Thursday, March 1, 2012

Come on, get happy

I’m linking up with Amy for the month of March. Our challenge is to post one happy memory every day for 31 days. I’m not a miserable person, so I feel like this exercise will be a pretty fun walk down memory lane (departing from cliché corner in 30 seconds).

So, I bring you The Happiness Challenge (Day 1):

In April 2009, two of my dear friends and I journeyed east of Birmingham to a rustic resort in Georgia. We were to complete the resort’s zip line canopy tour for a story at the magazine where we all worked at the time. This was our “we are woman, hear us roar” moment: Strapped to harnesses and topped with helmets, we were going to sail through the air, high above trees and water and birds, on cables, crossing bridges from zip line to zip line. Bridges that looked as though they had been constructed by kindergartners.

No problem.
I'm terrified right here.


It was fun. We were fierce. And all of that was fantastic. But, nearly three years later, the zip lines and bridges and squeals and sweaty palms aren’t even what stand out most.

Those things? They were wonderful. But the memories I cling to, the ones I relive over and over, are the ones of the night before, after the three of us finished dinner and were headed back to our rooms. The next thing I remember, we were huddled together in one room, drinking wine and reassuring each other that we? Could totally do this. One bottle and a few high-fives later, we retired to our rooms, where we promptly began emailing, texting, and Facebooking each other about our near-crippling anxiety.

The next morning, we could barely eat, but that jittery meal is one of the funniest things I recall from the whole trip. Any other time, an outsider wouldn’t have been able to ask “decaf or regular” for all the chatter. The three of us together would have boring people reaching for earplugs and smarter folks leaning in to listen. I’d guess fewer than 10 words were spoken that morning though.

Much later that afternoon, we were speeding down I-20 toward home, singing along to the radio and laughing loudly at our day-before selves, those silly girls who were so scared of something like a 30-story climb to the last cable. And then suddenly, our little Hyundai wasn't going very fast at all. We made it off an exit and into a sketchy gas station parking lot (aren’t they all) before our rental car sputtered to a halt. And then we just burst into laughter at the ridiculousness of the entire trip. We staged photos of ourselves peering under the hood, pretending to fix the car. An hour later, we piled into the cab of the tow truck with bags of junk food and plenty of giggles. By the end of the trip, even our surly driver was mustering a half-grin. We took more pictures in front of the tow truck. I remember Sara saying, with a great big smile, that she was so glad this happened to the three of us, because we weren't mad or annoyed or frustrated at all. We were all thinking the same thing, “What a great story this is going to be.” It's always about the stories, the memories.

That dear friend, Sara, is no longer here. She passed away almost one year ago, and I can’t even think about her without a huge lump forming in my throat, tears levied behind my eye lids. One blink and they’re out. But they aren’t sad tears. I’m not even sure my heart has fully allowed my brain to believe she’s really gone. I miss my friend so much, but the memories sure are sweet. I’ll see Sara again one day, and that gives me hope. Joy. Happiness.


6 comments:

Amy Bickers said...

I was thinking about this exact story on my walk earlier and thinking about the memory of it and, just like you, not about the actual ziplining, but about the car breaking down and how much fun we had and how Sara said, "I'm so glad I'm with you two."

That is such a happy memory! It feels like it was just yesterday.

Here's something I truly believe: Sara is still with us. I can feel her light and love all the time.

Crap. I need some Kleenex.

I'm so glad you're taking the Happiness Challenge with me. Here's my unofficial slogan for the month: March - Already Better Than February.

Erin Street said...

I love this story so much. It make me smile to think about the y'alls fearlessness. I remember Sara being so thrilled to tell that story -- she laughed so hard!

I believe she's with us too. This makes me happy.

OK, time for me to add one. Y'all are making this tough! And great

Jennifer said...

Great post. I think this is great challenge and you and Amy totally make me want to do it too. Good job!!

Katie B. said...

Can't you still hear that laugh? The best laugh.

The Bakers said...

Joy personified, she was. Is. Thanks for sharing.

Stephanie said...

Thanks, guys. This one was tough and sweet to write.