Guidebook for a Decade

I'm fairly certain that August 31, 2010 is the 10 year anniversary of my life in Seattle. When you're 27, 10 years is a LONG time, so this is feeling like a really big deal to me. Considering the fact that this past decade has covered the biggest transition period one has in life, from child to adult, I truly have enough memories of joys and disasters that I'm sure I could make one of those artsy coming of age films complete with some cool indie soundtrack or write a novel with some elusive cover image that might be a super-close-up of a cheek and earlobe or a sandy beach... you just can't tell, it's that artsy. However, those are all pretty overrated, and I don't need to write a novel for myself. And, let's face it: no one loves her own story more than she herself. So, for my own sake, and the sake of those of you who were with me for this formative phase here's my quick look. This is my Tour Brochure for a Decade in the Life of Ms. Jesky M Bera. This is what you'll want to have with you if you ever board a time machine and decide to visit my life. It includes the "must sees" of each year from the heartwarming to the heartwrenching... here we go.

Years begin in September
Synopsis: Jessica moves to Seattle from Amarillo, TX feeling like a large guppy that outgrew her Amarilloan aquarium only to find that being a guppy, no matter how large you were at home, does not achieve much when you're dropped in the lake.

Days are spent: DANCING at PNB and learning, oh, SO much. Pondering my Christian faith.

Best Moment: August 19, 2001: first talking with Brendan on a bench outside of Green Lake Zoka (which we called Zoka... b/c it was the only one) about continuing our dating and considering the fact that maybe we'd be married someday

Worst Moment: Feeling completely alone and friendless in my first dark, wet Seattle winter and bawling alone in my car.

The Song in my Heart: Counting Crows' Raining in Baltimore

If You Have Time... : first and only car accident, youth group retreat where I met this short boy that I'd marry someday, party crashing

Synopsis: The happiest dancing year of Jessica's life, this year was probably also the most ebullient time she's yet had. She kicked loneliness in the butt by making lifelong friends and had also committed to no underage partying. Good clean fun all around.

Days are Spent: Dancing well at PNB and earning a reputation as a nice, happy girl... which I was.

Best Moment: visit any old day and you'll likely find me in the middle of my favorite times ever- dance partying with my ballerina friends, ordering pizza, and watching Friends

Worst Moment: oh, I don't even know. Some stupid fight with Stayce probably.

Song in My Heart: Abba's Dancing Queen, Sunny Day Real Estate's The Ocean

If you have time...: Carla getting on TV as the Olympic torch runs by, Zoolander parties, Tour with PNB to the Hollywood Bowl, 1st anniversary with Brendan when i got my gold necklace I'm wearing right now

Synopsis: Things start to S U C K, but God also dropped me into some of my most meaningful relationships to date. Brendan and I got real serious, and we met Beth and Dan

Days are Spent: at physical therapy, crying in church, getting counsel from Nathan and Sarah

Best Moment: Dancing "Company Flowers" at 1st dress rehearsal for Nutcracker. I didn't know it then, but that was the Zenith of my little career. That moment is tied, believe it or not, with dumping Brendan's puke bucket at Overlake Hospital mid cyclical-vomiting spell and knowing for sure for the first time that I'd marry him b/c I never wanted anyone else to dump his bucket.

Worst Moment: Somehow knowing and praying "please, God, don't let me fall" and then falling anyway. Tied with: coming home from Raleigh, NC knowing that I'd never be a professional dancer. That was, in fact, the worst moment of my life at that point.

The Song in my Heart: Death Cab for Cutie's We Have the Facts and We're Voting "Yes," along with Nathan's re-tune for Be Still My Soul

If you have time... : Why would you spend it here? IT SUCKED (but, God is good all the time, and I truly wouldn't trade it. I learned A LOT)

Synopsis: (I'm sad to say that I barely remember this year. I've blocked it out, but I think...) Jessica convinces her sad parents that she CANNOT lave Seattle because she still hates Texas, she needs to stay at Green Lake Pres, and she still loves "that boy from church"

Days are Spent: going to North Seattle Community College and working as an admin asst at PNB.

Best Moment: Beth and Dan starting to date. Really, I think that is it. I think this was a fun Sasquatch year too.

Worst Moment: Some sad sorry day walking around the concrete depression that is NSCC with an aching back

The Song in my Heart: Transatlantacism

If you have time... : Brendan and I stumbling our way through our requests to my parents for their blessings on our plans to get engaged

Synopsis: Jessica and Brendan finally get married. Who cares what else happened?

Days are Spent: as above, but with wedding planning. So, it wasn't so bad anymore.

Best Moment: My Wedding, Honeymoon, and Engagement

Worst Moment: Our first ugly fight

The Song in My Heart: Nathan's (again) Psalm 22

If you have time...: The engagement was really me in a nutshell, oy, crazy lady

Synopsis: Jessica and Brendan love being married. Brendan gets his first real dev job, and Jessica goes to Business School at the UW. And, Amos is born. Then they learned how heavy life can really get.

Days are Spent: Hosting dinner parties with all our wedding gifts, doing homework, and working for PNB and through my PNB issues with a psychologist.

Best Moment: Holding Amos, meeting my sister's future husband for the first time

Worst Moment: realizing that I had truly been chewed up and spit out by PNB, being afraid that Sarah could have died and that Amos might

Song in My Heart: DeVotchka's How it Ends

If you have time: The rain and hail Sasquatch

Synopsis: Jessica and Brendan learn what being grown-ups is really like with first full time jobs and first pregnancies.

Days are Spent: finishing degrees, napping and morning-sick

Best Moment: That stick says "Pregnant" (we don't full around with pink lines) twice

Worst Moment: That bloodwork says "not pregnant." Crying uncontrollably in the airport as the Robbins leave for Africa (that was great in a way too,though)

Song in My Heart: The Decemberists' Crane Wife

If you have time...: The graduation from the UW Business School during which I am miscarrying our first baby, Speck, the brief but fun and creative jaunt of Luxe & Jacs

Synopsis: Jessica feels a new kind of sad as she grieves Speck and a new exhilaration with the natural, drug-free birth of Ezra. Friendships all re-form.

Days are Spent: Pregnant

Best Moment: Birth of my second child, Ezra Wray Ribera

Worst Moment: Partains leave

Song in my Heart: Crosby Stills Nash and Young's Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (this is because of the birth- "Sometimes it hurts so badly I must cry out loud...")

If you have time: Go to Tennessee for Elijah's birth

Synopsis: Jessica begins to feel recovered from the last five years and loves her son like crazy.

Days are Spent: changing diapers, learning to pray, and maybe seeing for the first time how God really looks at me

Best Moment: "Pregnant," and all of those first baby firsts

Worst Moment: Learning the meaning of "sleep deprivation," seeing "failure to thrive" as a diagnosis (uggh, that was really THE worst)

Song in my Heart: Barry Louis Polisar's All I Want is You

If you have time...: My return to dancing with 6th Day Dance

Synopsis: Jessica has an exhausting pregnancy with a busy toddler, but she can see so clearly that God's will is real and right. Then, he blesses her with a birth that (she prays) convinces her once and for all that God works through blessing as well as trial.

Days are Spent: physically unwell and spiritually strong in a strength not my own

Best Moment: the day of Ivo's beautiful, wonderful, inspiring birth

Worst Moment: holding down my firstborn while he woke up freaking out from the anesthesia after his second surgery

Song in my Heart: Welcome Wagon's Up on a Mountain

If you have time...: Ez meeting Ivo for the first time, visits with our friends, sorting through Brendan's blessed pile of job offers

Oh, goodness, so much goes on in a life. I could do a whole separate post on the church's life and its affect on me and another just on the spiritual themes, lessons, and struggles.

I do wish to thank my lovely and loving parents for letting me move here. I just told Dad today that I can now begin to imagine how incredibly difficult that must have been.

I have ended up in such a different place than I thought I was headed for when I got here. I still sometimes feel like a dancer on a detour, but this amazing family of mine is no detour - they are my very life. Of course, I know that at the bottom of all of this stuff of my life, what I truly am is a tiny but beloved piece of the kingdom of God. What piece of clay knows in the beginning what she will be at the end of ten years... or her whole life. I just hope that "when I reach the margin of that lone river thou didst cross for me a heavenly light may flash along its waters and every wave like crystal bright shall be." (can't help but wax this way as I think of Barbara's passing this morning.)

Thank you God for your will being worked and your faithfulness to me.

City Thistle