...this, perhaps, is how lives are measured, a series of abandonments that we hope beyond reason will eventually be reconciled.~Anthony Doerr (From About Grace)
I listened to the top 40 radio station, and I heard the DJ in her lilting, perfect announcer voice say, "Have you ever worked a jigsaw puzzle, with say 1,000 pieces? You spend all that time and patience on completing the puzzle, and then find you're missing one piece. Well now there's a company who will create that missing piece for you, and you'll get it within two weeks. Hows that for service?"
In the seventies, I walked the campus of the university I attended just outside of Dallas, Texas, looking the part of most any 19-year-old woman of the time--bell bottom hip huggers, tie-dyed shirt, a backpack loaded with heavy textbooks. I belonged to a sorority. I made good grades. I actually liked writing term papers and sequestering myself in the library--books silent, tangible companions. Internally, though, I felt "less than," as if I'd never measure up. Critical of my hair that waved down my back. Oh, how I wanted that straight, sleek hair like Marcia Brady's. Giovanni and I had separated by that point, too, and my unkempt heart felt too wrecked to expose. During this time, another journalism student, a couple of years my senior, befriended me. I felt safe with him, because he was genuinely kind. I found him to be exceptionally smart and funny. Yet I couldn't imagine that he would see anything attractive in me. Every time I was around him, I worried that I'd say something stupid. I doubted that I had anything valuable to offer, so I detached. Avoided him. "If he only knew how defective I was," I thought. I did not let him into the parched, cracked places in my thinking. I let no one in.
Then, a message via Twitter. This individual wondered how I was doing, commented how wonderful it was to learn of my "success" as a published author. We exchanged updates about our lives. I wrote that I was sorry I was "mean" to him in college. He said he'd never thought that, but rather believed that he had avoided me, because he lacked self-confidence, thinking someone like me might not "be in his league." All these years later, both of us perhaps creating that missing piece, reconciling the abandonment of ourselves at that vulnerable time in life when we became tangled in our distorted belief system.
This lovely man shared that he had been married thirty-nine years, (who has been married that long anymore?), has three grown children, five granddaughters and a journalism career that spanned over thirty years. I shared, too, that the lost Italian boyfriend was now my beloved husband of fifteen years, and I have two grown daughters and two grandchildren--incontestable beauty, grace, love, and validation of ourselves threaded throughout the fabric of our timelines.