in my bones leapt for joy! I know this sounds hokey but there isn’t anything more affirming to me than to be around other writers-they speak my language. In August the tides brought me back to Orlando and my old job; it was a strange “reset” of life.
2004 was stormy [pun definitely intended]. I spent the first few week in the foreign country that is Alaska. I kept saying “Look at the mountains!” at an involuntary frequency. Just a few keywords: Alaskan Pale, smoked salmon, halibut cheeks, 6-man charter flight to Hoonah, whale watching, mountain goat hide that smelled of maple syrup, daylight at midnight, a face in the trees, CSI crime scene in the woods, sleeping in a field in Homer, catching 40 pound “chicken” Halibuts… the list goes on and on. One of my favorite places on Earth, easily. I wasn’t even home for a month and then the skies clouded. My sister, Rachael, moved in with me and what else would say “Welcome to Central Florida” like a hurricane. First we were hit by Charlie. Two weeks later Frances was moving in and we decided to evacuate to our parents’ house in Pensacola. Little did we know that it would be the last time we saw Pensacola that way. Two weeks later, Ivan creamed Pensacola and nearby towns, ripping down the I-10 bridge. Two weeks later, it was our turn again with Jeanne. I don’t blow off Hurricane warnings anymore.
2005 meant I’d been arround for a quarter of a century. My 25th Birthday was rung it with a massive fondue party thrown by my awesome family.
2006 brought more new things. I got my dog, Kimi that year as well as a digital camera from my dad. I discovered Photoshop and broke it in with shots from road trips to Crystal River, Tarpon Springs and Pensacola. The Williams Clan travel from the far reaches of the globe for my Nana’s 90th Birthday. I knit an entire blanket on the drive to Tallahassee and back… awesome!
2007 began with a gym obsession that left me on crutches for months with torn tendons. My sister
abandoned me moved to Vermont with her fiance in July and I helped them drive their cars through nearly every Eastern state. I fell in love with the feeling that I was walking through a Charles Wysoki painting. Mom and I had our first girl’s weekend, meeting in Gainesville. In August I witnesses a horrific car accident and walked away from the scene covered in someone elses blood. In October I was robbed at gunpoint at the store where I worked. It was a crazy year but it was finished off with a white Christmas in Vermont.
2008 continued the robbery trend with my car in April and my house in June. I felt torn down and resigned… but not in a bad way. I’d given it all up to God to sort out. It was then that He opened a whole new path to me in the form of a job at the Wycliffe Foundation. Mom and I visited Gainesville again, this time exploring Kanapaha gardens. I chopped off my long brown hair and started my new life on the 4th of July. I met my beloved Chicago at the end of that month. On August 31st my Nana died at 92. Just days before Rachael’s wedding. The family joked that our very proper Nana scheduled her dying so that her funeral wouldn’t affect the wedding. It’s sad to me that her passing made me love her more. October brought the sweetest gift in the form of a baby cousin and god-daughter, Sharayah.
2009 meant another trip to Vermont, time spent in Chicago enjoying the museum, shopping, Jersey Boys and photo walks. Rachael and Ian visited and we all spent time beach side. I realize a dream I’d had since college by traveling to Ireland with one of my besties from college, Leslie. I think I was actually born there but my family doesn’t want to admit to it. I can’t even begin… it was amazing. From cliffs to castles, BnB’s to caravans, it was the road trip of my lifetime; I don’t think I’ll be able to top this one. Kimi, my dog, had her son Quinn in September… he has been terrorizing me ever since, cute little punk that he is. Christmas of 2009 shook the earth. When I found out Lily had given birth to Joshua at only 25 weeks my heart sank… my gall bladder was on the floor. God and I did a lot of talking during the 12 hour drive to Nashville… mostly it was me asking “Why?” over and over again. I braced myself for tragedy. I prepared to try to pick up the broken pieces for my friend as I spent day and night at the hospital. God had other plans. Praise God! Miracle after miracle, Joshua lived; Joshua THRIVED. On the 12 hour drive home, God did most of the talking, setting me straight on a few things about faith, trust and His awesome power and perfect plan.
2010. You were an interesting one. Early in the year we received the news that the Wycliffe Foundation was being “integrated.” It was hard to begin a year with high hopes and slide immediately into uncertainty. I reminded myself of all the times God had proved His provision and I waited… and He provided. I said goodbye as good friends moved on and/or moved away. Looking back, it’s been hugely positive. “Why do you worry, Mariah? When has the world ever collapsed?” At the end of March, I left work to have foot surgery as Wycliffe Foundation and returned as the newly branded Executive Administrative Assistant to Finance for Wycliffe USA. I moved in to my new desk, wheelchair and all, to a dozen or so new friendly faces (and I have a window!). The rest of the year sort of faded in comparison to the arrival of Amelia Rose Grant, my first niece, born to Rachael and Ian (those crazy Vermonters!). We Skype, Amelia and I. She tells me all about her favorite outfits and her dogs and bath time and I stare at her making funny faces and saying “How’s my little Sugar Bean?” in the most obnoxious southern baby voice.
So there it is… a decade in a
too long blog post. Welcome 2011. What wonders will you bring?