Saturday I took a bath, shaved my legs and armpits, and then showered to make sure I was extra clean. For anyone that knows me (and not even well), you know that I am, what one may call an infrequent bather. It’s weird because I actually do really enjoy showers, and used to take one every morning before school. Although now that I think about it, it was more about waking up versus being sure I was squeaky clean. Since I never wore makeup and had uniforms (pretty abnormal for public school in the 90s) and my mom would make my breakfast and lunch each day, the only thing I had to do was roll out of bed, and make it school on time (read: late). I may regret sharing this with you, but back then I didn’t even have to turn on my own shower—my parents knew I hated wasting water and would get out of bed purely out of principle. It rarely was about being clean.
Nowadays, when it comes to making a choice between an extra 10 minutes of sleep, mindless toilet scrolling through social media, then getting somewhere on time (read: late) with good coffee in hand OR showering, I mean, the option should be really clear.
Something was different Saturday. Life in this moment feels like it is getting turned upside down for me. So much of what I know to be my security, my joy, my identity is shifting in a really painful way and what feels like unexpectedly. I don’t think I’ve ever understood what real vulnerability is until now, reaching out to family and friends, new and old, to say that I need their support and presence and all that I have to offer is a bucket of tears and nonsense babbling. Every single person has shown up again and again and again.
Last Wednesday a friend called me to check in and let me know that she and her family were around if I needed it. Thursday I got off work and couldn’t think straight, but I did know that I had to take her up on the offer. Immediately. So I cry-called her, mumbled something about not being alone (somehow she understood), and within 10 minutes was in the car driving an hour and 45 minutes to do not much more than I would have done at home, but in the company of those that are seeing me, that know me, that love me.
The same thing happened again Saturday. I went to bed late after a 9 hour shift on my feet with a sprained ankle (that had started to bruise from overuse—winning all around), and woke up knowing I had to go back to see them, to tend to my soul simply by being in good company.
I didn’t feel the same urgency to rush out the door the way I had 2 days earlier. For some reason before I left I needed to take time to bathe, shower, and to shave. (As an aside, I don’t feel like I have to shave. I just like to, ya know, once every six months. I’m all about shave at your own pace or no shaving at all depending on each person's preference. You do you, be empowered, embrace the hair you’ve been given and let’s shift some cultural expectations and norms while we’re at it.)
Saturday showering and shaving represented something else for me. A do-over.
As kids, do-overs were a normal part of playing and learning. Messing up and trying again. There was an unexpected interference, so it’s a chance to do it one more time. As an adult I have realized that life doesn’t really give you do-overs, well, at least not in the ways I think most of us may want them. (Neither do polaroids.) The reality is that we have to live with the choices we make, our words, our actions, their impact on ourselves, on others, on the world. (Can we just talk about single-use plastic for a minute, climate change, and institutionalized racism in America? Case in point.) Everything we say and do matters and we must be mindful of it—speaking our truths, advocating for justice, taking time to listen to each other (even though we may not agree), owning our mistakes, being present, caring for our communities. It all has a ripple effect. No do-over. Just be-better. And we must be better.
Right now I want a do-over. I recognize what the reality is and all I want is to flip it and reverse it. I call interference, but nothing and no one can or will give me a do-over.
Except for myself.
I have the opportunity to give me a do-over, a “try again”, a second shot. It won’t be in the way that I want, but it could be in the way I may need. And it may not be in the way that I need, but it will be an opportunity for me grow, simply by starting over.
By showering and shaving, I was telling myself that I can start over, even if it is in the smallest, most insignificant way. Although 99.9% of things are out of my control, there is .1% that I can control and that is my do-over. It is me taking care of myself. It is me being vulnerable and asking for help from people. It is me learning to be aware of and feel my feelings. It is me discovering more about who I am, how to get in tune with me, and how to make space and take up space and yield space when necessary. It is me remembering that a deep breath can bring me back and provide some calm in the midst of utter confusion and heartbreak.
Two days later my legs are still pretty smooth, but my armpits are getting a little ripe. I’m staring out the window at a perfect half moon, which feels a lot like I do today. Halfway full of light and shining, halfway dark and grieving. My do-over today isn’t going to be in a shower (sorry anyone that has been near me and smelled my armpits). My do-over is in the gentleness that I give myself in this in-between. Like the half moon, ebbing and flowing from darkness to light, knowing that in being gentle with me in this process, I am starting over.