Time in Willow Creek: 1 year, 8 months, 3 weeks, 1 day
Juliana sat at her computer, itching to write back to her mother and tell of her good news but unsure of how to say it. In fact, she had a good many things to share, but the one thing lay heavy on her mind. Would Mamá understand? Would she be disappointed? Juliana was almost afraid to mention it, but she couldn’t hide it. She had already done a terrible job at keeping it together in previous letters. Instead of letting it bother, she began with the other parts first. Maybe by the end of the letter she’d be brave enough to write those scary words.
(translated for your understanding)
I love you so much. I’m so glad we’re able to communicate like this. I know you told me not to return to Monte Vista for any reason, but I’m not sure if I can agree anymore. I don’t want to live the rest of my life without seeing you and the family again. Is that ok? I have to come soon. Maybe not this year or even the next, but I have to try.
Work has gotten very interesting. You’re not going to believe any of this. The library isn’t a typical library. It’s private, and it belonged to Harriett. Rich people make donations to keep it open. It’s very strange, and I don’t completely understand it, but I’m learning. Anyway, when Harriett died, she had a will, and she left me the library! Can you believe that?? Me! I own something? I still have trouble believing it. The family was happy for me. I thought they may have been upset. I mean, Harriett spent half of her life and so much of her own money into getting it started. I thought they may want to keep it within their biological family, but Kevin must have been right. He helped me so much. I was so scared and overwhelmed about it. Actually, I was mad at Harriett for putting me in that position, and I didn’t understand why she would do that. On top of that, the librarian hates me because I’m not from here. I wanted to quit. I felt like she made a mistake by choosing me. But, Kevin said I was the best choice because no one else would care about the library as Harriett would except me. I had trouble believing it, but I think he’s right. It’s been a few months now, and no one asks me how things are going. They don’t come by. I don’t expect them to, of course, but I just think it’s sad. This is their family member’s legacy, and now it belongs to me.
Anyway, I have so much to learn. It’s still overwhelming, and I’m still scared. Some days I want to lie in bed under the covers until it’s safe to come out. But, I want to make Harriett proud too. And, I want to prove to myself that I can do it.
The art gallery is going well. The renovation on the building is almost done! We hit a little bump in the road, but Kevin seems confident that everything will be fine. Apparently, every parcel of land here has to be labeled. They call the labels “zones.” There is a body that regulates these zones. When you want to repurpose land like we are doing, you have to get permission. Before Kevin bought it, the gallery used to be a bar. He said the building sat empty for years. You would think the community would be happy to see it go to good use, but they weren’t happy about it. Actually, they were a bit hostile. We had to go to a town hall meeting and talk about our plans, and some of the people reminded me of home. They think the gallery would only be for the rich and didn’t think it had a place in their city. They said Kevin couldn’t speak to what they would want because he’s lost touch with them because he’s rich now even though he came from a poor neighborhood. I can’t really say for sure if they’re right. He has snobbish tendencies, and he likes nice things, but that doesn’t mean he’s out of touch. Anyway, they were quite mean to him. I originally didn’t want to say anything in front of a crowd, but I had to. I couldn’t let them speak about him that way. And, they were only thinking of it in one way. I told them about my own experience with art hoping it would give them another perspective to consider. Kevin says he thinks my speech did the job, but we won’t know for a while. I don’t think I said anything special, but I do hope it helps. I would hate for Kevin to have to have to start everything all over again.
Hillary had the baby! She is a beautiful little girl named Abigail and is just about four months old. It’s hard to believe how young she is sometimes because she’s so active and sociable already! She coos and babbles and tries to mimic certain sounds. I swear sometimes she says hi after we say it. She kicks and grabs anything she can get her hands on especially hair. (ouch!) It’s really amazing to watch her grow so quickly.
Ok…I’ve saved this part for last because I didn’t know how to say this to you. I still don’t. Instead of attempting to explain a concept to you that I am still trying to wrap my head around, let me just tell you what I have learned and what I feel. I love Kevin. And he loves me. For the moment, that is enough for both of us. I know what you’re expecting, but it’s too much for me right now. I’m still new here and have so much more to learn. I don’t even know how to live on my own yet. The thought of learning everything I need to know for the library, doing whatever we’re going to do with the art gallery, and taking care of a family and house overwhelms me. I couldn’t handle it. I don’t want to handle it. I want to take my time and live a little before I settle into family life. I want to learn a bit more and get a better understanding of what’s expected from young women my age in this country. Kevin and I can love each other while living our lives separately from each other. People here seem to think of marriage as some far off goal they’re never ready for. I don’t really understand why, but when I think about it, I suppose I’m in the same boat as them. I too want to delay marriage until I’m ready.
So, there you have it. 🙂 I don’t expect you to understand, but I hope you’ll respect my choice.
How are the children? I don’t ask about them enough. I hope they are all doing well in school. And hopefully Adrianna is not charming all the boys. 🙂 Being here and living with the Humphries, I see how important it is for all of us to be kind and helpful to you. I know you’ve always taught us to be that way to everyone, but I hope they are doing chores and whatever they can to help you.
I feel different, Mamá. With everything that has happened to me this year, I feel like I’ve had to grow up very quickly. I mean, I know when I arrived I was already of age, but I still felt like a little girl. I needed so much help, and people had to do many things for me, I probably acted like a little girl too. I don’t feel completely grown up now, but I’m being made to do things I would have never dreamed I could do. The little girl inside me is still afraid of everything and would rather continue allowing people to do for me. But, the woman I want to be has to get over it and try.
I said earlier I want to make Harriett proud, but I want to make you proud too, Mamá. I know you said you are, and that makes me feel good. It also makes me continue to do things that would be worthy of your pride. That keeps me going when I want to give up and be a little girl. Thank you for all your love and support. It means more to me than you know. I love you!!