the days before my birthday, every one, is awash in a gray film that clouds my emotions and smile. by now, my 38th time at this, you'd think i'd be ready or at least aware of it. but like pms, it's not until after the fact that i think "oh, right" and remember that this is my pattern. a repeating, predictable pattern.
it's something like this- i start to think about what i want to happen on my birthday and then i immediately dash all hope because these plans are in the hands of others to shower me with ridiculously delirious amounts of love and stuff. now i have had really great birthdays, but every year i start to worry that this will be the year that everyone suddenly deems me unworthy of any type of consideration other than requests for clean laundry or popsicles.
then there's that very teeny-tiny voice of small, wise girl that whispers that maybe i should just consider letting the day unfold and see what treasures show up.
that's my middle school bitch that lives right under the skin. she uses a lighter to melt her eyeliner and aquanet on teased bangs. she wears short tight skirts and black suede boots. she rolls her eyes like bowling balls- fast and dangerous.
perhaps my gray film is actually the result of these two gals fighting it out somewhere in my spleen or gallbladder or other obscure organ. maybe the small girl purrs and the middle school bitch hisses and i build brick walls around the scuffle so i don't have to pick sides. and of course, by not picking sides i am pickings sides. as my dad likes to say, the first option is always not to do anything. which is still doing something.
i love the doing nothing option.
i do nothing until the morning of my birthday and the bitch is in the lead. she is throwing darts of criticism faster than someone who throws darts really fast...sorry it's too early for a meaningful metaphor here. the point being, that it really looks like m.s.b. is gonna win the day until slowly i start to pick sides. what switched me from indifference to defender? i dunno. i spoon warm honey milk to small, wise girl and she perks right up.
off we go into the day. i get lunch at my favorite place in Atown, and we walk to thrift stores where i find nothing especially fabulous and that's ok. we kill time until the last thrift store opens and i get dropped off to dive into the crowd. i barely make it out of there with red preschooler shoes and green shirt because there's just too many eager treasure hunters which means there's no easy browsing and story-sharing...it's all about the hunt and the long wait in line.
i wait on the curb for the fam to pick me up, i sip my water. the water is stale and smells like it's been in a metal water bottle for a few days in a warm car. which it has. out of the thrift store comes a woman in her fifties who is coughing. the cough is that annoying cough of "i swallowed wrong" and nothing super dangerous, but she keeps coughing. she has short kinky hair with bright sunglasses and cocoa skin.
i wonder briefly what it's like for her to be in this white-washed town as i step up and offer her my stale water. i'm secretly hoping she doesn't take it because it's not cold and sweet the water is meant to be, but it is water and i am offering it. she politely declines and says something about how if someone is coughing they are ok, and then she chats about the dog there and this and that with me. her smile is genuine and her hands flit about as she talks. out the door comes an elderly woman using a walker and the woman, no longer coughing, comments to her "Girl, you're just getting out everywhere today."
this reminds me how much i miss living in a place where i hear women call each other girl with big smiles. it reminds me how much i miss living in a place where i see and hear many different types of bodies and voices and movement. i suppose this might be some type of racism, that i seek people out who are not like me - white. just like i pick out books to read based on the last name of the authors, going straight to the ones i cannot pronounce.
in any case, the sun is out and i'm chatting with this....girl....and she tells me, "my name is carlotta. what's yours?" and i tell her my name. i repeat it and she repeats it. we shake hands.
then she says....she actually says, "well, nancylee aren't you just the sweetest thing? we are lucky to have you on this earth."
i smile shyly and say thank you. i cross the street. i am overwhelmed. my eyes tear up and i'm curious at the power strangers - how strangers all over the world show love to each other in simple words that rock worlds. truly, i have heard words like this from people i love and not been as moved as hearing Carlotta say them to me.
and at first the small girl feels like this gift was for her. because of course, everyone loves the small, wise girl.
she is the sweetest thing, after all.
the more i think about it, it was for the middle school bitch. that part of me that feels not welcomed and unseen. because she is the same part of me that has dragged my ass to this point through particular parts of hell too much for small girl to doing anything more than nap through.
folks may like small, wise girl - i know i do. but i just gotta say to my middle school bitch, "damn girl, we are lucky to have you on this earth."