Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sometimes it takes someone else's eyes to see clearly

Guess what?

I am not pretty.

No no!! Don't do it! Don't go to that place in your mind where you say "Aww... yes you are." I am not fishing for compliments here. The truth is that I am never gonna be a model. And yes, at the age of thirty-five I may or may not have just come to this conclusion. Though there was a time in my life when this was a "dream" of mine.

Ummm... yeah. Sweet perm, right? My sincerest apologies to whoever took this picture. I will give myself a break though. This picture is from right around the time I also thought that it would be cool to jump in a way-back machine and be a singer in the 60's. My secret fantasy was that I would go to the recording studio one day and meet the Monkees and Davey Jones would fall madly in love with me and I would live out my days playing tambourine duets and wearing go-go boots and hosting Tupperware parties in the Jones mansion.

I am a Nerd, yes. But model-pretty? No.

When I pull my hair back into a wet ponytail I look like my brother. (Not in a family-resemblance kind of way, but in an "is that a dude with boobs?" kind of way.)

My eyes are kinda squinty. (Especially when I smile. Is there such a thing as eye fat?)

I am hairy. (Like I started shaving my legs in the fifth grade and once in the sixth grade I shaved my arms, using the excuse that I had just gotten a cast off my wrist and the "doctor told me to do it." I discovered that the only thing less attractive than a forest of arm hair is arm stubble.)

I am freckly and wrinkly and have graying hair and have been occasionally mistaken for pregnant when I am not.

I have a funny crooked front tooth.

My face is kinda red all the time.

I am not pretty. And I have obsessed over it. Tried everything to change that. Tried not caring about it. (Ha!) And it hasn't been until recently that I could really look at myself in any other way besides being tied to those flaws.

It looks like I laugh boldly, I was told.

And that is beautiful.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The tides are rising

Its Summer! Okay- so its only the end of May and school isn't out yet and corn on the cob hasn't come into season yet.....but its hot outside. Hot. Pretty much that means Summer to me. If I can get out the sprinkler and feel comfy in a bathing suit (umm... outside the obvious "haven't lost the baby weight" thing) then its Summer, whether or not that kind of day happens in May or July or the middle of December. In fact, I am a big fan of grilling out in December, just so I can taste a charcoal-seasoned burger and eat the crispy burned parts of a hot dog.

I remember Summers when I was little. Waking up in the morning and "getting dressed" in my bathing suit first thing. Every day was endless and filled with popsicles and making bouquets out of dandelions from the backyard and the thought that just maybe today the neighbors would invite you to swim in their pool. And then as I got older it was days of laying in the backyard working on my tan with the neighbor girls and riding my bike around the neighborhood hoping to catch a glimpse of the cute guy down the street. And then those days giving way to teenage summers of lifeguarding and meeting friends and boyfriends at the mall in the evenings.

Thinking about those seasons and looking through old pictures I found this one

I love this picture. I am about 9 years old in this picture and I love the fact that I am holding my breath in anticipation of being engulfed in the waves. There is a quality of holding your breath in anticipation of life at this age. Someday not far in the future of this picture I will be spending my days tanning and gossiping, learning how to correctly apply eyeshadow, and just how powerful a smile can be. I will be spending my babysitting money on new lipgloss and the perfect pair of jeans. I will be fighting my way through the social jungle of high school and  sinking into the quicksand of my first heartbreak. Trying hard not to get swept away by the tidal wave that life can be in those years.

And I find myself even now on the cusp of this Summer, the Summer of my thirty-sixth year, twenty five years after this picture, still holding my breath....

 Sending my seven-year-old off to the last days of second grade and knowing how close he is in age to the little girl in that picture. How big changes are coming for him- changing schools next year to join a gifted program, growing into the age where its no longer acceptable on the playground to be the sensitive child that he is, and only a few short years away from filling his Summer days with girls and jobs and hangin' with friends instead of Pokemon and scooters and water fights on the lawn with his mom.

Watching my five-year-old on the verge of being a little girl and no longer my baby girl. How she is morphing before my eyes from the giggly and shy preschooler to the Queen Bee of her social group, strong in both opinion and body- preparing to head off to kindergarden in the fall into a world filled with school buses and outside influences and "on her own" situations.

Watching my four-year-old clown around and dig in the dirt and bridge the gap between toddler-hood and child-hood. How he is becoming aware of his world and the world around him and knowing that my hold on him is slipping with each day- how he already alternates between calling me "momma" and "mom", how he begs for freedom and still runs to me for the smallest of hurts. Waiting for the day he no longer needs to be tucked in at night and thinks that his friends are smarter than I could ever be.

And I am holding my breath for myself. Feeling myself on the edge of change and feeling the growing pains of learning to fit into my own skin. Wanting to keep myself from being swept away by the process of making decisions that make long-hidden dreams come true and the letting go of the ideas of what "should" be. Trying not to drown in the oceans and lakes and puddles of a life spent not really living, but surviving.

Maybe this Summer I will learn to swim. I will let the wave catch up to me and pull me in and I will float instead of sink. I have held my breath long enough.