This week I said my good-byes to the friends I’ve made here in Norfolk–Michelle and the tap ladies. I dreaded this week, thinking it would be horribly depressing.
But to tell you the truth, I’ve had one of the best good-byes, ever.
I spent Wednesday afternoon with Michelle. She was upbeat, taking photos. We told each other’s fortunes again at the Greek restaurant in the Greek coffee grinds along the Virginia Beach boardwalk. We saw all kinds of crazy, fun things in the grinds this time. She recorded it and said she might put a clip of it on her post if she can figure out how to edit it. So, keep your eyeballs open for that! We found ironic similarities in our memoir chapters and our week. When I drove away, I felt happy.
From there, I went to the Heritage Store one last time to refill my empty spice bottles. They let me use my own bottles, weighing them before and after and didn’t make a fuss. The sweet lady with pink glasses behind the counter took my homemade business card about my blogs and seemed interested in what I was writing about. I drove away elated.
Thursday, the 30 member Norfolk Tap-Dancing Club held a going-away luncheon for me after class. Everyone brought a dish. They gave me a framed signed photograph of the group. I didn’t cry but once. They each hugged me good-bye as they left. “There’s no need to feel sad about leaving. Your new station will be an adventure. You’ll make new friends. That’s just the way you are,” one of my favorites said to me. Another one of my favorites gave me a balloon. It was a gold star. “Because you are a star,” she said. The teacher gave me a homemade kit of “How to Start Your Own Tap Club” for in case they didn’t have one where I was going. She said I could use her songs and her steps! They helped me carry my things out to the car. When the party ended, the buzz lasted the rest of the day.
On my way home, I stopped by the Union Mission Thrift Store. Michelle and I have talked numerous times about how to wear clothes. She always looks so feminine and curvy in our pictures. I just don’t. “It’s because you’re wearing baggy clothes. Choose things that are more form-fitting,” she said. But when we had our shopping day at the thrift store before she left for Vegas, I simply could not bring myself to buy much that “hugged” me. It made me feel fat and insecure. Well, this time, I went in there and I did it. I bought shirts that fit me. I’m going to wear them, and I’m going to stop this insecure nonsense and feel good about myself for a change.
I used to have no problem leaving. “See ya,” and I was gone. I’m finding that more difficult to do. I’ve finally learned to be vulnerable again, to let people in and stop building a wall in order to keep from getting hurt. I will take wonderful lessons with me from Norfolk and Virginia Beach by some amazing women–Michelle and the tap club ladies (and men—there are a few!)
How could I be sad with a week this good? Impossible. As I sit here typing this on a hot, summer Virginia night, sitting in front of the fan, drinking a cool glass of white wine, I realize how rich my life is. I was surrounded by a spectacular surrogate family of women this year who accepted me for who I was. No judgement passed. They listened to me. They taught me lessons. They encouraged me. They made me feel special. They changed me, causing me to grow.
I get to take these wonderful memories with me.
I am one lucky, lucky little girl. 🙂