Long before I met Kelly I dated a woman I’ll call J. I saw her as my intellectual and emotional equal and she had this wild streak that I thought was bold and daring. Who doesn’t like bold and daring ? We didn’t have a long courtship. Turns out that emotional side of her was a little out of whack and it fed the daring part. I don’t mind being pushed outside of my comfort zone. It can be key when establishing your balancing abilities, but she steered me way outside the boundary of my willingness. The exciting part quickly gave way to uneasiness and I back- peddaled my way out.
But that isn’t what I remember most about her. What I remember most is the spoon she gave me as a gift and the words that accompanied it. She told me people had the wrong idea about gifting. She offered that mostly, people gave gifts of what they perceived the giftee “wanted”. She was different. She gave gifts that were all about purpose and need. She told me I needed this spoon. It wasn’t a teaspoon or a tablespoon, it was larger than that. It wasn’t “buffet table” large, it was the perfect size for serving. She insisted that even though I couldn’t appreciate it at the time that if I held onto it, it would eventually make me a believer.
And I did hang onto it.
And I get it.
Memory is a fickle beast. As I begin writing more of my own story, I find myself digging deeper about the things that have endured in my memory. Sometimes it’s just a feeling that I hang onto. It’s a dreamlike vision that returns to me over and over; like falling asleep in the back seat of our old Ford station wagon. Something about the motion and the darkness and the muffled voices of my Mom and Dad held me in this suspended state on the edge of sleep. I loved that feeling. When my stress is high I try to remember the comfort I felt leaning against the car door, seeing the flicker of light through a small opening in the heavy lids of my eyes and hearing the hum of the engine.
Sometimes the wordless moments we exchange for conversation matter too.
Another memory that has never left my mind was the news story my Mom read to me as a young child. It was a cautionary tale. A story of a young girl who picked some green leaves out of her backyard and served them as spinach for a make believe meal she was preparing. She ate those leaves and died. I know my Mom was sharing the story to make sure my creative toddler self would never do a similar thing, but it scared me. I had nightmares. I’m not sure how my very young self processed those words but for days after I couldn’t even see the color green without being overcome by fear.
My life is a series of stories. There are defining moments that live in the deep corners of my mind and once exposed to the light prompt memories that will never be forgotten.
Memories held in story.
I have joked for years about writing a book about my thirty year postal career. There are hundreds of stories held in memory. I was 27 when I began working there. I never imagined back then the ways this choice would come to define me. But define me it has. I have changed because of it. I have stretched and grown, resisted and pushed back. There has been a physical breakdown and emotional surrender. At one time I thought this would be a tell-all book, documenting the dysfunction and chaos. But it turns out it will be a love story after all. Stay tuned !