It’s always when I’m at my crabbiest when something good happens but also I seem to be at my chipperest when not so good things happen. Hmmm. I should maybe try to be a crabby curmudgeon all the time…
A couple of weeks ago I had to go to Washington DC for a conference. Simultaneously and unbeknownst to me, Jason had bought us tickets, presumably to sweep me off my feet, to go see Ira Glass speak in Boulder the same day I was set to present in DC. You see my conundrum. It was special that he took something he knew I loved and made an effort to share in it so I did the fastest most whirlwindy trip to DC ever, head pounding the whole time, a mad rush to do everything, no time to be present, no time to rest. I flew out Friday late and night and flew back the moment I answered the last question in my presentation. I was frustrated because I was in this moment of pain relief stagnation. My stomach was being torn apart by pain killers and so I was scaling back. Rebound headaches were crippling me and no amount of breathing or positive thinking could take away the throbbing, radiating pain. I just wanted a moment of rest, some respite from the rush, from the pain. But I persisted, as is my way of handling things and I made it back just in time, to find Jason at my house dressed impeccably, ready to go.
“Go out something nice on,” he said. Ugh, my buttons had ripped off my dress and the floral target leggings I had on were making me feel anything but beautiful. If there were ever a time that I felt frumpy, this had to be it. My impeccable curls from the morning had devolved into a frizzy, poofy mess that looked not unlike a birds nest. My dyed blond hair was blending in with my too light for my skin makeup and I really couldn’t tell how good or bad I smelled. “Aren’t you going to shower?” He said to me as a slowly, tiredly and clumsily made my way up the stairs. “Shower?! What for? To sit in a dark room in Chautauqua? I don’t know why you’re making me dress up even…” Suddenly my fabulous self was so tired that I didn’t even want to dress up. I love dressing up! What a baby I can be…But I felt excited to be going on a date after a long and productive day so I threw on a maxi dress, smudged my eyeliner on and came back down.
“Hi pretty” he said to me as I came down the stairs, then he rushed me out the door to take me to our favorite little hole in the wall Italian restaurant, which was closed, so he rushed me to the closest place he could find and we ate our tacos and he rushed us out of there and I just kept thinking, rush, rush, rush…doesn’t he know the show doesn’t start for well over an hour?! So we get to Chatauqua, walk past a wedding, and get to the theater and I see what looks like a small party. “Look Jason, another wedding!” It must be a sign that our wedding should be a Chautauqua, I thought to myself. Nope. It wasn’t a wedding. It was IRA GLASS. In the freaking flesh! I could have peed.
“Go up there, talk to him!” Jason told me. I was dumbfounded. A storyteller standing at my doorstep and I had suddenly nothing to say. I was inspired, grateful, confused and happy all at the same time. So I eeked my way through the crowd, drink in hand trying to look cool and literally stood and stared for minutes maybe? Possibly hours, I really have no idea. Long enough that my awkward jokes were going unnoticed and my creepy staring probably made Ira Glass want to run away. Finally a couple of nice women, in combination with Jason, flung me forward where I promptly told Ira Glass how much the stories I heard on the radio meant to me. How much they had helped me. How much seeing David Rackoff dance had inspired me. And… I cried. Yep. CRIED. I’m told Ira Glass teared up as well, but really I can’t be sure. I was too busy reveling in the moment to make sure to document it accurately in my mind. The one thing I remember is me telling Ira Glass that my fiance surprised me with this amazing chance to meet him. Ira Glass looked over at Jason laughing, “so that’s your move?!” And what an amazing move it was. A move that showed an appreciation for me, for my desire to know stories and my belief in sharing them. Something Jason showed me in that moment that he loved about me.
I got to say how much those stories meant to me. I got to see a side of them that I never had. They became real, personified, tangible. Those stories helped me know my story. Those stories helped me know Jason. Those stories helped me cope. They made me laugh. They made me cry. Stories. The stories we tell make the fabric of who we are. So this mad rush to a meet a public radio celebrity was more than just a fun date, it was part of our story. It was a rush to get there, but when we arrived those special moments stood still. Jason pushing me forward, laughing next to me, making new friends, drinking weird beer that is infused with espresso. Those moments, they brought me out of my rush and into the moment and moments are all we have.
Since that amazing day I’ve had many other days, some awesome, some less awesome but I’ve shared a lot of moments with a lot of people I care about. Those moments they’ve pulled me through to this moment where I sit here poised to handle the next set of challenges Herbert has left at my doorstep. My discussions with doctors have gone from surgery to shunts to spinal taps to pain relief and I’ll figure out what’s right. I walked into a doctor’s office, happily thinking I was over the hump, the hard things were over, and I was outwardly shocked to hear that that mysterious pain that dragged me into the doctors office matched up to the gnawing feeling I had in me that I wasn’t getting better. I fear often that I’ve lost my voice, I can’t figure out where to go or who to believe and I’ve come to second guess those decisions I felt so sure of at the time. Which doctor can give me the best outcome? Who can cure me quickest? Whose opinion is right? Whose eyes see rightly? Trying to maximize healing and minimize side effects, it seems, is not such a straightforward task. So I meander through the decisions with a mix of humor, suspicion, tears, hope and anxiety. There will come a time where I have learned to accept that where I am is where I am and that’s ok.
In the meantime, I’m going to try to enjoy the moment I’m in.
I have a favorite quote from the French author and explorer Antoine de Saint-Exupery. He says, “Voici mon secret. Il est très simple. On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” (OR IN ENGLISH “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”) So see with your heart, and crabby or not, don’t miss another moment.
Peace and love –