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Passing the bowl

It’s just a bowl, 2016-02-27 16.18.41I tell myself as I pull it down from the comfort of its home on the second shelf of the storage cabinet where it’s been out of sight for the past year. It’s heavy, a sign it’s a good piece, not that crap you buy at Home Goods and ditch a year later. I should probably keep it, I think, but no, maybe I should sell it—at least get some money for it. I vacillate.

My head knows it’s just a stupid bowl, but my heart isn’t as easily fooled. I stare at it. It’s surrounded by two fondue pots, one that’s still in the original multi-colored gift bag. Why do I still have those fondue pots? I’ve never once made fondue—it’s too complicated for someone who turns the page on a recipe that has more than five ingredients. 

I look back at the bowl— a beautiful silver Wilton/Armor salad bowl with a set of matching tongs—something every southern bride in 2000 would have selected for her registry at the local Belk. Instead, I chose it as my holiday gift from the Pfizer holiday gift catalog the year when smoke was still brewing from where the Twin Towers once stood in downtown Manhattan.

At the time, I didn’t have a need for it, but I was looking ahead—I knew that in the not so distant future, I’d host Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthday parties, and I would want to have that bowl. I thought, it’s one less thing I would need to register for when I too, would be setting up house in favor of a corporate cubicle.

With each move to Michigan, to Tennessee, DC and back to NC, I carefully wrapped the bowl in brown packing paper and placed it in a tall U-Haul kitchen box, alongside the fondue pots and corning wear. Silently, I’d say, I am going to need this someday, I am going to want to serve a fresh tossed salad in this bowl to accompany the lasagna I’ll make for Christmas dinner.  

Today as I prepare for another move, I look at the bowl, and the voice that used to say, you’ll need me someday, no longer has an opinion—it’s gone silent. The girl who dreamed of family holidays and tablescapes of colorful serving dishes now dreams of holiday travels to places that take two days of airtime to finally arrive at your bucket list destination.

The bowl is now just a bowl—finally—a future no longer predicated on a vision of what I thought my life would be, but on what I am today. I don’t engage in idle chatter with the voices of the past, but simply place the bowl in the box set aside for Good Will donations—there’s someone out there who will use this for their Thanksgiving Day feast, but for me, I will choose to traipse across Southeast Asia in search of the perfect Mi Quang.

So for the first time in 13 years, I decided to embrace what my life has become—solo dinners and holiday travel getaways, and accept that it’s ok my life didn’t’ turn out the way I thought—large dinner parties and family Christmases. Serving bowls, tongs and fondue pots are a no longer a prerequisite for me entering adulthood—but just a symbol of a path not chosen. And well, if at some point, I want to go down that path, I can just buy a new bowl.

Happy New Year…2016 Starts Today

The rest of the world celebrated New Year’s two weeks ago. Today, I celebrate mine.

The week between New Year’s Day and my birthday is the time I take stock of who I am, my lot in life, where do I want to go, both physically and metaphorically, and the big daddy of all questions: Am I on the right track for who I want to be in 5-10 years?

This question always trips me up because for years, I’ve believed  that if I didn’t like the projected trajectory, I could change it. Often I would declare, this is the year I’m gonna make “it” happen, and so, I would make, making “it” happen my full-time job (ring in: if you want it bad enough you will make it happen). I thought that with enough hard work I could make the dream of my 10-year old self, my 32-year old self, come true. After all, isn’t that what all those dumb quotes on Pinterest tell us we’re supposed to do?

Birthdays are an excellent reminder that time does not wait for us. I try desperately to avoid birthdays–I don’t like the attention and the annual slap in the face that another year has passed and the only thing different from last year to this year is my annual budget for hair color, Botox, and chemical peels continues to increase as the signs of aging grow more prominent.

But this year, I’m done! To be clear, I’m not done with the anti-aging treatments, no, that’s crazy talk–I’m done with making the proclamation about making “it” happen. See, I am a societal novelty, a rare breed, who managed to make it to her 40’s and never marry or have a baby. This has often made me feel like a failure, defective, a misfit exiled to the island of broken toys. And for years I’ve tried to fix it, searching tirelessly, endlessly for that one defective gene that I could rip out and finally free myself from the self-imposed societal inadequacies.

Yesterday, I told a good friend who was bitching about her sister-in-law, “you’ve got to let it go.” I suppose I also need to let it go–let go of what I was supposed to be, ditch the road map, embrace my defective gene, and just be, no matter how uncomfortable just being me makes me and those around me.

And so, I think the time has come to get real, bare my soul and unravel the realities, myths and mysteries and truths about this path I’ve been traveling, the path I stare at everyday and wonder, why me?

WARNING: This is not going to be pretty and it’ll break every  instinct in my body that wants to say to you, I’m fine, I’m good, I’m okay, I love my life. Well, not always.  This road I’m on is hard and I don’t always like it, and many times I hate it, as I go around bitching with the confidence of Donald Trump that I’ve been forgotten and God’s conspiring against me. But then I settle into myself and resign that for whatever reason, I’m on this road–a road forged absent a we, but uniquely me. Here I go.

 

I hear voices

For the past couple of years, I’ve stayed pretty quiet. A blog post here and there, but no self promotion, just me and WordPress getting together once every four or five months to take a few notes about what’s on my mind, so I don’t totally lose track of these years-even though there’s much I’d rather forget.

But as I try to fall asleep, a nagging voice inside me tells me to get up and write. I try to ignore it, I really want to go to sleep, but it keeps whispering, go get your computer, write something, there’s something new for you there. I hate that voice–I don’t want to listen. But for probably the second time in my adult life, I listened and I got out from under my cozy, silk comforter to grab my computer from its home base in the kitchen.

I’m blinded by the light of my laptop as I open up the lid and type in my password. I’m remembering what those sleep experts say about not using electronics before going to sleep. Damn it, this means I’ll never make mass in the morning because I need those eight hours of sleep. Ugh, I don’t want to write, I don’t even know what to say, I hope the words come easy.  The same voice that told me to go get my computer is asking, what the hell do you have to say anyway? No one cares.

But then from a quiet corner of my soul comes a reserved, almost shy voice that says, you need to say it, others need to hear it. I’m listening, but I’m wondering, what is IT?

Questions run through my mind. Have I not been authentic? Has everything I’ve ever written been a complete ruse? Have I been fooling myself to believing that whatever persona I portrayed was really me? Ugh, this is so much to ponder on a Saturday night. But I know I’m on to something.

I look back at past posts and see the holes where I’ve been hiding. I see the stories I want to tell rather than the stories as how they were or are. I know that if I’m truly honest, I need to go deeper, I need to come out of my rabbit hole,  and unravel, unpack the beautiful mess that I am. I need to open up about my struggles, my fears, my challenges, my hopes, my dreams–all those things that make me completely vulnerable–something this tough girl doesn’t like to talk about…

 

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