Look Who Came to the Party

Once upon a time, there was a girl.

The girl’s friend had a birthday party.  The friend invited the girl.

The girl checked yes on the RSVP.

She, the stricken girl who once never left the house, said, “Yes.  I’d love to come.”

At the party, people took pictures.

Someone took this one.

Look at this girl.

Well, look who came to the party: Happiness.

She looks like someone I used to know.

Her eyes sparkle.  There is joy.

I studied the picture, as if I were becoming reacquainted with an old friend.

The girl is still in there.

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When the Speaking Is Done

I love speaking and teaching.

It’s a gift God has given to me: he wrote me into a family of storytellers, entertainers, captivators of a room. And now, this next chapter of my career unfolds with one opportunity after another to take the stage, wear the mic, and tell a story.

There is a certain strength I can claim when I am speaking, and I have just enough to carry me to the finish line. Once it’s finished and I’ve said my last goodbye, I sink to the floor like a deflating helium balloon that’s seen its best a few days ago.

It drains out of me so quickly, it’s really laughable.

I had just finished an event, and my mom and I were heading back to the hotel. That car ride was all it took; I was as lifeless as a rag doll.

Nothing left. Zip. Nada.

Actually, my mom was in fairly the same condition. She pulled into the parking space, turned off the car, and we both stared straight ahead. Unblinking.

She looked down at my black, patent leather heels.

“Do your feet hurt?”

“Yes.”

She meant to say next, ‘Well, just get inside the hotel lobby and you can take your shoes off.’

Instead, her drained brain said, “Well, just get your shoes out of the parking lot.”

Ummmm. Hmm. We each looked at each other blankly, trying to find any meaning in those words.

As if in the morning I would wake up and think, “Where, oh where, are my shoes? Oh, that’s right. I left them in the parking lot.”

And that’s when the laughter hit us both. The exhausted laughter – there’s nothing like it.

And then I could barely make it into the hotel because I was doubled over in laughter, hobbling on throbbing feet, and nearly peeing my pants.

So, if I have the honor of speaking at an event you attend, and if perhaps you think, “Oh, there she is! There’s the girl I remember!” Please remind yourself: I’m walking in borrowed strength and clarity.

You should see me two hours later, when I’m a spineless invertebrate, a limp washcloth.

Or, just look for my shoes. They’re likely in the parking lot.

Optimal Distance

It’s like a cloud passing over the sun, and suddenly you’re out. You don’t know how you’ll answer the door when your groceries are delivered.

But you also find you’re stronger than you’ve ever been. You’re clear. Your mortality is at optimal distance, not up so close that it obscures everything else, but close enough to give you depth perception.

Previously, it has taken you weeks, months, or years to discover the meaning of an experience.

Now, it’s instantaneous.

– Melissa Bank,
The Girls’ Guide To Hunting and Fishing

9:17

Hi, honey.

It’s been a hard day.  A bad day.  The boys just… the boys.  I’m so tired tonight.

I just want to tell you about it.  But simply saying your name out loud has made my lungs feel smaller.  This is why I don’t talk to you.  Because I can’t breathe.

I can’t see your face.  When I close my eyes, I can only picture photographs of you.  I can remember pieces of you – your scruffy cheek, the line of your teeth, the honey brown of your eyes – but I can’t see the whole of your face.

I’m tired of missing you.  It’s been a long, long time. More than 500 days.  

Loneliness is hard to trust.

“Mommy, where is my blanket?” Tyler calls to me.  My eyes are so swollen, they’re nearly closed.  I don’t want to talk about my tears.  They know I cry.  They know why.  I just don’t want to talk.  I take him his blanket.  He doesn’t notice my swollen eyes.

“Thank you, Mommy.”

He’s five now, Love.  He uses words like nocturnal, extraordinary, interesting and actually.

I remembered to put a dollar under Tucker’s pillow – finally.  The tooth fairy forgot two nights in a row.  It’s hard to remember it all.  

I think you’ll be glad to know I’m paying a little extra on the principal of the mortgage each month.  I think that will really impress you.  I choose mortgage over cute shoes.  I hear you… “What?  This can’t be.  Who are you, and what have you done with my wife?!”

I finished my book proposal, babe.  They sent it off to some big names.  Maybe I’ll have a book on the shelves.  How can it be that I cannot read it to you?

There are tears in my wine glass.  Salty.

Tucker walks like you.  His stride is perfectly yours.  How did it happen this way?  Any of this?

A friend of yours stopped me at Starbucks.  He takes his kids to our pediatrician.  He’s thankful you introduced him to the clinic. He says you introduced him to a lot of things, people, thoughts. He misses you.

I miss you.

Your college roommate is coming out this summer.  He wants to meet the boys.  He wants to play catch with Tuck.  He says it’s only fair, since he made you toss a ball with him so often in college.

I don’t want to do this anymore.

How did it happen this way?

The weather comes on in 11 minutes.  9:17 always makes me think of you.

I would break every damn plate and picture in this house tonight.  Just to hear it crash.

But I’m just too tired.  I don’t want to do this anymore.

I love you.  I just wanted to tell you about today.  

Good night, honey.