Thursday, January 29, 2009

Four-Leaf Clovers

When I was a kid, I considered myself a “lucky” person. I'd win random things, I'd find find four-leaf clovers everywhere in the lush, clover-ridden grass of my childhood neighborhood. To me, being lucky meant I was God's favorite child.

I'd land in a back bend—one of the thousands of back bends that stretched me from being just another child from that big Watters family to a distinct girl who actually had a talent for gymnastics, even if it was an expensive sport that my parents couldn't possibly afford to support—and find these four-leaf clovers staring up at me. Just waiting to be plucked. And I couldn't resist. I'd lift one arm and pull it, all the while still arched catlike and upside-down in the acrobatic fervor that came naturally to me, like a smile to a happy child or a joke to a funny one.

I would disrupt my personal tumbling practice—that was my daily ritual, much to the chagrin of my yard-loving neighbor whose spacious hill was riddled with the yellowed, stamped grass my flipping left behind—and place it between the crisp pages of the dictionary to wait the several days it needed until it was smooth and flat and ready to be added to the red cardboard box along with the rest of my collection of four-leaf clovers that had singled me out.

It was nice to feel special; I didn't know it was unusual to think I was God's favorite. There was nothing individual enough for me to stand out from the rest of my four siblings in my family: I wasn't the smartest one, or the most athletic, or the cleanest or the friendliest. I had a suspicion of which of us were my parents' favorites, and it wasn't me. But at least I was number one on God's list. And I kept his green morsels of love hidden in my red box, to pull out when I needed them.

As I grew up, the clovers stopped finding me. Maybe I stopped looking for them. I found my box again recently, in the daisy-carved cedar chest that holds all the pictures of my childhood, my pasted-together books about gymnastics, my handmade cards to my mom for mother's day or my dad's birthday. There they sat, brittle and curled around each other, broken and ignored. Forgotten. Untouched because I was afraid I'd break them after all these years. I didn't think I needed them. Maybe if I could go back to them now, I could be God's favorite again. Maybe—if I could get through the many years when I felt God had ignored me. I don't know if he'll love me with four-leaf clovers again. Clover doesn't grow here like it does in the midwest, freely and openly with their big juicy purple blossoms. They're scarce and hard to find and when they do grow, they're quickly squelched with weed killer. It's going to take a lot more from me to find them now. But I'll try to muster the hope it takes to see if I can re-awaken my luck.



Crystal said...

Jeana, I didn't know you were so into gymnastics. I loved the way you wrote about that. It was like I was reading the intro to a novel. I don't know much about luck, but I'm sure that you are a favorite in many people's books.

Amber Gardiner said...

Ah, it's like running into a random friend reading your blogs again, I'm so glad that you're back! I always sigh and think all is right with the world when you write! Kudos!

rachel said...

Beautiful post Jeana. I love reading your writing!

Christie Gardiner said...

That settles it, your memoir is going to rock the house.

Jeana said...

Ha ha, Crystal--it's the intro to my memoir. I had inspiration yesterday morning and crept out of bed and wrote it at 6 a.m. Thanks for all your kind thoughts. =)