I have been thinking a lot today about loss. Now, keep reading, though this story is about a specific loss of mine, the idea is not. The idea is about universal loss. We've all lost something in our lives right? A loved one, a friendship, an important opportunity, ourselves.
Loss is a great equalizer. It crosses the lines of class. It does not discriminate. At some point in time, we all will face it. As a matter of fact, most of us will face it multiple times in our lives. It's never easy.
When I was in the third grade I had this boyfriend. Now, by boyfriend, I mean we told people we were "going out" without ever actually going anywhere. We never held hands, most definitely never kissed, I don't even think we called each other on the phone. Still, I thought he hung the moon.
One day a new girl arrived in our class. She was cute, as most third grade girls are...okay, that came off a little creepy. I mean, we were all cute. Even chubby me, I was fucking adorable. Kids are supposed to be cute and adorable, otherwise they're doomed to play the evil child in some Stephen King movie.
Anyway, new girl. Everyone is always fascinated by the new girl. I was. She lived a few houses down and we would walk to and from school together. We talked about how dreamy Patrick Swayze was in Dirty Dancing. How someday we'd go away to a resort and meet a handsome boy who would sweep us off our feet and tell our parents, "no one puts Sara in a corner!" Yes, for clarification her name was also Sara...though at this point in time I cannot remember if she spelled her name with an "h" or not. We were bosom buddies.
Well, it wasn't very long before my boyfriend started to notice this new Sara too. He'd always tag her if he was it. His side would always Red Rover her on over. I was devastated. Was I really going to have to choose between my new friend and my boyfriend?
Well, as any little girl would do, I chose the boyfriend. I paid more attention to him, played with him at recess. I think that may have even been the beginning of a life long addiction to flirting. And it worked. Sort of.
He came to school one day and told Sara and I that he had come up with a way to help him choose. He told us that whoever dressed the cutest the next day would be his girlfriend. We both laughed, until we realized he was serious.
The walk home that afternoon was silent.
It. Was. On.
I spent the better part of an hour trying on all of my clothes in every possible combination. Putting my hair in a ponytail, then taking it down again. Wondering if my neon scrunchies clashed with my polka dot tights. I was one panicked fashion victim.
Then I remembered Patrick Swayze.
The next day I wore sweats and one of my dad's t-shirts to school. I barely brushed my hair, and I don't think I wore deodorant. While Sara arrived fresh as a tulip in a pink skirt and ribbons in her hair. I strode confidently over to that player in Transformers sneakers and I said, "I decided anyone who would choose a girlfriend because of her clothes is stupid."
I know, it could have been so much better. It lacks punch and pizazz. But give me a break, I was nine. And telling him, "nobody puts Sara in a corner" would have just confused him. Besides, I said it well, at least I should have, I practiced those words for hours.
The point is, I didn't want to lose. I didn't want to lose my first boyfriend. I didn't want to lose a new friend. I didn't want to lose the competition. Most of all, I didn't want to lose myself.
I stuck to who I was. I took the moral high ground, aside from calling him stupid that is. There was no angry note passing or gossiping at recess. Actually, even though I called him stupid, he and I stayed friends. Sara and I too, until she moved again a year later.
Loss is funny. Some of it sticks with you forever. The loss of a loved one, for instance. Some are healed by time to a point where they don't feel like your heart is hollow . But all reveal a piece of who you are, what you're made of.
It's what you do in the face of loss. How you deal with that grief, that anger, that hurt and sadness that could either help you grow or hold you back.
Nothing puts Sara in a corner, not even loss.