on the catwalk

I am afraid of heights. I close my eyes on roller coasters. I spend most of my time on a ski lift trying to decide If I fell off if I would survive. I choose an aisle seat on an airplane over a window one - even if it means that my big toe will get run over by the beverage cart or I will get woken up every time my seatmate needs to potty. The London Eye made me want to hypervenelate...and didn't feel the need to linger too long on the observation decks of the Sears tower, the Space Needle or the Empire States Building. The Capilon Suspension bridge in Vancuver almost made me throw up. It didn't help that my husband and brother tried to make it sway and bounce as I attempted to make it across while not soiling myself. In the rain.

When I was 11 my parents sent me to camp. Sleep away classic summer camp for most of July. I loved it so much that I went back almost every summer until I was 21 and still keep up with some of the people I met there. I vividly remember pulling in that first Sunday with my footlocker in the back of my dad's suburban. We parked at the guest center and someone pointed us to the dormatories. They said that they were just  across the catwalk.

This catwalk was no fashion runway. But a very long faded red bridge that spanned at least the length of two football fields with the main road running underneath it. It was wide enough for girls to walk 3-4 across linking arms and high enough that at least a few times each summer to see people repelling right off the middle. The part you walked on however was not solid, but more of series of grates with lots of tiny holes so that you could see everything beneath you. My stomach dropped. And my dad, who I must have inherited this fear from, hopped right back in the car and suggested that we drive across.

After all those summers I am not sure, he ever walked across it.

I on the other hand learned to conquer many high places in that zipcode. There was the ropes course that ended with you climbing up a telphone pole and jumping off in hopes of catching a trapeeze dangling several feet in front of you.  A giant slide that you hauled a heavy wooden sled up and went flying down into the Guadalupe on. And later on nights off, after a little liquid encouragement, a real bridge on FM 1340 that people would dare you to jump off into the frigid river that was high enough that your bathing suit, upon force of impact, would literally cut you in places that you. did. not. want. the. camp. nurse. to apply ointment. And church service on a ledge so high that you could see the birds all flying beneath you and wonder if you couldn't breath because the air was so much thinner up that high or that you were just out of breath from the long ass hike up the hill.
I may have been afraid. but. I jumped and missed, I dropped that damn sled on my toe, I made it up the hill in my sunday whites week after week and I learned that nothing sobers you up faster than having your bathing suit slice your crack as you hit the river in the middle of the night.

The catwalk was taller than all those things. And my first trip across was made quick and fast, not looking or trying to look afraid. But anxious to get some hard solid concrete beneath my feet. It had to be conquered at least a dozen times a day because the dining hall, the tennis courts, the swimming pool,  any building with ariconditioning or a TV and the boys camp were all on the other side.
The paint was always chipping and to this day I can still tell you exactly which panels were loose. Because if you jumped on them, the whole bridge felt like it was ratlling. At some point in time we all carved our names into the middle, as well as spelled out messages in the rocks below and in the middle of the night you could usually find someone there sucking quickly on a cigarette hoping not to get caught. And at the end of our term we'd all lay across it, getting grid marks pressed into our arms, legs and even our faces as we waited to see our family cars make the climb up the big hill.

This was not a place that fear lived. We had to leave it at home. With our make up and boyfriends or lack of boyfriends and the latest YM magazine. So every morning after flag we skipped or ran or banged loudly across that red bridge. Often with our arms linked. Everyone's favorite trick, was to walk very quickly (you weren't allowed to run, and most people who did ended up looking like someone attacked their legs with a cheese grater) while looking down. If you walked  fast enough the little criss cross panels holding you up blurred and disappeared and it looked and almost felt like you were walking on air. It was scary and thrilling until you eventually ran into the person in front of you. Scared or not, when else do you get the chance to walk on air. So daily --- you would see guests or girls, faces down, speed walking across that bridge. Because really, for just a few moments, they were flying.

I haven't set foot on that bridge in well over a decade, but I imagine that the 3rd panel from the middle still rattles. That the paint is still chipped and that there are all new sets of initials carved in the bench and on the rails. And that it would still scare me a little to walk across it.

And I often walk through hard things in my life just like I walked across the bridge that first time.that walking across it quickly and with my eyes closed is no way to live for very long. And sometimes life calls for just getting through it. (like the line at the DMV). But it is not a good way to live for very long. With your eyes closed.
I'm sure I'd try the walking on air trick and linger in the middle to read what people wrote in the rocks.
But, these days, I see the value in walking a little slower. In looking down. Not so much at the cars beneath me, but so I could notice of all the things holding me up.

second grade setup

I have some great and amazing friends. Ones that will bring me a meal when I'm sick, flea bomb my house, split their fries with me or listen to me not make any kind of sense for long stretches at a time and laugh at my jokes. Even when they aren't all that funny.
But sometimes I still long for something a little bit closer. In proximity and intensity.
A best friend. Even though I am probably already blessed beyond measure in that department.
I know that I am too old for this, but I long for a BFF just like I did back in the 2nd grade. When everyone else showed up to school on Fridays with a sleeping bag and a note to go home with a friend.

I can not stress enough, how great my friends are. How I've found a solid group of 4-5 girls that I can ask the hard questions to -- like what to do about my kid's rash, if my outfit looks ridiculous or what kind of wine to buy. And as a grown up, well...i just don't have the kind of time that I did when I was younger. And I do really miss my clear neon light up phone that I spent half my waking time on. Now, I do not need to waste hours discussing who is hotter Brandon or Dylan. But sometimes I'd still like someone to run a race with. Eat lunch with. Or discuss who is hotter Ryan Gosling or Bradley Cooper.

Let's not even mention that my husband is amazing. He likes to watch Anthony Bordain with me, pushes me to run faster and try harder and doesn't flip out when I spend our grocery money on Mumford and Sons tickets. He is a great friend, even if he doesn't want to hear about my uterus or get a pedicure.

And people at work can make me laugh until my stomach hurts. Share their diet cokes when I am crashing and send emails from my computer (as me) asking for advice about my rash...and cover my classes in a pinch.

I have people. Great people. Amazing people.
I shouldn't be, but sometimes, I am still really lonely.
And I wish making friends, and keeping them and sorting it all out was as easy as it was in 2nd grade. When eventually, I ran into the other new girl on the playground with a chili bowl hair cut and ended and suddenly I had sleepovers and half a heart necklace of my own.

So, when I am tucking my son in at night recently...and he sighs and tells me he doesn't have any friends at school. My heart breaks.
And then a few days later, in the pick up line at school -- he tells me he wishes he had people to play with at recess. Instead of walking around by himself.
I felt that ache in my chest again and it didn't go away when even after I bought both of us a snow cone on the way home.

My son has people. Just like me. Our cul-de-sac is the place to be until the sun goes down. Last night there were at least 7 boys out there on bikes, scooters and go carts. Playing, giggling and skinning knees. There are bases taped to the street for impromptu games of kickball. And I do not go easy on any one under the age of 5. He plays baseball and soccer and seems to be the one at practice easily cutting up with the other kids. We go to church and he makes friends with even the high school age helpers. And my friends of course, have kids that he can't wait to play with.
but. he is still lonely. He isn't picked for a group on a field trip and I am determined. I will get over my fear of all things PTA and help a boy out.

He mentions a boy in his class, and I remember getting an email from his mom about volunteering at a class party. (she wanted me to help with the craft table, which should be obvious to anyone at this point that clearly this mom does not know me.)

After a few conversations with my friends about the best way to handle this, I type a cute little email asking a complete stranger if her son might want to come hang out with my own super cute smart sweet and funny son. I refuse to use the word play date and suggest that maybe....since she doesn't know me AT ALL...that she might want to meet us at a park or something along those lines. I try not to sound too desperate, even though I totally am and I hit send. A little nervous like i just asked someone out.

A few hours later she wrote back. That her son would love to come play and that he REALLY likes going to people's houses....so why don't I just take them home from school one day. I was so enthused about telling my son that he had a friend FROM school is coming over.....that I try to overlook the fact that I will have to clean my house and car out. To impress an 8 year old.

Wanting this to be a success for my son, I spend some time cleaning up the house the day before. I text his mom to confirm and am extra nice and put my son's booster seat in the back so that this kid can't make fun of him for still having one. Then his mom texts me to tell me that her husband will be picking him up. And I immediately stop cleaning. Because dad's don't tend to notice that kind of thing.

The next day as my son walks to the car, with his friend at his side -- he is beaming. I am also smiling, not at my BFF match making success, but because I catch a glimpse inside the minivan next to me. and it is messy. like my car normally is. And this mom doesn't have crazy eyes. or pajama pants on. or a cigarette dangling from her bottom lip. She looks just like me. with a really messy car. and i suddenly wonder how awkward it would be if I asked for her # for my own little play date. My bubble is very quickly busted. Long before we can buckle our seat belts....which I have to ask this new kid to do 5-6 times before he finally complies. I haven't even put away my pick up tag (these pick up lines are very serious and orderly business and you only have to run into one car in front of you to get a reputation) before this kid is bossing not only me but also my son around. Suddenly, it is all going south. I listen to my son ...trying so hard to impress ...let this eight year old boss him around.

I do not text or play my music loud on the way home. I make sure the music doesn't have bad words. because company calls for your best behavior. Unless you are the other kid in my back seat. I hand over some cash to my son and send them into QT for snacks. This other kid, takes the 5 and tells my son he can have the 1$....and so I decide that I better go inside. They get slushes and snacks. I talk potential BFF out of a king size candy bar after much whining and complaining -- and he still tries to keep my change. He then takes one bite out of his normal size candy bar (all while i am praying that his parents arent the type that only allow apples for snacks) only to spit it out and say that he doesn't like it after all.

I tried to stay out of the conversation, but in a lull I started asking questions.
I couldn't believe it, but my father's go to question fell out of my mouth and I asked what his dad did. I'm not sure he understood the question, because he said that in the morning his dad sometimes takes a nap. So I tried again and asked if his mom worked. Again, he replied...."yes, she works out sometimes. But she does her push ups funny. On her knees." So I tried a new question. What do you like to do? Do you play any sports. He responded "On Monday I play Wii, on Tuesday I play my DS"....and it continued with a mapped out plan for each piece of gaming equipment. I started to tune him out around Thursday....to which he asked me if I was even listening.

Then we picked up little sister. Within seconds, he declared that she was annoying.
And I occasionally have that thought my self. But. He doesn't share half her DNA so he does not get that luxury. And he didn't think it but said it outloud. to her.
Which is a big mistake buddy. Because if anyone can hold their own in my house it is Tess.

The rest of the way home, I prayed that Tess wouldn't hurt him and I thought to myself that never again will I meddle in my kid's social lives and that maybe making friends no matter what the age is never easy no matter how much I like to idealize it. I was really appreciating my own friends. And especially thankful for their kids who do not steal my change and boss me around. I was lost in my thoughts and mostly tuned the conversation in the back seat out, except when I heard an unfamiliar voice tell me that he often gets carsick. And then I prayed that he would not puke in my new(ish) car and wondered if he did if I could call his parents to pick him up early.

playdate update: After a rocky ride home the new couple disappeared into my son's room for several hours and played happily. No video games. No fighting. No throwing up in the car. And Tess didn't even have to take anyone out. My son is on social cloud nine, so maybe I was a little quick to judge....although I did have to pry the rest of my change out of his hand as he walked out the door to go home.

more or less

We live in a culture that is always telling us that the answer to everything is more.

Get more.
Do more.
Pray more.
Give more.
Make more.
Work out more.
Volunteer more.
Buy more.
Work more.
It is no wonder we are all walking around feeling like we are never enough, trying so hard to be more.
Or maybe that is just me. But I doubt it.

Or we hear the exact opposite. Less is more.
Every January 1st I pledge to Eat less. Spend less. Procrastinate less. Yell less. Drink less.
And I rarely live up to those promises.

I am no good at being more. Or doing less.

But what if the answer, the new goal, was to just try to be enough.

To see ourselves as enough.
Each other as enough.
Our bank accounts and closets and all the things we seem to collect more of. As enough.
Our God as big enough for all the things we lay before him and eventually pick back up because maybe we don’t really trust him. Or maybe we aren’t really sure that he is paying attention. Or sometimes occasionally doubt his goodness or that he will take care of it. So instead, we chose to keep worrying about that for a little bit longer. Because what we are really doubting is that he cares enough to handle it. Because he is busy being God and doing important stuff to deal with little old us. And when I say us, I mean me.

And if we all got content and happy with our enough-ness, would people stop making new year’s resolutions? Would we stop striving and pursuing and setting goals and just relax into the couch watching another episode of Law and Order because we have done enough.

I doubt it.

You see what keeps me on that couch isn’t because of who I think I am. It is usually who I think I am not.

Because enough would mean…
We felt worthy enough to see ourselves as more.
Brave enough to try something new.
Strong enough to keep going even when it gets hard.
And I could go on…

I’m starting to think that I should stop trying so hard to be more. Or less. and instead try to rest in being enough.

Recently I heard someone tell the story of the prodigal son. And it is a story I have heard a million times and there are times in my life where I have related to both brothers.
But this time I learned something new. It was a sermon on envy, and that this particular story is one about enough.About getting rid of this idea of scarcity. That there isn’t enough. That we don’t have enough or do enough, but most of all that God isn’t big enough. (Luke 15: 11-32)

At the end of the story, the fatted calf has been killed. The part is in full swing and the older brother is pissed. He refuses to join in. His father leaves the celebration and finds him. The son gives him a piece of his mind asking why he, the good son, never got so much as a goat.

His dad assures him with this, ´“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”
In other words, there is enough.
For you and your brother.

Occasionally we don’t get what we want or things don’t turn out how we’d like and we think that maybe there isn’t enough. That God’s love is limited and we are missing part of it. Because someone else is getting the party. Or the blessing. Or the attention.

But our father’s heart is full. And enough.
The love never runs out.
The forgiveness never ends.
If there is enough for the wild prodigal and the self righteous older brother…
If Christ can make enough out of a few fishes and loaves of bread, or enough wine from a few jars of water and enough grace from a cross...
Then surely there is enough for me.
And maybe. I am enough too.
More. or. less.