Rope or Rope-Swing?

The line up for the rope-swing at the Eileen Dailly Community Pool forms as soon as a Life Guard moves to uncoil the bulky rope from the post. Anybody over 48” tall can have a turn on the rope (no maximum height or age – of course I asked!).

It’s hilarious and mesmerizing to watch each kid stand at the edge of the deep end of the pool, grab hold of the rope, bend their knees, get a good grip on one of the thick knots above their head, push off from the edge, and then bring their knees up around one of the lower knots as they swing out over the water – a mix of glee and terror on their face when they let go.

Some kids squeal or laugh as they fly out over the water. Some kids try to get as far as they can, some are clearly getting into the silliest pose imaginable, and some try to make as big a splash landing as possible. They all bob back to the surface grinning, and climb right out of the pool to stand in line for another ride.

I tread water and watch (and generally do my best not to seem creepy or threatening) behind the parents of younger swimmers. These parents tend to stay close by the splash zone…just in case. The last time I watched the rope-swing riders, one of the smaller boys who launched over the water didn’t let go of the rope.

With his eyes closed, he clung to that rope until it was almost at a stand still. The only voice you could hear was his dad calling, “It’s okay buddy, just let go and I’ll catch you.” But the boy wouldn’t let go – or couldn’t. And so he hung there for what was probably just a few seconds, but it felt like hours. We all watched as his dad got hold of the end of the rope and pulled him back to the safety of the pool’s edge.

Just as he started walking toward the end of the line, I heard my (usually more sensitive than this) husband mutter what was likely going through a lot of folks’ minds: “Wus.”

I may have overreacted. My voice was definitely louder than I expected when I blurted, “Hey! He’s just like all of us – we’re all just hanging on like that every day!”

Somehow, in those few seconds while we watched that boy cling to that rope-swing, I had tied that rope to all of the proverbial ropes from which we find ourselves swinging. How many times have you been ‘at the end of your rope’? How many ways do we have to say that we’re barely hanging on? And it’s not just frustrating to be at the end of your rope, it’s scary.

Then, even as my husband and I were apologizing to each other and looking embarrassed, it occurred to me that some of those ropes we hang on to for so long might be rope-swings.

What if some of those goals, relationships, attitudes, habits, expectations and roles are rope-swings? What if we’re supposed to let go rather than hang on?

Letting go of any of the ropes we hang on to – especially the ones that have become frayed because we’ve hung on to the knotty ends for far too long – might be scary, but letting go might be just part of the ride.

And if some ropes are rope-swings, we could let go and fly. We could strike a pose, or make a splash.

 

Imaginary Blogposts I Didn’t Write Between October 2012 and April 2014

October 2012           

  • Science Asked for My Live Body
  • One of Those Cancers that You Live With Rather Than Die From
  • Oooh, THOSE Chickens

 November 2012

  • 30 Days My Ass
  •  How Long Does It Take to Trust? No, I Mean Exactly How Long…
  •  Maybe She Won’t Pee on a Plastic Christmas Tree
  •  This Year, I’ll Settle for the Perfect Fucking Barbie

 December 2012

  • It Looks Fine with Decorations on the Top Half
  • I’m Still Pissed at Jesus, but Merry Christmas      
  • My New Year’s Intentions (Let’s Not Pretend to be Resolute)

 January 2013

  •  Shouldn’t My Neck Feel Better by NOW?
  • Why Editing is Fun (or Take It or Leave It)
  •  My Neck is My Shoulder (or Eventually I’ll be Left-Handed)
  •  I Wish I Wanted a Peanut M&M

 February 2013

  • You Mean I Never have to Touch Raw Meat Again!
  • This is NOT a Soup Recipe
  • Is It Possible to Fail Physiotherapy AND Sex Therapy?

 March 2013

  • Yeah, That IS Weird (if you’re not from around here)
  • You Know You’re a Feminist If…
  • This Rainforest is Really Rainy  

 April 2013

  • Just Me and the Other Athletes
  • Is There Another Sex Therapist in Town?!
  • Those Spots are Sun Damage (aka Age Spots, My Dear)
  • Hazel Turns 93 – Again?

 May 2013

  • My Birth Month
  • When is BC Too Far from Ontario? (or Teenagers’ Brains Aren’t Yet Fully Formed)
  • Yes Please (or You Can have that Shoulder Surgery Anywhere in Canada – Except, of Course, Quebec)
  • Maybe It’s Me (or I Don’t Like This Sex Therapist Either)

 June 2013

  • 3 Months is Always Shorter than 3 Years
  • Sleepover with my ‘Baby Sister’
  • Veterinarians Can Retire?
  • Whoa! Here’s Summer

 July 2013

  • The Ladies are Coming! The Ladies are Coming! (So, we must buy a third spare bed!)
  • Yes, I AM Vegan; & No, I am NOT a Morning Person
  • Flash a Helicopter & Exfoliate Your Lady Bits With Friends
  • I (finally) Enjoy Vacation Time with my Husband (again)

 August 2013

  • I am DONE with Sex Therapists AND Abdominal Ultrasounds
  • How to Pack for Shoulder Surgery in Ontario
  • My Friend Basically Runs the World
  • Can that be the Last Surgery I Ever Need?

 September 2013

  • Look What I Can Do! (Don’t Do THAT!)
  • Yes, I AM Vegan; & No, I am NOT a Morning Person (Part II)
  • What Do You Mean You’re Not Getting Any Either? Game ON!
  • I Promise (to complete the entire ‘shoulder rehab protocol’ at the UBC Sports Medicine Clinic). Can I go Home Now?

 October 2013

  • My New Best Friend, Luong
  • They Seem So Happy (I found the perfect jeans for this wedding)
  • Listening to Radio BODY (a nod to Anne Lamott)
  • The Winners’ Circle (or It IS Just Like Going to the Gym)

November 2013           

  • I Feel Sorry for Athletes (or My Sport? I’m a Speed-reader – ahem)
  • Yay! I LIKE the Thought of Christmas (but It’s Okay if it’s His Turn to be Sad)
  • Both of Those Events were Inspiring, but NOT at all Similar (except that white American guys spoke at both – or is it each?)
  • Can We Put Up Outdoor Christmas Lights (at least?)?

 December 2013

  • I’m so Glad to be Rid of the Hysterical Hives – Bring On Christmas (quietly!?)
  • No Honey, We Have No Babies (or Grief has It’s Own Schedule for Each of Us)
  • Church, No Church? Can We Think About It Next Year?
  • Being Included by Friends as Family is the VERY Best Gift

January 2014

  • Let’s All Go to the Dentist (Your baby is inordinately large!)
  • Now That I Have a Manual for My Body, I Realize the Warranty Expired 20 Years Ago (or my back doesn’t want my shoulder to get stronger)
  • It’s Okay to be Weird Here

 February 2014

  • How Much Longer? (or I’m just plain tired of every kind of treatment)
  • So That’s What That Is…I Wonder If I’ll Ever Use That
  • Planning a Vacation is More Complicated than I Imagined (Team Maui)
  • Graduation Day! ( or Down to once-a-week ‘shoulder’ physiotherapy; and, thank you, Linda, for helping us make a totally different – in a good way – marriage!)
  • Grown-ups Go To Dinner Parties & Gallery Openings (or it’s rude to spray wine through your nose when you laugh)

March 2014

  • Now What? (or Now You ‘Get to’ Start Something New – Again)
  • Still a Feminist (You Wouldn’t Know It By Looking At Her!)
  • When It’s Finally Harder to Not Write than to Write
  • I (Mostly) Love Community Pools (said the woman who knows full well she is spoiled to have spent the first 3rd of her life in her parents’ back yard pool)
  • How Many Sleeps Until Vacation (haircuts, oil changes & vet appointments)?

 April 2014

  • You Look Fabulous! I Hate You! (or I’ve Lost 50 lbs and Gained Frenemies – is that term still in use?)
  • Whether to Donate or Store the Clothes I Wore When I was More Plush?
  • Just Because I’m an Editor Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Need an Editor (or that doesn’t look right either – crap! just post something already)

 

Sh*t Middle-Aged Girls Say

I can’t find my reading glasses.

How much fibre is in this?

Why did I come in this room?

How spicy is this – spicy or spicy-spicy?

I might have to have gin tonight.

Oh, you know, what’s his name with the nose and the dark hair. You know.

Explain leaf-blowers to me. I miss rakes and brooms.

Where did the summer go?

I’m so hot. Is it hot in here? Tell me it’s not just me.

Why am I awake at 4 AM?

Remember spiral perms?

This is not an ‘Oldies station’. These are CLASSICS. I danced to this in high school.

Which clicker works the mute?

She hasn’t changed a bit.

Is it Thanksgiving already?

I had such a good sleep – I didn’t even get up to pee.

Why are there Christmas trees for sale in August? Just why?

I’m tired of vampires.

I need a foot rub.

Kale? Sure. Remember when romaine was exotic?

Isn’t that YOUNG for a heart attack? He’s only 4 years older than me.

You can’t be old enough to be a grandmother.

It was perfectly good before they improved it.

It’s None of My Business

I invent stories about strangers. Everybody’s living their own part of the bigger story and I know we can’t truly see anybody else’s truth when we glimpse them in public – even if that line between public and private is smudged by circumstance. In airports, hospitals, and sometimes in Church, people seem more nakedly authentic and it’s easier to simply witness a little moment of another person’s story.

People are fascinating even in the most mundane situations. And I’m a natural born people watcher. I love people and I love stories. Just now: the neighbor across the way ran out to her car with a handful of envelopes. I wonder what she’s mailing? See? I can’t help it – even though I know IT’S NONE OF MY BUSINESS. I have to be completely engrossed in some very particular endeavour in order for this ‘people attending’ to turn itself off. Almost every day I realize I’m actually staring at somebody – it’s just plain rude.

Last Friday, when I was standing in line in the women’s washroom in Metrotown Mall – you know the one near the Old Navy store – I saw a woman come out of a stall with her purse in one hand and a half-full 750 ml bottle of malt vinegar in the other. This is exactly the kind of thing that leaves me curious for days. I’m desperate to know why she was carrying vinegar. And why malt vinegar? And why bring it into the washroom? There’s definitely a story there, but I can’t imagine it.

Later that afternoon, I saw two men and a woman (in their very early twenties) shopping together at Safeway. They were clearly getting staples to set up a shared apartment or house – condiments, spices, cleaning supplies, etc. They didn’t seem to know each other very well, but the tall blond guy wasn’t too pleased (eye rolling and head shaking) that the other guy – the shorter one with really great hair – and the girl were blatantly flirting with one another. Given that scene, anybody could fill in the blanks, right? For instance: they’re University or College students who met during frosh week and, housing being expensive and in short supply, they’re sharing a place because it turns out they all happen to have come from the Toronto area (they had slight accents). And then there was also that woman in the food court who had dressed her toddler in a mini version of her own outfit. They probably spent part of the morning in the Sears photo studio, don’t you think?

Who cares?!?

Somehow, in this society where it’s possible to live in the same apartment for years and never know your next-door neighbour’s name, and where so few people make eye contact with each other on the street let alone smile or say hello, even a fiction can make me feel a little bit more like I’m participating in the bigger story.

The next time I talk to my neighbour, I’m going to ask her what the heck she was rushing off to put in the mail.

Sex Therapists and Astronauts

The sex therapist isn’t at all how I imagined her. I don’t know what you might expect when you meet a sex therapist; but, I suppose I was thinking, oddly, of either a jolly grandmotherly woman or a stiff, lab-coat-sporting scientist. Which is weird, because the only ‘real-world’ references I have for sex therapists are the former Canadian talk show host, Sue Johanson from her show that was called Sex with Sue, and American talk show host, Dr. Phil (I’m not sure what his last name is – Oprahson?), neither of whom I ever watched except on occasions when I was stuck in a room with a TV on, and I had no access to a remote (which happens far too frequently). And, what’s more, I don’t even know why I still bother trying to imagine in advance what any medical professionals might be like. Who could have predicted my first pain and rehab doctor would be missing an arm, an eye and an ear? (But that’s a completely different story.)

I guess I never imagined I would be in a situation where I would meet with a sex therapist. I thought they were beyond my ken – like astronauts. Who doesn’t love stargazing and following the phases of the moon? In university, I took astronomy courses to fulfill my math and science credits, so I used to know (and sometimes still do – at age 47 this kind of information isn’t always accessible unless you’re tapping into it on a regular basis) all kinds of amazing facts about the universe.

We all live in the universe, but almost nobody goes into space. We all live in bodies that are designed to have sex, but almost nobody researches human sexuality, studies medicine, and then spends a lot of her time meeting with a variety of people to discuss sex in an effort to promote their sexual health. Who goes there? Well. Me, it turns out. And my husband was there, too.

My sex therapist is a tall, slim woman with a slight British accent and a gentle demeanor. She works out of a run-of-the-mill doctor’s office. If there is anything decorating the walls it’s so neutral as to be forgettable. She has a large window with a pleasant view. And, with her help, we began exploring.

Now, of course, I wonder if I’ll ever meet an astronaut.

Diving into the middle

I’ve been considering starting a blog for a few years, but I was waiting for just the right time.

Waiting for the right time, getting frustrated that life doesn’t seem to offer up a lull* during which I might start something new,  realizing that there is never going to be a lull, laughing at myself for ever thinking there would be a lull, and then, finally, diving headlong into a new part of life is a pattern of mine.

So I’m diving right into the middle of my story, and how I see the world around me and the strange variety of subjects that occupy my thoughts during any given day. Maybe in one of these early posts I’ll write a miniature bio or a nearly-true memoir.

Eventually, we’ll get to know each other better.

* lull: a period of time longer than two days and shorter than a rut when nothing in my life – or the lives of my loved ones and the people to whom I’m closely connected – that drains so much energy from me that I feel like I should have a ‘No Vacancy’ sign on my forehead and another on my back.  No such sign exists; and, since it looks like there won’t be a lull, there’ll always room at the inn.

I just love mixed metaphors.