Enoughness Project Series #10: Old friends, my childhood home and one smiling rockstar

This post is part of a series about my experiences in uncovering my own innate enough-ness. For three months, I am abstaining from frivolous material purchases, accepting all blessings that come my way and focusing on gratitude for all that I have. The idea came to me in a meditation-induced haze and it has nothing to do with politics or morality. I’m just a girl who’s hoping to: separate the association between looking good and being good; get comfy with receiving; become a glowingly grateful human being; get acquainted with my own motives for material consumption; grow my understanding of when/why I buy things; and establish new habits that are more aligned with my values. We’ll see how this goes…

If you allow for pointy corners, my childhood bedroom is shaped like a heart. I just noticed this last week as my children slept soundly on its floor. My bed is somewhere near the right atrium. I was surprised never to have noticed this.

Glow-in-the-dark plastic stars sprinkle the ceiling, as do totally unscientifically placed planets. Jupiter here, Saturn there, Mercury over there, Venus right here, Pluto right over here, etc. I heard about kids who were motivated to recreate actual constellations and astronomically accurate planetary alignment on their ceilings back in the nineties, but the prospect quickened my pulse at the time. And so, to this day, it’s a right-brained solar system of which two recessed floodlights, in the two atriums of the angular heart, are the suns.

While in Kansas, I had dinner with some old friends one night. The magic of time-tested female friends is all-powerful, to be sure, and I reveled in it. We are women now, many of us moms, but these were the girls with whom I belted Madonna into brushes, danced into the night on beer-soaked cement floors, morphed study groups into memories, tried on outfits before a date, cried when my heart hurt and generally started shedding the skin of youth to uncover the woman I would become.

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Strangely, in this Facebook-happy world, I didn’t get a pic of my friends at dinner. But I did snap a few of our kids playing at the pool together the next day.

Old friends are a little bit of magic. When you haven’t seen each other in a while, you gaze at each other in wonder, you drink every word of their life like it’s nectar, you want to know literally everything that’s going on and they want to hear the same—even the ugly stuff. And you share it. You share it all, and you bounce around from person to person, topic to topic, getting almost everything out in soundbites, and receiving instant healing in the salve of a knowing, loving look before being honored with the next revelation of vulnerability from the friend across from you. Or next to you.

We talked a little bit about my Enoughness Project, and about how some of them had taken it on, too. “What was your big takeaway now that it’s all over?” Meg asked.

I’m not sure what I told her, but it wasn’t a complete answer. I’m pretty sure I said it wasn’t over at all. Yes, my moratorium on frivolous spending is technically lifted, and I haven’t gotten back on the shopping horse since, but the enoughness journey is ongoing for me.

I drove home that night with my windows down, the damp Kansas night blowing wisps of hair across my face as I sailed through green lights and past the neighborhood pools into which my girlfriends and I snuck, as teenagers, for late-night swims in our bras and panties. Past the highway I used to take to my grandma’s house in DeSoto. Past the coffee house I patronized as a high school senior to have really complex conversations with really deep people who were, like, so totally real.

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My grandma no longer lives in the sweet little house in DeSoto, Kan. Instead, she lives in a glistening senior living center, where she provided Russel Stover’s chocolate and storytelling to Charlie and Kip, who happened to relish both offerings almost equally. Almost.

My kids played for an hour on the playground where a wondrous blond boy whose memory still warms my heart used to park his Jeep so we could “talk.”

In Kansas, I’m not really sure how old I am. I have to keep looking in the mirror and at my children to remind myself I’m a grown-ass woman. My mind slips into the teenage years and I feel myself thinking of friends and family and boyfriends, slipping into patterns of a bygone era. If I’d never left my hometown, perhaps all these memories and such wouldn’t rush back with such clarity. If I’d come of adult age in suburban Kansas, perhaps this place would have grown up with me, taken on new memories, forgotten the old ones, not stayed 16 forever, not compelled me to feel hopeful every time I cruise 119th Street.

I can almost see Amber rolling up with a diet coke between her knees and bare feet on the pedals to take me to swim practice, or Kristen blaring “Anna Begins;” or Ryan careering up Nall Ave with metal blasting from his open t-tops; or Sam sitting at my parents’ kitchen stools asking questions that made me hysterical with love and laughter.

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If you were a young girl when I was a young girl, there is nothing–nothing–like sleeping in pink foam rollers to transport you back to your youth. (Aside: I took this pic to send to my sister that night but, embarrassing as it is, it is too germane not to post here.)

The boys and I left a day early to drive home. It was time to get back to our real life. It was a gorgeous day of blue skies, low-hanging cotton-ball clouds, millions of purple wildflower blossoms along the shoulder and enough sun to cast every farmer’s field in the richest of green. The highway was uncluttered, we mixed local radio stations with trusted ipod playlists, we talked a lot and we did our darnedest on a few occasions to pretend our car was a dance club.

Not too long after crossing the border into Illinois, probably a little more than half way into the 9-hour drive, Charlie announced he had to poop. We pulled over to gas up and find a potty. Two pumps down was a big, shiny, very fancy looking black van with a shimmery black trailer behind it. Two men walked toward the vehicle. One had long hair, steely eyes and one of those t-shirts that looks intentionally shabby but costs $75. The other was a meticulously groomed fellow, pristine in an all black getup that included a man-tank, tight jeans, a studded belt and well-shined boots.

“Hmm,” I said to the boys. “These guys look like musicians, don’t they? I wonder if they’re playing Chicago tonight.”

We rushed inside toward the bathroom and four additional guys—all skinny, all wearing nice clothes and a disproportionate number of statement rings per hand, all averting glances of other patrons and all sporting both overtly crafted rocker looks and cooler-than-thou airs—hovered at the register.

Three options: 1. They just happened to be regular guys from LA, 2. They were a highly contrived band of buddies hoping to get backstage at Lolla, or. 3. They were real-life rockstars. (For purposes of this story, let’s assume #3.)

Carrying Kip in one arm and leading Charlie by the hand, we walked briskly toward the back of the convenience store.

“Oh, Mommy,” Charlie called to me as though I were across a ravine. “I love you.”

“Yep, Mommy, I wiwy wuv you, too,” Kip echoed, also very loudly. “Dis is such a fun wode twip.”

We were almost to the bathrooms when Charlie made his next pronouncement. “Mommy? I really, really have to go poop!” he said, with plenty of feeling. I laughed out loud. “Mommy, can I go in the men’s room all by myself? I’m getting to be such a big kid. Or…maaaaaybe I can at least have my own stall in the girls bathroom? I can’t wait to get in there and go poop. I’ll feel so much better!”

Totally tickled and chuckling to myself, I happened to glance to my right and notice one of the rockers, in his smart little fedora and pointy boots, approaching down a perpendicular aisle, looking dead at me with an enormous grin on his face. He’d heard everything. Without a thought, I flashed him the biggest, happiest, flirtiest, most enchanting smile in my arsenal. I squeezed Charlie’s hand, kissed Kip’s head and, in the next second, pushed open the door to the ladies room, where we lingered for quite some time.

If anyone were to ask me today what came of my Enoughness Project, this story would have to be my best answer.

Barely any makeup, no glossy hair, dog-hairy yoga pants, worn t-shirt, kids slung all over me, conversing about poop and, when confronted with a dashing image of maleness and an otherworldly image of cool-ness, kissing my kids, batting my eyelashes and smiling like a starlet while walking into a gas station bathroom.

At that gas station on I-55 North, that was the enough-est version of me I know. Me being me without judgment. Me loving my loved ones, loving the present moment and loving myself such that no unfavorable ratio of me to “cool” could shake the fact that I am enough.

And that is exactly what I was going for with my Enoughness Project. Am still shooting for, because it’s ongoing. It wasn’t just about being mindful of and controlling my buying habits, it was mindfulness as my vehicle for reaching new awareness that I am enough, in every way. It’s not always easy, but at least I have a practice now. I know I have every second of every day to love myself and trust that what I innately am is exactly enough for this particular moment.

Perhaps you’ll have to come to this on your own, but this I do know: The same goes for you. You are exactly enough for this particular moment, every moment.

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Car dancing, naturally.

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3 thoughts on “Enoughness Project Series #10: Old friends, my childhood home and one smiling rockstar

  1. Love this lyrical post! The flashbacks to JoCo totally transported me back in time. I feel lucky that you are among my long-time female friends 🙂 sending love from our new digs in Minneapolis.

  2. I LOVED this post and could completely relate. I’m always reverted to my teen self when home (which can be both good and bad)! Your writing is so enjoyable, wonderful, real and I respect you tremendously for it. Xoxo.

  3. I love you Em! I think you are an amazing woman, mom, wife, friend and I’m honored to call you friend.

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