But new things are cool! Like I didn’t eat dim sum until I was 30. (This is what happens when you grow up in the small town of Medford, Oregon, where the only Chinese restaurant served a ersatz dish called Mar Far Chicken, which was basically chicken nuggets in a garish pink sauce.) Sure, I had had potstickers, but never the experience of pointing at dozens of dishes on silver rolling carts with no idea of what they actually were. At the time, I had been feeling kind of down about getting “old” [Note to self: with luck the future you is looking back at the you who feels old now and is saying, ‘You’re not old at all!]. I remember how happy I was when I realized that there might be many other experiences to look forward to, to discover.
And last week I had two of them. Both had to do with the importance of getting up close and personal.
One was at the Decemberists concert held at a outdoor amphitheater in Bend Oregon. Teen goes with us to these things every Memorial Day, although for the past few years she has abandoned us to bounce up and down in front of the stage with her friends or even strangers. And she has also teased us for the past few years, saying why bother to sit on a blanket in the middle of the crowd, that it’s no better than seeing a YouTube video.
So this year, we sat on the blanket for the first two acts, but ended up in the hive-like crowd in front of the stage when the Decemberists were playing. (Too bad we didn’t go up sooner, as Rainn Wilson, AKA Dwight Shrute on The Office, played roadie for a few moments. We heard about it on our blanket but could not see him as more than a faraway figure.)
Being up close and personal with the band was so much fun, and who cares if I was old enough to be the mom to many of the people around us?
[Note: not us]
The second experience was in my Kajukenbo class. Until Wednesday, my sole purpose in that class was to make everyone else feel like they were better at sparring. I get frightened and cower when people throw kicks and punches at me. (When we first started doing it, I had to resist the urge to run away, crying.) When they see that I’m getting freaked out, some of the people in the class will back off and take it easy on me. But not this one 14 year old whom I call Devil Child. Devil Child will happily bruise me. His windmilling arms rain down blows, and he has a mean spinning kick and an even meaner chicken kick.
So on Wednesday, I brought it to him. Instead of stepping backward, cowering, I stepped forward and kept throwing punches.
And I saw him flinch.
Which was sweet.
Our class sparred again today and I kept getting up close and personal. Sure I got hit a few times and kicked a few more, but I landed some good ones myself. Plus with each opponent there was a time when I saw him or her wince or recoil.
I wonder if there are other things in my life - things I do already - that would be better if I got up close and personal?