This morning on the way to work I caught a glimpse of the giant metal globe left over from the World’s Fair in 1964. I have some very clear memories of the World’s Fair. I remember “it’s a Small World”, I remember screaming my head off in terror during the General Motors ride which consisted of GM cars moving around the building without a driver, and I remember screaming my head off in frustration because I left my plastic Sinclair Oil dinosaur in the aforementioned car. And if I remember correctly, at some point we misplaced my brother. But I might have made that last one up. I see that globe everyday but lately it’s hit me like a sucker punch, that this was 50 years ago. What the…how can that be? Holy Crap, I’m having a little trouble catching my breath! #%^*~! I am pissed off! And terrified. Not fair! Not fair! I’m just starting to figure out stuff! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Ok, I’m good. Just doing a little deep breathing. Gathering my wits…and enough steam to scream my head off.
At what point do we start to believe that what we are is not only good enough, but maybe even a little great?
Do we ever completely believe it?
From a very young age I didn’t feel pretty or popular or like I fit in. I would hold on to my best friends so tightly because I assumed they were looking over my shoulder for someone better. I talked really fast because I was afraid no one would listen for very long. Looking back, how boring could I possibly have been? How unworthy of friendship and love at 10 or 16 or 21? How much less pretty was I really, than the popular girls? Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I wasn’t popular because it served me well. I had a lot invested in not being part of the cool crowd. When I did something completely humiliating like peeing in my pants in the 7th grade because my math teacher, Mrs. McGirt wouldn’t let me go to the restroom, I just hid behind not being popular. The whole school isn’t whispering or snickering. They don’t even know who I am. It took me decades to even think about that without shame and now I’m telling the whole world. All 8 of you. Life is full of moments that sting, like bees in the backyard, like ants at a picnic, we can’t escape them. And we think we’ll never recover from them, but we do. I did. Somewhere around the time I realized I could tell the people who really love me that I peed in my pants when I was thirteen. Thirteen! According to my rabbi I was an adult! And they laugh. With me. Not at me. And a picnic without ants? Just some potato salad on a blanket.
Last night, my family and I went to Friday night services at Community Synagogue. My niece, Sydney was singing with the cantor. She was the center of attention. At one point a young couple brought their year-old daughter up to the bima to be officially welcomed into the Jewish religion. She was adorable, bestowing her gummy, sweet grin at all the right places and her parents were so proud and happy. All of our eyes were on them. They were the center of attention. My oldest niece, Molly is home from college and just got an internship with Milk Studios. She was the center of attention. The cantor approached my youngest niece, Addie about spending the Fall semester in Israel. She was the center of attention. Births, bas mitzvahs, graduations, choosing a college, a career, a mate, a dream. So many milestones. It’s hard not to feel, as we get older, that all of the important milestones are behind us. That we will no longer be the center of attention. No one will be watching and clapping as we enter menopause, go to work for the last time, get our first social security check, lose our spouses. So we plan vacations that we can’t really afford, start a business, maybe write a blog…find new dreams to keep ourselves visible, to prove to ourselves that our milestones are as important now as they were when we were young, when they were so much easier to carry.
So, I’m working on a pair of silver heart earrings today and as I’m pounding one of the earrings into submission, it flips off the table and lands somewhere on the floor. I hear it fall. I know it hit the floor, but I can’t find it. Anywhere. I get down on my hands and knees, which is already more work than I wanted to do, and I’m under my workstation, and I’m digging through the burrow of dust bunnies and shoes that live under my bench. Where’s my ^%#*ing heart? I decide to move on to something else. I figure it’ll turn up eventually, most likely when someone steps on it. Hmm. I get back on my hands and knees, and continue looking.