Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dancing on my toes

Even when life keeps handing me shriveled lemons, and lemonade isn't even a vague possibility, I know I'm lucky. I was born in a nation of opportunity and wealth. Though most days I don't experience wealth as many of my fellow countrymen see it - with a new car, big screen TV, and the trappings of The Good Life, I am fortunate.

Yeah, I'm a magnet for crappy drivers, I walk with a cane, I'm broke 99% of the time, and one eye doesn't work right. But I have a roof over my head, a job with insurance, and I can buy groceries - even if they aren't the super-healthy foods I should be eating. (Good nutrition here comes with a higher price tag.) I'm not paralyzed with fear of imminent starvation because of the rising price of rice and flour. I'm not worried about civil war or some cureless plague ravaging my community.

I'm lucky.

Today, I hurt, but a little less than yesterday. I had physical therapy this morning, and, for a few hours, the pain in my back has subsided. It will be back, but I hope it will fade with time. It's a small victory, and it's one I wish I didn't have to think about. I wish the most difficult choices I had were about where I wanted to go on vacation or what my next car will be. Instead, they're about whether I can afford to fill the gas tank twice during this pay period and whether I can buy new eyeglasses next month or not. Most of my friends don't have these problems. They are not affluent (well, some are), but they don't live in financial fear in this country.

I do. And I cannot lie and say I'm not horribly envious of my friends and their stability. Of their ability to choose without fear. Of their comfort zone.

But still, I know I'm lucky.

And I won't forget that.

Even when I was very young, I was a "chubby" child. Today, surely, teachers would be sending home notes of concern that my kindergarten/grade school self was a child at risk. My mother made healthy, good food, and I rode a bike or walked everywhere. Still I was fat. Yet, back then, I was fit, and, much more than now, I was happy.

My physical therapy doc commented last week on how lucky I was that I was very flexible and had strong bones - otherwise the damage from the car accidents likely would have been even worse. I'm still incredibly flexible (when I'm not in incredible pain) and can turn myself into one helluva pretzel for a woman of my size and years.

Back in that distant childhood, I had a strange habit that displayed those strong bones and great flexibility in a peculiar way - I would turn my toes under my feet and walk and run and dance wildly on the tops of my toes, like some twisted ballerina dancing en pointe. Spinning, whirling, full speed, across the lawn of our house in New Jersey, I remember my family shrieking in horror to see me bouncing around on those toe-to-foot joints, faster than fast. And I would laugh and laugh at their incredulity. Off-kilter mind, clearly, but with strong bones. Flexible body. Precariously perched, barely balanced, but running headstrong into whatever was ahead.

Maybe it was just one of the early moments that pointed to the fact that I was never going to fit in the mainstream. I was smart and geeky and a fringe player as a kid, and I still am now. And, despite the crap karma keeps tossing my way, I'm surviving. And I'm damn lucky.

I've found a new way to dance on my toes. Sure, I'd rather not have to do it. But I can.

And, as long as I have to, I'll keep dancing. You'll never find me in the middle, never in the spotlight, never on that well-paved path. I'll be on the edge, out here, twirling on my toes, holding my balance. And maybe, someday, someone will join me.

We lucky few.


J.M. Tewkesbury said...

And lucky are we few who are befriended by you. You're an amazing woman, Merujo. I continue to stand in awe of you!

Anonymous said...

In this mediocre and polluted blogosphere, it's nice to know that I can look forward to reading a blog entry moving and truly deep enough to make me cry. Thank you. That was really beautiful

Merujo said...

Thanks, ladies. I think it was the caffeine and ibuprofen talking today. :)

Scholiast said...

You're one h"#¤uva woman, merujo :) That gave me the chills, seriously. And I can totally hear Rufus' soundtrack for your dancing scene!

Chuck said...

I really admire your positive attitude...I focus on the negative way too much of the time. Being employed, having political freedom, being able to buy food without worrying...this is all stuff I take for granted that many people in the world cannot. Thanks for the reminder of remembering what's important!