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Swapping Sucky For The Sweet

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I sat patiently in my car as I traded off between bites of a lemon loaf and sips from my salted caramel latte. I was waiting for my scheduled mammogram. No medical worries that I'm aware of-- but they've bumped the frequency of my appointments thanks to my (long passed) grandmother's impressive ability to collect varying forms of cancer in the way other women collect shoes. I've already inherited her chin(s) and chin hair and ability to slay like a boss in the kitchen. I'm hoping my inheritance ends there; I am rich in other ways.

Between bites, I smiled. A bout with cramps can spin into a spa day. A dentist appointment calls for a banana split. (No splitsies!) A regularly scheduled mammogram becomes a lobster lunch, and a down-the-road move becomes a town-wide production. I have a tendency to turn a task into a treat, a doldrum into delight. I consider this a great talent.

I remember as a child there were days that felt different-- better than the rest. They weren't holidays or graduations, but average days that were made better by surprise.

There were grander memories-- like watching the Miss America Pageant in the living room. My mom prepared saltine crackers and cut Swiss cheese. She made an extra batch of 4C ice tea and we were able to eat in the living room. As a family, we critiqued gowns. We rated bathing suits, talent, and hairstyles. Their noses, the way they walked-- sadly, we ripped these women to shreds. Clearly, my concern for women or their role in society had not yet been formed. I'd like to think I'd be kinder if I watched a pageant today, but I can't commit to this theory.

There were other times, too. A night with the Grammys or Emmys. (TV!) The times we'd have breakfast for dinner, or we'd play backgammon at night. (My mother would always win. She still does.) They were simple days to savor. Average, unimportant days, but with an element of magic, of fun.

I passed out a bunch as a kid. (I sometimes still do.) Concerned, my doctor ordered an EEG. This test can determine changes in brain activity that might be useful in diagnosing brain disorders. (Ah, it's all making sense.) The test would be lengthy. It was at the hospital and I was given the day off from school. Dozens of suction cups were attached to my head, held on by goopy, cold gel. I looked straight out of Ghost Busters. I was so scared and completely mortified by what I must have looked like. My nerves were frayed and I was positive I was sick (or worse, that I might die). No medical issues were found. (Phew.)

Thirty years later, that memory of that day remains positive. Yes, I was petrified, embarrassed, and fearing for my life-- but what I most remember was GUM.

On the morning of my test, my stepfather, Chris (who was likely just as fearful as I was) handed me a crinkly brown paper bag. It was loaded with gum--forty (40!) fully-sugar-loaded unadulterated packs of Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum. Grape, Orange, Cherry and Original. Rootbeer and Watermelon and Rockin Blue Rasberry. Dr. Pepper, Checker Mint, Bananaberry Split. I had them all.

With no boundaries or rules, I ate wads of gum at a time. Later when safely at home, I doled individual pieces to the neighborhood kids, deciding who got what and when. The memory of fear and angst was replaced by something sweet-- Sugar & A Gesture of Love.

Those simple days that held such sweet wonder were the exception, not the rule. Of all the 'When I Grow Up' things I promised myself I'd do, swapping out the sucky for the sweet, on any given day, was one I'm so glad I stuck to with great ease.

Loads of laundry can be lapped by little rewards. A manicure for menstruating. Wine because too much whine. Fancy appetizers on a Tuesday. Gumballs on the counter. No excuse needed at all.

These check-ups and chores won't forever be doldrums we can so easily turn to delight. While I do plan to will my way towards a longer and healthier life than my lovely, loving grandmother could secure, I imagine there will be days that a lemon loaf or lobster won't be able to fix. Harder, longer, scarier days that I'll never wish on anyone. When those days do come (and they will), I want the memories to already be in place. I want to see that we've been doing and living-- making something of the every day.

Here and now, I'm quite happy with simple delights. I hold my chin(s) high, and look for ways to add charm to the ordinary day-- and spread a little sweet when it's most needed, Hubba Bubba Style.

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