Sadness Smiles

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When we leave Bend in two days with all its beautiful mountains and enlivening streams, I imagine it will feel like a child who was introduced to a new ice cream flavor. The sensation still new enough to ponder, while matter of fact deciding it to be the best flavor on the planet and of course her favorite forever and ever.

When a child sees many breathtaking things and tastes a gazillion of life’s flavors, she usually can acknowledge somewhere inside her that something better will most likely come along. This is also when she realizes she is now what is called an adult. Experience and knowledge, the inevitable shadows finding a way to stick on the soles of lost boys, carrying them out of Neverland forever.

This summer I began to recollect old memories like shells on the beach, picking each one up inquisitively and then putting it back. I don’t want to collect them, just remember. This is when the decades of memories crash against the feelings of youth still wriggling around within. It’s strange to be 33 years old and feel at times like I’m ten or twenty or 14. Each remembrance ricocheting me back to another time.

Inside, I’m five. Always 5. Having a hard time settling into skin that is growing wrinkles around the eyes and sun spots on the cheeks. It doesn’t seem right to still feel so young after experiencing so much. Like I’m deceiving myself somehow.

But it’s how life comes to me, through the lens of the young. Hyperbolic adjectives: Glorious. Exciting. Painful. My responses no more sophisticated than a shout, jump, twirl, pout. I may be a poet but my first response is always blunt, hardly ever encompassing more than four letters: Ow. No. Eeek.

“I’m sad.” My mantra for weeks now.

“I’m sad.” It’s not lyrical or insightful. But I bathe in its honesty.

I’m sad to leave Bend. I have no desire to become acquainted with Salem. No doubts hurt me though. We are supposed to go. So I accept. Sing when I’m sad. Dance when I’m overwhelmed. Accept. It’s not profound, just new for me. The years have worn resistance out of me.

Grateful God somehow has kept the five year old still brewing inside me. She helps me see that tomorrow can still be enjoyable with all its goodbyes and hellos. The child is excited that we’ll be living where the weather beckons an umbrella. The adult knows we’ll never use one. And they play on, making me smile.

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