Life’s a shit show, folks.

If the whole of me is like a movie set, then it goes to show the parts are various jobs and interns and assistants. The Main Character might be in the spotlight, but would be nobody if not for the grips and boom operators. These parts make up the whole and some wish they had bigger parts or more recognition. (Get in line, amirite?)

There is a part of me that almost escaped for the hills. It was January 8th and she was feeling brave (not invincible, just brave-little-toaster brave). Her appearance was a gift of 2024. It was new years eve and the whole of me said to this small part of me, “Okay. This is the year. We’ve been thinking about it and we think it’s time to see what you’re made of. The world is your oyster, or whatever.”

This part of me, who wanted free reign more than anything, looked back at the whole of me, starry eyed and disbelieving.

January began uneventfully. Boringly, I dare say. Then the 8th came and an opportunity presented itself. All hands on set were thrown up in the air. The whole of me was stumped. How did I get in this mess?

It was in the parking lot of the Clay City EZ Stop that I learned someone I loved was ashamed of me. They didn’t know what do with that shame, so they tried to hand it off to me like a hot potato.

“Ah ha!” The brave toaster part of me proclaimed, “This is not my problem. I can’t help someone who doesn’t accept me as I am.” And pretending she was some expert in the field, “I will hold no space for their shame.” Then she dusted her hands off and stomped away from the conversation.

The whole of me (or rather, the other parts of me) looked back and forth between each other. Their faces filled with surprised and impressed smiles. My head handed my gut $10 for losing a bet. My gut upped the ante, eager to finally be given a voice. My hands shook (they always shake) but my feet stood firm and my chin jutted skyward towards the flickering lights of the gas prices.

This brave toaster in me not only held her shit together, she ignored the bets against her. She stood up for the whole of me, despite the thread of doubt that coursed through my veins like a trip wire. She wrote about her experience, too, as if her first victory should be recorded for the history books. Which is either proud or arrogant. I imagine it takes a concoction of both to move forward without validation. Alas, she didn’t change names or protect anyone, which in retrospect was an amateur move. Rookie mistake.

She was shut down the next day.

I was asked to remove the essay from my website, by someone who cared for those unprotected names. There is no use going into detail because honestly, the writing is what saved me, not the posting. I do want to protect everyone involved, so this is the redacted summary:

I was hurt, but I stood up for myself.

And don’t get ahead of yourselves. The scene of the brave little toaster standing up wasn’t a television-worthy, epic moment. There was no class, or triumph. I received no validation or closure. I cried privately, coming to the conclusion that for this brave little toaster to live on to stand up for me on another day, she’d have to have room to grow. She’d have to surround herself with people who supported her, you know like a blankie, or a vacuum cleaner.

Lastly, the older more practiced part of me that was eager to stifle feelings and desires, and please everyone but myself, that part needed to stfu or go off and die.

The following week or so was classic Shakespearean tragedy. All the actors/actresses were really tugging on heartstrings, really hamming it up for the audience. There were monologues at the steering wheel, and in the shower, and in the middle of the grocery store.

Then, in the quiet solitude of brooding, a friend reached out and asked me, “Are you still interested in working at the airport?”

I responded immediately, with a resounding “YES.”

An airport job with flight benefits? YES. An airport job on the ground, without a being a flight attendant? YES. An airport job on the ground, without being a flight attendant, and also in Lexington instead of Cincinnati or Louisville or Nashville??? HELL YES.

For five years I’ve tried to get on at an airline. I’ve applied for Customer Service and Ramp Agent positions at airports within a four hour drive in all directions. Five years, dear reader.

On this Friday, when my friend texted me, I immediately applied online. I showed up to the group interview the following Tuesday. I received a job offer later that evening. Later that week, I did fingerprinting, and background checks. (Yay, I’m not a felon). Two weeks later, I got my airport security badge and I walked out on the ramp another week later. I am the proud owner of free flight privileges. Where ever my heart desires (and where there is space on a plane), I can go.

This is what I like to call a dangled carrot. It’s something the universe or creator loves to dangle just out of reach. If we really want it, we’ll have to work for it.

Around the time that my friend gave me the heads up on the job at the airport, I had told Josh that I wanted to move. I needed to get out of our small town. I wanted to be closer to my family and my friends. We were never there for my sake. It was always for his. But now, I needed us to make decisions for my sake. Not at his expense, just more in consideration of my needs.

In my thirty+ years of life so far, the well-exercised part of me that stifles feelings and desires has acquired a collection of hostages tied up and gagged in the dark crevices of my chest. They are all dreams and desires that this part of me was convinced would only cause pain. It was like a little prison of innocents within the confines of my rib cage. They were safer tied up, than they were let loose.

It was Josh who had pointed out that I had this nasty little habit of not voicing my needs. Lord forbid if I had a desire! If I expressed a desire, then I opened my self up to be let down. That vulnerability had been killed off long ago by my childhood home, first marriage, and first business partner. I couldn’t need anyone or want anything without a guarantee that I could achieve it for myself.

When Josh and I began discussing moving from this small stifling town in the foothills where I felt alone and invisible (and ashamed of), it was finally clear to me that my asking for us to move, was what it looked like for me to express a desire. I wanted to move. I wanted to invest in a home. I wanted to take a risk on both of us being closer to opportunities that were bigger and better than anything this small town could offer.

I didn’t actually expect Josh to go with me on this. I mean, asking for ice cream is one thing. Asking for a nice dress is a thing. Asking for a house? Ha! I can’t even get a vacation, and I want a house?

I thought this would be a tooth-and-nails situation. I expected I would exhaust myself with reason and logic, and Josh would wear me down and convince me to stay where we were.

I feared I would stay.

But then, in walks more little gifts of 2024: Josh gets offered one opportunity after the next. Very cool opportunities. Opportunities I can’t talk about now but am bursting at the seams to talk about later.

I say all this to address the fact that there are stars out there, and they do align. They shimmy and shake, finally settling into a perfect storm of cosmic magic dust. The dust falls slowly like a curtain and then all at once, completely transforming a landscape overnight.

Josh’s opportunities give him reason to move to the city. Suddenly, Josh is seeing roads before him, where investing in a move, and a house is beneficial. We are both excited to do this? How did we somehow make it to a happy ending?

Wouldn’t it be nice to stop the story there. I mean, in a way it is there. There are parts of this story that are absolutely true in all their beauty. I hold tight to the magic I see, right there on center stage.

But backstage, there is always something amiss. Something fucked up. Some important element that has gone terribly, terribly wrong. Stitches are coming undone. Props are missing. Another prop is broken. Someone is puking in the bathroom. Someone is still drunk. Someone didn’t even show up.

The show goes on, they say. The actors on the front side of the curtain charge forward, kicking their feet in the cosmic dust, remembering their lines, investing their whole heart, doing their best to cover up the fact that backstage is utter chaos.

Parts of me freak out back stage.
Parts dance on stage.
Parts watch from the audience both believing the performance, and not.

I am on the edge of my seat, rooting for the heroine (me), hoping and praying it all works out.

Josh and I found a home. It has space for Josh’s things. It has windows for me. It has a fenced in yard for the dogs. It has a view out the back deck that took my breath away when I first saw it. It is so close to my new job that I could ride a bike. Not that I’m a bike rider. (I am laughing to myself as I type this.) However, I will revel in the fact that my commute to work will be so short, I probably can’t even get a full cigarette in. I have never, ever been able to work somewhere without a long commute. I get so many hours of my week, back.

We have a closing date. Lenders are lending us money. Despite the odds, and despite this insane housing market, we are moving to the city. That’s everything on stage. That’s everything the audience can see.

Backstage is an infestation of all of our worst fears bouncing between the parts of the whole, like lice feeding off our blood supply, making everyone scratch their heads.

The stars on stage, those ones that are in a line? Backstage knows those were put there by stage hands. They were strung up with crusty string, by calloused hands with feet on ladders, probably violating some OSHA standards.

Their placement was imagined by minds that had a vision and hearts that had a desire. Somewhere in the midst of their placement, a member of the production doubted whether all the parts could pull it off. Then a smaller, quieter part of the whole stood up and said, “there is no room for doubt on this stage” and that, dear reader, is the sole reason the show goes on.


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