I had a dream.
And not like the profound dreams of people in the past.
After years of visiting New York City in the bitter cold, my dream was to go back in the summer and walk through Central Park in shorts. I know, I warned you. I hope everyone can get on my level of depth.
And last summer, my dream came true. It was glorious! No jackets! No hand warmers stuffed into my old gloves! No layering clothes to the point where bathroom breaks take longer than the actual outing!
Josh thought it was less than thrilling because he sweated his way through the trip and got slightly annoyed with me frequently asking strangers if they could take pictures of us. But I got a spray tan for this trip and, thanks to my shorts, you could actually see it. Had to document - it's the little things, you know?
So while the time of year was not necessarily something we could agree on, one thing we could was to visit the 9/11 Museum this trip. Neither of us had been and were both eager to go.
One thing that shocked me when we walked up to it was how small the building looked. If you’ve been, then you know it’s because the museum is almost completely underground. You take a staircase, a ramp and another staircase, well below street level into the main portion of museum. They start you at the very bottom of the former towers.
At the bottom, there are 4 giant beams exposed to show the skeleton of the building. And they are very impressive. Each beam is huge - a mix of concrete and steel – and some even cut half to how solid the foundation was. Later in the tour, they go on to explain how even though rest of the building fell, these beams stayed firmly in the ground, years after the tragedy.
If you want my honest truth, I didn’t really pay attention to all they entailed. It wasn't until several months later when I was listening to podcast, I felt the weight of what I’d seen. These structures were profound to look at, but after a few minutes, I was on to the next portion. They weren’t flashy or interesting looking. I was quickly distracted by the other, and in my eyes more interesting, parts of the tour.
The podcast talked about the actual process of forming a building. How it starts when the blueprints are designed, the ground carved out, the beams in place, and the cement poured in. It’s a lot of work, even before we see any shape of the building come to life. Before the paint colors or exterior form is created, the strong foundation creates what is to come.
The most beautiful and epic buildings we see in our city’s skylines, start at the bottom.
In order to be any of those things, if you want it to last, if you want it to be sturdy, you must spend time on the foundation.
When Josh and I first got married, sometimes it felt like there was constant confusion on what the other one meant. It felt like a whole season of Modern Family, one miscommunication after another. It wasn't bad, it was just learning the ends and out of living a life weaved together. After one particular discussion - conversation, debate, OK fight - Josh used it as an example of building the foundation of our marriage. That these *cough cough* discussions were really ironing out the differences and smoothing out the road ahead.
And he was right in a lot of ways (don't tell him!). We learned to work out the small things to the point they don’t really get mentioned anymore. Because when the storms roll in, it’s the foundation that counts.
We all start at the beginning. It's hard not to already want to the tall buildings with your name on the side. It's hard to wait, and the slow and steady start of laying the foundation is tiring. Going back to school, starting a new job, beginning a business, creating friendships, building a marriage, etc.
It's hard to be patient. To lean into the wait, knowing that it's one of the most important parts of the process. But it’s not flashy and people can't always see the rise.
A lot of us, or maybe just me, live for the tall towers and the finished parts.
But maybe the real stuff is in the monotonous work of building the beginnings.