Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Random accidents of kindness

I'm crazy.

But then, you already knew that.

It's been a little bit of a freak-out day, but I made myself take a step back and chill. There's lots of good stuff, too, in addition to the freaking, so let's learn to take the good with the not-so, okay

Okay.

The not-so: my gallbladder. But it's coming out, so no big, right? Well, one would think, but it's a bit of a logistical nightmare. See, my Patrick was going to pick me up and run me home afterward, but the surgery is scheduled for July 17 ... which just happens to also be the day he opens Guys and Dolls at the Paramount Arts Centre in Aurora. Very slim chance that he'll be able to get me home and get back to the theater in time for curtain.

So I've called in reinforcements - which I hate to do because I totally suck at asking for help - and a couple awesome people agreed to take the second shift on the Maggie Surgery Shuttle Schedule (not to be confused with the Space Shuttle Schedule; please don't send me that far away.) But here's where I got caught up in the vicious circle of dread (which is vicious and dreadful and, somehow, circular): I was never supposed to be here. I was never supposed to be weak or fragile or in need of someone's help. I'm the one who helps, not the one who needs.

This is one of those times when I curse the comfort I felt when I was married. I'd never have to worry about this stuff, because someone promised to care for me when I couldn't care for myself. And now I'm in a position where I feel like a burden to people who didn't sign on for this. When you go ice skating at age 16, or stay up talking until the sun comes up, you don't look at the person you're with and think, "hey, in 20 or 30 years, I'll be watching someone wheel her into surgery."

But that's where we are. We're in a place where things just aren't working out the way I thought they would, back when I used to play this movie in my head. Aging divorcee learns flexibility, right? Instead, I'm going to do my level best to just be grateful that I have friends who are so willing to help out, who don't even blink when I have a need that they can fill.

So you're on notice. On July 18 and 19, I'll be home. I might need something. I might just want you to check on me. I might need pancakes. So, you should feel free to stop by.

Now, on to the good: people. You amaze me. On Saturday at the gym, after the 8:15 class of Pam Hates Us and the 9:30 Salsa/Funk, Linda and I spent a little time talking to Donna. Donna is a bundle of energy. She's beautiful in every sense of the word. She personifies confidence. She's singularly ... Donna. So when she stopped me to tell me I remind her of her sister, because we have similar energy, enthusiasm and spirit, I was overcome. I'm just me, and most of the time I don't think that's anything to write home about. Turns out, there are people who don't agree. There are people who think I remind them of some of their favorite people.

Then, there are those to whom I am one of their favorite people. Take, for example, when my Wicked Step Mother emailed me earlier this week in a last-ditch effort to wrangle my ass to North Carolina. "Take the train to Springfield and we'll pick you up there," she said. "I'll even spring for the ticket." I cried like a baby when I emailed her back that I couldn't, work wouldn't let me off the hook, but I love that she wanted me there. I love that everyone in Clan Rice/Carlson/Bathje would move mountains if it would mean having me join them for Lake House II: the sequel. I also love that, unless it's planned for the week of my work's national conference next year, I will be there.

There are also those who have been there all along, save for a long-ish hiatus. My friend Eric and I were as close as two peas in a pod back in the early 90s, before my Second Act. But then I went back to school and built this new life and left a lot of the old behind. Some of it was easy to recapture - it's tough to stay clear of Kelly and Patrick for long - but others required Facebook to realign us as we're meant to be. And it became clear last Friday, sitting on the stage at the Geneva Underground Playhouse, following a hysterical night of sketch comedy ... we are still the people we've always been. Eric held court, surrounded by lovely artists (and me) and the snappy patter flowed. His little sister (and biggest fan) and I laughed and joked until our sides hurt. His wife and I traded barbs as if we've known each other for years. His friends treat me like one of their own. They share their peanut M&Ms and their leftover Chinese food with me. What could be better than that?

There are simple phrases people use with me, like "You've gotta cut that shit out," and "Stop apologizing for my choice to be your friend," and "Are you gonna eat that?" It all means "I love you" in the language of my friends. There are those who meet me for a night of theater or a morning of breakfast, who know it's fine to drop by and eat my food, who grill chicken and vegetables so I can eat and enjoy without worry, who let the wine flow freely, who sit with me in the dark, who call when the rescue a turtle from certain death, or for no reason at all ... and there are those who share their chocolate. They have no idea the profound effect they have on my life ... or at least they didn't until they read this.

It really is no accident, the manner in which your kindness has changed my life. My life is better because you are in it, and in the dark moments - both literal and metaphoric - you carry me through.

3 comments:

mike rice said...

The official title is actually "Lake House Too: Electric Boogaloo."

Maggie is... said...

Noted. And frightened.

Janie said...

Calling for help is the hardest thing ever. Admitting you have moments of fragility and vulnerability and need the help and support of friends is frightening.

But isn't it heartwarming to have everyone say yes? Wow, what great friends you have! Know that we will do anything to help that we can from this far away.

Therefore, we will pray. Love you!