I've never considered myself lucky. I don't win contests. Opportunities don't just fall in my lap. I have to work for anything I get...I always have. I trip on cracks. I often say the wrong thing. I laugh at completely inappropriate times...times when I'm scared or nervous or when I am trying to avoid crying. It never fails...it rains and my umbrella turns inside out...getting me wet in spite of my effort to stay dry. I've always wanted to be lucky. When I was a little girl, I would sit in patches of clover...searching for a lucky four leaf clover...sometimes for hours. I never found one.
I don't get a chance to read much in my everyday life. If I'm sick or recovering...or if I'm on vacation...I'll read several books, but normally I don't take the time. Almost two months ago when I was laid up after surgery, I went through a week where I read 4 books. One book was a memoir written by the author of another novel I read years ago, Alice Sebold. She writes about her brutal rape and beating when she was a freshman in college and how it changed her life and her relationships as she struggled to deal with what happened to her. The title of her memoir is, "Lucky". It is titled as such because upon giving a description of the events and where they took place, the police told her that another girl had been killed and dismembered in the same place that she was attacked. They told her that in comparison...she was "lucky". It's an ironic title...a title that makes one stop and ask what it really means to be "lucky".
I started my marriage dirt poor. I cried every month when I had to pay the bills. We had one car...with no air conditioning. I got up at 4:30 AM to get ready to be at my job by 6AM at a convalescent home where I changed elderly people's diapers and fed them and sat with the ones that never got a visitor. We wore coats in our house in the winter because we couldn't afford to heat our tiny, old house. I watched other students...my same age...that were married and lived in nice apartments and that drove new cars that their parents paid for. I felt jealous...unlucky. It's been a long time since then. We are no longer dirt poor. We are very comfortable. Now I know that we were not unlucky. We appreciate what we have and where we came from, because we had to work hard to achieve success. Now I realize that we were lucky to have had the opportunity to become stronger and more grateful during the years we struggled to "make ends meet".
I've had to watch my weight my whole life. I'm not naturally thin. I always looked at "skinny" people and wondered why I couldn't be lucky like them. At one point, I weighed 200 lbs. I was miserable. I lost the weight. It was hard and it took me a long time. I had to fight for every pound I lost. I still fight...everyday...to maintain my weight loss. Now, I know that I am the lucky one, because I am in better shape. I am stronger, because I have to work to be thin. It's a conscious choice and only I can take credit for what I have become.
I have never been a "popular" kind of girl. I always had friends growing up, but I never had many...and most were guys. I've always felt insecure and socially inept. I am easily misunderstood. People that don't know me think I am a snob. I'm not. I am better now than ever, but I still have few friends and spend most of my time alone. I look at the groups of women together in restaurants during lunch...talking...laughing. I watch them from my table...alone. I think how lucky they are. I wish I wasn't alone. I feel unlucky. Then I get a phone call from a dear friend and my perspective changes. I may not have many friends, but I care so deeply for the few I have. They are not disposable...or one in a pool of many. Each one holds a place in my heart. Each one has made a difference in my life. That is worth more than a lunch date full of giggles and fake small talk. I am lucky to have a few true friends that I cherish.
This ironic title has helped me reevaluate what it means to be lucky. Life doesn't have to be easy. Friends don't have to be many. Money does not have to come free. I don't need to win contests. Raindrops eventually dry up. It's okay to struggle...to go without...to be left wanting. Sometimes, lucky is a state of mind...a choice. I am lucky, because I work to be so.