I’m not that girl from the Beach Body DVDs…

“I can’t,” I say, loud enough for him to hear but hoping the girls won’t.

“I can’t do it.”

“You can,” he says, equally quiet.  “Just try it.”

I shake my head, taking in the sight of the other girls, their tight abs, their perfectly round backsides.  Their shapely legs pull in unison against the ropes, their bodies bent in two like the legs of a shiny metal compass completing measurements.  I’m flanked by them- out, in, out, in.  Their tight bodies strain against the effort but the girls still manage to look like they’re filming a Beach Body DVD.

That would make me the –you can do it too person sweating in the background while the pros glisten and glow up front near the instructor.  The sweat from my effort on the treadmill ten minutes ago is still evaporating from my skin and surrounded by these girls who can, I find myself choking on the humiliations of the past.

I see grade school me, shoulders slumped in defeat, eyes cast down and boring holes into my white Reeboks as I toe the blue tape of the shiny gym floor.   I’m overwhelmed by a sense of ineptitude, of invisibility.  I listen despondently as names are yelled enthusiastically from the team captains standing before me.  Will they remember my name this time or will I be the last one called, my name then becoming irrelevant?

Then, as expected, the voices calling the names take on another tone. They deign to divvy up the lesser of the less.  I can hear them roll their eyes and sympathize with each other on having to take that girl who plays violin and doesn’t play sports.

I try to lift my body in a similar fashion but land on my hands and knees.  I feel as though the Beach Body girls are judging me from the corner of their eyes, already deciding to pick me last.

Before the grade school me becomes paralyzed on the gym floor I pick myself up and leave.  I feel bad for the kids facing team captains all over the world but I’m not trapped in those situations anymore.  My worth isn’t based on the number of people I can hit with a dodge ball.  So I go, marveling that wounds from the past could still hurt in new ways.

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Afraid to Live…

I lean back in the passenger side of the car as the traffic lights flash through the windshield.  We’re  almost home.  The time glows digital green from the dashboard of the car.  We’ll make it back just in time to watch our new must-see Sunday night show, “Believe.”

I want to say something a loud to J but I hesitate.  If I say it, that implied meaning it.  Did I mean it or was I compelled because I always felt inspired when I left Mosaic?  Well, mostly inspired, sometimes discouraged by the comparisons I drew between the lives I heard about and my own.

“I feel like I’m trying to preserve my life” I say a loud, like I mean it.  “What am I saving myself for? ”

If I were a pre-recorded message my themes would consist of these phrases:

“Be. SAFE.”

“That. Is. Full. Of. Germs.”

“That. Could. Kill. You.”

“Do. Ing. That. Is. Sue.I.Cide.”

I am apparently saving myself for some great cause and it’s a necessity for me to be without a physical or emotional scratch when the cause reveals itself.

When I ask my questions a loud, I realize that I’ve been aware of the cause most of my life.  I may not have always been old enough, independent enough, or resourceful enough…but those are not excuses I can lean on now.

I connect the dots that have led to it- my cause; my birth in a foreign land, my adoption into a forever family, what I’ve seen as random skill sets accumulated over a decade of careers that just didn’t stick and the people who did.

As we pull up to our house and bring the car to a stop, my cause light goes from yellow to green.

I’ve been afraid to live.  Afraid to get hurt, get dirty, or be unable to find myself home again, safe and sound.

I’d still like to avoid getting hurt and getting dirty but not at the cost of losing my life because I focused so hard on saving it.

 

 

 

On the Verge…

I feel my heart jumping around inside my chest, pushing against its bony restraints in erratic, desperate throbs.

I must have forgotten to breathe.

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It’s like I’m standing on the beach with the very tips of my toes kissing the edge of the icy, early morning waves.

All I can manage are goosebumps and shallow breathing.

I’m grounded for now but with each lick, lick, lick, my balance shifts. I get sucked further in.

My ears are overwhelmed by the sound of the waves- a car driving 90 miles-per-hour through a never ending traffic tunnel.

I’m on the verge of some great experience and all I can form are common, ineffective words.

What is going on?   I mutter.  Holy shit! HOLY SHIT!

This doesn’t even sound like me. My heart’s irregular beating is producing word vomit.

The sand beneath my feet finally succumbs to the convincing pull of the water; submerged.

If I look down at the sand as the water pushes beneath me, I move backward- my feet lurching and settling into the sand while everything around me glides forward with relative ease.

As I begin to breathe, I know I must regain my footing or be lost in the fog that settles around the ocean when the night comes.

An Ode to Books and Writing…

An Ode to Books and Writing...

“Because for some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave…They are full of all the things that you don’t get in real life– wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. And quality attention: we may notice amazing details during the course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and really pay attention.”

Anne Lamott in her book, Bird by Bird.

A Girl’s Best Friend…

A Girl's Best Friend...

I can still feel the soft, feathery tickle of her ears against my face and the way her little paws felt dwarfed by my suddenly over-sized hand.

Jane was hit by a car almost two years ago which means she’s been dead, longer than she’s been alive and I’ve lived without her more years than I’ve actually had her in my life.

But that doesn’t change things.

Until Jane bounded into my life I silently snickered at people who considered their pets a “part of the family.” Sure they were cute, but “family”? These people most certainly lacked significant relationships with others.

And then Jane needed a home.

I fed her salmon from a can to reduce her allergies, invented toys to keep her occupied and got immeasurable pleasure from knowing she loved digging up sand on the beach.

She taught me to say “hello” to neighbors as we passed each other on the sidewalk. She urged me to live my life at home, even though my husband was living halfway around the world without me.

I became one of those people who read Cesar Millan and when Jane died, someone who knew without a doubt that all dogs go to heaven.

I’ll never forget the way she lay lifeless on the grass beside the road or the look of the brake-lights that didn’t flash red, even for a moment.

But I’ll also never forget the shape of the car that did stop and the neighbors who came running to offer their aid and their dismay.

Show me someone who truly loves their dog and I’ll introduce you to someone who knows what it means to be a good friend, spouse and adventurer through life.

Make-up with Mom

Make-up with Mom

My parents are visiting me from Minnesota this week! I don’t think I’ll ever feel too old to play dress-up with mom!

“What do you think, honey?”

The question is music to my ears.  She’s trying on the “newest” lip color from MAC.  Posh Tone promises to make her lips look expensive and pouty.  It’s a pretty color on her and I tell her she should definitely get it.  The MAC girl is fluttering protectively over mom’s face and the tittering wanes a bit as she realizes I’m not one of those girls- I don’t have to be the one making all the suggestions.

It’s fun and gratifying when mom wants my opinion or compliments.  Sure it might be on superficial things like lipstick or throw pillows but the underlying message to me, is much deeper.  I want us to connect, I want you to like what I’m doing or saying. What you think little girl, matters to me.

It feels like just yesterday that all that mattered was playing dress-up and getting her to laugh or smile in delight at something I’d said or done.  No matter how much I want my internal voices to matter more, there’s a weight to what she says that is denser than what my own instincts dictate.  That doesn’t mean I always agree or that my voices lay immovable beneath hers but it doesn’t stop me from wishing unreasonably that our thought processes could work togehter like synchronized swimmers in the Olympics