Daily Prompt: Tomorrow is the first day of a brand new year. Tomorrow you get to become anyone in the world that you wish. Who are you? You can choose to by anyone, alive today or someone gone long ago. If you decide to stay “you” share your rationale.
When I was a kid, I would have answered this question with gusto and with the reply of whatever superhero or villain I was intrigued with at the time. Now, I can’t stand this way of thinking. Why would I choose to be someone else? When I am, in all honesty, content with being myself.
I’m an amazing cook, a decent baker, and can’t carry a tune to save my life. I take pretty pictures and write well enough to amuse myself and sometimes, others. I’m fascinating, intelligent, loyal, beautiful and inspiring. I’m overworked, overweight, underread, and working to reverse these things. I’m a work in progress. And I like my progress so far.
I wish more people would look into themselves and say, “Y’know, I’m pretty cool as myself, too,” rather than wish they were in someone else’s shoes. Why?
Someone else’s shoes can be entirely uncomfortable.
I always like to tell the story of when we found our rescue, Lady. My husband and I knew we wanted to rescue a dog: they deserve good homes and mutts are generally healthier.
We had been to the pound just a few times, to see what types of dogs we were drawn to. We passed over puppies as they were too young and tend to get adopted out quicker than older dogs.
It was on our second or third trip to the dull grey and antiseptic place that we would meet. Narrow hallways were lined with fenced cages where clipboards dangled the details of the lives of their contents. Many clipboards had laminated color-coded cards stacked over the paperwork: they were getting homes. Many more were left blank, just waiting for that pop of color, that pop of hope.
The very last cage door, on the left of the first row, was our Lady. We about walked right by her as she blended in completely with the shadows. She was quiet and timid, but once we knelt down to see her we could see large soft brown eyes and the floppiest of ears.
She leaned up against the cage door, and let my husband pet her through the gaps in the wire fence. A volunteer came by and saw us, and had she not stopped to give this tiny dog a Kong cone filled with peanut butter, we may never have adopted this dog.
She was just too damn adorable.
Most dogs attack a Kong, grab them between their paws and lick until they’re blue in the face. Not this one. She stood on all four paws and bent to gently lick at. It rolled away. Again, she stepped over to it and licked. Rinse and repeat. She followed it along her cage floor and walked in circles to keep up with it. We were sold.
My husband and I stood up, laughing, and began talking with the volunteer. The little card on her clipboard meant “sale” – they were trying to move her like inventory. She was only about five months old, up to date on shots, ready to be spayed and ready for a home. She had been at the pound for nearly four months, which means we passed her up in the puppy section at one of our last visits. This dog was on clearance.
We waved goodbye to the little dog in the corner cage and went with the volunteer to fill out paperwork that night. A week later we picked up our bundle of joy and her entire world changed.
It didn’t really dawn on me what we had done until my mother came over to meet her grand-dog.
“You saved her life,” my mother told me.
And that’s when it hit me. Hard.
You see, we got her from a shelter that puts dogs down. They adopt out quickly, but many dogs that don’t get adopted get euthanized just to make room for more incoming.
I am the baby of the family. My sister is 10 years my senior, my brother 8 years my senior.
I am the baby.
By the age six, I had started asking for a baby brother or sister to play with. My little mind did not grasp the concept that it takes time to have a child. Even more time to have a playmate, which by then I’d be seven years its senior.
In my head it was as simple as asking for a gift from Santa. It appeared shortly after having asked for it. Like cookies from the jar, younger siblings had to be stored somewhere. We could just go out and get one.
Luckily, my parents were not the type to give into childish requests, cries nor demands. Despite my promise to help raise it, cross my heart.
Gah, it makes my stomach clench at the thought of the sound.
People that know me know: I hate talking on the phone. So, the people that know me: don’t call. If they need to discuss something so important, they know to do it in person. I spend so much time on the phone with work, I really hate being on the phone for personal reasons.
Oh, the sound of a ringing phone. Who is calling? Do I even want to talk to them? Why are they calling? What do they want – they must want something? Or, oh boy, who died?
I spend the few seconds it takes to answer the call going through possible scenarios to prepare myself, or just make myself that much more anxious about the call itself.
For example: one day at work, my cell phone rang and I almost had a heart attack right in my desk chair. The blood drained from my face and hands. I almost didn’t want to answer it, but knew I had to: it was my mother-in-law calling.
She never calls me.
She never calls me directly, she always calls her son’s phone. My mind raced. Something terrible happened. What happened to my husband? Is he sick? Did he get into an accident? Where is he? No, it’s too soon, I can’t lose him.
You get the picture.
I leapt from my chair to answer my cell phone and my mother-in-law’s voice comes through on the other end.
“Hey Patty, it’s V. I’m at Kohl’s shopping and want to know what size shirt C wears now? Is it still a medium?”
I blanked. For several seconds I could not register anything. I swallowed the lump in my throat, set my heart’s pace back to normal and took a breath. I don’t entirely recall what I said in reply, other than to confirm he still wore a medium shirt, but I do recall wanting to hang up on her immediately after chewing her out for the anxiety and panic attack she just induced.
Looking back, it is a funny story: nothing bad happened and the shirt my husband received for a gift looks quite dashing on him. But the next time she called, I let it go to voice-mail and waited to worry. And I’m glad I did… it was the same question.
The ringing phone is a constant source of anxiety for me.
I didn’t fully understand my learning style until I was perhaps 15 or 16 years old. At the time, I was taking riding lessons at a local family owned barn and my instructor was trying to teach me the proper seat for Dressage.
During posting, I would either lift my seat up correctly and land back on my bum too hard, or I would have my feet in a position just so that I would about eject myself over the head of the horse. It was frustrating for me, and I can only imagine how frustrating for her. Not to mention the poor horse (sorry, Montana).
At the end of one of my lessons she gave me a book on proper positioning to take home and study. I read as much as I could until the next lesson, at which she then bombarded me with more information and more advanced technique. I seemed to be able to grasp the concepts behind the over-my-head complicated techniques, but the simple stuff made my head hurt. She recognized that. I’m not sure if I did at the time or not.
I learn backwards.
Basically, I need to have all of the information given to me at the start. The last lesson should be my first, and I’ll proceed from lesson two with a much better understanding.
Luckily for me, she also went with the concept and changed up her teaching style for me. She began lessons with talking about advanced riding techniques, putting really complicated concepts and big pictures into my head, which made the beginner, small picture, stuff I was working on in that lesson make more sense. She bombarded me and it was awesome.
Did my riding improve? I’ll leave that for her to judge, but I’m pretty certain that light-bulb moment of a lesson improved my life. Now, when there is something I need or want to learn, I start at the back of the book, so to speak.