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A Love Letter for When You Feel Old & Worn Out

emptybenchYour voice sounded withered today, like a vine that’s gone too long without the sun; no longer offering fruit but reaching outward, for something solid to cling to and wrap yourself around in order not to break.

Clinging is such an ugly word though, and people our age know better than to cling. Yet, holding is another skill, and that’s one we all seem to be trying to master now. Holding onto: the people, places and memories that give our ego definition. But people come and go and places change. Even memory needs some reminding now and then.

If I could tell you anything now, I would read to you some words I wrote two, three, maybe four or five years ago. I forget exactly when it was that you came flooding back into my memory.  I was so sure then that I would never see you or talk to you again and at that time, I was afraid no one would remember me when I was young and so carefree.

But here we are over a decade later talking about how life is relentless, you battling traffic to a meeting, and I waiting, thousands and thousands of miles away for an appointment with a tax accountant.

Where are those two people who laughed when old couples remarked to us how good we looked together, and asked how many children we had? I remember answering them and laughing, “We have four children.” How very ironic that seems now.

If I could sit next to you again on the sunset bank of a spring river, there would not be tears.  I would want you to know how my memory has kept your boyish smile and jeans-with-no-underwear-first-thing-in-the-morning routine pristine, so I could come back to you over and over again. Sometimes in the blue light of dawn, and sometimes during that lonely hour between afternoon and sunset. There were times that your letters and photographs fell out of their hiding places and suddenly I was staring at your smiling face, and reading your letters.

After all of these years and the wear and tear of living, I would tell you that you were the last man I loved enough to really break my heart. You and I both know now what it’s like to grow more tolerant of loss, grief and the way lives become woven together, fall apart, make way for growth and maybe find each other again or forget completely.

I was so certain when I saw you last, that I would never see you again. Certainty is a fickle thing though. One minute it exists and the next it has vanished, never to land in our consciousness the same way ever again. Now I know that if I were to see you again, I would carry with me that visceral knowledge that  it may be the last time, whether by choice or chance.

Life’s magic rests in the not-knowing, the uncertainty and the ability to really live with all of our senses, in the moment and from the heart.

Words may not convey everything the way a slow, sensual all-the-time-in-the-world kiss that leads to a dreamy weekend of love-making and laughter might do, but for now, these words will have to suffice.

All those years ago you were my best friend and lover. Your laughter, conversation and the way your body moved in the night delighted every part of me. I want you to know this one thing; no matter how much life wears us down or how old we feel, you will always be that handsome, once-in-a-lifetime man to me, and I am grateful for the memory.

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Gym Class Flashback

gymclassThere are few things I can recall being worse at than anything to do with High School gym class. I mean, the shorts alone were enough to make me weep, not to mention the knee-socks.

To say I’m not athletic is to say that Harper Lee is a mediocre writer. In other words, I sucked at gym. Other than basketball, and hitting a baseball, I dreaded that class more than anything, and was so thankful that the high-school-credit-gods decided that one was enough.

During gymnastics class I once did a vault and actually knocked my spotter unconscious with my right thigh. The same girl was victim to a line drive when she was pitching to me, which once again rendered her without response. When she offered to stand up in my wedding, I should have known the marriage was doomed.

Tonight, after a two-week hiatus, I took my chubby little buns off to the gym right after work and hit the cardio class. I hate this class. There is no joyful flailing of flab like Zumba or Urban Rhythms. It’s all very practical and ham-string agonizing.

My first clue that something was up should have been the lack of participants in the room. You see, this gym is busy enough that you have to be banded to attend class. It should have been full, but it wasn’t, and then I saw her. A woman who surely was the doppelganger of my High School gym teacher. The one that generations of students and their parents had nicknamed, “Spade-Face”.

Spade-Face inspired fear in the hearts of all girls with breasts. She was like a drill sergeant in purple and gold (our proud school colours) sweats, whistle and baritone bark included. Just looking at her made me pee my pants a little bit.

So, tonight in my mind, it was “Spade-Face” whom I was at the mercy of, with my middle-aged porcelain white thighs and tailored to fit sports bra.  It was a terrible class. She lost count, screwed up, and had the personality of a torn  gusset from a totally used up pair of panties.

But I made it through, without too much gasping or excessive sweating. I actually felt good when I walked out of that studio.

Spandex – the great fashion equalizer. I may wear a suit all day, and provide ‘expertise’, but when we get to the gym, it’s just my glutes and yours darling, and yours win hands-down.

As it turns out, I really wasn’t that bad when it came to athletics. Nope, like most young ladies who were abused, I just had incredibly low self-esteem, and would rather have worn a moo-moo over my svelte 16-year-old body than have anyone see skin.

Years passed, and I shed the skin of victimhood, to find out that I wasn’t such an athletic anomaly as I thought I was. I loved going to the gym, played squash, and even started running when I was in my mid-thirties. I even have a ‘sports’ injury incurred from competitive paddling. Go figure.

So, with this in mind, I have set some new goals for myself after a bit of a lazy go at living. Wish me luck, and I wish you luck too. This getting older may be harder on the ego and bones, but it does wonders for the spirit when we put it all into perspective.

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Memory: The Greatest Storyteller of Our Time

intotheabyss‘Boobs’. That’s all it said. A text message I received today after a  lingering champagne hazed session of reacquainting myself with a long, lost lover and friend.

What made it so funny was that it came from a number I don’t recognize, likely someone I have known quite well, but deleted from my digital Rolodex of potential back-ups.  One of my BFF’s refers to me  as McBoobs, but it wasn’t her. ‘Boobs’. Somewhere out there, someone’s memory brought a story about my assets back to the front line of their mind, and prompted the ridiculous text.

Memory is a funny thing. It’s sly and agile, hiding itself for so long you forget that it’s there, and then suddenly, it floods your mind, heart and soul like a spring rainstorm, leaving turned earth, and a rainbow somewhere, if you remember to look for it.

storm and rainbowDrifting off to sleep after a conversation and a few tipples with a kindred spirit, my memory reminded me how wise some people can be. Stonewalling is my preferred method of detachment and emotional salve after the crumbling wall around my school-girl heart takes a hit. “You’ve been through a lot of hurt in your younger days just like me. It’s natural.” He gets it, I thought, as I drifted off to sleep. Somebody sees it.

Seeing each other; witnessing the life of friends brings meaning to life. Years pass and friendships either fade or strengthen, and the beauty of lasting friendships is that you know someone out there in the big ole’ nasty world of non-stop striving really sees who you are. They know you.

There’s something about someone having stood by while your soul was formed and hardened in the fire of life. When you forget who you are, these are the people who tell your story back to you, and so it is – this is memory – retelling who we are and how we arrived at this place. Right here. Right now, as we are, fully human and  divinely flawed.

Not often do I go back so far in my memory to recall some of the hardest times of my life. That means I’ve forgotten a lot of experiences that were part of reinventing myself as a young adult. Recently I’ve been drawn back to a time I had managed to all-but forget. A memory or two has been salvaged and laid at my doorstep by someone whom I was sure had forgotten me. It was my choice to pick it up and examine it, or kick it aside until it eventually grew over as part of a wild, tangled landscape. I’m curious by nature, so I couldn’t leave a gift like that unopened.

It’s a blessing and a curse this easy forgetting. I do this when things go wrong with people I love. Hurt turns quickly to anger and then I toss it away like a pebble to the bottom of a deep, cold lake that is incapable of giving up her dead.  Something gone forever unless someone else makes the effort to salvage it and lay it as a gift at your feet.

Storytelling is a great gift given to friends and lovers when they’ve forgotten how fabulous they are. It’s a little spark of madness in the melancholic night of adulthood, and a hit of adrenaline to whet your appetite for living.