Playing on the uneven bars in elementary school. Graduating from tentatively hanging by my knees and being assisted with a flip to soaring backwards through the air and landing a flip like a gymnast. Launching myself backwards over and over and over again, often in tandem with a friend. Missing the days when I was small but thought I was big, back when my bones were apparently made of elastic and Jello.
Making string cheese with my Girl Scout troop. Visiting a radio station with the same and getting heart-shaped cookies that promoted Hart to Hart. Totally appropriate for children. Sure.
Exploring the neighborhood behind my childhood home in Santa Fe with my brother and our friends. Watching him collect tadpoles to bring home in a glass jar. Making mud pies, swinging on tree branches, sitting in a broken-down truck in my neighbor's backyard and pretending to drive. Hearing clearly the vroom and zoom sounds I make even now when I'm in an especially good mood.
Riding in the U-Haul with my dad when my family moved to Indianapolis. Watching him cross four lanes of traffic safely but ever so quickly so we wouldn't miss our exit to get to Indiana.
Flash forward: Being so proud of myself for navigating my way out of St. Louis and managing to stay on the interstate for once. Hightailing for home and realizing about 15 minutes into my journey that I was zipping towards Kansas City instead of Indianapolis. Turning around... and promptly exiting the interstate.
Flashback: My first concert at age 11 -- the Oak Ridge Boys (then my favorite group) at the state fairgrounds. The concert was partially drowned out by a tractor pull. Welcome to Indiana!
Being at a Billy Joel concert when I was 16. Dad got tickets for the family, even though I was the only one who really wanted to go. With chagrin, he told me the tickets were behind the stage. I was disappointed, but we were going. (And good god, be more ungrateful, kid.) We got there and it turned out we were about 15 seats from the stage. At one point, Joel ran from the front of the stage to the back, spun a keyboard around, and played directly to us. We. Lost. Our. Shit. At the same concert, watching Dad happily clap along to the one song he knew and insisting "We didn't light the fire!" which remains a family in-joke to this day.
Age 19 and deeply in love with a boy named Chris. Never forgetting that our last conversation was a fight that never got resolved.
Forays into volunteer work at 24 when I met some amazing women who, by simple virtue of their kindness and honesty, would help me heal from years of mistreatment from people I had mistakenly called friends.
Turning 30 and meeting my first real girlfriend. Despite not being a good match, remembering fondly that she would affect a silly accent and have a conversation with my boobs after we got in bed for the night. Asking them how their day was, what they had for lunch, if they'd filed their taxes on time. Breaking up by the canal downtown a few months later and being so heartbroken that she didn't fight for us.
Starting some intense therapy which got me talking about food issues and toxic relationships and doing some hard work that enabled me to cry after years of anger and stoicism. Surviving my 30s and the many losses the decade dumped in my lap, including friendships that abruptly ended, beloved family members who passed away, and more than one layoff.
Poetry readings. Crushes. Dreams so vivid they must have been astral projections. Warm kitties. Adventures in cooking. Dancing. Singing. Creating. Road trips. Wine. Tattoos. Realizing that a release of bad energy always meant something pretty amazing came into my life.
Receiving more and more praise about my writing, getting published in major publications like The Huffington Post, and even earning some money as a writer. Enough to buy a Lexus, even.
And now: Struggling. Struggling. Struggling. But raising my bowed head and seeing, as if watching a home movie, the spaces in between where I laughed so hard I doubled over. And here, on the right, the moments when I was loved fiercely, especially when I couldn't love myself. And there, the times when I stood up for myself and walked away victorious, even if I barely made it out the door before the tears started. Feeling a magical and electric energy vibrating to the surface of my skin, thrumming as if to say It's difficult now. It hurts. You are being twisted in ways you didn't know you could bend, but each of these moments will, sooner rather than later, become the memories you look back on. All these things that seem so crucial and vibrant right now will fade until they're nothing more than the strains of a song at a concert, or a pillow-talk conversation with someone you might not even recognize today.