River water wading. Giggles. Sunglasses lost. Bobby shorts. Sand between my toes. Bosefus. Barbed-wire fence danger rangers and island excursion fantasy fancy. Mona's rescue ride from Highway 61. Home-grown aloe vera to soothe the sunburn I swore the Midwestern sun couldn't fight hard enough to give me. Lost bet grumpy. Photo shoot confidence.
Feeling safe, struggling against sleep on the car ride home, from the backseat, listening to Kate and Dustin talk quietly with each other from the front as the sun went down and the sky shone brilliant pink and orange.
How we feeling, sunshine face?
Look at that set.
Look at that set.
I got a tattoo several years ago, near my 24th birthday.
The day of my birthday, I woke irrational and needy. Celebratory. I got in my car and I drove back to Illinois to be with my family because, at 7:52am, I made it to 24. It had been a challenging year and I was lonesome. I was floundering at my first job, I had a series of boyfriends who knew how to be committed about as little as I did. I was staying up too late and drinking wildly. I was feeling too much. I was grateful for any kindness a person threw at me but unable to tell them how much those kindnesses meant. And I punished myself when the moment passed and my appreciation went unspoken. We're all so human, buried in there, everywhere. And, at only 24, I was surprised I'd gotten that far. And then I was frightened at my surprise.
And when I got back to Denver, I got a tattoo that reads: Take your salvation, however it may come.
People ask me what that means sometimes, or ooooh and ahhhh and I imagine they think it glimpses to a profound spirituality that I don't possess, unless it's worshipping at Gratitude's alter, and then maybe they'd be right. When people do ask, my general response is:
"It's a lyric from a Jackie Greene song. Today is was a cup of coffee, you know, that saved my life."
All nonchalant and shit. Like, no big deal.
Molly. Molly. MOLLY!
In fact, I don't feel nonchalant about it at all. I feel like a big freak about it. Everything saves you, everything can save you. LISTEN TO ME. Some days, a cup of coffee can save your life. Other days, you may need a little more than that. But gratitude is less an attitude than it is an action.
Yesterday we did a float trip on the Wapsi River. It was one of those look-around-you-all-this-is-for-you kind of days. Didn't we make the list so we'd make the most of it? Didn't he remind me that it's not difficult to remember what is simple, essential?
This is what I'll take with me from the day we made:
His bold, big bare feet moving swiftly over the floor at Lady Di's Diner, challenging - tell me to put them on to get served, I dare you.
Her sweet, enthusiastic smile under her sun hat with the chin strap - the warm days will fade quickly now, let's soak up every last sun-yellow-sky-blue-red-lips-smile-black-bathing-suit minute if it.
You sad, sunshine face?
Not today, not with you guys.
(Sometimes your friends save your life, too.)