• Claire Barham

what I learned this summer

Overall, I’ve learned about love. How to be married and be in love, how to love new places, and how to choose love over fear.

1. just show up.

back in june, there was a candlelight service for George Floyd, and I almost didn’t go. It was outside of my comfort zone, I had just gotten back from vacation, I didn't feel "ready" to do something like that. but I did go, and I am still chewing on things that were said, sung, and lamented that night. The sky was brilliantly colored, and we wept while we sang.

2. my capacity for information is small.

This is technically something I already knew, but this summer brought my limits in to sharp focus. And yet, I’m still so bad at stepping away from the news, social media, the arguments and conflicts I consume for hours and days on end- only to look up and realize that my soul is tired, and I’ve filled my capacity for wonder and joy with frustration. Here's to learning my limits, and choosing to live the life in front of me.

The Avett Brother's song "I Should've Spent The Day With My Family" from their new album The Third Gleam, has been a great companion in the midst of this lesson.

a place that makes my soul quiet.

3. It’s crucial to actually carve out writing time.

Y’all. Will it ever get easier to say no to things, to choose to sit at the coffee shop for just one more hour? Probably not. Is it worth it when I make that choice? Every. Time.

4. I get why wedding days are so important now.

I’ll admit that I always thought it was sort of cheesy when people called their wedding day “the best day of their lives.” Like, was it really? Weren’t you tired and stressed and living in a blur?

The love felt and shared and received on that day made it all worth it for us. It made the "getting married during a pandemic” ordeal so worth it. We were affirmed and loved by the people closest to us. We made holy vows. We ate delicious ice cream and cake. We wore beautiful flowers and felt just wonderful.

To everyone who was there, and to everyone who watched from their homes, thank you, thank you, thank you.

5. How to play Settlers of Catan!

I’ve been intimidated by this game for years. I’ve never refused to play, but I’ve never offered to learn, either. If you’re someone who knows about Settlers of Catan but hasn’t played yet either, you probably know what I’m talking about. It seems like a world that only certain people have a key to, and you might one day have the time and commitment and skill to understand it.

I was so glad to learn that it really isn’t like that at all! I mean, it did take me until my third game to play confidently, without getting help. But I did it! So that’s a win.

6. I do not like pineapple in cooked dishes.

I’ve made two recipes in the last month that call for fresh pineapple and/or pineapple juice as integral components.

I am happy with it when I eat it that first time, and then I pull the dish out of the fridge for lunch the next day, and I’m repulsed by the smell and taste of the pineapple mixed in with the other juices and meat and grains. So I try to cover up the taste with BBQ sauce from the fridge or maybe just power through it, but I end up losing resolve and I get Chick-fil-a for lunch.

7. Sometimes you plant your garden too late in the summer and you have to watch it die.

(someone please make that sentence a metaphor!)

Y’all. This was sad. We (I include myself in that “we” very generously) built a beautiful raised garden bed, researched and determined which veggies had the best shot at making it through a mid-to-late summer planting, and got to work taking care of them. Then the leaves burnt in the sun, and we didn’t make a covering for them. After a few weeks some yellow flowers showed signs of promise, but they left as quickly as they came. We're taking a break from our ag adventures, and we'll probably re-start with some simple herbs.

a very sad photo :(

8. The end of long distance is so, so sweet. Marriage is sweet.

I’m just accepting that this is a season of life that I can be cliche in. I love marriage. Since I got married just over two months ago, it’s safe to say that I learned a lot about it this summer.

This is just the beginning of learning for us, but so far I have learned about building rhythms with another person, the mystery of truly feeling unified in day to day life, and the joy we’ve found in that after so many years of being apart.

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