Oh boy, was I ever in trouble. Before the haircuts there was (perhaps) something to be grateful for. There is a mix of feelings that I probably couldn’t have faced without bitterness a mere six months ago when I read this. But now I read it and feel as though I am reading the diary of a younger sister. My feelings are rich and colorful for her – pride in her eloquence, sorrow for her innocence that would inevitably be lost, and protectiveness for her heart. How adult she sounds, thinking of her 15 year-old self! How readily she embraced hope! How amazing was her confidence! How naked was her writing! This is the woman I was when I could use my hair as a scarf around my neck and it hung to just above the top of my jeans.
This is the flashback that pains me most.
I didn’t realize how much I worry until this moment. This single instant. I didn’t realize how much time and how much of me I have wasted on inward chewing until this second. It’s been a gradual process, this realization, but I HAVE ARRIVED!
These past few months I have been taking stock of my time. How much time do I have left in this job? How best can I enjoy the time with you before the distance starts? How much time will it take for the architect to draw plans? How much time will be left with my teenager after she turns 18? How little time I have in the evening to de-stress… how little time in the morning to be ready… how little time I have to spend with the people who matter most…
My baby cousin called today on the first Sunday I have had to myself in what feels like years. I had opened one eye, walked the dogs and come back to bed until her afternoon call. “May I stay with you tonight and you take me to school tomorrow?”
She is one of the loved ones much neglected in my time-budget to date. So, with no other plans but to catch more snooze hours, I said yes. She’s a darling, a giclee of my 15 year-old self, an eerie but delightful echo of my voice.
My awareness of my time-failings has grown every day thanks to you. You made me conscious of my worry, my intense focus on future problems and my failure to appreciate today. It’s a form of ungratefulness, you taught me. It is also a form of doubt. We worked several years ago to be here where we are now so how dare we scorn our previous efforts and not enjoy what we have been blessed with and worked hard for? Why waste it with singleminded focus on a future moment that we might not even stop to enjoy as we fail to stop and enjoy here and now?
And so I tried, channeling some of that intensity to the now, focusing on getting today right. At first it was difficult, seemingly meaningless, but you were patient and persistent. And little by little I saw pieces of me that I had sliced off to better focus. They came back to life, sprouting like new leaves on a fall Poinciana.
I remembered the joy of exercise: one evening after you and I fought and parted in anger I hit the road and remembered. I sweat and I turned red, I beat furiously at the pavement, each step opening my heaving lungs again and reminding me.
I remembered the joys of sport: focus on something completely unrelated to the future. So I drove to the other side of town to watch you play football every Saturday of the season in boiling sun and driving rain. Mrs. No. 16 remembered herself and screamed first at your quarterback and then beside you in the games to follow for the day. You reintroduced my competitive spirit to myself sitting against my knees on playoff weekend and cussin’ the ref’s terrible calls.
I remembered the freedom of a Friday night out without fear for my safety.
I was reminded about the exhilaration of a good fight over a table of dominos (obnoxious as you could be).
You introduced me to hitherto scorned and now highly developed taste for Irish cider.
You gave me someone to cook for after years of single and functional 5 minute meals, shaking off the rust and remembering the joy I used to find in creating something scrumptious and new.
And then you had to go away and leave me in my day to day. It had to be done. But part of the devastation of parting at the airport, apart from my love for you, was the fear that the parts coming alive would go right back to sleep. My joy was leaving, or so I thought.
This is my first full weekend on my own and I have realized in this one instant that that isn’t it at all. My cousin turned on my computer and went in search of music. Digging in folders I haven’t seen in months. She put on an old favourite I haven’t seen in even longer, a KT Tunstall song – Little Favours – and colour just BURST into my brain! It was like the skittles rainbow!
And there I was feeling like ME again – the Pieces matching up to make a whole puzzle – with hairbrush in hand and head bobbing in a half-crazed beat with the rhythm guitar sliding around on the kitchen floor like the pro Michael Jackson WISHES he was.
A vision of the me before the worries and the day I first bought the CD…
…a discovery of who I was again, a person full of colour and life and love and verve and ‘ganas’…
A woman who loves her music and loves to dance, loves red wine and silver, loves to paint, to dream, to fight, to work, to sweat.