Everyone says how little I have changed, I know I am 3 times older, and almost twice as large. ( A bit thrilled to see that with all my “OMG, I haven’t had this in 40 years” eating I am actually down another 3 pounds, actually thought I would have gained 10.) I hope I am wiser, kinder and more careful of others feelings and more appreciative of their existence.
I found that writing on the train was more spoons than I had in a day. (New readers, spoons are a measure of energy, just trust me, or google “chronic illness, spoons”) The travel and view was well worth all the drain though and I only fell once and luckily it was into another passengers lap. I was on the way to the bathroom when the train picked up speed. Embarassing, though that silver haired and silver tongued cowboy offerred to let me stay for awhile, I am sure he was more injured than I. He was in the other accessible seat, cane and brace, “thrown from a horse when m’ boys said I was too old to be doing that so now I ride trains to make em worry.” He was Albuquerque to the last New Mexico stop,
I met many, many wonderful people on the trip, but that is what made writing difficult. I love people, but they are a constant small leak in my energy and there is no quiet place in accessible coach seating. So I chose to use my communication spoons to elicit stories and share laughter and updated with a few pics on FB. My goal later today is learning how to connect my media to WordPress so my Blog followers can see with my cameras eye as my tongue becomes less and less an effective brush.
Now I am here. I drink coffee on a deck that overlooks the Mystic river. I wear fuzzy slippers and my Sarah (a Lularoe sweater style). I watch the leaves change shade. Each morning another tree has accepted the inevitable approach of winter. The squirrels tease the two jack russells and the crows scold us all. I have begun reconnecting with those to whom I truly owe the debt of my life, wishing to acknowledge, to somehow repay a debt they never even knew I owed.
I was frequently suicidal as a teen. Fully planned and prepped, but even then I had a 24 hour rule. Perhaps because of the part of me that has always believed in magic, perhaps the deep desire to cause no one else pain; when I would become convinced that all the world would be better for my absence, I would make my plan and set myself a 24 hour waiting period. Death was already real and permanent to me, a regular part of the family and libraries were my internet, so how knew how and where to cut and that I would be off in my woods even then seeing a possibility of then being of use to the crow and coyote. I would make my plan, write the entry in my diary to say goodbye, set a circle and talk to the earth, fire, sky and ocean, truly not knowing how deep a call through history that might be, tell me I would ask if this is the right choice.
In eighth grade Carla answered that question with a pair of jeans, The day before some of my classmates had given me a gaily wrapped present of dog shit and mouthwash, inside the jolly Santa Card were the time honored classic of “Die you ugly piece of shit.” Well to a seriously depressed teen-ager that was more of a directive than an insult. I set my circle that afternoon, out where Zack and I would go to do our best thinking and talking. Mind you he had long since crossed the rainbow bridge but when I was there in that circle, I could feel his fur beneath my hand, his tongue clearing the tears from my cheek.
That morning the razor blades were neatly taped down onto one of my text books under the paper bag cover and I had told my parents I was going to be helping someone for whom I often babysat. The stage was set. A girl in my class, one of the cool girls in fact, blonde beautiful and smart brought me another present. I was honestly afraid to open it. Afraid to be again surrounded by the laughter of my home room and consumed by the shame of thinking that I had actually recieved a gift. Charlie Brown and I had a lot in common when it came to Christmas, Valentines Day and Birthdays.
Inside was THE pants everyone cool was wearing, from D&L, a store I didn’t even consider stepping into let alone shop new. Brushed cordoroy hip huggers with wide, wide bells. They were simply the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I immediately put them on, and I wore that kindness in one way or another for the rest of my life.
I am glad she was there that day, unaware of how big a difference her not so small act of kindness would make. I think of all the ripples of that one pebble tossed – my children, my patients, my foster children, my helping others go home. Of the ripples I know her generosity has reached as far as Africa, Vietnam and Guatamala. These are just the obvious, but we can never know how far our influence for good reaches.
And other lives aside, I am grateful to her, I would have missed so much awesome. Perhaps that is the big thing that has changed in me. That emptiness inside has long ago let me go, and today even the chair hears me.
Carla moved in high school, so I did not think I would ever get to see her again, one more circle I could never close.
Then I was at my high school reuinion, feeling a bit of that outsider at 17 I was at graduation, and there was that face. 45 years ago that heart and smile had heard my cry of “I Am” when no one else was listening. I looked at her face, blurted out no hello just her name and “I think you are the girl who gave me the pants in eighth grade.” I watched her as she reached for the memory and all evening I felt that same compassionate heart. Frequently she saw me in the crowd and came over and hugged me, I often retold the story of her unexpected RAK, sanitized of my drama.
I watched her exuberance and joy throughout the night. She was the first to invite me and my walker up to the dance floor. And it was her husband that drove me back to the Parker Palace that night, not an uber.
I am thrilled to say that thanks to Carla I have had the opportunity to change much in the four decades between our hellos and goodbyes. But I am equally gratified to see that in all the important ways, Carla has not changed a bit.