Bronze At Best.

According to tonight’s jog, it turns out I can run, cry, lip-synch, & swish my ponytail on the drumbeat all at the same time.
Multitasking at it’s finest.

People say they blog for conviction or change or beauty or the betterment of their fellow man. 
…altruistic.
When mostly I’m almost sure these windows of the web are for venting or whining or  self-pity or the worshipping of oneself.
…pathetic.

And I have no idea which ‘-tic’ we’ll end up with here at the end of these words.

By the time I was 12, we’d moved 6 times, in 5 states.  Army brats have my sympathy. 
Springfield to Havana. Havana to Lubbock. Lubbock to Baltimore. Baltimore to Solon. Solon to Hudson. Hudson to West Lafayette.

Where perms were cool in one, the straight bob was all the rage in another.  Where New Kids on the Block cassette tapes were blasting in boomboxes in one, the Knight brothers were a subject of scorn in another.  Where one school taught the states & capitols in your next academic year, the next school had taught it the year before, and now you’re 27 and still don’t know where Vermont belongs on a map or where their governor lives.

Basically, it was a running game of fitting in, of ‘becoming’, of transforming, and a whole lot of crying.
I spent every single 7th grade lunch period on a payphone with my mom.  Something that still burns deep in me when I see the adult faces of my private-school classmates shining back at me on facebook.
Yes, I remember that you spit in my hair and told me the school’d be better off if I killed myself.  Yes, I remember when you told me that it made sense I came from Lubbock “because everything big comes from Texas.”  Yes I remember showing up to a plaid-skirt & polo clad class in the wrong tartan, because my mom made mine.
I hid in the stall to change.  I cut. I threw up my meals. I wrote bad poetry. I cried to Fiona Apple. I walked the plot of every CW dramedy, and I bet you did to… didn’t you?

When I was ten years old, I tore out a sheet of paper from my generic Trapper Keeper and scrawled across the top “Should Kate go to a different school?” and passed it to each of my classmates with yes/no boxes to check and extra lines for comments.  (Way ahead of you Mark Zuckerberg.)
Because I was masochistic? …not necessarily.

Because I wanted the rallying cry to be “No! You belong here!”   
The response was about half & half.
I kept that paper for a long time.

I kept a page in my diary called “Best Friends” and I wrote everyone’s name who could possibly fit that description and then marked a tally next to their name if they did or said something nice to me, and erased one if they didn’t.  I had a new best friend at least a dozen times a day.
I think the goal of my life from preschool till now was to be one person’s everything.

The level of my popularity took a drastic upswing in high school & college, but my insides didn’t.
I would never write a best friend’s tally in my journal now, but I mark much more to validate my anything than I ever did at Valley Christian Academy.

Weddings I’ve been in.  Birthday parties I’ve been thrown.  Inside jokes I can fit inside a tweet. iPhone ‘Favorites’ speed-dials I’m listed on.  Funny quotes I’m credited for…framed photos of my face in friends homes…holiday cards on my fridge…dates that’ve picked up the check…Starbucks baristas who know my order…servers who know my name…congregants who compliment me on the way I worship…strangers who admire my style..texts or invitations or e-mails that are responded to in a timely fashion…How Are You Really’s…Thank You’s…I Love You’s…

And between the + & – & x & ÷ there’s breath-holding and wild fear that the grand total will still be the Ginger Spice haired adolescent hunkered down on her bedroom floor alone listening to “Forever is a Promise” & sobbing so hard she forever-stains her peach gingham pajama pants with black mascara drops.

And tonight that sum is a Ginger Spice haired adult hunkered down on her bedroom floor alone listening to “Set Fire to the Rain” who’s forgotten how to gauge how hard she can even cry anymore.

No one’s ever introduced me as their “very best friend” and I’ve cut ties because of it.
No one’s ever made me Maid of Honor despite my wedding-veteran status and I’ve burnt bridges because of it.
No one’s ever referred to me as their “favorite child” … “favorite grandchild” … “favorite roommate” … and I’ve lost sleep over it.

But! But! But! I have a collection of sweatshirts with Greek letters on them!  I have over 100 photo albums online smushed with smiles & good times! I can cook! I can dance! I’m fun at parties! One time a boy slow danced with me! I AM WORTH SOMETHING!

Did I convince you?

Nah.  Me neither.

I joke at work that I “need the affirmation of a toddler.”
No I don’t.  I don’t need it.  I want it.  I crave it.  I live off of it.  I live for it.
And it’s poison.

I can spit it out in Christianese so you can swallow it like sugar. “Connection”…”Fellowship”…”Encouragement”…”Support”
But that’s not it either.
I want to be someone’s #1.  It’s all I’ve ever wanted.

But! But! But!

God’s got his hands full. 
I’m not too sure my parents like me.
The one man I planned a life with got a stranger pregnant & married her.  An ugly stranger.
Friends have bemoaned that my expectations are too high, that my sadness is exhausting, that I’m not pretty enough to take to dinner.
I’m always so sure that the sad text will be the last one my beloveds will want to read, that the sad story will be the last one they want to hear, that the shaking hands will be the last they want to hold.  I can hear it in their voices, and in their silence, when they’re tired of me.  So I tell I joke.  Or ask a question.  And they stick around.

Now what?
Do I want to Miss Havisham my way through the gift of this life with the clocks stopped on the darkest?  Hoard what’s rotting? Swig a swill of death when what’s sunny in me dares to escape?

My life’s too good. 
Those photo albums aren’t all a lie.
And many raw prayers are real.
And many are answered.
And one best friend has reached across not only the counter in her kitchen, but a sea of my shame, to grab my face in her hands and force me to match her eyes so I would know she meant her words of love and commitment.
And another has told me not to bemoan people’s well-intended clichés, but to accept them for what they are… all the healing words someone might know.
And another has warrior-cried to God for my pain and hasn’t let up since we first heard our own stories echoed back from the other.
And no, I’m not anyone’s “In Case of Emergency” or godparent or fiancée or muse or example, but I’m loved.

So, challenge what love should look like with what love does look like, and we’ll see where it ends up?
“I will!”
or
“Will I?”

Could be whole.  Could be free. Could be rested. Could be happy.

Could be a rallying cry of “You belong here!”

 

Could be.

 

 

 

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One Response

  1. YOu have written my life better than me! I need you to know — and you have no reason to believe me because you don’t know me even though you seem to, so well — that being tapped — picked first — named by someone somehow makes the need more sharp, more painful because loneliness persists. I can only think that it’s pointing me toward a home that is not here and true love. Until we both make it home, I wish you could know that this kindred spirit is spending her best friend feelings on you right now. Perhaps that’s a fumbly hint of what’s to come?

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