In what space are you the most real?
Is it among friends?
When you stare into the mirror?
I found myself – my one true self – out in the Atlantic Ocean. Not when I looked at my reflection in the water but when I looked into the faces of five amazing, strong and very real women.
We ranged in ages from 36 and up. All of us mothers, some grandmothers. Years of life experiences that unfolded at the dinner table each night. Like velvet petals on a summer rose – each one delicate in its beauty but anchored hardily at the sepal. Withstanding torrid drought spells and torrential rains, hard times come and gone and come again.
But there were good times and fast stories, too. “Tramps and Bums!” Oh, how these women told stories. We were strangers as we first took our seats at the table, casual introductions as we laid our napkins in our laps as ladies do. Four days passed. We excused ourselves and parted ways as lifelong friends. Only soiled linens abandoned at the table were the wiser. “He took it out!” I hadn’t laughed so hard or felt so connected to my own being in so many years.
I was witness to dolphins racing freely through the wake of the ship. I ate alligator. Have you met me? I quiver when my SGM stocks our freezer with venison. I lay in a hammock for hours swinging in the wind, wrapped in a soft robe and feeling the sun keep watch over me. I ached for my babies but I soaked in quiet tears of relief. I longed for my husband’s arms to hold me, his lips to welcome mine but I knew it was better this way. A space to be real. To remember what real was.
And then I was home.
noun, plural –tries
- an act of reentering.
- the return from outer space into the earth’s atmosphere of an earth-orbiting satellite, spacecraft, rocket, or the like.
- Law. the retaking of possession under a right reserved in a prior conveyance.
- Also called reentry card. In Bridge. a card that will win a trick enabling one to regain the lead previously lost, especially the lead from a particular hand.
I am ready for reentry this time. Ready to reclaim the real me.
More than a mother. More than a wife. More than an advocate.
The real me.
The girl who sang her heart out every chance she had. In the shower. In the car. In front of a thousand people.
The carefree young woman who drove her Jeep fourteen hours straight from Connecticut to Florida to sleep on the beach because she could. Three times in one year.
The businesswoman, the protector and the born-again college student.
It was an epiphany for me. Never again shall so much of the everyday separate me from all of the ingredients that have been folded in over the years to make me the recipe I am. 100% Real Me.
Many thanks to the amazing women I shared my brief reprieve with. We as mothers and wives who have sacrificed for our families must remain vigilant to never lose our way back to the raw, real individuals we were before –
“Tramps and Bums!”