I just watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer last night, for the first time in many years. I was struck by its underlying message about "misfits" and "nonconformity"...how society rejects them. How the misfits need one another and how, in the end, it turns out that we all need them too. Perhaps Rudolph spurred such a philosophical frame of mind because I had also just read this week's BlogHer of the Week post by Amy Turn Sharp: "I'm Gonna Kick Tomorrow".
Amy takes us back in time to her teen years, survived with her friend, Keith:
Keith and I grew up in cow town together and traversed the Appalachian landscape as teenagers barely surviving. The winter makes me think of all of the Christmas breaks spent back there with him during our college years. We were much freer then as he had come out and I was desperate to be myself...
...But some of the best times with Keith were when we would just drive around and listen to the best music. We would park our crappy cars somewhere in the woods and talk and laugh our asses off and forget who we were and where it was that we were from.
One cold night, in particular, Keith and Amy come home to Amy's kitchen, expecting only to satisfy the munchies, and instead find Amy's mom in the midst of a full-blown asthma attack, unable to find her inhaler.
Amy takes us into the strange combination of panic and detached absurdity that she and Keith felt as they rummaged through forty handbags looking for a tiny life-saving chunk of plastic.
We searched through at least forty patent leather purple purses, yellow canvas satchels, white clutches, and on and on -and my mother is dying in the kitchen and we are in the driveway nearly in tears from the frenzied laughing of the absurdity of our lives.
Keith keeps me from climbing in the trunk and giving up, he slaps me with an orange Dooney and Burke and we find it. It was in a granny bag, brown and boxy, and we ran it inside to her and she was fine moments later and then it was like it always was.
Amy closes with a couple of lines from my favorite Jane's Addiction song, and a couple of poetic lines of her own, which I won't give away. And it brought tears to my eyes.
Perhaps because somewhere out there is my own "Keith", but, unlike Amy, I feel my Keith is lost to me now.
Lost because his youthful indiscretions didn't pass with youth.
Amy has the comfort of knowing that Keith knows that she loves him.
My Keith is lost because his feelings of being a misfit are more powerful than knowing that I (and many others) are always out here loving him, even when we don't see him.
Lost because most of the time, there is no deus ex Santa to swoop down and save us from the Islands of Misfit Toys upon which we maroon ourselves.
But once upon a time, I walked through the world "tethered", just like Amy, to my own misfit friend. "I'm Gonna Kick Tomorrow" takes me back to that time...and makes me wonder: Do we all have a Keith? Who is your Keith? And where is your Keith now?
Amy, congratulations on being our BlogHer of the Week. And thanks to everyone for continuing to send in your nominated posts. Remember to nominate individual posts, not entire blogs, and keep them coming! If you want to check out all the BlogHer of the Week posts, check out the BlogHer of the Week archive.
For Jory, Elisa and Lisa, BlogHer Co-founders