Friday, December 15, 2006

Hear Me Roar

I am brazen. Sometimes this a problem. I'll say a shockingly rude thing to someone because it seemed funny in the millisecond it took to travel from my brain to my mouth (why do other people get more time? Why, why, why?) Also, I ask the questions that everyone else is standing around not asking, wisely I might add.

Occasionally, my brazenness has helped me ask for something I want. When I wanted to teach writing but kept getting passed over at interviews without explanation, I showed up at the director's office one afternoon, loins girded and extensive list of qualifications at the ready. As soon as she said, "What can I do for you?," I opened my mouth and burst into tears instead. Shortly thereafter, I was offered a job. Hey, whatever works.

When I arrived at college, the Freshman Dean made a speech at opening convocation about wanting to know each and every one of us. The following day, I knocked on her door at College Hall. She was puzzled, and if I'm not mistaken, nervous. Was I homesick?, she asked. Hating my new roommate? Sitting alone in a dark dorm room slicing up my arm while everyone else was romping in fall leaves? Um...no. Everything's fine. You said you wanted to meet me, so I stopped by. But there must be something you need, she pressed. Well....I said. I groped around in my untrammeled brain. I guess I was a little bummed that I auditioned for Advanced Acting and didn't even make the waiting list. After all, I am an actress, I told her. She didn't protest. The following day I was called out of lunch for a phone call from the Advanced Acting professor, who let me know that a spot had "just opened up" in the class. Gee, thanks!

In grad school, I felt certain I had a connection with the green-eyed boy who sat across the seminar table from me in my poetry workshop. Beyond this innate sense, I didn't know the first thing about him--we had never even exchanged a hello. But one afternoon I slipped a note into his mail cubby just the same. "You might think this is sort of brazen," I wrote, "But I was wondering if you would have coffee with me sometime?" The following day there was a note in my cubby: "I like coffee. And I like brazen." Yowza! That one didn't go well, but it probably had more to do with his live-in girlfriend than anything I did.

All this is a preamble to my current situation. I am no longer that dreamy co-ed, penning poetry by the bank of the Charles and fluttering my lashes at green-eyed men (well, there is one in particular, but we'd actually spoken before I asked him out.) Now I have very different, but just as pressing, concerns. These concerns are various, but most of them, necessarily, loop back to Jarrah. So when I spot a good thing, I don't want to risk it slipping away.

A couple months ago, Jarrah and I were at the park. It was empty. It was hot. We were both bored. Suddenly, a car rolled to a stop in front of us. Jarrah pointed. When the door opened, out stepped a lovely little girl. "Hello," she said to Jarrah, "My name is Olivia. What's yours?" I was extremely impressed by her self-possession. I could tell Jarrah was, too. Even better, Olivia's mommy was right behind her, smiling, and not acting the least bit put out that her daughter was talking to us. I know it might sound odd, but very often when Jarrah plays with another child at the park, the child's mom or dad pretends not to see me. They talk to their child and follow their child, and I follow their child because Jarrah is following their child, and it's just about the most cringe-inducing awkwardness you can imagine. I could tell this was not going to be one of those times. Within minutes, Jarrah and Olivia were holding hands and laughing, and Jessica and I were gabbing away, two fast-talkers in a slow stay-at-home world.

They had just moved here, and we were some of the first people they met. I didn't know this when I thrust my business card (hush, NIA teachers are allowed to have business cards :)) at her as we were leaving and said something akin to: "Let's do this again. I actually mean that, by the way." It seemed like a brazen thing to do, but I couldn't see any way to avoid it if we ever wanted to see them again. We've had a few more playdates and it delights me that the girls get along just as well as their mommies do.

On Thursday, we went to the zoo together to celebrate Olivia's birthday. She was turning four. Yes, that makes her two years older than Jarrah, but somehow, the age gap doesn't get in their way. Olivia is a big talker, and Jarrah doesn't talk at all, so it's a beautiful arrangement if you think about it. You know what they have in common, though? They're both brazen. And they're making it work for them.

6 comments:

Paul and Heather said...

Oh I am so happy that you and Jarrah found kindred spirit friends. How exciting!

Jess & Olivia said...

Sam,

Thank you, I am truely touched by your kind words. Olivia's life and mine are much richer for having met you and Jarrah.

suebdo said...

Girlfriend - Here's a toast to brazen & one Elmo sippy cup raised to Jarrah!

You have no idea how many people are out there -- wonderful, welcoming people -- who are unable to make the first move & overjoyed when you do.

You won't ALWAYS get what you want - but the odds are most certainly tipped in your favor when you "Bust a move"

One might say that little Jarrah wouldn't be with you and David today if you hadn't been a little brazen about the whole thang a thang.

You go girls! (and boy!)

Anonymous said...

What cute little pals they are!!! They need to be on a greeting card or something.

Anonymous said...

Something about the squeaky wheel getting the grease? ;)

Love the photos & love that cake! Someone's got a great way with visuals.

Best, Gail

Cheri said...

Excellent post! Your writing continues to inspire me.