I have a best friend who stretches the day around her arms like a big medicine ball. She wraps her intentions from fingertip to fingertip and hooks it tight, seals it close. She believes in busyness. She believes in happiness. She believes that black high heels should never limit her. Or define her. Or slow her down.
The rest of the world stuffs pockets of time into social networks. They’re busy pining for the lives of others. She’s busy stuffing spare moments with acts of kindness.
She called me last month. When she calls, it is always for a reason. Last week, it was because she was headed to Boston for a business trip. Could I imagine her in Boston? I could imagine her anywhere the sun sets and the coffee drips and the roads find a few trees to hide beneath.
Last month, though, it was for a quiet reason, the beginning of something new. Embarking on a journey will do that to you: it will whisper fear into your lungs and spit out anxiety. She never quite lets that muddy her strength though. She had applied for a job. A volunteer position at a nonprofit where she would grant wishes to children with terminal illnesses.
And could I keep a secret until she knew whether she got the job?
I told her yes. Of course. When someone hands you a secret, you keep it. I kept it.
But all the while I was itching to hold her up like Simba from The Lion King and tell the world about her: she was good, she was kind, she was never too busy to grant wishes for children who may never be adults.
“I know you’re going to yell at me,” I said, “but do they tell you if, you know, the kid doesn’t make it?”
I was merging into my lane, exiting the freeway, headed home for the suburban life. She was promising fairytales to little girls in princess dresses.
“I mean,” I restarted. “If you’re still working with them, do they tell you?”
She didn’t know. She didn’t want to know. She didn’t want to know what it would feel like to grow attached to a girl with baby blue eyes and strawberry blonde curls and sundresses with watermelons on them only to wake up one day and see her name in the newspaper obituaries.
Life is hard. Life is weighed down by the attachments we make. To toddlers. To teenagers. To chances and choices and childhood ambitions. For a long while, I wanted to move to Los Angeles and watch the sun set and pen stories about love and life changes and the catalysts that sparked them both. But I wasn’t fit for LA. I had to unearth that: I was not fit for the busy streets of Los Angeles.
That was okay. She will walk with her black high heels down this path with baby boys and girls whose dreams are Christmas lights every single morning they get to wake up. She’ll hold their hand. Ask them questions. Make phone calls on their behalf and say prayers for their health.
She’ll do it all with a smile. Because she knows a secret: that what scares us is what enlivens us, what we hold close teaches us, what we strive for enables our futures.