Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Knowing when to call it quits

not smiling but you've got to admit, we were rocking the 80's hair

Every one of these posts about being authentic won't be about Marianne but some of them will.  Being her sister provided a perfect opportunity for me to learn.  I don't want to give the impression for one minute that the angst of having a fabulous older sister in any way matched the blessing of having a fabulous older sister.

I wouldn't trade her in (even though an underachieving sister may have been a little easier to grow up with).

I wanted to be like Marianne.  (Still do.)  It was my everlasting sorrow that my eyes were brown instead of blue like hers.  To add insult to injury, she was right handed like all superior people must be and I was left handed.  Besides those setbacks, I tried to be like her.

I read the books she read.  I sang the songs she taught me to sing.  I joined basketball because she played basketball.  I joined FFA because she was a member of FFA.  I tried out for school plays because she was in school plays.

I wasn't very good at basketball and I at first didn't get any part in the school plays but I kept trying.  It didn't occur to me to do anything other than what Marianne did.

When I was a sophomore and Marianne was a senior, our cousin Margaret was on the varsity team with Marianne and Margaret's sister Catherine was on the J.V. team with me.  The four of us had fun together, just like we'd been doing our whole lives.  We rode to and from town together.  We killed time in town after school waiting for practice to begin.  One night at practice, Catherine and I collided.  Her knee crashed into the side of my knee and it hurt.  A lot.

It was the best thing that could have happened to me.

That night as I lie in bed with a throbbing knee, I thought, This hurts so much I may have to quit basketball.

Then I realized how appealing the idea seemed.

As I lay there, unable to sleep, it occurred to me that, while I liked spending time with Marianne and my cousins and my friend Marie, there was nothing else about basketball I really liked.  I didn't like handing over three hours of each day to staying in town after school for practice.  I didn't like giving up every weekend to travel to the far reaches of Nevada to other tiny towns where we played games.  Basketball wasn't really that much fun.  Also, the next year Marianne would be graduated.  Did I really enjoy it enough to continue?

It was a troubling idea.

Didn't I have to do what Marianne did?

I decided I wanted to quit.  I told my parents.  I told Marianne.  Nobody seemed to care either way.  The world apparently wasn't going to stop if I didn't do what Marianne had done.


That led me to contemplating quitting FFA.  I didn't like FFA.  I was harboring no secret desire to be a farmer.  FFA was what the smart kids in our school did.  Our small school competed successfully with much bigger programs because our adviser made sure the smart kids joined.  I thought FFA was boring though.  It was with a little trepidation that I quit FFA.  The adviser was not happy with me.  (No basketball coaches cared that I quit!)  He talked to me repeatedly about how I didn't have to quit just because Marianne was so good at it (she was a very successful public speaker, I know, you're amazed) and I felt like I couldn't compete.

He misunderstood completely.  I joined because of Marianne.

I quit because of me.

He didn't speak to me for the rest of high school.  It was OK.  The awkwardness of that was wholly eclipsed by the liberating freedom I felt.  Suddenly, I wondered what I wanted to do.  Suddenly it occurred to me to wonder.


Jennifer said...

I loved this and I love you.

My favorite part was the "harboring no secret desire to be a farmer"... It made me laugh out loud. I love your writing.

Anonymous said...

Love your story-telling! I can't wait to read more!

Olivia Cobian said...

I was always thrilled to have brown eyes and be left-handed like one of my big sisters!

Maria Keckler said...

what a fabulous topic for 31 Days! I'm looking forward to reading more.


cza said...

All I can say is Wow! What a subject. I think I am going to really enjoy your month of blogging. I think your mom was very wise and a very quick thinker. :0) That is the kind of response that would not come to me until 2 AM.


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