Thursday, August 9, 2012

Twenty Seconds

My friend P and I met during our first period class on the first day of high school.   I managed to see her  through my mass of 1989 Jersey hair, which, sadly, was crimped for first day of school stylistic effect.    It's entirely possible that my hair and my braces outweighed the rest of my 4'10", 75 pound body.  Thankfully (or regretfully),  my "claw" of Jersey bangs propelled me over the then-elusive 5 foot threshold.

I managed to see her through HER mass of 1989 Jersey hair, which reached dazzling heights courtesy of a Stiff Stuff/Aqua Net cocktail.  (You Jersey girls out there know exactly what that entails). Her hair was naturally curly---an attribute I envied for years.  Her name was alliterative--an attribute I envied even more.  For years.

We became fast friends.

Alphabetical order was also our friend, and P sat right behind me in nearly every class for 4 years.  

We shared a middle name (though I'm not sure if either one of us actually liked it), the written word, an outlook on life and wicked sarcasm.  We both got great grades and had extremely strict parents.  Neither one of us had ever taken so much as a step out of line.

We also shared a mutual desire to maximize our parents' tuition dollars by spending as little time as humanly possible actually paying attention in class.

Frankly, I'm amazed we learned anything at all.  

Our shared love of sarcasm and the written word led us to our enduring legacy--- the notes we passed, back and forth, all day long.  

We quickly learned that so long as you wrote the proper school heading on the top of the notebook page,  our teachers believed that we were ambitious and getting a head start on our assignments instead of screwing around all day, discussing those matters that teenage girls find to be so pressing.  Many of them were laugh out loud funny.  Some were funny on the surface, but actually thinly veiled something much more substantive just under the surface.

I kept every one.

Actually, I'm not amazed we learned anything at all.  We learned everything that mattered.

Life happens and it changes and it twists and it turns, and I lost P for a number of years.  I thought of her on my wedding day - the day my name FINALLY became alliterative, too.  

And then, years later,  I found her again.   It was then that I learned that you don't ever really lose that which is part of you---it simply resurfaces when you are ready to see it again.

We were great together as kids.  We've even better together as adults.  We still share a love of the written word, and an outlook on life, and our wicked sarcasm.   We also share the experience of a parent with cancer (the same kind, to boot, and it's not a common kind), a few battle wounds,  and our imperfectly wonderful only children---who are partners in crime.  We have taken steps out of line, and we've made some dubious choices and plenty of mistakes---and we've ended up exactly where we should be.

You don't ever lose that which is part of you.

We don't pass notes anymore, but we've found an even better way to communicate our irreverent thoughts.  

Yay Facebook!  Yay, Pinterest!  

I am absolutely a big fan of a source of convenient witticism for people with kids and jobs and chronic exhaustion that precludes us from inventing our own original irreverent thoughts much of the time.

Here are some of the classics that P and I have recently shared:

True dat!

Welcome to my world

C'mon, you know you've thought this

Sluts are people, too

And then, P shared one that truly resonated.  Like the shake-you-to-your-core kind of resonate.

Twenty seconds.  Twenty seconds.

Lives catapulted from fine to amazing.

Twenty seconds of courage.

All it takes.  Twenty seconds.

P has her own absolutely remarkable 20 second story---but that's her story to tell and not mine.  So I won't tell it---but I will say that P's bravery is otherworldly and the dividends were huge.

But I've catalogued my own inventory of 20 second moments.  My life---my messy, overbooked, chaotic, richly rewarding life--- was MADE in less than 4 minutes.

Those little twenty second bursts of humiliating, no-hold-barred courage----they made my life.

I'm convinced that those 20 second moments are almost always blurted out---hands shaking, voice shaking, words partially incomprehensible---and in those moments, we are at our most "real".

At least mine were, anyway.

20 seconds of:

I like you----please like me back.
I like you---please be my friend and play with me.
I like you---more than I originally intended
I think I love you----please love me back
I think I'm broken---please fix me
I messed up--- please forgive me
I'm miserable---please help me fix it
I need a friend----please take me in
I think I can---and I'm gonna try
I think I can- will you believe in me?

20 seconds.  An amazing life.  Not a bad trade.  

Of course, like many truths, this is simple but far from easy.  20 seconds is an excruciatingly long time to expose your soul to anyone---especially to someone who can just as easily drop or catch you.

20 seconds.  Worth the risk.

Thank you, P.

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