Thursday, September 29, 2011

on my best day

I woke suddenly last night thinking of an old friend. As I lay there, I realized I have known her, quite literally, as long as I can remember and memories flooded my mind: playing Barbies at her house when we were very young, playing games and going to dances with her and a large group of friends, long talks about boys.

I remember working as partners in French class, watching as she defended her beliefs (and mine) in an Advanced English Lit class to a wonderful but obstinate teacher who doubled as a debate coach.

I remember sharing a business class to which she once came in late (beaming) with the only excuse the teacher said he would ever accept - she had been hit by an STA bus (luckily she was in her car), and a wild and week-long scavenger hunt resulting, ultimately, in invitations from our dates to the junior prom.

I have memories of accompanying her as she sang at so many events, always with a beautiful voice and a smile. And I have memories of her in college. Although we didn't see each other as much, when we did, it felt like nothing had changed.

The semester my brother Mark died, I ran into her on campus. She asked how things were going and reluctantly I told her my woes. Based on other friends' reactions, I wasn't sure what to expect. College kids are not adept at responding appropriately to tragic situations. But Anna was different. I remember her response, because it mirrored my own emotions. She empathized perfectly and made me feel like my grief was okay.

Among all these thoughts, there was one thing I couldn't remember. I couldn't think of an instance when Anna spoke an unkind word, or was caught up in some silly social drama. I couldn't think when she had ever lacked faith, or complained about anything she was expected to do. I couldn't think of a single time when Anna had been anything less than a perfect example.

For several years after college, Anna and I were out of touch. An occasional Christmas card let us know what was going on, but it wasn't until last year that I was able to keep up more with her life. Not surprising, in the face of her very real challenges, which surpass some of my darkest dreads, it is clear Anna has not changed.

She is amazingly patient and positive, steadfast and stalwart where others would simply give up.

If I, on my best day, could be what Anna is on her worst, I will have made great strides.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

a miracle if it did

Last week we took the kids to Lagoon. Since Max had never been on the Ferris Wheel before, it was one of our first rides. Being more than a little uncoordinated and thus extremely cautious, Max has never been a great lover of heights. The first time we made it up to the top, he expressed some concern about falling down.

I assured him, through a clever combination of probability and science, that falling down was so unlikely to happen, it would be a miracle if it did. Abby agreed. Max still looked concerned, but conceded that I made sense. Dave, (only half listening?) suddenly burst into song: "I believe in miracles...."

I'm not really sure where he was going with that, but it was enough to make us all laugh. Max forgot his fears and here we are a whole week later, laughing about it still.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

a new kind of girl

Back in the 70's, when I was a kid, men blatantly ruled the world. I guess it was somewhere in that decade that the first real wave of feminism hit, but I lived in Spokane, Washington. We were pretty sheltered from the world.

Although I personally was a tomboy, most of the girls I hung out with at recess were not, so I remember doing a lot of girlie-type things, all involving rhymes and chants, and most reinforcing gender stereo-types.

Like those clapping games:

Say, say oh play mate, come out and play with me,
And bring your dollies three, climb up my apple tree,
Slide down my rain barrel, into my cellar door,
And we'll be best of friends,
Forever more, more, more, more, more, more.

And jumping rope:

Cinderella, dressed in yella,
Went upstairs to kiss a fella,
Made a mistake and kissed a snake,
How many doctors did it take?

One, two, three, four....

And cheering:

Boys got the muscles,
Teachers got the brains,
Girls got the sexy legs,
We win the game!

I now know that girls don't have to do girlie things. The fact that I enjoyed hot-wheels and legos and horses more than dolls didn't make me any less of a girl. I know this now. But looking back, it's entirely possible I didn't really, truly know this until I was in college. It's possible I always thought of myself as a little less than perfect because I wasn't the girlie-girl type.

Which is why it made me smile to see two sweet little girls out at recess the other day, in skirts and ruffles and bows, practicing the girlie-girl cheer of a new generation:

Payson High is number one,
We're gonna beat the crap out of 'um!'

Granted, it's not all that eloquent, and their rhyming flat out stinks, but I think their message is clear - no one better mess with this new kind of girl...