August 16, 2007

My New Speedo

I just bought a new swimsuit. Most women will tell you that this is usually not the best feeling in the world, but I'm pretty excited about it. It takes forever to find one that you like or one that fits perfectly and I did. It happens to be a Speedo, which is unfortunately synonymous with the scary image of the overweight guy on the beach wearing a tiny swimsuit that barely contains his package. But it's a good suit that lasts a long time.

I had a Speedo when I was thirteen and I owned it until a couple of years ago, when it practically dry-rotted from age. I made the junior varsity swim team and I was so proud. I wanted a Speedo swimsuit because that's what all the other swimmers wore. I begged my mom and finally convinced her that I needed one because they were the best kind of suit to wear for speed in the water. She probably knew I only wanted the name-brand suit, just like my thirteen-year-old niece now wants only Hollister...or American Eagle...or whatever kids these days wear. (I personally like clearance items now, but at thirteen that's a difficult sell.) We went to the sporting-goods store and I picked one out. There wasn't much selection and I wasn't crazy about the one that I got, but it was a Speedo and I felt like a real swimmer wearing it. It cost around $80 and I could tell my mom didn't want to pay that much, but knew it meant a lot to me.

When I went to practice the next night, I proudly wore my new suit. I was horrified when I saw an older girl there (the captain of the team no less!) and she had on the same exact swimsuit!

Access Hollywood will inform you that two actresses wearing the same gown is the worst thing that can happen on a red carpet and this felt pretty damn close to that. I was afraid that the other girl would hate me because I intentionally got the same suit as her. I was so embarassed. I regretted getting such an expensive suit since I knew I would always feel stupid wearing it. I spent most of the practice avoiding the girl, but at the end of practice she came up to me. I was mortified.

"Hey, I love your suit!" she said, smiling. "I guess we both have great taste, huh? Now you really look like we're on the same team!"

I couldn't believe it. She wasn't mad at me at all! I smiled and laughed and I felt so much better.

I had forgotten this experience until a few minutes ago when I looked at myself in the mirror wearing my new black and blue Speedo.

And she was right--I did now feel like part of the team, but not because of my Speedo. It was because of her kindness. It wasn't long after that I realized that my value wasn't determined by my clothes or swim wear, but I'm still happy that she helped me realize it that night.

August 08, 2007

Life Breaks Us in Different Places

Yesterday was our eighth wedding anniversary. It's been a wonderful eight years, although it was filled with more "couldn't get worse" times than I would have liked. But, God, do I love my man.

There was a time when I felt broken in two and I never thought I'd be able to get myself back. I was lost in my tragedy and couldn't see light. But Dan was there, holding my hand. There's been times I felt like I was holding him back, but maybe it was just that I was making him hold my hand tighter. There was also more times than I'd like to remember when I felt like the tug-of-war with Dan's parents over him was too much for me to bear. I felt like they were breaking me a little at a time, but fortunately for me I didn't give in and neither did he. We've managed to maintain our level footing as the world was shaking and we're not done. But I know that he's firmly by my side and that's a damn good feeling.

His family has always been a thorn in my side. Now they have managed to push Dan too far away to come back. It always seemed like the more I loved Dan the more they hated me for it. But that hatred never broke my love like they would have wanted. They still try to break us, but we're older and wiser and stronger now. I naively thought that they would grow to love me eventually or accept the fact that Dan was a man. But there was never a day that I felt excepted and it was just wishful thinking after a while. I did a hell of a lot of wishing before I realized.

And now after those eight years we have a beautiful little girl to help us share our love. I always thought it was silly when people referred to their kids as their "legacy," but I could understand it more now. But it has nothing to do with a name or bloodline. Children share the legacy of their parents' love for each other. The Indigo Girls sing in their song Power of Two: "If we ever leave a legacy, it's that we loved each other well." Katie is a product of our love and this year seemed extra special. I can't wait to be able to tell her how much I love her dad and how lucky I feel to be his wife.

If I have one wish for my daughter for the future, it's that she loves and is loved. I don't care what that person is like, as long as he or she loves my daughter and Katie is happy. People say that all the time but they don't mean it. Happy can't come with conditions.

So I may have ruined my in-laws' "perfect" family (according to them anyway), but in the process I managed to create a beautiful, loving family of my own. There's no conditions on the love and I have no script of what our lives will be like. I am just proud of my family and the love we have.

We received a card from Dan's grandmother yesterday for our anniversary. The last time I saw her, you may remember from an earlier post, she said that everything was fine in the family before me. It doesn't make sense that she would dare try to "celebrate" the day I joined their "perfect" family. But I have been accompanying Dan to a therapist so he could talk about his family issues. I was saying that I didn't know why my mother-in-law was acting the way she is and the therapist looked at me squarely and said: "You're trying to use rational thinking to explain irrational people."

Looks like I've been wasting a lot of my time.

So maybe in a strange way I should thank fate for challenging me all these years. In A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway writes: "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places."