I believe Jeremy’s life was hanging in the balance when last I wrote. He had carelessly spoken words that had spurred me toward revenge, and I was pondering the various avenues my retribution might take. For further details, read the previous entry!
To be truthful, I must admit that my vengeful instincts have taken a bit of a backseat lately. Yes, I’d like to propel Jeremy a few decades into the future and see how gracefully he deals with arthritis, mid-life bulge, and a household of screaming, bickering kids. Because I’m pretty sure he’ll have those. They’ll be just like him, too–obnoxious, unrepentantly offensive, and sweet-as-can-be. Therein lies the dilemma. As much as I’d like to, say, hang him up by his eyelids until he recants his previous assertions, I like him too much to assault him with anything more than the well-practiced glare I developed in my teaching years. But the fact is, it’s hard to be truly angry about something that simply isn’t true. Jeremy’s statement was “Man, I hope I’ve made a better life for myself by the time I’m your age”…which implies that I’ve made a terrible life for myself…which implies that I’m to be pitied…which implies that Jeremy can add “utterly wrong” to the series of qualifiers I’ve lovingly heaped on him over the years.
I am a single woman. There–I said it! Not only am I single, but I’m a missionary too (insert startled gasps from a sympathetic audience). AND I’m a single missionary living in Southern Germany… Okay, I may be losing sympathy votes with that last statement. There are worse things than having to look out my living room windows at beautiful, lush valleys while sipping from a perfectly perfect goblet of…Spaetzi. The fact is, I’ve never been shy about my marital status or my age, but I must say that watching others gingerly trying to make their way around the “elephant in the room” has afforded me hours of sheer entertainment over the years. Oh, the lengths to which friends and strangers will go to avoid referring to the fact that I’m–well–matrimonially challenged! What they don’t understand is that I acknowledged long ago that my singleness is exactly what allows me to do what I do here, and my age is merely proof that I’ve been privileged enough to do it for a LONG time. So although singleness and advancing age most certainly have their drawbacks, I accept both readily–though on days when a snow storm buries my car, furniture is too heavy to lift alone, and my toes simply will not warm up at night, I’d be happy for a little husbandly assistance!
And then there’s the issue of “heritage”. What will live on of me when I’m gone. I don’t have the traditional children to carry part of me into the future and I don’t have a massive savings account to finance, say, a Phoenix Theater at BFA (with wings, makeup rooms, and a hydraulic stage!). What do I get to leave behind that will attest to my passage here??
As my 38th birthday came and went in January, I was more conscious of this dilemma than I usually am. And then I received a card from several friends at Church at Sandhurst, in Florence, South Carolina. The statement on the front of the card caught my attention and quieted my musings: “Love is the secret of a lasting heritage.” If love creates heritage, I am at once privileged and blessed. What other “job” do I know of where the main requirement is love, the main activity is love, and the main reward is love? Some people refer to their careers as what they have to do. I am so fortunate to refer to mine as what I *get* to do.
How blessed I am, as a single woman, to be able to love young people in every aspect of my work, to witness their journeys, to listen to their deepest fears and greatest concerns, to ask tough questions and steer them toward their own conclusions. How blessed I am that they are willing to receive my love, that they recognize it for what it is, and that they return it multiplied.
If love is truly the secret of a lasting heritage, I can only pray that the young people whose lives brush mine every day will be my legacy. And loving them is not a sacrifice or a chore–it’s the easiest thing to do. (Take that, Jeremy!)
– I love Squirt because she is impulsive, stubborn, obnoxious, wonderful and so very teachable.
– I love Ahram because she is bold enough and intelligent enough that we can have wonderful, profound conversations.
– I love Sarah because she demonstrates daily that a teenager can find joy in giving and self-sacrifice.
– I love Fiona because her enthusiasm and affection are boundless and so contagious.
– I love Liz because she can’t help herself from over-analyzing everything with her trademark earnestness and sincerity.
– I love Nicole, because her smile is blinding and her wit razor-sharp.
– I love Sunny, because she is learning to sift through her young life in order to uncover the jewels, discard the dirt, and hope for joy.
– I love Grace because she gives the best hugs and laughs at my dumbest jokes and hides a multitude of facets under her phlegmatic exterior.
– I love Kate because her giggles overpower her most valiant attempts at remaining calm, cool, and collected.
– I love Maggie, Andrea, Jenny, Melakee, Meagan and so many others because they have graduated from BFA and found the kind of peace and contentment some current students can only pray for. Whatever Jeremy thinks of my singleness, my limited income, my random career path, and my lack of upward mobility, if my love has had even the smallest part in making BFA a steppingstone into Life for some of my guys and girls, my presence here for 15 years has not been in vain!
The list is incomplete!! If you were left out, it’s that Xanga wouldn’t permit me to post a three kilometer list…!
And by the way, it goes without saying the Jeremy is a permanent feature in my “I love” list. And I love him even more now that he’s prompted me to take stock of who I am and embrace it fully!
But–my dear Jeremy–lest you make the mistake of thinking you’re off the hook, I urge you to keep an eye out for the various coconspirators I’ve hired to exact a well-deserved revenge. After all, isn’t part of love teaching young’uns that there are consequences to insulting aging hags with far reaching influences?
So watch your back, Buddy. It ain’t over yet!