Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Fabric of My Life Is Duct-Taped Together By the Kindness of Others

I was once accused of believing that everything that happened in the world happened directly to me.

Because it’s true! When my washing machine's spin cycle stopped spinning a couple of weeks ago it might as well have been me having the breakdown, not my kitchen appliance. That same week, when my car's alternator stopped alternating (or, um, whatever it does) I felt like the one who refused to budge, spitting cold fire, dying silently in Carytown’s upper deck parking lot.

But then something weird happened. People started to offer me help. A family I was convinced you would never see outside of Walmart jumped my car and didn’t laugh at me when I admitted I didn’t know how to pop my own hood. A friend fixed our washing machine on barter. Other friends, in outrageously kind ways have offered me: money, help, advice, time. I am speechless at their generosity and kindness. And I am trying to accept it with grace rather than shame or pride.

Because even though I am thirty-five and a mother who has a mother, I still feel like a babe in the woods. Life still surprises me, usurps me, catches me off guard. I feel like I had my nose in a book about mythological fairies when they handed out the Instruction Manual to Life. And appliances. And finances.

I was once accused of being emotional about money. And it’s true! I am emotional about money, but I’m also emotional about everything else. The lining of my shoes, ripe avocados, the lilt of Delila's voice on Lite 98, my student's writing, electric wires, song birds, books, old friends, new friends, birth, death, refrigerator art, car parts, music.

I seem to process life through my tear ducts.

Friends have told me that they envy my ability to cry. I envy their ability not to. I wish I was tougher, stronger, less vulnerable, more in control, less in need of help, more self-sufficient. But I’m not. I seem to need all the help I can get. And it’s humbling, and beautiful and life-changing to accept it. I only hope I can repay all of the kindnesses that have been given to me.

Because lately it’s felt like the fabric of my life has been duct-taped together by the kindness of others. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe it’s not so bad to have a life that looks more like a collaboration than a one-woman show.


  1. I love Delila's voice. And I over related to this post in such a good way.

  2. I'm processing your writing through my tear ducts. Beautiful, Valley. And a life that's more collaboration than one-woman show sounds like perfection to me.

  3. It is often difficult to be a person who feels things deeply and wears her emotions openly, but the alternative, to have less empathy and compassion, doesn't seem appealing to me. You go a step further and put your deep feelings into eloquent words for all of us to share. And that takes strength and guts.

  4. I'm so happy for all the gifts you are receiving. What an appropriate way to live!

  5. How do you guys come up with such meaningful, eloquent, insightful comments? I'm stunned.
    Thank you.

  6. I am going to make it my mission to write a country song with the last line of this post as the last line of my song.

  7. NIce one Val!

    (non-meaningful, lacking eloquence and insight)