So it’s 3 am. Actually now it’s 4 am because I debated for an hour whether it was better just to lie in bed and try and go back to sleep, or to just get up and jot down the thoughts that were keeping me awake. The thoughts finally won.
Last night my husband posed a question posted by Anita Moorjani on her blog to identify five things you love about yourself. At first I thought, ok. No problem. But after wracking my brain, I only came up with “Used To’s.” I used to love my skin- until last fall at a meeting when I had my reading glasses on I looked down and noticed wrinkles on my normally smooth forearm and hand. How long had those been there? Did I only just notice them because I usually don’t look at my forearm with my reading glasses on? I used to love my hair-Until I looked in the mirror the other day and noticed the strands looking dry and unruly instead of smooth and gleaming. I used to love my legs-until I noticed the cellulite I swore I would never get because, unlike my mother, I was an athlete. I remember a co-worker once popping into my office to ask a question, and looking down at my legs and saying, “are those your legs?” She thought I was wearing panty hose.
Ok. I’ve got one. I love the way sometimes I can push past my fear and do the thing I am most scared of doing. Like this past December when halfway from Quito to Esmeraldas and my father in law asked me to drive. Most of the time in Ecuador I sit in the backseat with my head between my legs I am so terrified of the anarchy they call driving. But Papi was tired and I couldn’t say no. I adjusted the seat and after a terrifying start of not being able to find reverse, I found first, and then second and then I was gone. Remembering that dance between the clutch and gas and shifting, I smiled a smile I usually only feel on my face when I am on the back of a horse. I hadn’t driven a straight in over ten years, but I rocked that car and loved every minute of it once I got over my initial fear of not being able to remember how. That’s one.
Two. I love the color of my eyes. They are green, but blue at the same time. They are always changing. I like that inconsistency.
Three. Wait. This is another “Used To.” I used to love the way my brain worked. The way just the right word or phrase would just pop into my head, like it had been waiting for me to call it up and play it like a record on a jukebox. Now sometimes I struggle to remember the last name of a friend or even common words. I fear getting Alzheimers like my grandfather.
And another “Used To.” I used to love my voice; my singing voice and my speaking voice. Once a friend used to say she loved to hear me talk. Recently I heard a recording of myself saying something and my stomach flipped over in disgust.
I did surprise myself last August when I sang in a cabin with a friend playing the guitar. Everyone had gone to bed and I was too tired to try to sing and then suddenly out of nowhere, this voice I have never heard just came out: a rich, throaty bluesy voice. I shocked myself. I loved that. I thought since I had given up singing after a failed career as an Opera singer years ago in the pursuit of a paying career as a teacher, that I had lost something that I had once been amazing at; something that had once been my secret, my little hedge against a bad day. I used to feel that no matter what happened, I had this gift. I could sing. I had a unique talent that made me special. Made me different. Made me able to take whatever the world threw at me and say, “Well yeah, but I can sing. So take that!” Ok. So maybe that is still in there somewhere waiting to be coaxed back into life. Maybe. I am going to count that as three.
Four. I love my toes. I think I still do? I have always felt I have pretty toes. Not the prettiest toes ever, but toes I don’t mind looking at even unpolished. Yes. I will count that as four.
Five. I love that I didn’t give up on Callie. She was my furry daughter and even when everyone said she was going to die, I said “No!” She will not die and I sat with her day in and day out for two months at UT Animal Hospital while struggling to finish graduate school and willed her to live and she did. She even walked again and had a joyous and happy 15 years after that horrific first year.
There. I have five things. Now I can go to bed.