Originally published in the Miami News-Record on December 27, 2015.
I have learned that Pyrex dishes don’t go on the stove top. I have learned that if you think it will be funny to throw a cup of ice water over the shower curtain while your husband showers you will never take a relaxing shower again because said husband doesn’t hold to the whole “vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord” thing.
I have learned that buying batteries at a convenience store on Christmas morning can cost more than the original gift. I have learned that sending a Christmas card to an old friend and getting it back with “deceased” stamped on it is just about one of the saddest things you’ll ever receive in the mail. I have learned that an afternoon of Christmas tree assembling and decorating that includes Pam cooking spray, rope, and duct tape will be one of your favorite Christmas memories. I have learned that meals with cousins at the kids’ table are some of the best memories I have.
I have learned that after 23 years of marriage, your wedding ring is no longer round, but a little squished to one side. I have learned that a lot of unpleasant stuff can be avoided by simply keeping your mouth shut. I have learned that not everyone wants my opinion – even though I usually have really important things to say. I have learned that there is no better comfort in the world than a kiss on the forehead from your mom – even when you’re almost 43.
I have learned that alcohol and tattoo studios are never a good mix. I have learned that Tinker Bell tattoos are sometimes regrettable. I have learned that a Route 44 sweet tea from Miami Sonic is exponentially better than a Route 44 sweet tea from any other Sonic in the world. Or at least the four states. I have learned the Pythagorean Theorem. I have subsequently forgotten it. I have learned that being popular in high school doesn’t amount to a hill of beans out in the real world. I have learned that parents will do just about anything for their children. I have been on both sides of this.
I have learned that “I’m sorry” is harder for some people to say. I have learned to forgive. I have learned to let go. I have learned that those are not always easy to do. I have learned that even if you typically don’t regret things, if your Papa asks you to go to the Townsman for pie after your high school graduation and you decline to go hang out with your boyfriend, you’ll regret it.
I have learned that there is no graceful way to fall. I have learned that time spent laughing with your oldest girlfriends is sometimes better than therapy. I have learned that you never forget your first kiss – even if it wasn’t the best one you’ve ever had.
I have learned that the Tooth Fairy writes apology letters in pink ink and the paper is extra glittery. I have learned that there are few better feelings than these: the first shower at home after church camp, taking off your bra after a long day, and a nap on your mom’s couch. I have learned that the first time you say, “Oh yeah? And if all your friends jumped off a cliff would you jump, too?” you instantly feel inclined to apologize to your parents for pretty much everything you ever did from age two on.
I have learned that highlighted verses in my Bible are reminders that whatever hard times compelled me to mark them are now past … and God provided. And I’ve learned that if I’m looking them up because I need them again, God will carry me through once more. Or twice more. Because sometimes I’m a slow learner. I have learned that there is only one way to Heaven and that Jesus forever loves me in spite of myself.
And to quote Michelangelo at age 87: “I am still learning.”