I’m Greatly Experienced
I was saying “Happy Anniversary” to my brother yesterday, and I remembered a happy little experience from his wedding.
I danced with a man I did not know. But not just any man. A big tough-looking biker type – (although he could have been an actuary for all I know) – who wore a leather vest over his great bare chest. And not just any dance. With this rather scary looking thug (although he could have been a flight attendant for all I know) – I danced the chicken dance.
How many people can say that? How many people are allowed a memory like that?
I am very lucky indeed.
Last week I met a talented famous woman who charmed the hat right off of me. And I am allowed to keep that memory too.
I have had a few “important” experiences: I flew on the Concorde, which no one will ever be able to do again, and I attended a meeting at the top of the World Trade Center, which no one will ever be able to do again.
And I have also had some “medium” experiences – not crazy rare, but still stuff that not everyone gets the opportunity to do. I attended a World Series game. I saw Peter Paul & Mary in concert. I rode a cable car in San Francisco. I watched dolphins play in warm Delaware waters. I shared an elevator with Donald Sutherland – and he wore a cape, for heaven’s sake!
But for me – the very best experiences are the simple personal things I got to do and see that have meaning to just me. Like my chicken dance with the biker dude. Like the restaurant encounter with the wonderful old producer. They are MY experiences. My memories. I can share them if I wish, but their meaning is special only to me. And even if I share them, I don’t give them away. I get to keep them.
I keep small memories like:
– My parents surprising me one Christmas with a gift of oil paints, brushes and canvasses. At sixteen, I was overwhelmed by the idea that my parents thought I was an artist, good enough to paint with the real thing.
– Going with my family to the Drive-In (a precious memory in itself) when I was nine, and having my three-year-old brother fall asleep in my lap. I remember watching him sleep and being astounded even at that young age by how completely I loved him.
– The Beatles appearing on the Ed Sullivan show for the first time – on my 13th birthday.
– Looking up from my morning coffee one Sunday a few years ago, and seeing the face of a little bear pressed up against the glass patio door, looking in at us.
– Taking my oldest nephew (now 41, then 6) to see E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. And Oh My God, being completely destroyed as he sobbed uncontrollably when it appeared that ET had died. I took him in my arms and assured him that the little creature was not really dead and he was about to show everyone how fine he was. I never ever want to make a child cry again.
– Overhearing my husband telling someone that I was smart.
– Tasting creme brulee for the first time – in Paris, no less. How amazing are the French people for creating such a beautiful city and such a delicious thing to put in my mouth!
– Going to a nude beach and not dying of embarrassment. Actually loving it – and loving my body and everyone else’s.
– Publishing my first novel. Holding it in my hands for the first time. Knowing that I did it. I wrote it. And knowing it’s good.
– My father walking me down the aisle on my wedding day. Seeing friends and relatives all smiling at me. Seeing my husband smiling at me.
All these experiences are more than a part of me. They ARE me. Along with thousands of others – thousands of kisses from my mother, hugs from someone else’s children, small victories at work, road trips with my husband, playtimes with pets, giggles with my sisters, beach days and snow days.
And the incredible thing is – that every one of us has our own unique experiences. Little and big events that are ours alone. We are memories that mingle and merge and become human beings.
How fortunate are we that we get to be human beings?