In 1998 my family went to Disneyland and Universal studios. I got it into my head that I was going to come off this trip with a very defined flip flop tan line. Did anyone tell me “that’s crazy you can’t wear flip flops the whole week” or “you’d have to wear the exact same pair of shoes, don’t you think you’ll get tired of that” or “that is impossible” I don’ t think anyone did say any of those things, there were no Nay-Sayers. I bet my mom said “Okay Katharine” and let me pack just the one pair of shoes. Isn’t the story better if someone was contrary, and not agreeable? Well everyone was agreeable…I mean we fought about lots of things but not my choice of footwear. You guys my flip flop tan line was legendary. Some would say that’s nothing to write home about, but man was I proud of myself. I did get a plantar wort presumably from exposure to gross cooties in theme parks. I was not congratulated I don’t think, all though my mom Tina is my biggest fan and celebrates most of my miniature achievements with fervor.
This was the beginning of my obsession with tan lines. My friends didn’t try to get cool tan lines, no magazine told me it was cool, I am not even sure who gave me the idea as I can’t recall anyone showing off a rad tan line. I had epic chaco tan lines on my bare feet at my wedding which no one thought was cool except me and Josh. I came home from Mexico with a wedding ring tan line, which I have ALWAYS dreamed of. It’s faint but when I take my rings off to give massages I can see it and I feel like a real champ. I did not come home from Mexico pregnant.
We were at a Portland cafe the morning after we got home sipping oat milk cappuccinos and sharing a gluten free peach sage sausage scone, typical northwest cuisine familiar and happy to be slowly returning to real life. BLAMMO real life hit hard, and as I was unprepared for lady times we had to purchase products. I hate spending money on disposable lady things, wasteful and uncomfortable. #divacupforlyfe We consoled ourselves with the purchase of gluten free everything bagels (that taste like real bagels) and grass fed salted butter. We went home and made food and acted like normal people whose Mexican vacation dream was reduced to tan lines. I’m sorry, that’s too dramatic because our vacation was a spectacular escape from reality and so dreamy. We rested, and read books, and ate guacamole at every meal, and we laughed, and explored, and learned, and rode the bus. Real good time, its just that this return to reality was not the cushy welcome home we had hoped for.
“Maybe next month” we say to each other. We hug, and move slowly, and load up podcasts of the Moth Radio Hour to hear someone else’s story for the 3 hours it takes to get home over the mountains. Sometimes we numb the pain of loss with busyness and episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt because we just want to laugh. Sometimes we drown in the sorrow of 28 months of failing to make what we want out of our love. We let it knock us down, and lie there listening to the single beating heart in each of our bodies, we cancel all the plans we made and mourn. Both are ways to grieve, and both require reintegration to society. I’m allowed to be sad if I want to, but sometimes I do not want to be sad. I like fun, you know, I like happy songs and sparkly scrunchies and cartwheel races.
I’d like to give you permission to write home about your tan line, or maybe to write a blog about 20 years later. Get excited about whatever you want, and be sad if you think it’s a good time to do that. I don’t know if I have the courage to hope that I’m pregnant this month. Just being honest. I have given myself permission to take breaks from hope, and allow my friends and family to hope in my place. I think energetically it works out the same. We make up rules for ourselves that are nonsensical, and I think we just need permission to be our actual selves.
ps. All the photos are for my mother and mother in law who have requested to see more photos from our trip. I mixed them in with my writing just for you lovely women.