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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fixer < Upper

Dear Josie,

I've got a bone to pick with perfection.

In high school, my favorite English teacher called me to his desk while proofreading an essay I had recently turned in.  "Why the very's?"  He asked.  I stared at the paper in his hands, my interpretation of perfection.  Huh?

"Take the very's out."  He told me. "And the so's, you don't need them.  Your paper is better that way.  It's real."  I didn't understand him then, rather, my sixteen year old brain  focused on the hours spent the night before, outlining my analysis of the novel
he'd assigned. When I tried to take the paper he shook his head. 

"Go ahead."  He prompted.  "Cross them out." 

I was mortified.  The red pen shaking in my hands, I smothered them for the sole purpose of my grade.  He smiled.  "Ah," he sighed, "Now that's a paper." 

I couldn't see past it.  All of my hard work, neatly double spaced and trim, now bleeding into the margins before me. Despite the A minus I received, I was bothered for weeks.

I notice them now, the imperfections.  The crooked stems and the holes.  The jagged edge we're quick to straighten, the lines not quite parallel.  They run in droves, glue sticks in hand.  Ready and aching and bursting to help, time lines in pockets, mouths open to prescribe their various cocktails.  Must remedy.  Cast.  Rinse and repeat.  Must fix. 

Recently, I was out to dinner with some friends.  For no particular reason this had been a bad day.  Yep.  I still have them. 

As the small talk progressed I felt myself shrinking in, desperate to find some infinitesimal piece of the girl I once was, hiding in a crevice somewhere within just waiting for her rescue.  I wanted to laugh as they were, yearned for the genuine smile. 

Because of the nature of this day, I had decided to wear something special to dinner.  Your aunt had given me a bracelet several weeks before that was still in the box.  A beautiful, handmade gem that reminds me of you so.  She had written you a beautiful letter as well, describing the angelic white color, the symbolic tree and infinity symbol, the angel wings.  It was as if this bracelet was made for you alone.  She had ordered it immediately. 

I was wearing it for the first time on this night, quite proud of the fact that I had put it on myself.  Using my left hand, this had not been an easy task.  After some awkward wrist angles and a few choice words I finally felt the click.  It was (very) loose, but it was on. 

As my sweet friends conversed I felt the urge to tighten it, pulling at the delicate chain under the table for several minutes until I felt the break.  I looked down and nearly lost it, the panic setting in. Could I make it to the restroom before the first tear fell?

But just as quickly as I had crumbled I noticed something.  Somehow the chain had broken, but the latch was still intact.  Before I could ask the waiter for a time machine, I felt the connection.  It happened faster than before, and resulted in a much better fit.  I threw the extra links into my purse and began to enjoy my Chicken Marsala.

It's funny how we are quick to fix things.  The unnecessary additions, the rush to make it better.  I'm finding that for me, broken isn't what it used to be.  Broken is suiting.  It's beautiful and it's snug.  Broken is striking.  Broken is the process.  Broken is the proof.

Your bracelet lays beautifully now.  I'd call it a perfect fit, but I prefer to be truthful.

It's broken.

Love,
Mom




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