During our year of service, a question we are asked to grapple with is: how can we incorporate stewardship into our lives? Stewardship has taken on a variety of meanings for me as an individual this fall. I have started taking shorter showers sponsored by my “Songs for Short Showers” playlist. I have learned that Teflon pans are to be treated with the utmost respect. But most importantly, I have learned that our most valued resource as beings on this earth is our time. As an individual, I may not have the power to control what I am doing in every moment, but I am able to control how I react to it. Thus, I am a steward of my time by choosing to appreciate moments of my everyday life. Living on $150 a month, I have quickly realized that it is those funky moments with other people that have the most value to me. If I’ve learned anything in my first four months of Amate, it’s that the everyday moments are what makes the experience so fulfilling. So, without further ado, I would like to dedicate this blog post to a seemingly ordinary Thursday evening and the moments that made it. I am not saying that there is anything particularly incredible about this specific Thursday evening, but I took a moment to notice the world around me and experience it with intention. Also, if you are not a fan of puns, be warned. I am a huge fan.
It was a brisk Thursday evening. The wind was blustering, and the moon glowed brightly in the sky. I climbed into Hollyn the Honda (fondly named by Brooke and me) with my housemate Eleanor at 5 PM. We turned on our Spotify Blend and found that our music taste was a 95% match. We laughed as Spotify told us that Eleanor was the larger One Direction stan in the past year. Then we started our drive from Rodgers Park back to McKinley Park. Eleanor turned to me and asked, “Does this really take an hour?” I just laughed, nodded, and we began the drive. Eleanor is not my usual companion driving home from work, and as we traveled down DuSable Lake Shore Drive, around the Loop, onto 55, I found myself wondering what my everyday commute looks like through her eyes. Sitting in traffic for an hour two times a day is not the most enjoyable thing to do, but good company makes all the difference. Eleanor and I chatted about the challenges of our day and looked at all the Christmas lights brightening up the city. The hour passed rather quickly, filled with jokes and appreciation for the quiet beauty of the city at night.
When we pulled into the back to park the car for the evening, I turned to Eleanor to ask who in the world had parked the Camry so awfully. As the transportation coordinator, I find myself utilizing the state of our cars as a conversation topic because they are quite unique (to put it kindly). She laughed, said it was her, and proceeded to explain that her parking job was a result of where Emma and I had parked the other cars. Of course, who really knows where the fault lies, but the Camry was blocking half the alley. Inside, Lamya and Emma were hanging out in the living room, and we all got to chatting about nothing at all. I laughed about the Camry again, and Emma mentioned it had been a battle to drive her car to work that morning trying to squeeze between Eleanor’s parking job and an umbrella hanging out of the neighbor’s trash can.
After my long, client-facing day, I needed a moment to myself, so I headed upstairs. Flipping on the lamp, I gazed around my room. My rug was bunched up as a result of sliding around on the carpet below, and the pink blinds were distorting the light from the street. I flipped open my laptop and pulled up a twenty-minute boxing video. As I punched some air, I could hear my housemates shouting and laughing in the hallway. Immediately as I finished the workout, I ventured to find my housemates. I soon realized that Lamya had summoned us outside to rake some leaves. There had been a lot of conversation in the preceding weeks about the age-old question: to rake leaves or to leaf them alone. The debate involved two camps. The first camp in which leaves will kill the grass and the second in which the leaves are good for the soil. It is interesting that we are even having these debates in the city of Chicago because our grass is patchy at best (still beautiful!), and the soil is definitely contaminated. Anyway, we decided to go rake the leaves.
We all headed outside with rakes, bags, and gloves to attack the leaves. I found it quite amusing. It was dark, so there was a little bit of guesswork involved with finding the leaves (an enjoyable added challenge). Additionally, there were a handful of piles scattered across the yard that were really just filled with decaying leaves. The wind was blowing hard, and the leaves seemed to fly away from us as we scooped them up. There was an evolution of our strategy for the yard clean-up. First, Lamya and I were shoving leaves from the ground into the bag, then using one leg to stomp them down. Soon enough, I had my own bag and pile of leaves, and so did Lamya, Zach, and Maggie, but then we ran out of bags, and Zach was showing us his dad’s strategy of punching down the leaves on the sides of the bag to make more room. We picked up as many leaves as we could and proceeded to drag the bags down the alley to the trash can. When we reached the trash, Emma was hauling the bin through the backyard out to a pile of leaves at the side of the house. Suddenly the whole adventure became rather comical. Emma, Lamya, and I were scooping leaves out of a plant at the side of the house and placing them in the trash bin. Moments later, Eleanor was hoisting Maggie into the trash can, and Maggie was stomping on all the leaves. It was at this point in time when the grumblings about leaf pick-up became rather persistent. At the same time, I realized that this comical moment was a moment I was going to remember about my year. We finished scooping up the leaves, and I turned to face the large tree in front of our house covered in lights and ornaments. The moon was glowing right behind it, and I felt myself inhaling that moment and calm washing over me.
When we all headed inside, our dinner prep began. It felt like one of those last nights before the holiday break always does. Everyone was a little loopy, excited for the break, but at the same time feeling a bit burnt out. Eleanor and Emma started pulling leftover taco fixings from the fridge, but I felt the pasta cabinet calling my name. I pulled out the Christmas-shaped pasta and asked if anyone wanted to share some with me. Lamya said she would have some, and then we opened the fridge for the classic stare-until-something-summons-you-to-eat-it moment. Then we grabbed the remaining eight cherry tomatoes, some mixed greens, peppers, and sausages and got to whipping up a sauce of sorts to go with our pasta. It was a nice little moment chatting about nothing, staring at the food on the stove, and wondering why it was called Christmas pasta when all the shapes looked like little rectangles. The speaker was playing Lake Street Dive because I could not stop thinking about leaf puns, and one of their songs is entitled “Baby Don’t Leave Me Alone With My Thoughts.” It just screams for a leaf pun to be made (shoutout to Sara for actually laughing at my pun). Then I pulled the biscuits out of the fridge to add some extra excitement to our strange everything-but-the-kitchen-sink meal. As I threw the biscuits in the toaster, Lamya informed me that biscuits were her favorite snack in daycare. Smiling with the new information from my housemate, I turned to see that I had burnt one of the biscuits to a crisp. I quickly pulled the lever to take the biscuit out. The biscuit seemed to have a mind of its own flying out of the toaster and slamming into the cabinet above. It was a strange moment that I should not have noticed, but why did the toaster do that? I couldn’t be sure, but I drenched the biscuit in butter and jam and headed to the table to eat my meal.
After I ate, I went upstairs to rinse off the day. I decided to listen to Spotify’s earlier reminder of my One Direction affection and turned on the playlist as I walked into our dorm-style bathtub-based showers. Eleanor was showering in one of the other stalls, and we chatted about our teenage years and the different circumstances that brought us to our One Direction moments. She definitely had a good laugh as I explained fifteen-year-old Ingrid’s dramatic take on the real meaning of Summer Love. Then I took the trash bag out of my room and headed downstairs, which led to a random conversation with Zach about the benefits of a large trash bag in your room as opposed to a small little trash can.
Alas, the moment I had been waiting for all day. I plopped down on the couch, and Lamya pulled up the final two episodes of Julie and the Phantoms, a show meant for kids ten and up that somehow became somewhat of an obsession for me this year. By obsession, I mean that the Julie and the Phantoms Cast was my top artist on Spotify…embarrassing? Maybe, but not if you have seen the show (just watch it, and you’ll realize it’s fabulous). I had attempted to get the whole house to watch the show a few weeks ago, but Lamya was the only one I was really able to hook onto the show. Stasia and Emma do deserve an honorable mention for not complaining when the show was playing and actually watching some of the episodes. Anyway, I plopped down on the couch, and soon enough, Emma, Lamya, and I had a fabulous cuddle puddle going in the beloved corner seat of the couch. Finally, peace. But then, a stomping on the stairs… indicative of the arrival of the smallest member of the house. Into the living room flies Maggie clutching two wool sweaters she had just attempted to wash. One look at her face and it is clear that something is wrong. She had just washed and dried both of her wool sweaters, she informed us. Sara’s jaw hit the floor, mortified. Maggie stared right back at her, completely mystified by how Sara could have so much knowledge of wool sweater care. Moments later, Maggie was pulling her now five-sizes-too-small sweaters onto her body and asking Sara to pull on the arms to stretch them back out. Sara obliged her request while still sitting in the chair, looking horrified that her life had come to such a sweater-destroying moment. It was hilarious. When the show finished, I whipped out my laptop and started to compile this blog, but soon had to retire to my room for a good night’s sleep before work.
It’s nights like that Thursday that carry me through this experience. This story may seem to lack relevance, but it is our life. Moments are what make life worth living, and this group of fellows continues to build me up in our community. McKinley Park is home now, and I can’t wait for many more memories in the new year.