Once upon a time, in a far away land, there lived a 15 year old girl who waited in line. Her heart raced emphatically as her throat swallowed hard, attempting to stay composed. When finally her name was called, she pulled her body forward. She stepped onto the doctor’s office metal scale, skillfully placed in the middle of the coaches’ office of the high school weight room.
The bottom 100- pound nudge remained lodged in its place, but the top toggle was the number in question. Her coach started it toward the left end, and slowly moved it right. Her ravenous stomach growled as she glared at the fingers pushing the toggle evermore to the right, to a number she had never seen before except on a number chart or a simple math equation. It was high and despicable. It was hurtful and judgmental. It was destructive.
There are moments in our lives that seem like the beginning of a story but also the beginning of that same story’s end. These moments are called landmarks. They are like mile markers on a trail. Each rocky, engraved landmark indicates that you have just completed this-said distance. Simultaneously, it indicates you only have this much longer before you finish the course.
So, I should really back up. The true beginning of this girl’s story doesn’t begin or end with the scale even though it will always be a defining mark — a landmark, of sorts. Her real beginning opens with a scene that is beautiful.
Once upon a time, a perfectly formed brown-headed little girl, was born on the 3rd floor of Methodist Hospital. After hours of sharp and painful labor, she arrived safely in her mother’s arms. Her first moments were peaceful and blessed.
She was the first born of joy of a twenty-one year old girl and her 24 year old night-shift working husband. In spite of the sweltering heat that weighed heavy outside their blue curtain-split recovery room, her mamma and daddy felt light and dreamed a dream for her as they gazed at their precious gift. She would be the recipient of their every good gift — their time, their talents, their total hearts.
And they gave her that. Gymnastics lessons when there was barely enough to pay for groceries. Homework help that often included disgruntled words and a claim that she really didn’t need their help. Piano practice time at the antique brown piano that had been passed down in her great-aunt’s inheritance. And sacrifice that hurt and often ended in momma and daddy fights because sacrifice does that — it hurts.
Many moves later, jobs later, schools later, she recalls the last move they made together.
Here, the wheat fields sprawled alongside the roadsides of Highway 123, swaying in the light breeze. That particular stretch of roadway, adorned with thick brown stalks promising a summer harvest, is the physical scene she identifies with as she now considers when and where her mind started to change. Something about that open wheat field locks in her mind when she remembers the fear and insecurity she chose to carry with her when she was measured on the scale that life changing day in August, 1993.
So leaving out the details, that maybe I’ll be brave enough to explore later, somewhere in the history between 6 and 15 years old, I skip forward to 1993. At least for now.