“If your daily life seems of no account, don’t blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its treasures.” ~ Rilke
Thank you to my friend Katrina Kenison, on whose beautiful blog I first encountered this perfect sentence.
“If your daily life seems of no account, don’t blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its treasures.” ~ Rilke
Thank you to my friend Katrina Kenison, on whose beautiful blog I first encountered this perfect sentence.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve gotten carsick. Quickly and very. I may have mentioned the week-long safari Matt and I went on the summer after we met? By lunch on the first day I was throwing up behind the Jeep. I spent a week nauseous and vomiting all over Kenya. It was very romantic. I’m lucky he stuck around, frankly.
I very rarely get seasick, and I am always fine on airplanes and trains. But, oh, cars. My nausea is immediate and often powerful. I’ve been wondering what this carsickness is about, and what it can teach me.
Is it another manifestation of my need for control? Because if I am driving I’m fine. It’s true that I’m an irritating passenger, with opinions about how and where and when to drive (“that’s a lot of wiper,” said under my breath when I deem Matt as having too aggressively paced the windshield wipers for a drizzle, is one of the comments I’m roundly mocked for). So maybe it’s about not being in control, and that literally making me sick. I’m not sure, though.
Maybe it’s connected to how I have always disliked rollercoasters. The truth is that I have slowly been getting over my fear of rollercoasters, mostly because I’ve started riding them with Grace and Whit. Of course we’re talking about the rollercoasters at Story Lane, or other pretty tame rides. I’m still not comfortable on any kind of real rollercoaster.
A few years ago, when we were at Disney with the children, Matt goaded me into going on Rockin’ Roller Coaster with him at Hollywood Studios. I was so tired of being mocked that I agreed to try it. We got into the car, me fighting a wave of panic, and I asked why we had a harness over our shoulders. Oh, no reason, he said dismissively.
That ride was among the most terrifying few minutes of my life. As the ride came to a screeching finish, Matt looked at me and burst out laughing because, as he said between guffaws, I was literally green.
Perhaps, as I noted a couple of years ago, the swooping up-and-down movement along the tracks is simply too close to my own internal topography, which is already a kind of roller coaster. I climb to outrageous joy and plummet to tearful heartache every single day. Hell, I do that every hour. Just inside my own head and heart. Maybe it’s too overwhelming to also have my body do this.
Or maybe my propensity to get carsick is simply the universe pushing me to be still. The surest way to get sick, for me, is to distract myself. If I read, if I look at my iPhone, if I turn around and talk to the kids in the back seat, even if I engage too much with the radio: boom. But my only chance at not being nauseous is to sit still, look out the window, and pay attention to what’s outside.
I’m not sure what the root cause of my carsickness is. Maybe it’s just the way my inner ear is constructed. Or maybe it’s some mysterious amalgam of all of these factors, whose precise components can’t be discerned. I don’t know. But I do know that for now, I’ll turn off the music and look out the window and watch the horizon, and hope that that is good enough.
I have never been particularly maternal, I never babysat, and I never daydreamed of the day I would have my own children. I was as surprised as anyone, then, when I realized that motherhood was the love affair of my life, the subject that found me, the role that made everything else in my life make (at least some) sense. After Grace and I made it through months of colic (hers but also, I’m pretty sure, mine) and a dark year, we entered a period that I think of now as what Laura Ingalls Wilder called the happy golden years.
But lately, I am in a new season of motherhood. At first there were isolated events, rolled eyes and crossed arms, flares of aggravation I did not understand. These moments, each on their own as small as a speck of light in a wide night sky, came together into a constellation that was eventually impossible to ignore. Something is changing. Something is different.
For a long time I worried that my days with Grace at home would never end. I waded through her dark and sleepless first months for what felt like an eternity. Then, truthfully, I rejoiced that that time had ended. We dove into the happy hours of early childhood, celebrating all the things we could do together – swimming, tennis, reading, adventures. Grace (and her brother) was my favorite companion and I was hers. And now, suddenly, the end of something is undeniably in sight. It reminds me our annual summer trip to the White Mountains: we hike for what seems like forever in the trees and are always startled when, all at once, the summit comes into view.
Grace’s years at home with me are well over halfway done. The time of me being her favorite person, of my company always being her first choice, are surely almost completely over. I am so keenly aware of how numbered these days are that I can barely think of anything else. It is not an exaggeration to say that my every experience is filtered through the prism of time’s passage.
I have said goodbye to sippy cups and diapers and sleep schedules and baby food and cribs and high chairs and even, mostly, to carseats. I have welcomed yoga pants that I sometimes mistake for my own when I’m folding laundry, a riot of peace sign patterned sheets and towels, a closed bedroom door, and handwritten postcards home from sleep-away camp.
I don’t worry about SIDS anymore, or about whether I’m producing enough milk, or about putting a baby to bed slightly awake so she doesn’t get used to falling asleep in my arms. Instead I worry about Facebook, and friends who have cell phones, and when it’s ok to get her ears pierced, and the insidious approach of eating disorders and body image issues.
The predominant emotion of this time, as Grace embarks upon the vital transition from child to young adult and to an autonomous and independent sense of self, is wonder. Wonder upon wonder, so many layers I have lost count: there is awe, fear, and astonishment, and also an endless list of questions. I gaze at my daughter, coltishly tall, lean, all angles and long planes, and wonder where the last 10 years went. It is not hard to close my eyes and imagine that she is still the rotund baby or chubby toddler that she was just moments ago. At the same time I can see the young woman she is rapidly becoming in her mahogany eyes. And there are so many things I wonder about: separation, mood swings, puberty, boys, technology, school pressures, body image, and more.
I’m reminded now and then of the fears and concerns that flummoxed me when Grace was an infant. The world shifted more then, when I brought home a crying newborn, but this transition feels second only to that. Then as now, I’m guided by only two things: love and instinct.
Overnight we’ve gone from a world where a never-ending ribbon of days unfurled in front of us, so many they overwhelmed me, to one where every moment feels finite, numbered, and, as a result, almost unbearably precious. It feels like as soon as I figured out how to truly love being a mother with children at home, it’s almost over. More and more, I feel the tension between holding on and letting go. I want to help Grace find her footing in the uncertain terrain of adolescence, but I never expected it to be so bittersweet.
And all I know what to do as we move into this new season is to pay attention, to look and listen and write it down. Everything I write, everything I live, an elegy to what was and a love letter to what is.
This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.
“Let’s be in awe
which doesn’t mean
anything but the courage
to gape like fish at the surface
breaking around our mouths
as we meet the air.”
- Mark Nepo
For the most sensitive among us the noise can be too much.
- Jim Carrey, to Philip Seymour Hoffman
I have not been able to get Jim Carrey’s tweet on the occasion of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s sudden death out of my head. That line has been running through my thoughts pretty much constantly since Sunday.
No. I am no Philip Seymour Hoffman, that’s not what I am saying. And I am not saying I know anything about his private demons or struggles. But I do know what Jim Carrey’s talking about, and I’ve written about it before. The loneliness that is curled at the core of my human experience. The quiet, jagged seed of desolation and sorrow that is buried deep inside of me. The emptiness that I wrote to Grace about, warning her of the behaviors that so many people indulge in to fill the echoing void.
I’m convinced that this gnawing loneliness is a universal aspect of being human, but I’m equally certain that people are aware of it to varying degrees. And there are many ways that people try to distract themselves from feeling it, and some of these behaviors are more socially acceptable than others. Some of them are also riskier, as Seymour Hoffman’s story vividly demonstrates. It’s the socially acceptable avoidance tactics that have always been my personal favorites. This can, and does, lead into a trap: almost exactly two years ago I wrote about the dangerous complexity that is born when the ways you hide from your own life are applauded by the world.
I’m learning to stop avoiding my own life by focusing on external achievement, and beginning to let authentic goals replace brass rings. There is no question I’m making progress. But the thing is, as I get quieter and more in touch with the whisper of my own voice, somehow, the world gets noisier. Maybe that’s what happens, as paradoxical as it is: we shut out the noises, the coping techniques that blur the pain, and in so doing we expose ourselves to the real noise. Does that make sense?
The world’s noise has always affected me in a deep way. It’s not the first time I’ve noted it, and it won’t be the last: I’m extremely porous, and the world seeps through my membranes quickly, powerfully, and, often, overwhelmingly. In the simplest terms I like silence. I was a cross-country runner in high school: is there a sport more designed for someone who likes to be alone, likes to be outside, likes to admire the seasons as they ripple across nature? I don’t think so.
And yet the silence holds so much music. It’s the same way that I now see how the darkness is full of stars almost blinding in their brilliance.
As I turn towards quiet, tune into my own internal world (the hidden geode lined with glittering that Catherine Newman describes), I am by turns dazzled by the symphony of sounds and disoriented by their startling cacophony. You can’t have one without the other, I don’t think. This is a line that each of us walks alone and we all make choices about how to cope with how open and exposed to the world’s noise we naturally are. I am deeply saddened by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death. Since Sunday I’ve felt a bone-deep reminder that the world’s noise can be destabilizing and terrifying for some, and that we all need to find a way to manage our porosity to the world.
I am a big Kelly Corrigan fan. Her video, with its tag line we won’t come back here, brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it. I loved The Middle Place. I have forced many friends to listen to me read her essay about turning 40, and her sustaining female friendships, which makes me weep. One review I read of her work called her the “poet laureate of ordinary life.” We have the same birthday. I mean … I adore her.
All of this means that I dove into her new book, Glitter and Glue: A Memoir, enthusiastically. My interest in, curiosity about, and affection for the mother-daughter relationship is extremely well documented here. I was intrigued to read Kelly’s thoughts on her mother, who figures quite peripherally in The Middle Place.
The book’s title comes from something Kelly’s mother told her when she was a child: “Your father’s the glitter but I’m the glue.” That single line brought tears to my eyes because it reminded me of my own childhood: I’m the child of a glittering mother, who’s been seeking that same kind of dazzle in her friendships for many years. Myself? More glue, I think.
Kelly’s mother was and is formidable, her rules strict, her love tough, and her authority absolute. Glitter and Glue starts out with the assertion, so familiar to all daughters, that we only understand our mother’s influence – and brilliance, and love – once we are out of their shadow, and with time. Most of Glitter and Glue takes place in a family’s home in Australia, because it is there, shortly after her college graduation, that Kelly begins to see her own mother with clarity and affection. After taking off on a big adventure to see the world, Kelly and her friend run out of money. They need jobs, and the only ones they can find are as nannies. Kelly moves into the Tanner house to help shortly after their mother (and wife) has died. The Tanners are the central characters of the book: Martin and Milly, the children, Evan, the step-brother, Pop, the grandfather, and John the grieving father and recent widower.
During her five months with the Tanners, Kelly develops relationships with each member of the family. She also hears her mother’s voice all the time – as do we, the reader, in the form of italicized phrases. “God knows, every day I spend with the Tanners, I feel like I’m opening a tiny flap on one of those advent calendars we used to hang in the kitchen ever December 1, except of revealing Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus, it’s my mother,” Kelly reflects on the unexpected but undeniable way her mother is animate in this foreign house halfway around the world. Kelly had left home, certain that the grand experiences she sought could not be had at home, but her time with the Tanners teaches her that important, formative things can happen inside the mundane-looking reality of family life. Towards the end of her time in Australia she reflects that “…I was wrong, things definitely happen in a house – big, hard, beautiful things.”
There are two ways that Kelly’s time with the Tanners brings her mother to mind. More obviously, she is being the mother, as the only adult female in the family. But, less visibly but equally importantly, she is keenly aware of the contrast between Martin and Milly’s lack of a mother and her own strong one. In both these ways, Kelly’s mother looms large over the time at the Tanners’. Her voice guides Kelly as she takes on a maternal role for the first time. Simultaneously, as Kelly realizes how interwoven her mother is with her own identity, she keeps tripping over all the painful ways that this won’t be true for Milly and Martin.
It’s not until after I put her to bed that night that I can bring myself to think about my mother and the reams of things she did for me that could and should have softened me. What is it about a living mother that makes her so hard to see, to feel, to want, to love, to like? What a colossal waste that we can only fully appreciate certain riches – clean clothes, hot showers, good health, mothers – in their absence.
This blend of omniscence and invisibility defines Kelly’s dawning awareness of her mother’s importance. This observation is so accurate it made me almost uncomfortable: what did I take for granted about my mother – what do I still take for granted? It made me want to pick up the phone and call the mother I’m so privileged is still alive, well, and nearby, and say: thank you. At one point, Kelly chastises Milly with words that ring in her head, even as she says them, as “verbatim Mary Corrigan.” This, I imagine, is a fairly universal experience: hearing our own parents’ voices as we say things to our children that we recall (and probably disliked) hearing when we ourselves were small. For me, right now, the main one is “only boring people are bored.”
The narrative moves smoothly back and forth between describing Kelly’s life at the Tanners and recollections of her own childhood. The memories of growing up illuminate Kelly’s mother beautifully, and I had a powerful sense of her as a wise, smart, practical woman who did not budge after she made up her mind and cared more about doing the right thing by her family than she did about their liking her. As Kelly says goodbye to the Tanner family at the airport, she finds herself overcome with emotion. Her powerful reaction surprises her, and as she reflects on all the details about their lives she will remember, she also realizes part of its root: Martin and Milly taught her a lot about her own mother.
I’ll know it was the Tanner kids who pointed me back toward my own mother, hungry to understand her in a way I clearly didn’t yet. They put her voice in my head. They changed her from a prosaic given to something not everyone has…
One strand of the book that I found tremendously compelling was Kelly’s clear and incisive ability to understand her parents’ marriage, and the different – but equally crucial – roles each had played in the family. As she becomes a mother herself, Kelly begins to see the ways in which being the “glue” to her husband’s “glitter” were a choice, and not always an easy one. A new identification with her mother develops when Kelly has her own children: “I began the transition from my father’s breezy relationship with the world to my mother’s determined navigation of it.”
Glitter and Glue is told in Kelly’s inimitable, funny, wise voice, the one that is now familiar from her other work and which feels like I’m talking to a particularly well-spoken and hilarious friend. Over and over again I laughed and blinked away tears, often on the same page. On the last page of the book Kelly says, “I want to tell my mom that I admire her, the quiet hero of 168 Wooded Lane,” and the whole story comes into sharp, bright focus. This book is a love letter to her mother, just as The Middle Place was one to her father. Even though the child and adolescent Kelly couldn’t necessarily appreciate her mother in the moment (and isn’t this true for a great many of us?) , the middle-aged one can recognize the ways in which Mary Corrigan contained “the strongest currency [a child] would ever know: maternal love.”
It is such an immense honor to be profiled on Cynthia Newberry Martin’s blog, Catching Days. She runs a wonderful series, called How We Spend Our Days, which features a writer each month talking about, literally, what they do during the day. It is quite literally a dream come true to read Cynthia’s extraordinarily generous words introducing me.
And today my piece, about a typical January day, went live. I hope you will read not only this short essay, but also poke around Cynthia’s blog. Other writers in her series include Dani Shapiro, Pam Houston, Cheryl Strayed, Jane Smiley, and Anne Hood. Did I not mention: a dream come true?
Thank you so much, Cynthia, for this enormous honor.
Motherhood is is both enormous and tiny. It is made up of emotions so unwieldy that I can’t put them into words, and of moments so small I would miss them if I blinked (and I’ve surely missed millions). Sometimes the feelings are so giant I feel swollen with them, taut, tight, very much like I was in the last trimester of pregnancy. Sometimes the minutiae is so small that it seems impossible to hang any meaning onto it, and every time I am surprised when somehow, the hook actually holds.
For me, motherhood is more than one facet of the human experience.
It is the prism through which all of life is seen.
In my struggle to make sense of the moments of emotion so overwhelming I feel as though I’m jumping off a tall pier into the ocean, or ducking through the heavy downpour of a waterfall, I turn to the page. I read the words of others and I write and write and write, circling the same topics, over and over again. I cannot fit my arms around the enormity of it, no matter how I try. And as soon as I think I have, it expands, changes shape. Motherhood is a balloon expanding all the time and floating upward; I watch it above me, face tipped up, standing in the shadow it casts.
For the tiny, the minute, I don’t have to look any further than right here. The moments flutter like magnolia petals around my feet, stunning, short-lived, and quickly turning to brown mush. When I write about them I’m trying to memorialize them in their pink beauty, their spring perfume wafting off of them in waves. Motherhood is running into Michaels in a suit on the way to a meeting to grab a gingerbread house kit so that your daughter can make it that afternoon. It is sleeping on the top bunk on robot sheets because the resident of the bottom bunk was having a bad dream. It is muting your conference call to advise on a homework question about fractions. It is rushing home from visiting your mother in the hospital to have your daughter confront you about not spending enough time with her. It is losing track of time while writing your son a birthday letter and then hurrying to a meeting with red eyes and the sheepish look of someone who’s clearly been crying. It is missing your children with a visceral ache while they are at school and then, within five minutes of their reentry to the house, snapping at them to “keep it down!” with a surge of aggravation.
Big and small. Tiny and huge. Overwhelming and underwhelming. Tears and laughter. All of these tensions, some of them cliches, exist in every single day for me.
Some parts of this post were originally written four years ago.
At the end of this post, there are details on how to win a copy of Magical Journey!
I am republishing this review in honor of Magical Journey’s paperback release. Please leave a comment to be entered to win a free copy!
To say that I was excited to read Katrina Kenison’s new book, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment, is an almost ridiculous understatement. I read The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir a couple of years ago in one breathless gulp, astonished to have found someone whose writing so closely – albeit more beautifully and more eloquently – mirrored the contents of my own heart and spirit. Quickly, I read Katrina’s first book, Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry which moved me as well. And then, in a twist of events that reminded me of how benevolent this universe can be, I bumped into Katrina at a coffee shop less than a mile from my house. Although we had never met, we recognized each other immediately. After that, we began corresponding, and I am now privileged and honored to call Katrina a teacher, a mentor, and a friend.
Reading Katrina’s writing is a unique experience for me. It feels like a call and response chant with my own thoughts. In her trademark sensitive, lambent prose, Katrina touches on things, topics, and feelings that are among my most fiercely-believed, deeply-buried, and profoundly-felt. Many times as I read Magical Journey I gasped audibly, when I read lines from my very favorite poem or the description of a sentiment I know so well it feels like it beats in my own chest. Perhaps most of all, Katrina and I share the same preoccupation with impermanence; our spirits circle around a similar wound, which has to do with how quickly this life flies by, and with how irreplaceable these days are. Both The Gift of an Ordinary Day and Magical Journey are suffused with a bittersweet awareness of time’s passage that is keenly, almost uncomfortably familiar to me.
Magical Journey opens with enormous twin losses: Katrina’s sons have both left the house (her older son to college, and her younger son to boarding school) and soon thereafter one of her dearest friends dies after a multi-year battle with cancer. These two events form a cloud that stands between Katrina and the sun, and the book takes place in their shadow. Magical Journey is Katrina’s reckoning with life on the other side of these two farewells, and with entering the “afternoon of life,” when she is “aware as never before that our time here is finite.”
Though different, each of the losses that Katrina experiences are both irrevocable and life-altering. I related to both. I read about Katrina grieving the years when her children lived at home with tears running down my face. She describes the particular, poignant reality of life with small children at home and I weep, because while I am in those years, right now, I am already mourning them. No matter how I avert my gaze, I can’t stop staring at the bald truth that these days are numbered; I cry daily for the loss of the days I am still living.
At times my nostalgia for our family life as it used to be – for our own imperfect, cherished, irretrievable past – is nearly overwhelming. The life my husband and sons and I had together, cast now in the golden light of memory, seems unbearably precious.
I can’t read this paragraph without active sobs, because if I am aware of the preciousness of these days to the point of pain now, how will I possibly exist with their memory when they are gone? This question stymies me regularly, and brings me to my knees with its resolute, stubborn immovability. Luckily for me, Katrina provides a guide, lights a lamp, and has she has for several years now, shows me that there is a path forward.
Katrina’s other seminal experience, that of walking with her friend Marie through cancer and, to death, is familiar to me because my mother did the very same thing with her best friend, my “second mother,” who died at 49 of cancer. Katrina shares with Marie the intense intimacy of late-stage cancer and death. “Staying – in mind and body and spirit – was in itself a kind of journey, and traveling quietly at her side to death’s door was, apart from giving birth, the single most important thing I have ever done.” Katrina’s description of the last weeks and days of Marie’s life evokes the immense power in simply staying. This theme, of the vital importance of abiding with our friends, our emotions, our lives, recurs later in the book, when after a month at Kripalu, Katrina observes that “going away, even for a short time, taught me something about it means to stay.”
Marie dies only a few weeks after Katrina’s second son leaves home. Though she returns to her own home and her own life, Katrina finds both changed and foreign. She is reminded that “no matter how much effort I pour into trying to reshape reality, I am not really in control of much at all.” Thus commences a dark season for Katrina, months of finding her balance in a world that looks the same as always but that is in fact utterly changed. Her empty house swarms with memories, she watches dusk fall early over the mountains outside of her kitchen window, and she finds herself turning more and more to her long-time yoga practice.
I have to surrender all over again to the truth that being alive means letting go. I have to trust that being right where I am really is some kind of progress, and that there is a reason I’ve been called to visit this lonely darkness.
It is literally fall and winter when Katrina enters this phase of change, of letting go, all over again. She decides to participate in a month-long teacher training program at Kripalu, and finds herself profoundly moved by the experience. Katrina is drawn to Kripalu by some power that she cannot name, some force that has directed all of her perambulations since Marie’s death and her son’s departure. Of this time she writes, “…I have been lonely and adrift, as if some current is tugging me down, pulling me beneath the surface of my life to go in search of something I have no words for.” At Kripalu Katrina does indeed go beneath the surface: of her life, of the lives of her roommates, of her own expectations, of all that has been known. And she emerges feeling “as if I’ve put on a pair of 3-D glasses and the whole world, instead of being out at arm’s length, is right in my face: intense, complex, exquisitely beautiful.”
Katrina begins to reimmerse herself in her “ordinary life,” one whose shimmering beauty she now appreciates more fully. She revisits her undergraduate alma mater and has an encounter with a shop owner that reminds her of how the past continues to echo into the present. Even when those vibrations are not consciously felt, they are there. Katrina reconnects with college classmates and sees their connections in new ways; she and a roomful of her exact contemporaries end up in a deep, honest conversation about what it is to face this next season of life. In keeping with Magical Journey‘s theme that letting go of what we thought allows us to touch what is, Katrina notes how differently she measures her life now than the 21 year old starry-eyed college graduate thought she might:
How could I have known that the freedom that seemed so desirable and elusive in my twenties would come not from escaping myself, but from finally accepting myself? Or that liberation – that world we threw about so earnestly as undergraduates – would turn out not to be about grabbing the brass ring, nailing the dream job, or getting the life I always wanted, but rather about fully experiencing the startling beauty, the pain, the wonder and surprise of the great, winding journey itself?
My copy of Magical Journey is full of underlined passages, stars and exclamation marks in the margins, and indentations where tears fell, dark on the page, and dried. I have always loved Katrina’s writing, found wisdom that makes me gasp and expressions of things I’ve long felt and held dear, and this book is no different. Magical Journey is composed of gorgeous sentences and full of images I will never forget.
Magical Journey is a powerfully hopeful book, one that starts in a morass of loss and winds up, with a palpable sense of both peace and freedom, in a cabin in Maine. Katrina’s journey – which is indeed a magical one – is internal, quiet, invisible to the eye. She is grappling with nothing less than her own mortality. Mortality – and its irrefutable handmaiden, impermanence – is the heartbeat of this book, running through every line, limning the entire volume with the piercing, and temporary, beauty of this human life. The conclusion of the book’s titular journey is that there isn’t one. Life, and particularly the second half of it, is about learning to embrace paradox, to release expectations, and to look carefully around so that we don’t miss a minute.
Perhaps the central work of aging has to do with starting to realize that each of us must learn how to die, that falling apart happens continually, and that our own experience of being alive is never simply either/or, never black or white, good or bad, but both – both and more. Not life or death, but life and death, darkness and light, empty and full. Two currents sometimes running side by side, yet often as not entwining into one, our feelings and emotions not separate and discrete but instead streaming together into a flow that contains everything together and in constant flux – all our love and loss, all our happiness and heartache, all our hope and our hopelessness as well.
I wish I could convey how powerful and beautiful this book is. Unfortunately I don’t have the words. I hope you will read it and see for yourself. Happily, Katrina has offered a signed book to a reader of this blog. Please comment and I will pick a winner on Thursday evening.