All my life I've had one wish. It is not a small, insignificant, nonentity of a wish. It is not a wish which can be granted easily. It is not logical nor realistic, but then isn't that the nature of wishes in general?
Desire and longing imply that there is a solution which is just out of reach. Wishes are bigger than that, I think. We wish for something we cannot have, for something which is not immediately available, for something that only magic can send our way.
In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion spends hours reconstructing scenarios in which, if she does everything just so, her husband will miraculously reappear from the dead and rejoin her at the dining room table from which he so unceremoniously fell as he died. If wishing could make it so......
We wish upon stars and over birthday candles. For a while in elementary school, I wished fervently for a Chatty Cathy doll. Patty PlayPal, the doll that was as tall as I was, appeared in as many wishes as did Chatty Cathy with the cord in the back of her neck. Pull it and she told you that she loved you, or that she wanted to play. I had fantasies of the 3 of us, Patty and Cathy and I, would roam the backyard, arm in arm, surveying our fantasy kingdom. My wishes were strong; the results were disappointing. I managed to outgrow my doll phase without ever sharing it with either of my wished-for pals.
I used to wish that G'ma was a better cook, that Daddooooo wouldn't argue with everyone, that my body would grow curves like everyone else's seemed to be doing. Those went pretty much unanswered, too.
I wished for healthy pregnancies and babies and except for the fact that I couldn't breathe through my swollen nasal passages for the 9 months that Little Cuter was in residence those wishes were granted. Those were big, important wishes and I was very happy to rest on my laurels and put my wishes up on a shelf. Life was going along fairly nicely, according to some plan that often surprised me but never really disappointed me. The fact that the plan was I liked the little glitches and bumps in the road that the plan provided. None of them were overwhelming, though many were challenging. I didn't need to wish for anything. My needs and my longings were, for the most part, satisfied.
For the most part, that is. There was one sentence that was never far from my lips. “Mommy, I want....” could be met with a rejoinder that needed no thinking. “Yeah, and I want to be tall and blonde.....” which was followed by an imperfectly rendered but heartfelt verson of the Rolling Stones' “You can't always get what you want.”
Tall and blonde. Ashleigh Burroughs is tall and blonde. Elle MacPherson is too. So is Christie Brinkley. Suzi Hileman is not.
But she wants to be. Always has and always will. And that is why this post is being written.
Aspirations are always to be encouraged, I believe. Hair dye is an option, though not one I'm likely to pursue. I can barely wait for my nail polish to dry before I feel the need to flee the salon. Spending hours having color put on and waiting for it to set would put me over the edge for sure. I'm comfortable with my salt-and-pepper natural look, though I wouldn't complain if long yellow tresses appeared on my head tomorrow morning. Not at all.
But the tall part, that was the challenge. TBG tells me it's a good thing that I'm not any taller. He worries that my snarky New York attitude would get me killed if I were 5'10” tall. At just over 5', though, what would be obnoxious in a bigger human is just cute coming from my mini-ness. At least, that's what he says.
HGH? I'll let the high school athletes experiment with that for just a little bit longer. Surgery? Hardly worth it, even if I could find a willing physician. I was left with good posture and vertical stripes to give the illusion of height. As every basketball coach knows, it's just not something you can teach.
I was feeling comfortable with my little self by the time I turned 50, though. All my parts worked and that was enough. I still lusted for long legs and the concomitant ability to see over fences, but I was used to my stature and that was enough.
Then some fool shot me and one of his bullets shattered my hip and I had 5 hours of surgery after 3 days in traction. My joint is crocheted together with screws and pins and plates and wires and glue and lord-knows-what-all-else. There are adhesions and swellings and a serious layer of fear overlying the movement of that leg.
And there's something more.
That leg is about 1/4” to 1/2” shorter than its partner.
I am pissed. Furious. Angry. Sad. Hurt. Enraged. Short.
He made me shorter. All my life I've wanted to be taller and now I am shorter.
It's just not fair.