Tuesday, July 5, 2011

235th Birthday

This was an insanely busy 3-day weekend. They tend to go that way when I am frequently spazzing out over one stupid thing or another. Monday night arrived far too quickly and was settling onto my chest heavy and full of the "have to's" of responsibility. I have to make my husband's lunch for work tomorrow. I have to do the dishes. I have to go to bed early so I can beat the heat for my morning exercise. Basically, I have to practice a modicum of self discipline in this never-ending quest to get my life back on track. And not indulge the path of least resistance my sore and aching body wants so badly to sink into. So we are getting ready for bed last night when we hear the loud !!BOOM!! of the first Independence Day fireworks. The dogs took off like a shot, barking and pouncing with all their might. I step outside onto the patio to see if there is any chance of a show far off the distance to take a quick peak at before we go to bed at (gulp and gasp) 8:30pm. SURPRISE! There is a magnificent show bursting forth right before my eyes! I holler at my husband to come join me and he toggles between in and out, trying to watch the show and soothe Porkie, who is totally freaking out. He finally gives up and goes in and I proceed to peacefully watch a beautiful fireworks display by myself on the close of this 235th birthday of the the U.S. of A.

And as my eyes are dazzled my mind wonders into the vacancy of my memories. I conjure up all sorts of ghosts from many of my 4th of July's past. I remember as a little girl we would buy the coolest box of firecrackers and my dad would set them off and all the girls would dance around the street like ballerinas with our sparkling sparklers clenched in each fist while the boys set off spinning wheels of fire whipping unpredictably across the ground. I recall the summer after high school, spending the night sleeping on a kayak parked on the sand of Mission Beach in San Diego. The evening spent traipsing the town with our underage liquor bottles wrapped in brown paper bags, fooling no one. I thought of all the years I spent in my home town, my parents somehow finagling a parking spot close enough so we were nestled in the cool grass on a rolling hill, watching the light display high above our heads as fireman dotted the perimeter, extinguishers at the ready. I fondly smiled when I thought of San Francisco. Foggy San Francisco. How many shows did we watch while the clouds and fog turned red, and then blue, and then green? Morphing into a blurred mess they would finally give up on it. But the years the weather did arrive clear and bright, oh those were priceless! We would climb up on the roof of our apartment building and lie flat on our backs as massive bursts of light and color fell in the sky right on top of us, the instinct to flinch gradually and unnaturally relaxing. We viewed the twin show taking place across the scenic San Francisco bay. And eventually we would make our way to the bar downstairs. There was always a party, and one year my husband and I were having so much fun with these Scottish tourists we met, we decided we were going to leave with them on Thursday to go back to Scotland! We ran around the bar all night telling anyone and everyone who would listen that we were going to Scotland on Thursday. And when we woke up the next morning with their phone numbers programed into our cells and flight information for Thursday to Glasgow pulled up on the computer screen we laughed. Yeah, work was real fun that day.

And then I thought of last year. And how by the months end I had evaded death with two strokes behind me and a whole other illness on top of all the others to throw into the mix. And I think of the girl I was one year ago, the girl with no future knowledge this was going to happen. Still with a spec of innocence left. Still believing life would get better, eventually. Feeling I had been kicked down as low as I could go, and the rebuilding phase was finally in place. And as I watched the beautiful display of popping lights and sparkling ribbons sailing through the air, solitary, with only my thoughts and myself, big fat tears started to roll down my cheeks. I was overcome with emotion. Good and bad. Grateful to be alive but angry I was even in a position to be grateful for something so taken for granted. Proud of the progress I have made in restoring wellness to my life. Yet bitter about the backlash the treatment for the strokes has left me with, and how much hard work it is to get it back. Ditsier, heavier, forced to quit my job, a few more crinkles and wrinkles. But the growth in my body and soul! In my heart and bones, that has been my golden goose egg in all this madness. For it finally forced me to set down my makeup brush and pick up my pen and start writing. Something I had spent my lifetime ignoring that brought me great joy. And this writing has brought together a whole bunch of people, and given me purpose and passion in my life. And as 25 bright simultaneous bursts of light lit the sky and marked the show finale I dried my cheeks and went inside. I felt cleansed, and absolutely certain I had made the most of my life so far. I had lived. So as the country celebrated its 235th birthday I sit in anticipation of the 35th of my own. For if anything has come of this I have earned every candle on my cake, every single one.

Thanks for joining,

1 comment:

  1. Leah,

    Can I keep nagging you to contribute to the chronic illness book? I just love your perspective.

    What a beautiful entry, again. You have a wonderful way with words.