Early in the week, my friend Allison invited me to go to her house to play Friday after school. I pleaded with my parents to let me go, and they said yes(!!).
All week long, I looked ahead to Friday with expectation and great anticipation; it couldn't come quickly enough. And once Friday finally came, I was ready. I picked out the perfect outfit for the occasion. I suffered through the school day, then hastily set about the kid-sized hallways of my elementary school to find my friend.
Allison greeted me with a smile as I approached, then she explained that plans had changed. She had invited our friend Michelle to come over instead. I saved face, said it was no big deal and walked home alone.
In the safety of my house, I dropped my backpack and crumbled to the floor in tears. I felt heartbroken, devastated and so, so sad. I cried and cried and couldn't stop. I gasped for air, then cried some more.
My dad returned home shortly after I did and found me in a puddle of tears.
"What's wrong?" he asked, and I sobbed in response.
Eventually, I choked out words to explain what transacted in the space between the school bell and our stairwell. My friend -- I thought she was my friend -- chose someone else instead of me. My dad hugged me awkwardly, wiped away my tears and told me not to cry.
"It's okay," he said, and he wiped away the tears that followed.
It's Fall, and somehow, I'm 37.
In the dark of this morning, I stir from sleep. My nose and toes are cold, and I hesitate to pull the covers off of my head. Should I or shouldn't I, I consider, then peel my comforter back just a bit.
Four fifty-five, I read in fuzzy red numbers through bleary eyes. Paul is on his way out the door; he's up early. Me too, I guess.
I find my paper and pen, push up pillows and rest against the headboard of my bed. I turn on my light, and I write down sloppy, jumbled thoughts that weave in and out of this and that.
Nightshades... a dull headache... a workout... my to-do list... my reunion -- it's this weekend, and I've decided not to go. "I'll definitely be there for the 30-year," I write. "My kids will be in college. Holy shit."
And then, out of nowhere, my stream of consciousness and random train of thoughts stop at rejection. Julie. Emily. Joy. Lynn. She chose someone else instead of me... and then I'm on to the next topic.
But the dull ache of this early morning remains in the low clouds of this afternoon. And in the warm and cozy of my blanket and my life, tears prick. I'm reminded of the heartache I endured one Spring afternoon nearly 30 years ago. And in the years that have followed, I have been both chosen, and I have been passed by.
I went to the gym this morning.
I've gone 3-4 days each week for the last month-plus, and doing so has brought me great pleasure and joy. This morning, I ran and jumped and pressed in and pushed through. I heaved and sweat and worked some things out. I left the gym with a smile on my face, with a little self-love and with expectation and great anticipation of my return on Friday.
And the funny thing is, although my family and I have been members of this club and swam at the pool for the last several summers, it's only been in the last month that it even occurred to me to workout in the gym.
I visited this gym one fall morning four years ago and left in frustration. It felt dark and old, the hours were all wrong and... I'm not even sure. But that morning, I cut my workout short and immediately looked for an alternative. I paid for a subsequent membership to another club and then another, because at the time, this one wasn't quite right. But this morning, and for 3-4 mornings each week over the last month-plus, it has been exactly right.
I read a meditation in bed this morning that could have been written just for me. "Leave when it's time to go," its author, Melody Beattie, writes. "Trust the rhythms and cycles life," she implores. "You don't have to hold onto messengers after they've taken you where you were trying to go. You don't have to stay in a classroom after you've learned the lessons and finished that course... Say goodbye with love and gratitude in your heart. And go on down the road."
This life is ever-changing, ever-expanding. It breathes, it grows, it dies, and it returns to life with new vitality, creativity and gusto. Seasons come and go. Friends do also. We inhale. We exhale. We repeat. Things that once fit, won't always, and things that didn't fit, may someday. We may not know it all, but we do know this, and we can take it to the bank. And perhaps in so doing, we can trust a little more, let go, choose love and surrender.
One Spring morning just over 10 years ago Maya and I were back in Denver to see my dad. We went with him to visit a church he had never attended before. My dad and I sat side-by-side with Maya sleeping in her car seat beside me. We sang, read, prayed and listened through the service. And when the time came to turn and greet your neighbors, the two women in the pew before us, turned around to say hello.
"ABI?!" the younger woman inquired incredulously. She beamed, bear-hugged me, and when she finally let go, she explained...