January 23rd, 2005

duke-swing

LIVESTRONG

When I was at CSS, the organizers made a donation to the Lance Armstrong Foundation and bought LIVESTRONG bracelets for every participant. I liked mine, and I wore it all week at the conference, but I haven't worn it much since (it's kinda big for my puny wrists). When I was packing for ConFusion friday, I mentally associated one conference with the other and grabbed my bracelet. I wore it all weekend.

I was standing in the hotel lobby yesterday chatting with a friend when someone touched my wrist. "I want your yellow bracelet," I heard from behind. Startled, I glanced over my shoulder to see one of the ConCom standing behind me, coveting my LIVESTRONG. "I've been looking, but I can't find them anywhere." My initial reaction was possessiveness. My bracelet! I agreed with him that everybody seems to be sold out these days; they have become very popular.

The other folks around us weren't familiar with the yellow bracelet craze, so he and I explained that they were basically just a symbol of support for cancer victims survivors. The entire purchase price goes to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Lots of the athletes in the Olympics wore them -- it's like wearing a ribbon.

Anyway, the conversation turned, as conversations do. But this evening as I was sitting in the Consuite, listening to people singing and playing music, I studied my bracelet again. I like the message: Live Strong. Sure I liked my bracelet, but I wasn't wearing it much. It sounded like he would probably use it more.

When he reappeared in the suite right before I was leaving, I asked him: "If I give you my yellow band, will you make a donation to your favorite cancer charity?"

"Yeah...!" His face grew serious. "Yes, I definitely will."

"Then it's yours." Just saying the words made me feel good about myself.

It's a stretchy rubber band, but getting it off my wrist was a challenge. I was already wearing my coat and carrying my keys in my left hand. I pulled both gloves off and put them in my left also, so my right hand would be free to pull the bracelet off my left wrist. I don't know why (I wasn't really thinking it through, it's the sort of thing that could happen to anyone), but I tried to pull the bracelet off my wrist, over my hand, over all of my car keys, and over the two furry gloves clenched in my hand. It got stuck on the gloves, and I finally just told him, "Pull."

"Decided to do it the long way, huh?" He managed to pull it over everything in my hand, then stretched it happily onto his own wrist with a big smile.

Then I went back into the music room and stepped to the edge of the circle. Somebody was singing, so I silently waved my hand dramatically over my head to say goodbye to everyone. Not speaking a word, I think almost the entire room returned the gesture, and I stood for an instant in a sea of swaying arms and faces upturned toward me.

It was a beautiful thing.