Mar 13, 2011

Life is like a Box of Roller Coasters

'Your hands are beautiful'.  I am 15, working my first job, an ice cream parlor, and this is the first time an almost-man, has ever said something so personal to me.  Mr. Ice Cream Parlor boy works behind the grill flipping burgers and dunking fries.  I work behind the counter scooping ice cream or waiting tables on $1 Banana Split days, splattered at the end of my shift with sticky hot fudge, maraschino cherry juice, yellowed whipped cream and a muddy rainbow of various ice creams.  He says 'your hands are so slender, delicate'.  Never having before thought of my hands as anything but hands, I look down at them and see them through his eyes and hear 'I want you, I love you, I see you'.  One date and a few kisses later the romance is over.  Without him I feel once again unwanted, unloved, unseen.  The words that never stop echoing in my head when I'm alone.

Multiple romances followed.  Like slowly climbing to the top of a dozen roller coasters, electrified with anticipation at the mind-blowing ride ahead, then dropping to the bottom and finding each ride over with no hair-raising inversions, no death-defying twists, no euphoria at having survived.  You have beautiful ~something or other~ and I would hear 'I want you, I love you, I see you'.  Before I was 20 one ride lasted eighteen tumultuous, impetuous, passionate months and ended with my heart so deeply devastated I thought I would die.  Once again, I was unwanted, unloved and unseen.  

Four years later one more 'you have beautiful eyes' came along.  I was lonely and weary of the ride ending the same way.  He was lonely and ready to get married.  Three amazing children and 26 years later, the longest roller coaster I'd ever ridden came to an end.  But this time it didn't slow to a stop and come to a rest at the station where we could buy our picture  in the gift shop.  This ride careened off its rails, crashed through the guard rails and flung me out into the atmosphere, completely unsure of where I would land or if it would kill me when I did.  I wasn't just unwanted, unloved and unseen.  This time the words weren't just echoing, they were shouting that I was alone, abandoned and that I deserved it.  They drowned out my own voice of reason and for a time I went a little mad.  I left my near grown children without a moral compass or a parent they could count on.  I made some choices that I'm still not sure of.  I left my 17-year old son alone too much.  I tried to make Christmas normal and in the process nearly wrecked the whole thing.  I gave away books and clothes and crap from the garage that maybe I should have sold later because I'll need the cash.  

And then I landed and I wasn't dead.  Deeply bruised and my heart lacerated, but not dead. On the contrary, flying through the vast uncharted regions of loveless and lonely air I discovered my life.  I discovered me.  I discovered that I'm an optimist, I love to laugh, I love to write, I love to read, I love to dance, I love a thousand kinds of music, I love making new friends, I love connecting with old friends and I have incredible friends; I can find a job, take some classes and enjoy every day for what it brings.  And some days bring nothing but pain.  I still don't have a job, have no idea how I'll pay the bills a year from now, don't  know where I'll be living at the end of November, don't know if this single thing is forever-until-I'm-dead-permanent, but I really love my life.

If I ever climb aboard another roller coaster, I am thoroughly prepared to enjoy every twist, every turn, every scream-inducing plunge knowing that if or when the ride ends, I will still want, love and see me.


Tracy said...

You are much loved~ and now you know how to tell a good roller coaster from a rickety one. Enjoy the rest of your life. I heart you.

Anonymous said...

Nice work....Life is one big ride for all of us.