It’s time for me to run another marathon — er uh, maybe a half marathon. I was scouring the Web for races today, but didn’t pick one. Maybe Quebec in August. Or Portland, Ore. in October.
Thinking about marathons reminds me that I lost my first marathon medal in the fire. It was the Dublin marathon in October 2005. I have pictures of me before and during the race and I remember vividly how both exhilarating and painful it felt. I only feel a slight pang that I don’t have the medal anymore.
But it leads me to think about the sentimental things I recovered. On my bookcase in my burned bedroom lay the ring my dad gave me for my 27th birthday. My dad had given my mom a ring for Christmas more than 25 years ago with her birthstone, an amethyst, embedded in a gold band. When I was little, I remember my mom twirling it on her right ring finger with her thumb. She never took it off. But then the stone fell out and my dad bought her a new ring and refit the gold band with my birthstone: aquamarine. It’s the most sentimental thing I own.
That, and my first diary, which was also in the bookcase. I named my first diary Sue because my mom named her first diary Carol. (It says in the inside cover “My diary’s name is sue. I’m eight years old when I got you, Sue.”) Sue is 5×7 with diagonal stripes in blue, aqua, light pink, bright pink and yellow separated by thin white stripes on the cover. In the middle of the stripes, a cheerleader (cleary Sue) with curly red 80s hair holds her arms straight out with pompoms. Inside, there are pink lined sheets. The lock is broken and sheets of paper are starting to fall out.
Here are a few entries, misspellings and punctuation exactly as written. It’s 20 times funnier when my brother reads it aloud pretending to be a little girl with a slight lisp, accentuating the dramatic parts.
The first entry. Tues. July 16, 1985: “Dear Sue, Today I had a big and boaring day. First I woke up and wached T.V. Then I play UNO with my bro. Then I went to the library and went to swim at Derby. I had a big Day. Good Night Sue.”
A few entries later, written in purple crayon on Thurs. Aug. 1, 1985: “Dear Sue, Today I saw a squrril and named it googoo! And I made a tent and I’m going to sleep in it! Good Night Sue.”
I started writing cursive in January 1986.
Then this on Sat. Feb. 22, 1986, a week before I turned 9 years old: “Dear Sue, I’m in love with Patchie Darhra. He’s cute. He’s kind, conciterite, cute, charming, fair, and funny. He talks to me a lot. I hope he likes me, because I like him. See you, Sue.”
And this one, a few months later on Thurs. Aug. 21, 1986: “Dear Sue, Lora’s coming over every day now and I play with her. She’s nine too and we play with each other. We’re babysitting her. Just the other day Lora and I were having a Lemonade sale and — we got three hole dollars! We had a Koolaid sale today and got 48 cents, not as good huh? Well geuss what! Amanda is going away and jerky old Tracy took her away to play with and I won’t see her again! I hate Tracy that Jerk! Well that’s all my proplems! I love you Sue.”
And a classic one, a year later when I’m 10 years old.
Fri. April 24, 1987: “Dear Sue, Hi!!! This is your owner Erin. I want to tell you about Mike and Patchie. Mike likes Katie Butler, the biggest jerk in the United States. He’s going with her. Patchie is free, I don’t know who he likes but he is cute and nice. I think I like them both!!!!! I’m a two timer. Right now I’m watching a Kraft Singles cheese comercial. It is exactly 6:28 pm. Guess what. What? you’d probably ask. well Whitney said yesterday “I will call you.” Well GUESS WHAT!!!? She NEVER called!!!! That makes me sourt of mad!!!! Wouldn’t you be mad?? I think I’m O.K. now. I better leave. Bye! Love, Erin.”
Later entries have hearts doodled in a line, with one right side up and one upside down, connected together. I swoon over the “Growing Pains” heartthrob Kirk Cameron. I talk about how I love Billy and Mike and Patchie and hate Billy and Mike and Patchie. I talk about collecting bears and asking for “big clothes” for Christmas and how I wasn’t popular but I was invited to a popular girl’s party.
The thing is, a marathon medal is symbolic, but just that. Sue is a evidence of how I used to think. And while I probably won’t run more than a few more marathons, I do plan to write journals (and blogs) consistently and watch the evolution.
I’m so deeply grateful I still have Sue.