"No matter how far you travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car."
- August Strindberg
When I was a kid in elementary school, my mom worked as a bookkeeper at a furniture store that was just a couple of blocks down the hill from my school, close enough that I walked there every day after school. I got to hang out in Mom's office and "help" her for an hour or so until my dad stopped and picked me up on his way home from work. I remember Mom letting me stamp the backs of checks ... don't laugh ... being a big enough kid to hold the big metal stamper thing and stamp those checks was a big deal to me. I made paper clip necklaces, played with the old metal arm-operated adding machine, separated rubber bands by size and drew pictures for Mom and all of her co-workers.
Having the run of all those office supplies was like a dream come true for me as a little kid, especially on the days when the manager of the store would send me home with a bag of office goodies, including my most favorite office goody in the entire universe ... a giant-sized pink eraser. And when I say giant-sized, I do mean giant-sized ... those suckers were about the size of a modern-day iPhone and as thick as my favorite Nancy Drew mystery. Yep, those erasers were definitely my favorite of all the office goodies for sure. Those giant-sized pink erasers could erase any mistake I made ... on paper anyway.
I'd wager that many of us, perhaps even most of us, have times we wish we could erase ... times when we would give all we have for a giant-sized pink eraser that could magically wipe away the things we don't want on the paper of our lives. Some lucky folks may only have moments they want to get rid of, but my guess is that many people have more than just moments ... many have hours, days, weeks, months or even years they wish they could erase from their lives and remove from their memory. Unfortunately, as much as I was there was, there's not a giant-sized pink eraser for real life. We make mistakes that can't be corrected. We inflict hurt that can't be healed. We say and do things to each other that leave marks and lines and scribbles all over our hearts ... marks and lines and scribbles that stay on our papers forever.
It took five decades for me to finally step out of the closet and tell the truth about who I am. Five decades of trying to be the person other people told me I was supposed to be. Five decades of living in fear of what would happen should I ever slip up and let the people I loved see the real me. Five decades of pretending to be someone I never was. Five decades of hiding. Five decades of worrying that someone would uncover my secret. Five decades of thinking there was something terribly wrong with me. Five decades before I understood that God loves me just the way I am. Five decades before I finally had the courage to be the real me. Five decades before I was able to do something I'd wanted to do for as long as I could remember ... wear ties and suspenders and not be ashamed.
The last time I wore a tie or suspenders was one year ago today ... a day I surely wish I could erase. What happened that day isn't important, nor does it matter to anyone but me. I can wish all I want that I could erase certain events of that day, but my wishing is nothing more than just that ... a wish. I wish I could turn back time or jump into another dimension in which erasing that day last year involved nothing more than snapping my fingers or waving my hand, but I can't. I miss my ties and suspenders a lot, but there's something I miss so very much more than the pieces of fabric or the metal snaps. I miss the real me ... the me who wasn't afraid ... the me who didn't hesitate to reach out ... the me who believed in myself ... the me who believed in others. Where the heck is that giant-sized pink real-life eraser when I need it, eh? Where is it indeed?
Oh, one more thing ... I did wear my Ellen/gangster/coolest shoes ever today. Hmmm ... maybe there's still a little of the real me left in there after all.