Thirty years ago I was brought home from the hospital to a cute little home in Springville, Utah. In the pre-ultra sound age my dad was convinced I was a boy and had the named Tyler picked out for me (Tyler came to our family a few years later). They named me Melissa because it was a pretty name on a suggestion card the hospital gave them and picked Dawn for my middle name because that’s they time of day I made my arrival. My dad was a student at BYU, rode a motorcycle back and forth to campus, and had a full head of dark red hair. My gorgeous dark-haired mom stayed at home with my almost 3-year-old sister and I. She as testing out her cake decorating skills and serving the neighbors around her. She grew giant marigolds that lined the front of the house and I like to think that we were angel children who gave her long naps so that she could paint her beautiful watercolor paintings while we were sleeping. I came to a home of love and love of life.
When I turned 10 the world was a happy sheltered one. I lived in a little town in Southern Indiana, close to family, out in the country. I finished my 5th grade year and started 6th grade in the fall. This was the year that I learned how to play the violin, make elephant ears, and really felt the sting of other people’s unkindness. I loved school, participating in Little Hoosiers (an after school club), and playing with my cousins on humid Sunday afternoons at my grandparents farm. My home and family were my haven. I was very tall at this age. I towered over girls and boys in my class and a few of the boys would not let me forget it. My nickname was Amazon and though my height could have been something beautiful I hated it. I wanted to hide it. The slumped shoulders I still carry today started this year as I tried to shrink, unsuccessfully, into being unnoticed. Ten was as beautiful as it was brutal.
When I turned 20 life was busy and full of change. I was in the middle of my sophomore year at BYU. The first semester was one of the hardest in my life. It was my first semester at BYU in Utah, far away from my family and friends in Indiana and I was homesick like nobody’s business. I cried to my mom on the phone at 2am often. Thanks to living with my older sister and some amazing roommates and coworkers (who I still keep track of today) I made it over that first-semester-away-hump. January of that year was new and fresh and I was finally happy to be in Provo.
A job fair in the student center led me to apply for a job at a ranch in the middle of no where Southern Utah. I got that job and spent the summer cleaning cabins, cooking meals for huge groups, laughing at barn dances and on hay rides, and meeting the boy of my dreams. I went on a whirlwind trip to Beijing China with my cousin at the end of the summer; I came back to Utah and continued to court that cute boy from the middle of no where. He asked me to marry him in October and we were married in December. 20 was a good year.
Today I reflect on 30. I formed a lot of plans in my head for this coming year and in just one evening they all changed. This year is turning out to be a year of surprises, change, and growth. It seems to fit a similar pattern of years past. We plan to start building our house this spring, my sister is going to live with us again this summer, and Thomas and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage at the end of the year.
I’m starting to think my age is finally matching up with my habits and life choices; I’ve always felt like an old soul.
Like every other year, I can’t see the end from the beginning, but I have a strong feeling that this year, like all of the others will be full of change, excitement, and the unexpected. All the new is mixed in with a heavy dose of the normal – laundry, family meals, homework, bedtime routines, and daily baths. It’s a familiar concoction of change and familiar that keeps me grounded while growing.
Things seems to change so drastically in ten year chunks of life. I can’t wait to see where another 10 years finds me, and I’m grateful I get to make those discoveries and changes one day at a time.