The second and third pounds

I read yesterday morning that a friend of mine lost her 20 year old son. I don’t know how or when or why, and I never met Robert, but I can’t stop thinking about my friend. How I knew Lindy when she and I were twenty.

Lindy and I learned how to play a little guitar together freshmen year at Miami; we both had a crush on Dan Fogelberg. She brought home some ducklings and we all played with them (on the sly) on the first floor of McBride Hall. We hiked out the Pine Groves a time or two and I think we slept there overnight. She was a sorority sister for a couple semesters. Her little sis was my best pledge class buddy. Lindy was like me just enough to make us friends, and different enough to make me admire her. That’s always the best combination. Similarity with stretch.

And as I followed her on Facebook, she’s become a remarkable woman. A farmer – horses, alpacas, llamas. An incredibly skilled artist in at least two mediums, fiber and photographer. A teacher. A great mother, a great wife.

I have no idea how this must feel. I wish I knew what to do other than to send love.

A few years ago, I took an intro to Buddhism class at River’s Edge. We read and discussed the idea of our one precious life. How knowing death is eminent, no matter how many years away, makes us more acutely focused on living. The blessing of life came radiating through as an idea.

One of my best friends works in hospice and, because of the nature of her work, the blessing of life comes shooting through as reality every single day.

So, today, for Lindy and Robert, I want to give up the false notion that I have time. I have said, for years and years, when I move to the west, when I go on that cross country trip, when I get to Selma and walk the Edmund Pettus Bridge, when I save enough money, when I __________________. I could fill that blank with a hundred other phrases.

When the security of my job does not matter, I will speak to _________________. When I feel better, I will ___________________.

I have gotten better about wasting time over the years, having lost the kind of anger that makes no sense: the kind driven by gossip, by other people’s business, by the addition of a task or demand I did not anticipate. I will not waste energy or fuel disdain over such small inconveniences like I see so manner other doing. I’m trying to work from a stance of acceptance. I was never born to be a radical. My bravery – when activated – is small, slow and steady.

This notion about not wasting time does not mean that I’m about to get in my car and zoom down to Alabama to check something off my bucket list. It is snowy, very cold, and I am fairly sure that I will lay on the couch and cozy up in a good blanket to watch the end of the democratic debate. And, maybe, if the snow slows, I will do what I normally do: go to a movie, eat some popcorn and a big jug of diet coke.

But maybe I can realize the blessings in even these simple things. The fact that I live in a country where a woman, a socialist, a billionaire, a second generation immigrant can run for the most powerful position in the world. And I will be thankful for the “Life is good” blanket my brother gave me. And for my brother, who I will call because we do not speak together enough. And I will listen to music, music I love, including Dan Fogelberg. And I will think about Lindy, my eyes welling, and I will give thanks for this woman – who, while not a huge part of my life – surely formed who I am. And my tight little heart will break for hers which is now cracked wide open.

And if I go to that movie, I will look the clerk in the eyes and smile when I greet him – the one that looks like Ashton Kutcher, who is about twenty – and I will wish him a good day. What else do we have to give each other than kindness? What else can we do but to be gracious, drop by drop, in this short wondrous time we call our life?

I must give up nonchalance and be more alert, even the tiniest bit, trying to remember that this is temporary – all of it — and we are lucky just to be here.

Rest in peace, Robert. I love you, Lindy.

The first pound

On Monday, I gave Kellie ten dollars for the weight loss challenge, and another ten to Adrian to be part of a Powerball team. Tonight I might win a 30 million dollar split of the total amount with the other 31 people who donated. And, once again, and just as preposterous, I set out to lose the weight I have been carrying for years.

When one weighs as much as I do, she is not lugging around an extra hundred pounds because she like chips and cherry coke; I’m pulling these pounds around because there’s something I can’t let go of.

So, I’m going to try this a new way: writing about it pound by pound. With each step in the right direction, I’m going to shed something else I need to release.

When I was eight, about the age in this picture, I was invited to my first birthday party sleepover. Maybe I was nine. I don’t remember. I do vividly recall being terrified by the invitation. What would we do? What should I wear? What would they talk about? Lip gloss? Training bras? What if I needed to fall asleep before everyone else? I went to bed at eight, then, whether the sun was down or not.

And there was a deeper thing – this was the first time I was put into the context of being a girl with other girls. Doing school is doing school, and I was good at that. Same thing with softball. That was about being an athlete. And swimming too.

But being a girl, doing girl things all night, with other girls? How would I possibly manage that?

Well, I didn’t.

I feigned sick before the pajamas came on and the sleeping bags were rolled out on the basement floor. I asked to call my mother; she came right away to retrieve me.

Tonight, with this first pound, I want to give up the notion of what a girl is. What a woman is. I do not carry a purse. I do not spend hours on my hair and wardrobe. I refuse the make-over when I get my Aveda haircut. The highest heel in my closet is a half an inch high.

When I was in fourth grade, I swam hard, I wore Danskin matching outfits. I played softball until it was pitch dark, my ankles and neck swamped in shortstop dust. I listened to Stevie Wonder. I did not have any dolls. I loved “The Waltons” and wanted to John Boy’s best friend. I had a crush on Susan Dey. Loved the way she banged on the drums.

I did not know what a normal girl was, but I knew I was not one.

That feeling has stuck with me for years. In high school, with those Rockettes. In college, at those sorority parties. At church now, when everyone dresses to the nines, or standing next to my dear friends. This afternoon, it happened when I talked with Megan. And Lorene. It always comes creeping in.

Tonight, I give that up.

I look right into the eyes of that sweet girl, with her short short hair, her short short nails, her shaky confidence and say to her this: you were a girl, just as normal as anyone else, in the wide range of what being girl was. Is. What you loved is what you loved. The way you did things was the way you did things. How you felt was how you felt. You were a girl. A precious beautiful girl.

Those girls at the slumber party would have loved you had you stayed.

I know they forgive you now, reading this. And, better yet, accept you fully.

Don’t you?