The day before Thanksgiving, someone called me into an office and delivered news that probably should not have shocked me. But it did. Apparently some people don't like me. They want to see me screw up. And I need to watch my back. Why? For something that happened 20 years ago when they were different people, when I was different people. And in the end, it's all very petty in the scope of life.
Being the big person that I am, I smiled through the delivery, assured the person that I was fine with hearing it, agreed that I would watch for daggers.
But as I silently returned to my desk, I felt as though a mule back-kicked me in the jaw. My teeth hung from the sides of my mouth, a few got lodged in my throat. It wasn't pretty. I sat in silence for about 20 minutes, drove home, collapsed in bed, and wept.
Still, as the hours passed, I got pats on the back from other people who repeated that politics are ugly, that players are ugly, that people who take time from their own lives to hurt you are ugly.
Seems to me there are a lot of ugly people out there.
Unfortunately, I wear a bold magnet across my forehead--trimmed with hot-pink neon, I'm sure--that screams: "Ugly people welcome!"
Within a month, I've encountered three situations in which I've discovered that people take time from their own lives to attempt to create unhappiness for others, namely me. Why is this so? I can't really tell. I actually prefer to live a rather simple life. I dislike drama. In fact, I have often lamented that one of the worst things about being a woman is that you have a lot of female friends. And that potentially spells high drama. Still, I'm continually trying to be the Christopher Robin, the one who seeks balance in all relationships. But somehow I suffer for this quest of egalitarianism. People who were confidantes want to see you hurt. People who are family want your marriage to fail. People who share children attempt to sabotage the other parent.
I've warned Mark that I may some day just clear out all of the savings and head west. I'll leave everything and everyone behind and end up in New Mexico, living in a small trailer on a dry patch of land trimmed with a dead cactus and bony tumbleweed. I'll work second-shift in a 1950s diner, slinging luke-warm coffee and runny eggs to people in dirty denim who think Oral B is a moniker for a prostitute with an attitude. I'll read trashy novels and write trashy screenplays. I'll watch my skin sag and no longer care. I'll wear deodorant only if I feel like it. This way, separate from everyone, I won't have to think about who wants to see me fail, who wants to see me hurt, who wants to break apart my family.
I think about this almost daily. But then, thanks to the invention of a reality check, I reflect on my girls. And I wonder what they would think of my priorities. And how my inability to handle conflict well would eclipse my ability to be a good role model for them.
Little do they know that their lives are part of what keep me grounded. For example: Kendall and shoes.
Kendall continuously makes a fashion statement out of wearing only one shoe. This is not a new concept for her. As a babe, she would always pull off one sock and just crawl around, one socked foot, one bare foot. As a toddler, she always ditched one shoe. And now, it's just who she is. She comes home, and somehow she's down to one shoe, hobbling around as if she needs a cane. But she won't take off the remaining shoe.
So what would happen if I ended up like Flo in some crumb-infested tin diner while my kid stayed here in Bear Swamp without me and without one shoe? I would never know when the day arrives, and she says: "Crap, this one-shoe gig makes me lean too far to the right. I gotta stop wearing just one flip flop/Mary Jane/sneaker/boot."
I would miss it. And I don't want to. I wish I could say: "Well, I'm just going to shed my thin skin," and I'd let all of this spiteful stuff go. But I can't. It's part of my identity. Just like some people live to be vindictive and petty, I know that I live to be diplomatic and rational--and that means not just for me, but for my girls.
Someone else is going to have to rent the trailer. I'll stay here and pick up the shoes.