Sunday, August 19, 2012

Keep The Change?

When I was a little girl, I used to go on the mail route with my grandpa. This was something that I enjoyed immensely. There was something nice about riding around in the truck with my grandfather, singing along with the radio, and hanging my bony, little elbow out the window as the wind rushed over my face. There were days when I rode with my papa to deliver mail that I wished would never end...and then, there were days when I wanted to poke my eyeballs out with a spork. There is one particular day that stands out in my mind.

My grandpa and I would always stop at The Karry Out Korner gas station, and load up on strawberry soda and corndogs halfway through the trip. This particular day we made our stop as usual, delivered the rest of the mail, and then headed home. I noticed my grandpa had been unusually quiet during the rest of the trip, but chalked it up to fatigue.

Delivering mail and eating corndogs was hard work, folks!

We pulled into my grandparent's driveway, and my papa began pulling money and a reciept out of his front, shirt pocket. He stared at the reciept, counted the change and said, "Shit! I knew it. I knew that wasn't right...Alright, Lucinda, we have to go back to The Karry you want to go?"

Of course I did. What kind of a question was this?  Even at eight, I was nosey, and any opportunity to go somewhere without my brother wasn't one I was willing to pass up.
When we arrived back at the store, my papa went in..and talked...and talked....and talked...(this was back before they had all of those laws about leaving small children in hot, unattended vehicles. Otherwise known as, "the good old days")
When my grandpa finally got back into the truck, he was laughing.

At this point, my curiosity had turned to general grumpiness.

"So...what was this about?" I asked, trying to sound as grown up as possible.

My papa shurgged, laughed and said, "She gave me too much change."

" too many dollars?" I asked. I got it...she gave him way too much money back.

My grandpa shook his head and said, "Nope. I was supposed to only get thirty-seven cents back, and she gave me seventy-seven."I stared at him blankly. I was only eight, but I knew that change was change.

Change was not a big deal.
Change was the stuff that found its way to the bottom of purses, and into those little dishes on dressers and bedside tables.
Change was small potatoes.

Change was not worth being left in a hot car for.

I assume my grandpa knew I was a little pissy because he said, "Listen, she gave me too much change. You know...sometimes...that happens. You get too much change."

And that, was that.


I haven't thought about that day in years. Today, while I was running, I began thinking about that time of my life. A time when I thought frequently about things, but knew very little beyond what the adults in my life told me. I also realized that while things can mean very little to you at the time, they can often come back and kick you right in the side of the head twenty years later. Not only will they kick you in the head, but moments that meant nothing then... make perfect sense now.

Today, while I was running I kept thinking about how much change I have experienced over the last two years.

Changes in appearance.
Priority changes.
Career changes.
Lifestyle changes.
Changes in friendships.
Changes in my world views.

When I think of the word "change" I think of it as its verb form. The act of becoming physically different. I think of the action that leads to the end result.

My grandfather was referring to the noun form of the word.

Meaning: the product of the act. For instance, the coins you recieve from exchanging a dollar for a Twinkie at the store is now... change.Part of speech aside, my grandfather was right about one thing:

"Sometimes...that happens. You get too much change."
Just as it is with everything in life, change should be experienced in moderation.

Whether these life changes are something you instigate, or are brought on by things that are out of your control; sometimes, change is just annoying bullshit that you have to deal with that makes you question everything that you once knew to be fact.
Changes can be so subtle that you barely notice they've happened until after they have already passed.

Other times, change is needed, but it is met with resistance normally reserved for small children who have been presented with gifts of brocolli and naps.

We know it's what's best for us, but blatantly refuse it to come into being simply because...we don't
like it.

Resist all you want...
The fact is:

We are all changing.

All of the time.
Life changes us.
Love changes us.
Riding in a hot truck, delivering mail, and drinking strawberry soda pop with your grandpa can change you.

It's just a matter of letting the change happen, or digging your heels into the ground in an effort to delay it.
Beyond accepting change when it's needed, it is equally important to recognize when change becomes excessive.

Everything in moderation.

I'm a firm believer in "too much of a good thing, can be a bad thing" even, self discovery.

Change is fine...but sometimes, you get too much.

I had no intention to get quite so philosophical on this Sunday afternoon. I was minding my own business, just jogging down the road, when I heard Tracy Chapman's soulful voice begin to sing this:

My mind is a weird maze of "how can I connect my life to this song in the strangest, most indirect way possible"... Thus, I was reminded of my papa.

I thought about the first time I heard that a person could have too much change.
I thought about the great strides he took to give a little change back.

Change is more than the stuff that falls into the bottom of purses.
It's more than coins.
It's more than a process.
It's more than an overwhelming feeling of too much life happening at once.
It's more than a noun.
It's more than a verb.

It's us. The girl typing these words is a product of change.

Change is...who we become.

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