some people body slam into your life, and rapidly pile drive on out, leaving you with bold new habits, little mcnuggets of wisdom, and a deep impression of their left elbow in your ribcage; the evidence, testimony, and future PTSD of your shared encounter. then there are some, more diminutive folks, who's impact is noticeable only by their absence (like a successfully treated UTI). in the absence, a ripple is felt.
the revolving door of mental health, the military, or fathers-who-are-dentists-that-keep-choosing-to-work-in-countries-with-unstable-political-climates, can expedite the resolution (or exacerbation) of any residual attachment issues-- with a side order of grief to go (always: "to go"). ultimately, it is the fundamental need to be remembered, to know that you were "noticed" that accompanies each departure. my office mate left our sanctuary of bodily function humour (for the air force) over a month ago. prior to his exit we talked about his "ripple" (the non-flatulent, non-underpant staining sort). however, asking someone to identify their own ripple is rather like trying to be objective about your "silhouette" in a string bikini.
occasionally i catch a glimpse of what i (like to) imagine my ripples might be. during my tenure, i have become associated with bodily functions, how this supercedes "the accent", i do not know. and while, i don't aspire to the legacy of a nobel peace prize, or memorialized, itallicized and evangelized park bench atop a brick engraved with my name, it is egotistically gratifying to see the tangible remnants across the zip codes; a second hand couch twice removed from "pottery barn girl" in grad school, placed in a permanent adoptive home with "liberal-but-conservative-co-worker-from-seattle", forged friendships based on shared addictions to high cocoa content dessert and higher drama content relationships, a renewed interest in bodily functions (especially the smelly/leaky/dribbly ones), the ability to use british swear words in the appropriate context and accent (an american attempting a british accent sounds like an australian with a mouth full of marbles), or contact dermatitis of the lower phalanges. as a child, i had the chronic habit (diagnosable childhood onset trichotillomania) of picking at my blanket until there was a big ball of fluff to roll around in my fingers. when this was no longer soft and fluffy, it was discarded around the immediate house/car/aeroplane. a friend of my mother commented that she always knew when i had visted because of the little fluff turds she found in the sofa cushions and shag carpeting.
rather than directing the question to self- "what's my ripple"- actualization becomes expeditious when identifying "other"; those who have the propelled the journey, irrespective of whether it's the "pebble people" or the "belly flop people".
ultimately, it's about the memento of relationship, connection and community.