I was on a late afternoon walk in my little town and suddenly I smelled someone barbecuing with briquettes. Then the smell of fresh mown grass registered and I heard late summer crickets and children playing in the distance and thought of my folks. I was instantaneously linked to my past and it played before my eyes in the present – my dad cooking on a grill. Watching the clouds grow peach and purple, then magenta and firey red as the sun set over the hills surrounding downtown Portland, Oregon in the distance. Hearing my mom say, “Why don’t you go out and play with Ariel, Don. She has been looking forward to being with you all afternoon. I’ll go ahead and get dinner ready.” Playing “Horse” with a basketball, where each basket made earned me a letter as I hopefully spelled H-o-r-s-e before my dad. Realizing later in life that my small shaky arms and short stature couldn’t possibly have allowed me to win as many games as I did – that my dad “cheated” on my behalf. Within a few more steps I also recalled the longing that happened in my teens – that insatiable desire for something and somewhere that I couldn’t yet define, that nagging sense of low-grade loneliness that followed me around, regardless of how many friends I had.
And then later, after I moved to New York to pursue my dreams of being an actress, finding Shya and discovering that lonely place was filled. I actually found that lonely place filled on the day I let go of him – resolving that he would be moving to another coast and I would stay in NYC and we wouldn’t be getting married after all. In that moment I liked me. I wasn’t lonely – I had me. That night, Shya asked for my hand in marriage.
I am grateful that despite my spontaneous fears about getting married, and all that would entail, I said, “Yes!” I am even grateful that in the years that followed, my Grandma got hooked on daytime television because she was devoted to seeing my appearances on a soap opera in the 80s. I am grateful to the folks who wrote in to the show (with my prompting, of course) to say they were fans so that the writers would write my character into additional episodes – which they did. And ultimately I am extremely grateful that all of that acting training and all of the courses I attended led to discovering how to be unapologetically me – which doesn’t mean I don’t apologize when the circumstances call for it.
My life, including the losses and breakups and apparent failures, has brought me here, to this moment.
My life, including those forgotten moments from late summer and childhood days of long ago have also brought me to this moment.
Even the Coronavirus pandemic and all the sudden changes and loss and isolation have brought me to this moment. And I am grateful. I can include many things here; grateful to be alive, grateful to have my health, grateful to be with Shya and to have our seminars and participants and friends and home and, and, and…
Truthfully, just being here is enough to access my gratitude.
Thank you for reading the article. I am…