As he came home and we gathered our stuff there was a strained feeling in the air. He kept laughing uncharacteristically loud. It felt forced, determined as he was to have that fun he spoke of. He is a passive kind of person. And has a tendency to people please and leave his truth on the doorstep. He is NOT this guy in front of me right now. I almost feel shy around him in this current incarnation. Who is this man???
I start to wonder.....do I really know him at all? Does he know me? Let alone like me? Sometimes it seems like he does not. And if we are both still discovering who we are, what if we find out that we don't fit..... Stop it I thought. So I pulled myself out of this introspection to get on with our date of "fun".
We arrived at the restaurant after some small talk on my part and a lot of boisterous laughing on his. It was still unclear to me who he was....
"Where would you like to sit? Inside or out?" Uh-oh. A potentially un-fun moment in the date. It was still very hot outside and where I knew it will get cool soon, it had not yet. I hate the heat. I am a Michigan girl at heart. So, I know he wants to be outside so I relent. Or more honestly, I lie. But he knows me better than I give credit and makes an executive decision to eat inside instead. Smart move, I am beginning to recognize him now.
I have a deep fear. One of many actually. I fear that I do not know HOW to have fun anymore. Maybe that is why I felt a shyness then. That and I have a tendency to go mute in the face of bullshit. How can we be denying the extreme things we have been talking about and dealing with lately??!!! Fun, fun, fun.
An interesting moment shifted the tone when our waitress first came over to us. Tall and pretty with a head full of messily pinned up ringlets everywhere. She was thin like an ostrich. After she introduced herself she exclaimed,"We are short one busboy so we are all running around but its gonna be FUN!" We laughed. Maybe honestly for the first time that evening. It seemed some unseen force was helping us after all.
So we ate.....oysters, clam chowder, crab cakes and spinach salad. We shared our meal, as always. I have no memory of what we spoke of during our meal but I am sure it was light. An avoidance of any of the real issues that were on the table, so to speak. We had a plan and we were sticking to it. The wine loosened me up at bit. I was not sure of anything in my life in that moment. I was scared and scarred. And most of all....too old to feel this way.
As we walked into a bowling alley, there was the sound of crashing pins, laughing, talking and cheering. With all this activity I realized I missed this. I used to go bowling with my brothers and our father. I excitedly give my shoe size anticipating a pair of cute bowling shoes. I like them, always have.
The man hands me a pair, shiny, clean and surprising not stinky. I feel like a child. Why would clean bowling shoes produce such joy in me? Dark blue and deep burgundy with bold white pipping. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.... Like I was trying a new pair of Manolos...... I savor the moment. They fit perfect and make my feet look small even after having gained a shoe size after schlepping two babies in my body over the past 16 years.
Shoes in place, it is time to move on to the next ritual bowling experience. The choosing of a ball. I try many, first I go for the colors I like. A girl through and through. But of course the ones I am drawn to are Too heavy. With my recent injury I realize I must go with the lightest ball they have. A mere 6 lbs and this cuts down my color choices significantly. Bummer. But I manage to find a bright orange one. I am now drawn to orange as I realized it is the color of the Tibetan monks, a powerful color.
As I tested my swing with it I was flooded with memories of what my father taught me about the key to bowling.
Keep your wrist straight. That's all. Just always keep it straight with follow through. I did a few practice swings and was ready to go. No Laverne and Shirley episode here. I used to get a lot of gutter balls until that golden key was given to me.
These were unfortunately the kind of keys my parents gave to me. No wonder I am such a mess. Ones that really did not matter much unless [in this case] I was in a bowling alley. These crumbs meant the world to me though. Another memory of the bowling experience came as my brothers and I fought to write our own names on the score keeping screen. My family has always called me Sherri. But up until then, I spelled it Sheri. Well, my father corrected me. He said I was named Sheryl, but would always be called Sherri. With two R's. Sheryl for the catholic, appropriate version though. Like Christopher to be called Chris.
He said this with such passion and conviction, I would never forget it. Or maybe it was that he was focused on me at all created the moment of importance that really did not exist. Perception.
This bowling is an event for me. You see,I stand on the outskirts of life. I rarely go into the city to party, to connect. My fear freezes me. To "stand" is to be more active than a "couch potato."
I remember this picture of me as a 3 year old girl. My dress is so short, too short. I am clearly in need of some new, larger sized clothes. Neglect. My white maryjanes are beaten to a pulp.....
I was directed by my grandfather to,"Stand up straight !!!" So there I am, arms pinned to my sides. My legs tightly pulled together. So much tension that my shoulders are almost up to my ears. I am standing as straight as physically possible. Desperate to please. To be seen as a good girl. A lovable girl. As a pretty girl. Pretty is important to this family. Boys should be strong and unemotional and girls....pretty.
Another crumb bestowed upon me by my never present mother was that I had "naturally curly hair!" This crumb of attention became my calling. I would tell anyone who would listen this piece of wisdom my mother had bestowed upon me. I would run up to complete strangers on the playground:
"My mommy says I have naturally curly hair," I would pridefully exclaim and then run off to continue to play.
It seems in retrospect I was screaming I AM IMPORTANT!!! I have something special. Look at me . Watch me. SEE ME. Because I felt invisible. A little person that nobody wanted to take care of. So the crumb became my own little feasts. And during my feasts, I had FUN. Or did I?
All the ritualistic choices made, it was now time to put my fathers wisdom to work. Would I just throw a bunch of gutters? would I score some strikes? I hoped for the best but anticipated the worst. Kind of mirrors the patterns of my own thought processes. And that of my life. I suppose we all have a variety ups and downs. Good scores and some, not so much. Is everything connected or is this just the way my brain works.
Well, it turned out I owe my father a big thanks. I did really well. No gutters and a few strikes and spares. Hey, it seems it is a new day. No more gutters of life. I am going for the strikes. And as insignificant as the feasts of my crumbs seemed, they gave me something to hold onto where there was very little. And something is better than nothing.
I hope I will find out.