Thursday, July 26, 2012

sweet feet

This is a piece of writing I did this week while I was working with the Independence School District during their advanced writing institute. We were studying informative and expository writing and the assignment was to write a letter to an inanimate object.

Dear feet,
Most people think you’re gross. You may even stink. Not me. I want to thank you for carrying me. For walking. For running. But mostly for dancing. Your ten toes leapt, step-ball-changed and pirouetted me through my formative years and I just wanted to say thank you. It’s true, along the way you gave me your share of grief: blisters, missing toenails, arches that ached until they had to be iced. Your toes were taped, band-aided and wrapped so that you could fully support my body and I could take the stage. Together we traveled, to Minnesota, Florida, Omaha, St. Louis, New York and to Spain. Your toes danced on many stages in two different countries and on two different continents. I’m no geographer, but I think that’s pretty amazing.

Today your duties have been mostly retired. There are no band-aids, no missing toenails, no wrapped arches to get me through the day. The only dancing you do is with two young girls on the living room rug – a much different stage indeed. But you still support me – you stand firmly and plant my legs on your toes and heels. You are the roots that ground me, and the strength that holds my back, damaged from all those years of dancing, in place. Thank you. Thank you for taking me places I could not have seen as easily without you: school, my job, down the aisle, into the delivery room for both of my girls, to New York and San Francisco, to Minneapolis and Dallas, to weddings and funerals and parties and games and even once to Tijuana...I’m sorry about that one.  

I hope I do you the same service you’ve done me by dressing you in the fanciest shoes (I really do have a problem with that, I’m trying) – by painting those 10 toenails I once had such a time keeping ON you. I hope that I can take care of you the way you have continued to take care of me.  I tried to thank you once before with the tattoo on the left one of you. It’s in my grandfather’s handwriting and reminds me to be as strong as you have been for me. It continues to be a reminder of your strength…of our strength. I think you are amazing and I don’t tell you nearly as often as I should. Thank you for all that you do. I will do my best to see that you continue to hold me up for years and years and years to come.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I went in seeking clarity...

Tonight I went with one of my very best friends to see my first Indigo Girls concert. There were a lot of jokes pre-concert. Should we wear overalls? What about Birkenstocks?  All joking aside? It was amazing. I thought, as I was standing there just a stone’s throw from the stage, about how much those two women have been a part of my life through their music. Big things in my life have always had Emily and Amy as the soundtrack. I first heard them sing when I was in 8th or 9th grade. My friend Nicki gave me the tape (sigh…yes) of their self-titled album – not their first, but the first of many. As they belted out Closer to Fine tonight I looked around and watched the crowd.  Julie and I were laughing about how every single person in the room was singing. Everyone knew every single word.  That song, for whatever reason, connects with so many people on different levels, a bit of a coming of age song, maybe. I remember it as the song my stepbrother David and I bonded over when he came to one of many house parties I had when I lived with the boys. I was probably 23 and he was still in high school. He would come over with his guitar and we would sit on the back porch drinking cheap keg beer and singing. I’m sorry, Dave, I had to.
Before that, when I was an angsty 17-year-old, I took a mix tape to the first boy I loved. I made him listen to the song Ghost because I felt like it was written for us and he was leaving for the Marine Corps (angst…see?). He listened to it. And then he took my virginity. I apologize to whomever that offends, I had to tell that one, too.  It’s just another part of my story. I was most sad that they didn’t play Ghost tonight. Because even after all those years, I still hold fond memories of that song and all that went along with it. Earlier that same summer, the Rites of Passage CD was the soundtrack to my trip to Spain. Whenever I hear the song Joking I'm taken back to boarding the airplane to come back to the states and how saaaaaaad I was to leave that experience behind. 
When I was 25, I lived with Julie and Kathy, two of the most amazing women I know. We often had the Indigo Girls playing in the house. The fireplace in our living room was the stage for many, many impromptu performances throughout our time there. Some days you just need to break out in song – and you need a stage and friends who will laugh and sing right along with you.  They opened the show tonight with Least Complicated and midway through played Power of Two, both of which brought tears to my eyes because of all that came flooding back.  In fact, at one point Julie and I couldn’t even look at each other and later we talked about how many memories those songs held for us at such an important crossroads in our lives.
Music does that to people – it makes us remember. It makes us think. I’m so glad I finally got to see those two women perform – it couldn’t have come at a better time for me. In some ways I feel like I’m at another important crossroads in my life. My kids are getting older. I’m midway through grad school. I need to decide once again what I want to be when I grow up. Hearing these words tonight gave me comfort during a week where my heart really needed it: “we’re okay, we’re fine, baby I’m here to stop your crying. Chase all the ghosts from your head, I’m stronger than the monster beneath your bed; smarter than the tricks played on your heart…” Thanks, Amy and Emily, for once again giving reassurance to this girl through your music.