It’s said that you only live once. I agree with this statement, provided it incorporates the concept that life is continual and unending. We may live a human life only once, but maybe our spirits participate in more than one human lifetime. Maybe we live other than human lives, too. The possibly of living life as a physical being more than once is part of what draws me to reading and writing fantasy. Lily, my inner fourteen-year-old, is more practical.
You’re giving me a headache! Let’s just live the life we have now.
Good point, Lily (as always). During the past nine months I’ve recognized that, when it comes to committed romantic relationships, I have a deep-rooted tendency to put the other person’s needs ahead of mine, abdicating my own interests for the most part and taking on a supporting role to the beloved. Do I do this out of a throwback reverence for outmoded societal norms, or is it my tendency to take such an absorbing interest in the other person that I forget who I am, a kind of self-negating amnesia? Beats me, but I feel like I’ve been in the role of second banana most of my adult life. So far, if I wanted to do something and my partner didn’t, I. Just. Didn’t.
Are you crazy or something?
Could be, Lily. And you’ve got to admit, I’m overly influenced by you, too.
Sure, but I’m good for you.
Given our track record, I agree. Maybe it works better with us because you’re on the inside, rather than the outside. If I want to do something, you have to come with me whether you want to or not.
And if I want to do something, I won’t stop bugging you about it until we do.
The most effective way Lily has encouraged me to jump into living life is a simple matter of punctuation. Every week I make a schedule of appointments, meetings, work I need to do and events I’d like to attend. More often than not, the events are followed by a question mark.
And those are the things you want to do most!
As an adult I’ve become super-tentative about following the impulse to have fun. I feel insecure when I want to do something and my nearest and dearest doesn’t. Doesn’t he want to be with me? Are the things I want to do so boring to him that he just can’t tolerate doing them? I owned all the reasons for not living life, whether the reasons were mine or not. It is powerful to realize that this has been going on underneath for forty years.
That’s when you stopped listening to me. I won’t say I told you so, but. . .
Guilty as charged, Lily.
You’ll be happy to know Lily and I lived life to the nines last Saturday. It was Adam West Day in Walla Walla, WA, a celebration honoring our local hero who is best remembered as television’s Batman for three glorious seasons, starting in 1966.
We bought our Bat Shirt, added a pair of elbow-length black gloves to our ensemble, and voila! On the way to the opening ceremonies at the plaza on First and Main, I was stopped by a couple who asked me what, exactly, was Adam West Day? (Fashion hint: if you want to look like you know something interesting, wear elbow-length black gloves.) Fortunately, I’d consulted the schedule and could tell them about the day’s events, as well as an abbreviated history of Adam West.
“Where can I get that t-shirt?” This question came up dozens of times, including from the nieces and nephews of West who were in town for the occasion. I must have sent forty people to T Walla Walla, where they press their custom design onto whatever shirt you choose from their stock.
After the opening ceremonies we trotted a few short blocks to Kirkman House Museum and visited their Adam West exhibit. (Tourist tip: you can find the best photo op in Walla Walla there.) The Batmobile and Batcopter had arrived and were parked on a barricaded block of First between Main and Alder. Folks of all ages crowded around for photo ops with Batman impersonator Clint Young. I claimed a piece of sidewalk in front of Book & Game and people-watched. About a quarter of them wore some kind of Bat attire and everyone was smiling!
My outfit caught the eye of Johnny Green, former Batman extra and co-writer of the Batman theme song, who also owns the Batmobile. “I like that Batgirl!” he said, pointing at me. A woman standing nearby kindly agreed to take my picture with the Caped Crusader and suddenly I was standing with him in front of the Batmobile! But all was not well. Batman immediately accused me of being Catwoman in disguise and menaced me with- -the Bat Boomerang! The crowd hooted and cheered at our ensuing pantomime. Lily was ecstatic (ditto for me). Clint Young grinned and said, “Thanks! That was fun!”
Our Adam West Day experience was rounded out by a screening of the documentary “Starring Adam West” and joining the crowd in the Marcus Whitman Hotel parking lot, waiting for the Bat Signal to shine on the hotel tower at 9 PM. It. Was. So. Cool.
And we did it ourselves!
Living life. And, all day, I didn’t feel one bit lonely.
Thirty-five years ago my first marriage was ending. As part of reevaluating where I was in life, I visited with astrologer Libby Kresky of Bainbridge Island, WA. Laugh if you want. It was a heady time in my life, on my own for the first time in five years with no one at home to make fun of me and my pursuits.
These days I find astrology an interesting tool for looking at life, and I probably truly believed in it back in 1984. Libby made an astrological chart, a large circle representing the sky with the stars and planets placed where they were at the time (to the minute) and place (Port Townsend, WA) of my birth. I’m not sure where the chart is today, nor the cassette tape of our conversation about the chart. But one detail I remember: most of the stars and planets were below the horizon, a horizontal line drawn through the center of the circle. The celestial bodies would start moving above the horizon much later in my life: submerged potential, skills and abilities growing under the surface that would one day break through and become something more.
The stars and planets indicating that I am a late bloomer? We shall see.
Are we there yet?
I feel like we’re at the very, very start, Lily. I’ve joked that, in the movie of my life, I would end up playing the Eve Arden role- -the wise-cracking second banana with a practical, no-nonsense type of glamour. But she did take center stage as the star of the TV show “Our Miss Brooks” (which garnered her an Emmy in 1954) and had a long, impressive career in radio, television, stage and screen before and after that.
So we’re going to star in the movie of Eve Arden’s life?
Could be, Lily. But in the near term, let’s keep living life the way we have been these past few months. I can feel our petals opening even now.
Subscribe To Susan's Newsletter
Join the official mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from Susan D. Matley. It's free and you can opt out anytime!