Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Year in Review (part one)

The trouble with blogging is that it gives you the illusion it's remotely possible to keep up with life. But a time stamp doesn't mean you can write up to pace with time: important and meaningful things keep happening, and the most important are usually the hardest to write. So I fall behind. I don't get from idea to page with major events. And pretty soon, all the seasons have come and gone.

Saturday was my anniversary. It was a beautiful day, even though it was grey and rainy and depressing outside. Around 10 pm, as we walked around the apartment with our fussy awake baby, Nicole and I talked through some of the highlights of the past year month by month, a conversation I am only getting around to trying to capture after three days:

October 2009

Last October, Nicole and I got married in a temple where mirrors on both walls are designed to remind you of endless generations that come before you and after you. We knelt at an altar to remember that being part of someone else requires a certain of element of sacrifice.

The reception was held that evening in a large greenhouse off State Street. Plants were everywhere, matching the leaf-and-vine pattern we'd chosen for our rings: rings we exchanged under a bagh serving as a huppah. After we broke a glass, Nicole's parents sang while, in keeping with a Danish tradition, the guests crowded in us until we only had room to kiss. Then we danced for a few hours...

After the wedding, Nicole and I drove down to Capitol Reef in Central Utah. On Sunday, we went to church and found that in that land, the local past runs thicker in the memories of people than it does in the cities where we've lived. Those people knew something about how to remember.


For Nicole's birthday, we had over the relative who live in town: 20 grown-ups and 20 kids, four generations in all. Somehow, they all fit into our apartment. Nicole's brothers didn't let the crowding keep them from rough-housing a bit. My grandfather watched them and smiled: when I asked what he was thinking of, he said it reminded him of growing up in a big house with his own cousins and brothers.


Over Christmas break, I had planned to catch up on some extra hours on a research job, but the online server I could have worked from went down, so I had an excuse to spend extra time with Nicole, Kira, and Wilkes clan.

While my grandpa was in Punjab for some cousins' weddings, my grandma came to the white elephant gift exchange at Nicole's grandparents' house.

Doesn't she look great with the mask and hat she got?


Nicole and I are both deeply in love with the idea of family. So it was a bit of a surprise to me how scary it was in January when she noticed she was pregnant. I guess that, maybe because I'm a man, I'd never thought much about the anxiety that can come with expecting. Although I remembered miscarriages and stories of miscarriages, it wasn't until we decided to wait to say anything about the pregnancy that I thought seriously about how vulnerable life is. For the first month, we kept the secret between us, afraid to jinx it with too much excitement or happiness. Afraid that this family member might never arrive.


A nephew was born in mid-month: a normal sort of tiny, his whole body fitting along the length of my forearm. Nicole was sick more often than not in February, and I did all the laundry: I'd wash the clothes in the machine and then hang them in our spare room to dry. My grandma used to hang clothes on a line outside; her mother-in-law washed them in boiling water and then spread them out on patches of clover.

We told the family in February that we were expecting: you can't hide morning sickness, so we started to let our fears go.


We went as a family to Holi at the Hindu temple in Spanish Fork. The celebrations there have been attracting more and more college students every year: many of whom seem to think of anything to do with India as a giant hippie rally. Does America still see India primarily through the lens of the Beatles?

In the evening, the red powder turned Kira's bathwater pink. Blissfully oblivious to the cultural politics of the day, she laughed easy and free at the novelty of the rose-colored water.


We drove down to California for my aunt-cousin Naveen's wedding. The groom had a beard in the morning for the ceremony, but went clean-shaven for his more usual American look at the reception that night.

We stayed after the wedding for several days, visiting this family and that, including a great-uncle's house where I remember playing summers as a kid. My uncle-cousin Sukhpal showed us how he's trying to keep on the cutting edge of technology caring for the raisin grape vines and nut trees his family lives off of. Even though he's maybe a hundredth generation farmer, Sukhpal feels a strong need to stay sharp and keep with the times.

Also in April: my great-aunt Balbir sends us home with a massive container of her famous masala, not knowing that it's the first spice I ever used to cook for Nicole.

It's at Bachittar and Balbir's house that I first feel Elijah kick.

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