One beautiful summer morning my brother and I fetched our good friend, Steven, who lived across the street. We wanted to play. All of us were around 6-7 years of age.
I had a brilliant idea. I suggested we stand on either side of our street, Steven on one side and big brother and I on the other.
The charge was to demonstrate our 7-year-old strength, agility, and skill by throwing rocks OVER passing cars.
We were talented. We were accurate. We were well equipped to handle the challenge. That was until the ’73 White Camaro drove by.
We calculated, we paused then I hurled that rock. But something happened.The rock neglected to clear the roof of the car. It failed me.
That damn rock whaled itself right into the driver’s side panel.
A thin, stylish young woman with a large bouffant hairdo, wearing a white mini-dress and white patent leather clunky sandals got out of the car and pointed her long pink pearly fingernail at us and just-
We were petrified. We ran. Big Brother and I hid underneath sofa in our den. The one that had the burlap cushions and the black wood frame with swirls and little pears painted on it.
We hung out with the dust bunnies ’till mom found us. I confessed. She was angry and stern.
But later I heard her on our yellow rotary phone in the kitchen telling our neighbor, Mrs. Nichols what happened. Mom did not seem so angry, after all.
Sometimes, we think that we have what it takes. We feel overzealous. But our actions can be destructive even with the best of intentions. Sometimes we think we are a lot stronger than we actually are.
As grown ups, it is hard to keep company with dust bunnies under a retro couch.
I have had my moments of feeling like Helen Reddy. Other times I want to melt away. I want to quit. And quitting is embarrassing. Quitting requires humility especially when you quit while you are ahead.
I had a crush on my banker. There was idle prattle each day as I executed my official business banking activity. We learned that we both shared an interest in fitness. Soon after, I learned that he was on some serious, competitive Rugby team. G. Q. had just done a photo shoot of his team all dirty with “”cauliflower” ears. But I did not know that when I agreed to go on a running date with him.
He invited me to go for a run along Boston’s Esplanade. “SURE!” an overenthusiastic Mary replied. Off we went me wearing my cute lavender/purple matching lycra running “outfit.” He chatted. I panted
I thought, “How freaking long is this date (strike that) RUN going to last????”
I surrendered myself to a bench. He jogged in place looking puzzled. Date over.
I thought I was invincible. I wanted to impress him. I committed to a “running date” with an elite athlete and believed that I could keep up with him. I bit off WAY more than I could chew.
And in trying to impress him, in attempting to be someone who I was not, I ended up feeling embarrassed. I did not end up with a second date, either. But that is another story.
That run was much like that rock that slammed into the Camaro. I did not expect that outcome. I was humbled. But I went to meet my friends for a beer after that humiliating date instead of hanging out under the couch. That was an uptick.
My girlfriends talked me off the ledge.
Let me share an example of my poor judgment that turned out with a positive twist.
I knew my first husband for many years. We were acquaintances living in the same Boston neighborhood. He was attractive and charming. Over the years, our friendship grew and eventually we started dating.
Our relationship seemed perfect. We were in the throws of early infatuation then puppy love. It all seemed just ideal and fulfilling and meant to be, and I was over the moon!
Before long we were saying the L word. Within a year, we were engaged and together we bought a condo in Boston’s Back Bay.
Moving in together was an eye opener.
Our idealistic relationship became real and raw and hard. What seemed perfect went sour. I was unhappy. As was he.
We started out happy and loving and kind to one another. Once the ring was placed on my finger, the tide changed.
Jealousy became poison. I could not defend myself against crimes I did not commit. We were in constant drama and turmoil.
My stomach was in knots all the time.
We were co-dependent. It was not good.
As a perfectionist, failure was not an option. I could fix it. I could make him love me if I just loved him BEST and BETTER. I could teach him not to be unjustifiably jealous.
I could change him. I knew it.
All you need is love, right?
I took off my engagement ring about two months before we got married. When I learned that I was pregnant just ten weeks before our wedding, I saw it as a sign and put the ring back on my finger.
I decided that I had enough love to save US. I was certain that we would live happily ever after. We would have a beautiful, perfect life with our condo in the Back Bay and our baby.
Boy was I wrong.
Three days before we said, “We do” we had our first appointment with the OB. It was not good. There was no heartbeat. I miscarried.
His family was arriving from Ireland while I was in the hospital. There was no turning back. Or so I thought.
I think he would agree that we both should have legged it from that altar.
A year later I was pregnant and nine months later had a gorgeous boy. Blessed.
But my husband and I never made it. It was a struggle from the start. It was a hard six years. It ended. But we had our joy, our son, which made it all worthwhile.
Here is the takeaway. We all aspire. We have the best of intentions. But you know what? Things do not always go as planned.
We are not always capable of what we think. And that is a beautiful thing, kids!
At the end of the day, that just says that we have a high opinion of our power. Of what we are capable.
It is ok if you cannot hurl that rock over the Camaro. The part to focus on is that you believed in yourself. You took the chance. You look back and see that your choice may not have been a wise one, but you lived through it.
And eventually, Sugar, you crawl out from under that couch, wipe off the dust bunnies and say, “Onward!”
Failure is an option.
And the strength to accept it, accept yourself as a human being with the delightful ability to be less than perfect is just, well, perfect.
Now, shake things up, honey, and have some fun. And please, for the love of Pete, quit beating yourself up. We can’t always clear the Camaro with a huge rock.