I’m no stranger to bold things. Two marriages that kind of happened out of the blue. Children we had to go get from a foreign country. Jobs taken and quit. Brinksmanship of varying types.
Once, after having been driven to complete madness by a married lover, I drove to his house, knocked on the door and told his wife who I was. She invited me in and we had an interesting chat around the kitchen table, the three of us, almost like we’d been neighbors for years. I don’t remember if there was coffee. She seemed unperturbed, though, like possibly I wasn’t the first happy surprise on the doorstep. Leaving, trying to avoid his silver Corvette,I backed in a light pole on the side of their driveway, causing a U-shaped dent in my yellow Toyota’s bumper.
I drove back to my little upper flat, quivering from the likely consequences of my bold move. Was it really true, I asked myself, that any action was better than no action? I wasn’t sure but I knew that my bold move had thrown off the rocks on my heart and soul. I would probably end up alone, I knew that, but I’d be free and light in my agony.
Deciding to adopt was a bold thing. And it was something my husband and I did three separate times. Each time requiring a level of mindlessness that would never be repeated in our lives. We should do this, we said to each other. Why, we asked. Because we can, we answered. The analysis got no deeper. After the first adoption, the lure of the bold thing was too powerful to be waylaid by questions or analysis. I could smell an orphan from thousands of miles away and it was the just the scent alone that I needed to find them.
Explaining this to people now, twenty years since our last adoption, comes off as the recounting of folk lore. I can see it on people’s faces. They think I’m skimming over crucial details, not fully disclosing how thoroughly we investigated each of these children. Because, after all, who would do that? Just take children from another country knowing almost nothing about them? Well, actually thousands of people do this every year. The phrase ‘wing and a prayer’ was invented for these amazing parents, all veterans of the bold thing, I am proud to be in their club, wear that shirt, show my so-secret tattoo.
Now I am hungry for a bold thing. I am on the hunt for it all day. I wait for it to appear by the side of my bed in the middle of the night, be written on the lined pages of the little notebook I keep by my lamp.
But there is no cliff or mountain in sight. What is that extraordinary life-changing thing that I will do simply because I can?
I am 67. I am healthy and pretty smart, though fairly deaf. That last fact limits many bold things that involve understanding what other people are saying. In some ways, working to be a soldier in the army of coping with a disability has become my bold thing, or the stand-in for a bold thing, but it is tiring and unrewarding. Since no one really knows what it’s like in my head, there is little cheering for my perseverance. There is no orphan in my arms, no dent in my fender. My bold thing is flat and endless, no fireworks, no crescendo. Dreary and internal.
So I stay hungry for a bold thing.
I am not willing to believe that my bold things are all done and hung in my closet with my graduation hood and my mother’s wedding dress. I am not ready to inventory my memories of former bravery or foolhardiness. I don’t want to be done being brash, I yearn to be so fully convinced of something that I will fly, will hurtle myself into the next bold thing.
There is something dazzling somewhere. It just needs to make itself known to me and I will be ready.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Take It From Me.” The question was to the effect: what is advice you give other people but have trouble following yourself.