Monday, March 21, 2016

To My Friend Linda

We had a good laugh this morning about the fine not-quite-linen coverings over your chicken houses, and another good laugh when I sent a reply, the YouTube link to Gretchen Wilson's break out hit, "Redneck Woman."

The chicken's heat source may be on the redneck side as a certain Christmas decor item you said is still on display at your place, but I see you as nothing less than a "high class broad," more high class, less broad.

Life has a way of dropping us on our heads sometimes and you have clambered up from that place with dignity, humor and class.  People tend to look down on others in certain circumstances, certain dwellings, all in an attempt to look briefly away from themselves, I think, but you did the hard work of looking at yourself, being completely honest about what led to that drop on the head, then went about fixing the situation--doing the very best you could with what you had, kinda like the chicken house covering.

I've heard your heartbreak over those who would not embrace the beautiful reinvention of who you were originally intended to be, minus the self-destructive behavior.  I've mourned some of those losses with you.  We certainly don't end life with all the ones who started with us and as painful as that is, I'm old enough to realize we weren't meant to.  

You and I have wept together over classmates we've lost, tried to make the final days of one a little more bearable.  You did many things to bring comfort to another, I won't name them all here because I don't want to rob you of your reward in Heaven which will be much greater than the momentary "aw" or "like" a person might receive on Earth.

I do want to thank you, though, for lending me a dress to wear in a beauty pageant more than 35 years ago.  Entering wasn't my idea, I let myself be pressed into the idea by a mutual friend.  It may have been she who arranged for you to lend me the dress, too many decades gone by to remember that part with clarity.  I didn't win, I didn't even place, but from that day I have a portrait of myself which captured the apex of any physical beauty the Lord may have endowed.  Of course that is subjective, and evidently the judges didn't see it.  (Insert emoji of laughter with tears running down face which you often use in our communications.)  The pageant portrait I still have was done for free by a then-prestigious local photographer who would never have aimed a camera at a girl whose family was too poor to pay for his work.  

The pageant was something I'd otherwise never gotten to do as well, wearing a dress my widowed mother could not have afforded to buy for me.  I don't know how appreciative I was then, I'm reckoning not so much because I had the dress hanging in my closet for a long time afterwards, you had to ask for it back.  

Anyway, I am grateful now.  It takes some of us longer than others to develop genuine gratitude.

In the pageant I was forced outside my comfort zone, dancing to "Rock the Boat" onstage with the other girls.  I was much more comfortable the night I jumped onstage at a local bar and cut a little rug.  In the pageant, at the point where I was introduced individually, I choked.  My brutally honest mother said she knew at that point I wouldn't place because "you were too stiff."

That was a precursor of who I really was at heart.  I'd rather be heard than seen.  I'd have never danced onstage at a bar without a few (or more) beers under me to obliterate my inhibitions.  I found my voice behind a home personal computer and it is from this safe place I feel brave enough to let you, let anyone see who I think I am and say what I really meant to say.  

I told you several things about our most recently deceased classmate I admired.  Before either you or I kick the bucket, which I hope isn't too soon, I wanted to highlight what you mean to me, the sweet influence you've had on my life, both in the past and the present.  I'm awfully good at turtle-shelling, but you won't have any of it, and that's good for me.  Thank you.

Love you.  Hugs.  Happy Easter.  Insert all the emojis.  You're good at choosing all the right ones.  Self-righteous people like to say, "I knew her when..."  Well, I'd like to say I knew you before you got your emoji on, and you were as delightful a person then as you are now.