Sometimes I look at my life and feel like I need to dig a little deeper,
experience more, contribute more, learn more, etc.
Mama Kat's writing prompt this week caught my attention, then,
as an invitation to list a coupla dozen things I've done.
Inventories are groovy.
After brainstorming a bit, I gave myself a chuckle and relaxed.
Because anyone who has busted out her front teeth THIS many times
is living a full life indeed.
1. The first thing I ever did in this life was become the child of two of the world's most humble, generous, loving human beings you will ever meet. I was child Numero Uno. They must have really liked me, because then they had four more. I consider myself their prototype.
2. Then, around the age of nine, I experienced the first chapter of my tooth breaking saga. Gym class (we called it P.E.) was indoors that day, in the school auditorium where the floors were glossy, polished hardwood. Hard. The whole group was instructed to do the "Duck Walk," which is pretty much the most awkward, humiliating, and as we would all soon learn, DANGEROUS type of animal impression an uncoordinated young girl can attempt. Allow me to illustrate. You squat down, feet shoulder width apart. Wrap your arms around the outside of your ankles. Now start "waddling." Go ahead and quack passionately while doing this, it really ups the authenticity. So... that's all your supposed to do. But I took it a step further and crashed forward onto the polished hardwood floor. It was hard. My arms were still tangled around my legs, and I was stuck in a horrible pretzel wreck in the middle of about thirty screaming, laughing dis-compassionate classmates. Oh, and my front tooth was stuck in the hardwood floor. Hard, except now for the indentation left by my tooth. I needed help untangling my limbs and extricating my face from the floor. That was break number one as I remember it. It hurt a lot. I remember my nose throbbing and stinging, but I had no idea that sensation that would reappear so often in life. (Cue scary, suspenseful music...)
3. Let's skip ahead not quite twenty years, when I fell in love a city other than my hometown. I'd heard of the phenomenon but it seemed silly to me, overly romanticized, until I first saw New Orleans. This is truly a magical place, a sensory feast and a vortex of history, imagination, and possibility.
4. I have chosen a favorite teacher in my mind based partly on her penmanship.
5. I have been to Italy with my Mom and a church choir. My purpose was to sing and tour religiously significant places, not learn the language and chase carbs. Although I did not avoid carbs necessarily. And I etched a treble clef into a marble garbage can casing, thus leaving my mark.
We're jumping around a lot chronologically, by the way.
6. Just a few years ago, I saw a tornado pass by my kitchen window, just about nine feet from where I stood. I get goosebumps when I remember that. Growing up in Oklahoma, tornadoes are the real deal, but they're also fairly commonplace. It wasn't until several hours later that I understood how close I was to danger. Whew.
7. I have cried real, sobbing tears after riding the Superman ride at Six Flags Over Texas. Don't do it. It is awful. I frightened a ten year old boy sitting next to me. Handsome was so proud, he took many, many pictures of the salty, wet aftermath.
8. Back to grade school for chapter two in my tooth breaking saga. I was walking backwards down a corridor, not realizing I was also walking at a diagonal. When I turned to go forward, I was too close to the painted concrete wall and S-M-A-C-K! I lost another front tooth. That familiar throbbing, stinging nose pain. And a bloody mouth. Again.
9. I have accidentally colored my hair a shimmering shade of aqua blue. My youngest daughter, ever the cheerleader and sweet comforter of nervous people, tried to convince me I looked like a mermaid and it wasn't that bad. By the way, the magic mermaid combination seems to be bleaching your hair to a summer blonde color then immediately washing with really cheap, green, apple scented shampoo. You're welcome. Enjoy. Oh, if you do this for Halloween this weekend, please send me photos!
10. I have walked with Handsome all night in Las Vegas, falling more deeply in love, taking in the lights and the sights, and ending the trek at Denny's for a very early breakfast. Or a very late dinner, depending on your perspective.
11. I have bottle fed baby buffalo and raised one to a thriving and bouncy age so far of three and a half.
12. I have given birth to the world's most beautiful, most sensitive, most talented girls. Every day I attempt to write about each of these young women, and every day the words fall flat and hollow compared to my love for them. Sixteen and then fourteen years of motherhood are enough to fuel a lifetime of writing, yet I feel completely unworthy to relay the experience. If you know these girls, then you understand the awe I feel. If you do not then you have missed out on two world changers, two absolute gifts of love and beauty and grace.
13. I once lost a front tooth cap by eating a seemingly innocuous apple. I took a bite, withdrew said apple from my mouth, and discovered my tooth cap wedged happily in the sweet, white fruity flesh. No pain this time, just more groaning from my ever patient parents. More dentist attention.
14. Handsome took me snorkeling in Mexico twice, in Texas a few times, and in Florida too. On the second Mexico trip, I barely missed stepping on a sizable stingray that was buried in the sand. I also crashed gracelessly against a stand of sharp coral reef and almost needed a band-aid. And according to Handsome's report, a four foot shark was eyeballing me underwater. Still, the Superman ride was scarier.
15. I have feared for the life of both of my children during gut wrenching medical emergencies, and I witnessed every time the power of prayer and the miracle working Love of God. We are undeserving of His mercy and grace, but that's why it's mercy and grace. Not a day passes that I am not aware of how blessed we are to still have both of the girls with us, even if they aren't with us. The memory of these miracles, this thankfulness, is often the only thing left to fuel hope for the future. But it's enough.
16. With my friend Tina, I started a book club this past January, unsure of where it would take us but excited to explore new territory. Since January, our group has grown from four to over twenty, and we have devoured seven books. I don't mind admitting a little pride over this.
17. Age twelve. While swimming underwater, eyes shut, I did a back flip. I was pretending to be a sea lion. Normal? Sure. I swam S-M-A-C-K into the concrete wall of the pool and lost another front tooth. Incidentally, I was in jeans and a button up shirt, not a swimsuit, because it was a spontaneous trip into the cold water. That may or may not have impacted my sense of balance underwater, but regardless it's seared in my memory. I emerged from the pool, clothes heavy with dripping chlorine water, toothless and bloody. That was a long drive home to my dental-bill paying parents. Have I ever mentioned to you how patient they are?
18. I have been a working mom and a stay at home mom, and now I am a mom at home whose kids are not here. These are vastly different experiences, and on days when I can emotionally afford the perspective, I am glad to have had all three in my lifetime. It does not make me an expert, but it certainly deepens my compassion for all kinds of women.
19. Just recently I started this blog. Again, not sure about the path or purpose exactly, but the writing has been cathartic. And I have already met some fantastic people!
20. Once at Camp Cimmarron I was watching my friends play a tense game of table soccer. Fusbol, as some people call it. Their opponents were, in my mind, vile acting and way too aggressive. They were the older girls who got to sleep in the train cars, not the cabins, and they wore too much mascara for their age. As the game progressed and the unfairness of their tactics increased, something snapped inside me. My friends were being threatened, though I could not have articulated at that time by what. Without warning or explanation, I reached over the edge of the table and snatched the dirty white ball from the game. I clearly remember the meanest girl glaring at me with her tortoise shell snap barrettes. Everyone was shocked, including me. I'm not proud of that. Well, maybe a little.
21. I discovered that True Love is real and that it is worth the search and the wait. It is also worth the attention and time needed to grow and strengthen.
22. February of this year marks the most recent traumatic event in my dental saga. I was piling hay for our big animals and did the classic cartoon thing. I stepped on a rake. A long, metal rake with a bright red handle. It happened in a split second, just crack. No more front tooth. Again. Again with the bloody mouth and throbbing, stinging nose. Again with the phone calls and appointments and impressions and caps and laughing gas. Again with the awkward smiles and hand-to-mouth laughing.
It's raining at the farm right now. The breeze is cool.
The animals are hushed and sleepy, and I could make coffee
and eat toast with pumpkin butter for hours.
These are excellent writing conditions.
Unfortunately, I have a dentist appointment this morning,
so I really should close up shop now. I'm not even kidding.
This tooth thing continues to overshadow my life.