Dress Up

On Friday night, a good chunk of Moscow dressed up and went to the PCEI dinner auction. It is fun to dress up. Construction workers clean up into fancy pants and silky vests. Those I usually see in jeans and rain coat appear in a 3 piece suit. Slinky dresses are bought at good will. Decorative hats frame made up faces. Pediatric PTs can sport a dress and not the usual work uniform of jeans and anything washable. It was a fun night. I bid on a week-long bike trip for 1 in the San Juan mountains of CO, and won.

When Emerald was a little girl, she went through a phase of changing her clothes 10 times per day. She loved to dress up, and she loved her party shoes. In addition to trying on clothes, she would try on personalities. We could often tell with whom she had spent her time at school based on her demeanor, words, and actions when she returned home. Just like outfits, some personalities were more attractive than others. It was our job as parents to let her know which ones did not fit.

When my sister died, I inherited stuff. Not only did I get all the sweaters and record albums back that I thought were lost, I adopted certain aspects of her personality that were formerly off-limits as only hers. I let my emotions swing more. I became goofier, not so serious. I still think of her every time I do a back flip off the end of a boat, or a cart-wheel in the street…and I am grateful for her gifts.  I did not become fiscally irresponsible, nor lazy about the dishes. Those aspects just did not fit.

Now that Jim is dead, I find myself trying on certain aspects of his personality. Some I will need to keep as the sole surviving parent, whether they fit or not. I have to plan our time, or nothing will happen. I have to check the weather and be aware of avalanche danger or high water if we decide to head into the wilderness. I have to figure out how to back a frickin trailer if we are ever going to go on another family river trip. Other aspects, I am trying on. Jim was very comfortable in the public eye, I am becoming more so as this groover project progresses. I was able to speak at his memorial. I am more apt to stop on a bike ride and throw branches off the trail, and I know I would talk to horse back riders to let them know where it is OK to ride. Jim loved to get outside and do something. I honor him by trying to do this every day.

Jim was a viking. He never met an outdoor adventure that he did not like. He tried to get friends and/or family to join him, but if unsuccessful, it did not stop him. He would load up the boat and head to the river knowing he would meet someone else and have yet another new friend. Jim was fearless. He was happiest when pushing the envelope of his abilities. Mistakes were learning opportunities. I am trying, but I don’t think this aspect fits.

When Jim and I met, I was the Piglet to his Tigger. He had so much confidence in himself, and in me, that I became braver, but the fear never really went away. Jim rafted for the whitewater, I survived it to spend time with my friends and family in a place I love. Jim loved steep ski descents, I found an easier way down after the peace of climbing through pristine snow to a great view. I still can’t ride the switchbacks on Headwaters.

I will never be a viking. I like outdoor adventures of moderate intensity with people I love. I also love being home or in a river kitchen, making a nice meal, sharing it with family and friends. Jim would have loved a week-long mountain bike adventure, even solo, in the San Juans. He would have enjoyed it with OR without close friends and family by his side. I would have covered the home front for him while he was gone.

I’ve tried it on. It just doesn’t fit. Does anyone want a bike trip in the San Juans?

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5 Responses to Dress Up

  1. Gerri Sayler says:

    Funny … I’ve never thought of you as timid or shy, only graceful and articulate.

  2. Gerri Sayler says:

    Funny … I’ve never thought of you as timid or shy, never, only graceful and articulate, and very funny.

  3. Dan Cordon says:

    Sometimes the clothes don’t fit because they’re the wrong size. Other times they don’t fit because we put them on backwards. You’ve probably already considered this, but how about trying it on again with a slight change. Are there *more* tickets for a week of mountain biking in CO? Would the fit be any different if a group of friends/family were going biking?

  4. Emerald says:

    It may take me a couple tries, but I can back a trailer…

  5. Bill says:

    Nicely done again. Your love for your Jim (my Jim Bob Jason LaFortune) is unsurpased and remarkable. Your love for family and friends, everlasting. You may not fit in others shoes or play others roles but you are remarkable in your own. A gift to me and others.

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