By Amanda S.
Maybe I was looking for stability. Dad used to manage Target distribution centers – he’d get them up and running for 18 months, and then our family was off to the next site/state. At some point in eighth grade, deep into a diary one weekend, I decided I needed something that would ground me, keep me me, and that the number 11, with its mysterious pull lately, was the answer. “It’s the first two marks when you’re drawing a smiley face!” I reasoned in the diary. Okaaay.
And then, 11 changed my life.
I started small, making wishes at 11:11 a.m. and 11:11 p.m. and setting my alarm clock for 7:04 or 9:02 because the digits added up to 11. I felt me, and it got sillier. I’d eat 11 M&Ms at a time, watch TV at volume 11, cheer anyone in a #11 jersey.
In a move that sticks with me today, I decided that the 11th of each month, I’d do something new and different – that no matter how many times my family would move, how many new schools full of strangers, I’d have one thing for me. Maybe a new shirt to wear that day, or sampling a new food (still hate you, mushrooms!) Bigger attempts have been made, like horseback riding, trying peanut butter beer at the Great American Beer Festival, flying first class, and getting tossed from a mechanical bull.
The point is, it’s a built-in way to challenge myself.
Sometimes it’s still a small act – I’ll use all my Birchbox products for the first time on an 11th, or I’ll see a movie at a theater in a part of town I’ve never been to on an 11th. And sometimes it’s a big act – I adopted a cat on a November 11th and named her Ellie. I tried like mad to get married on 11/11/2011, but so did every bride in Arizona, so my anniversary is 11/5/2011. On 11/11/2011, though, I nailed a $300 PaiGow Poker hand and ziplined across the old Las Vegas strip, so it’s not all bad.
I thought I may get engaged on an 11th, but Kit knew that and he waited until the 12th. When he brings home flowers just because, there’s always 11 stems. The extra ends up with a coworker or a stranger outside the store. (Oooh that MAN.)
I listen more than speak and tend to be an introvert, and I think all the moving, with the finite time to meet people and grow friends, made me a people-pleaser more than I care to admit. So I cling like crazy to 11ths. Just ooone day a month, I can nerd out, do what I want, find or add meaning to whatever I want. There’s always a buzz in the air those days.
Sometimes it drifts to others. Every so often, someone will mention making a wish at 11:11 or forward me a news link that “11/11 is the equivalent of ‘Black Friday’ in China.” Warms my dumb old heart. As it turns out, I have traditions that are freeing and all me no matter where I am.