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Monday, September 17, 2012

The Power of Chance Encounters.

I sit and wrack my brain for something to take hold.

A funny story? Recent personal struggles? Kid stuff? Navel gazing? None of it seems right, every idea feels forced before I can open up the text box.

I default to the other blog because I have a plan and direction and photos there. I write something, erase it, try again. I think it is witty and slightly different from my norm, there, and I am happy with it. Kyle chuckles as I read it aloud to him, on cue almost, and I schedule it.

And I'm back to where I started.

I don't know how many posts I can write like this. Apparently a lot. At least it feels that way.

But this time is different. This time is virtual stage fright.

When things that I've done in my house get shared or featured on other house-centric sites, I am giddy and bouncy and all filled up with validation and acceptance because I know that I do good things, I love my home, and so do other people. It is pretty awesome, even if it's in a terrible neighborhood. So to see it blow up on a small scale just feels right, somehow, despite what all the experts say.

But when it's my words, my thoughts, my opinions, that is a harder thing to process.

It's not that I'm not flattered, or validated, or somehow fortified by it happening, it's just weird to me, the young, timid, over-eager, painfully self-depreciating and completely without self-esteem girl inside of me cringes what's the catch, when do they point and laugh? because that's a lot of what we've known, she and I, over the years.

I wait for the trolls, the known and the non.

They do not come.

And I am dumb-stricken.

I have a lot of opinions. I get emotionally invested in practically everything. I have often used this space to veer away from the expected pieces about my kids and my marriage and maybe even my cats to talk about the things that weigh heavy on my mind and burn brightly, hotly in my soul.

It is usually greeted with silence, and I try very hard not to take that personally.

Last Thursday I took the kids out for a day-date; we went to the story time at the bookstore by my mom's house so I could grab a pumpkin spice latte while they played at the train table and then we got lunch at Panera -- at noon, by the Air Force base and the college I attended and the new hospital they built between the two because I'm smart like that, with my easily-over-stimulated children -- and they were remarkable, aside from wanting to be held simultaneously.

Yes, I power lift/hold them. Tova's only five pounds behind Kiedis, so I'm pretty much rocking 65-70 lbs of toddler weight as my regime these days. I don't really have a choice, much.

But as I stood in line and they were doing so incredibly well for them in a loud and crowded place, waiting in line to place our order, I noticed an older woman looking on, smiling fondly at them (as it happens kind of regularly, to be honest) and I suddenly could place her face, in front of desks in a modular unit outside of my junior high school.

She was my ninth grade English teacher, the one who redeemed me from being kicked out of the honors class the year before because my seventh grade teacher ... I don't know what was up there, but I have my suspicions. My eighth grade teacher quietly gave me the honors level work on top of my intermediate level load, and I passed with flying colors.

My ninth grade teacher made me prove that I'd earned it. I learned to never take my intelligence or talents for granted in her classroom.

I leaned in towards her, trying to be subtle, and asked the question I have watched my mom dread time and again -- if she was a teacher in the school district I went to.

A quiet smile crossed her face, a sort of of course as I barely finished my sentence.

I told her my name (though honestly I almost forgot my maiden name, I'm so used to saying my full married name anymore) and I watched her face light up as she shot up out of her seat and cradled my face in her kind hands.

She told me she had the fondest memories of me, of my class and that trailer and of me, oh, how very good it was to see me.

And I was able to tell her, when she asked what I do after complimenting my children, that I write. I stay at home with my kids and I blog and I write and sometimes I even get paid for it.

Her eyes rolled back in her head momentarily, as if that was the answer she was hoping to hear.

We chatted quickly as the line was progressing and I couldn't give up our spot without chancing an epic meltdown, so I shifted along until it was apparent I was too far to have civil conversation with.

When she told me it was so very good to see me, I knew she meant it.

It filled my heart with such happiness to see her and to realize she really was rooting for me, all along, and fourteen years later still was.

And then I came home and saw that tweet and was all EFF NO YOU DON'T GET TO TALK ABOUT MY PEOPLE LIKE THAT. Vent, proofread, make Kyle read it to make sure I'm not taking a one-way ticket to crazy town, schedule, fin.

Except not because then other people read it, as they do when you publish something to the Internet.

And people rooted with me, agreeing with my sentiments, and I breathed a sigh of relief because sometimes, when you put yourself out there, people aren't so kind.

But a few, a few (for whom I have tremendous respect) had nice things to say about my words and how I use them and I remember how my ninth grade teacher pushed me in her gentle, yet stern way and how lucky I was to be able to tell her it was not for naught.

It is hard for me to accept praise and compliments. It is something I am constantly working on because I fight such deep-seated unworthiness that it often exhausts me physically to realize that people really do just like me for me and I can't even finish this sentence because it's making me feel panicky in my chest and lalalalalala I can't hear myself.

But just that one meeting, on a random Thursday, I can handle. I can be proud and say without hesitation that I'm a writer now and see that that was someone's hope for me, way back when. And I can take that and hold it close to my heart and keep it for all these other times I feel like I have nothing of value to say and the pressure to be smart/funny/brave/honest/poignant/ranty starts to pull at the seams of my resolve, erasing the words before I can even write them down, and I can hope it will pull me back together to the only constant I have ever known to be a true strength of mine.

Thank you, for the kindness and the solidarity (someone offered to make buttons; I believe this should happen like RIGHTNOW) and the belief in my words and my angst and that they are worth something, worth sharing, worth supporting.

And to my ninth-grade English teacher, if she ever stumbles upon this blog, thank you. For all you did then, and for what you do now, thank you. I would not be who I am without your guidance (nor would I have such a broad, albeit quasily-exercised, vocabulary) and your appearance in my life for that fleeting moment last week gave me everything I needed to keep going down this road of strength and self-acceptance and storytelling.

Thank you.