My friend calls her happy place “Yellow”.
It’s become a bit of a catchword for us, she even bought me yellow mittens for Christmas this year. Yellow is warmth in the midst of cold, peace in the middle of a shit storm, it’s the happy.
Jinger is my friend and a few days a week, she’s also my spin teacher, which creates a bit of a love hate thing. She’s my sweaty sage, so mostly I love her. She makes me think, look at myself and work for better, which ironically rarely has anything to do with my body.
Her stories/sermons are probably all just a ploy, a distraction so I won’t realize I’m dying. Whatever it is, she’s the best and some days it’s like moving story time.
One of her stories is about being a little girl, long blonde braids, sitting in the cab of the family truck with her brother and her mom and . . . Larry. Larry is her father, he smokes, doesn’t take crap, changes tires and loves her. I’ve never met him, but in my mind he’s one of the coolest characters because he’s that extreme. He’s “shut the hell up” mixed with “where are you, I’ll be right there.”
Larry and the family are in the cab of the pickup on one of his “drives.” Kathy, her mom, is complaining about the windows being down and how the wind is going to mess up her hair, but Larry rolls them down anyway. He’s got a cigarette in one hand and the other on the wheel. Ten-year-old Jinger is straddling the stick shift with her brother, London, by her side. He’s cranky.
I will never be able to do the story justice, but when Larry says, “shift it, Sissy.” Jinger works the shifter as they climb the mountain road.
Our spin class is dark and when she tells this story, I close my eyes and I can picture it, all of them.
It’s shaded, cool on the mountain road, but as they come around one of the curves, sunshine eases through the windshield and into their space. Jinger, in all her childhood abandon, is surrounded, smushed together with the people she loves, the ones that love her, and her yellow.
It’s a funny story and a beautiful image that has nothing to do with being perfect. When I’m sweating in class, listening to her, my mind fills with hand-crank windows, ashtrays, kids in corduroys and Aqua Net. There’s the smell of vinyl and mountain air. The image is tight, simple and flooded with warm.
Jinger is an energy that finds magic in the corners. Yellow is what happens when you are present, when you are feeling life instead of simply going through the motions. It’s when sunshine reaches out and touches you.
Today is the first day of a new year. Three hundred and sixty-five days ahead of us. I wish you all tight spaces, lots of love, and yellow.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Wide Awake.