Every January, I celebrate the new year with a stack of homemade pancakes and round tables filled with friends. Blueberry, chocolate chip, even old-fashioned original pancakes—the baked scents reminds me life is good. The year is new. And I have people to share it with.
This year was different. There was only one person at my table.
Instead of celebrating within the walls of a welcoming church I’ve grown to love in Reno, I ate my pancakes on the back patio of well-worn restaurant joint in Southern California.
You see, last year on March 4th, Anthony and I moved from our Nevada home to pursue our dreams. I’d chosen “Dream” as my defining theme for 2013, and we reached the pinnacle rather unexpectedly early. In Los Angeles, I joined a creative team of exceptionally talented individuals in the bustling city, and Anthony began to write and revise his fantasy novels, the Shade of Silver trilogy.
What I didn’t know at last year’s start is that to “dream” is to accept change.
In Reno, we had grown deep roots. We had developed friendships, built careers. In Los Angeles, we were uprooted. Take a plant out of its pot, and place it on the dinner table. See how long it lasts. Plants need soil. They must have roots, or they will die.
I had been grieving the loss of my Reno roots for a while. But when we ordered pancakes on a Sunday morning, far from the church where we first experienced the New Year tradition, we memorialized. It was a good kind of remembering. We laughed, and we joked, and we reminisced. Then we looked across the metal bar that separated us from the sidewalk in this warm “winter” weather, and we knew: We need roots here.
Earlier that morning, at a different church located in Burbank, a pastor named Billy spoke from a slightly raised stage. “If you had a plant that wanted to bear fruit, but it never saw the sun, it wouldn’t grow any fruit.”
I’ve stayed away from the sun lately. It’s a poor effort to keep the thoughts at bay—in which I wonder about my decision to dream.
“Every good renovation starts with some demolition,” the pastor spoke, and for the first time in a long time, I listened. “God is not afraid of the toxic places in your life.”
This year, I want to remember where I’ve come from without wishing for the past. I need this plant to be pruned. I need mildewed leaves removed, and I want to see the sun. I want to make peace with this city, to find the soil and grow deep roots.
As Anthony and I talked about this, the waitress with dark hair and thick black eyeliner delivered our dishes. The golden pancakes on my plate were dashed with powdered sugar and a thick helping of whipped cream. Beside them, a tin cup of warm syrup waited.
Across the table, Anthony grinned at his berry-laden breakfast, and the waitress walked through the diner’s back doorway.
“Hey, Anthony,” I said and poured syrup on my pancakes. “Can we use your phone to take a picture?”
He agreed, held out his hand and aimed the camera. We both leaned in. Click.
I won’t stand amid the demolition rubble any more.
This year, I’m choosing to rebuild.
Pans and Pickpockets Challenge: What theme will you pursue this year? What’s one word you’d choose for 2014?
Words and photos: Ally Siwajian © 2014