Where One Lucky Girl is from.

I am from dusty ball gloves, from sweet iced Lipton tea, and pink hightop Reeboks with tight-rolled jeans.

I am from the sunny, single-wide trailer with wood-paneled walls and yellow shag carpet. I am from an orange linoleum kitchen and yellow appliances that gleamed with a Windex shine.

I am from the cottonwood tree leaning and sheltering, sometimes threatening as it swayed in Midwestern thunderstorms that terrified me. From the chicks-and-hens neatly potted that graced low-sitting coffee tables next to ash trays and drink coasters. I am from the Big Muddy’s bend.

I am from 10-speed Schwinns blazing down the hill on Old Town Road before they put the good sidewalk in. From under the disco globe at Ziggy’s roller rink, and Klein’s candy counter, and the deep end of the pool where the boys got handsy.

I am the child of a people who keep few traditions. From parents who unraveled themselves from the painful past and took care not to pass it on. From brothers and sisters who go for years without speaking because love and hurt are too hot to touch. I am from people who pulse with passion, but keep it under wraps. Who might be dying to be ignited, or who may not realize what they’re missing. I am from brilliance, and bullshit, and people who make no sense.

I am from Nerds and Rollos and lemony drops sticking to tongues. From The Muppet Show and Walnut Grove and WKRP. I am from the cold, green, faux leather backseat at midnight waiting with my pillow and blanket for my daddy’s shift to end. I am from Clark stations with attendants who wore blue polyester pants and shiny metal change dispensers on their belts.

I am from the bunny rabbit in the moon. From Santa being so fat he fell through the floor. From Hayley’s Comet and from PBS’s Stargazer. From Hall and Oates and Conway Twitty on the dial. I am from the sun-dappled front porch swing with Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, and from the leaf-littered back patio perfect for French kissing privacy.

I am from that little place in my soul that lived when the rest of me died every time those cruel girls looked at me and told me I was ugly and stupid. Cutting words that changed me forever. I am from Baptists who lavished love upon me. From people who taught me as a child about God’s fullness of grace and who urged me as a young woman to trust in it. I am still working on that.

I am from town people who are still country at their roots. From a teenaged bride who brought me forth eleven months later. I am from uncles who were like big brothers. From sweet and tangy cucumber salad, from milk gravy made with pork renderings, and bread and butter sprinkled with sugar. I am from my own generation, really—too young to be their sister, too old to be their child.

I am from no-nonsense and no drinking and definitely no pre-marital sex. I am from the list of those good girls who tried so hard to get all the As, be the nice friends, and make the right teams, and sometimes suffered for it. I am from high expectations that I can still feel chasing me down at night.

I am from the margins of that scrapbook of memories. From that melody that echoes in your head in your quiet hours. I am from the quiet breeze and the moonlit path and the smell of honeysuckle when dawn breaks. From hazy warm memories of friendships and first loves and whispered promises of no one could ever take your place. I am from that sparkling moment of nothing can get better than this right here right now.

I am also from that lonely moment despite the fullness of the passing days. From the bittersweet irony of a life that is well lived but feels strangely inadequate. I am from the place where your mind dwells when the words are just out of reach and you sigh at the beauty and the sadness of it all.

It’s hard to not worry when they keep telling you not to worry.

Since summer break began, I have already had two “firsts.” Last weekend was the first time I ever participated in a Komen Race for the Cure. And, coincidentally enough, a few days before that I  had my first-ever mammogram! Whee!

I’ll spare you the up-close and uncomfortable details of the mammogram, because let me tell you, they are up-close and uncomfortable. But, since I’m not 25 anymore–or even 30 anymore–my doctor said it was time to get a “baseline” done so that when I hit 40 (the age at which boobies begin to change faster), they have a younger picture to compare it to and identify any potential areas of concern. No problem. Especially since the imaging center was efficient, courteous, and running on schedule. The technician told me I would receive a letter in about a week with my test results. She said about 50 percent of the time patients are asked to come back for a follow-up test because the doctors want to take a closer look, and it is really nothing to worry about if that happens to me because of that 50 percent who have to come back, like, over 90 percent are given a clean bill of health. Okay, duly noted. I am not a worrier-over-nothing by nature, so I was cool.

So off I skipped away from that appointment noting how funny it was–these coincidences. Six weeks ago when my mom asked me if I wanted to walk in the Komen Race for the Cure with her this year, I had no idea that my doctor was going to recommend a mammogram. Funny how these two firsts would happen within 72 hours of each other.

The Race was, to put it simply, amazing. I live near a major metropolitan area, and this city’s annual Komen Race is one of the largest in the country–as in over 64,000 participants, over 4,900 survivors, and millions of dollars raised for breast cancer research. I was walking that day with my mom, a few of her good friends, my uncle Eric, and my uncle’s wife, Brenda, who is a two-year breast cancer survivor. The significance of this event was not lost on me. First, just the sheer size and energy of the crowd is enough to make an impression. Then I began looking at all the t-shirts. There were teams with t-shirts bearing the images of women, young and old, some with children on their laps, with the words, “In loving memory of…” These women were beautiful, vibrant, even joyful in their pictures. Some people wore the names of individual women and men on tags pinned to their shirt. No pictures but names…. “my beautiful mama Joyce,” “my auntie Suzanne.” One woman had five names listed on her tag. Five. All in all, it was a joyful atmosphere, but one could sense an underlying solemnity in some of the groups and teams that gathered. I saw some teams shedding tears together. Some teams were jubilant. Babies, survivors in their pink-shirts, men, women, young and old, all colors, all ethnicities. Mom and I were impressed by how many how many young men were walking in groups together. You know, guys who were old enough that their moms could make them be there, yet they were not walking with girlfriends, moms, aunts, whoever. Maybe they were there because their employers sponsored a team. Who cares? The point is they got their butts out of bed at a crazy early hour on a Saturday to get downtown to walk with 64,000 other people the the heat. They were there.

Once the walking part of the race got underway, because you know 64,000 people aren’t all going to run, just the movement of the group and jockeying to stay with your team becomes the focus, but everybody was very sweet. Once the crowd found its pace, and spread out into comfortable groups, it was possible to separate the walkers from the bystanders, and the bystanders cheered for everyone as if we were actually running. Everyone had pink in their clothing, but all-pink shirts are reserved for breast cancer survivors, and when a survivor walked by, the bystanders really cheered like crazy. It was wonderful to see my Aunt Brenda get that kind of support and affirmation from complete strangers.

At a certain point in the route, there is a slight hill, and I could finally see what was ahead of me.

This is what I saw behind me.

All those tiny, white dots? That river of white up ahead and behind? Those are all people. And that wasn’t even everybody. At that point in the race route, some people were already past the finish line. This was the point where the goosebumps and the tears came for me. It was amazing to see so many people from all walks of life, young and old, every color, every ethnicity, some walking because their employer sponsored a team, some walking because their families and friends have been stricken with this disease. In the end, it doesn’t matter why a person was there. Everyone was united for a common cause for a few hours that morning. That felt so very good to my heart and spirit.

Four days after the Race, I got my letter from the imaging center. My mammogram showed an area of concern. I wasn’t worried, like they said, no need to at this stage. I was more bummed that I would have to make two more phone calls and schedule another appointment. My first call was to be to my regular doctor. Her nurse talked me through the whole need for the follow up. There is an area on the left side that is of some concern. It is probably just thickening tissue which happens as we get older. The radiologist just wants a clearer look at the area. She assured me that there was no need to worry. “I understand,” I told her. “The technician who did my first test told me this happens quite a bit with baseline tests, so I wasn’t too surprised about the letter.” “Oh, good,” the nurse replied. “Okay, well if you have any follow up questions, just call us. Go ahead and schedule the appointment for whenever it’s convenient for you. This is not an emergency, so don’t worry.”

Dude.

Didn’t I just say I wasn’t? I know they probably have to give this same news to a lot of women who jump to scary conclusions, so they’re just being professional and doing their job and being reassuring, I get that. In fact, they probably say it out of habit, really. This is what I told myself as I hung up with the nurse and dialed the number for the imaging center to schedule my appointment. The scheduler is an old acquaintance way back from my softball years and is very nice. We set the date for the follow up, and she told me that the radiologist would read my tests that day and I would leave that appointment with my results. She too assured me not to worry.

Okay, maybe I’m a little bit of an emotional rebel, but the more I’m told not to feel a certain way, the more I’m going to wonder if I should be feeling that way. Again, I know that these women are being kind, and I take their kindness as such. I’m not criticizing them at all. I’m merely pointing out that telling someone not to worry often has the opposite effect of what is intended. But even still, I wasn’t too worried. All these assurances of don’t worry made me curious how other women took this news, and if that was why the assurances were offered so quickly and readily at every point along the way.

Thanks to the freedom of not working in the summer and a dad who is retired and can watch the kids anytime, I was able to get my follow up mammogram scheduled for the very next day. Again, my experience at the imaging center was smooth, efficient, professional. The technician was very sweet as she hurt me and made my body into shapes that I never thought possible all in the name of good health care. At least her hands were warm. As promised I got my results back in a matter of minutes.

The “girl” looks okay right now, but they want me to come back in six months just to make sure nothing is changing. And this time, there was no don’t worry assurance.

Huh. Which, okay, this is good news. Clearly, if they were still concerned about what they saw, they would have given me an MRI that day (they told me so). And I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill, because as I learned at the Komen Race, hundreds of women receive a much more serious and heartbreaking diagnosis every single day. Still, what should have been a baseline test for five years in the future is now a baseline for six months from now. I’m not worried, but I would have preferred the result that goes, “see you when you’re 40.” Ya know?

Uncool.

I am terminally uncool. I know this. Consider the evidence.

Exhibit A: My kids’ initials spell G.E.E.K.  That was totally unintentionally done, but now that it is so, I have a necklace that proclaims it. I’ll post a pic and a link someday when I’ve showered and don’t look like what I am–a summer SAHM mom who doesn’t give a rat’s patootie what I look like when I’m blogging in my basement.

Exhibit B: Little Miss G is ever so slowly giving up her Nickelodeon crap for this: <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/uvwCLGCozIk“>The best science-fiction-fantasy series going right now. And it’s British! YAY! I really have to thank my brother for this. If he didn’t come and commandeer our television at least once a week, none of us would have taken the time to watch. I’m ashamed of this, because staying up late with my dad on Sunday nights to watch this Doctor <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/PwkYhLiY_fM“> is one of my fondest childhood rituals.

Exhibit C: I went to this guy’s concert last Friday, and loved every single minute. Every time I hear a Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, or Katy Perry song, I want to stab myself in the ear, but this? This is good stuff. I’ve been humming this song all weekend.

Guilty as charged.

30 Posts of Truth: Something I like about myself

This meme is WAYYY old, but I still want to do it. And since I need to get back into the habit of writing every day, I might just try to do the next 28 posts in 28 days.

My answer to this one came pretty easily, and I hope it rings true to those of you who know me. I hold on to friends. There is a certain threshold in my heart that once people cross it, they can never ever go back. No matter how far this person drifts or how long it has been, I keep people in my heart–always. Some people might call this sentimentality, and while I agree that I am prone to being sentimental about my friends, this is something more. I will do whatever I can to honor not only the friendships I have, but also the friendships that I had.

It pains me to let people go, even when it is so obvious that it’s for the best. But when that does happen, I try to separate what caused the friendship to end from what created the friendship in the first place, then I try not to trample on the good stuff. I always hope for reunion and reconciliation while learning from my mistakes.

Some people drift simply because life and its demands dictate that we spend our valuable minutes elsewhere and so friendships don’t necessarily end, they just fade. Those friendships that have the possibility of reblooming with a little time and TLC is why I love Facebook. It has been such a blessing to be able to reunite or at least stay in touch with so many people I never intended to loose track of, but did. It gives me joy just to be in minimal contact with old friends… keeping tabs… not in a creepy or gossipy sense, but because my heart is built that way. Simply put, if you mattered to me then, you matter to me now.

Lots of people have crossed that threshold. But there are a select few whom I will not, never ever, allow to drift.  Maybe I should say here that I hope they’d never want to. But seriously, you’d have to shoot me dead and sever my arm from my corpse for me to (metaphorically, of course) ever let them go. These people are my tribe. I think they know who they are. As I reflect on this, a few might not realize they they are–which means I need to make some phone calls. But seriously, I find these people if I have to. (Again, not creepy at all, right?) This tribe is not exclusive. It can definitely grow, and I am very happy enough to say that I have people in my life now who, I believe, would be there for me through thick and thin, and would let me be there for them like these special few have over the years.

I know that I am not a perfect friend, but I try to be the best one I can be. Even those who know me best might be surprised at the depth of feeling I carry because (as talkative and open as I can be) I have a hard time telling them. And, seriously, God has put some truly exceptional people in my path and so I’d be crazy not to feel that way. I am truly One Lucky Girl to be able to share life with them. All of them.

I guess, to put it in simply, and I’ve said this before: Once I love somebody, I never ever stop.