Family Ties

imagesSo this is Christmas, I thought to myself, looking around the room at cousins I had not connected with for almost three decades.  I wasn’t certain what to expect when I invited myself to spend a few weeks with my uncle and he suggested we visit another uncle and my cousins for Christmas Day.

While I have always felt like an outsider in my family because they thought I felt I was too good for them, or better than them, when I really just wanted to escape; my mom has always felt as if she was the outcast in her family.  Her three brothers were all professionals who went to college, purchased homes, and traveled the world; conversely, my parents didn’t finish high school, moved their family around not very close to our cousins, and I did not see them after I was 10 except the rare business trip when my oldest cousin would breeze through town; twice maybe.

Growing up, I heard about my cousin’s adventures; one traveled to Australia to play soccer and got to go watch the Olympics with his dad; one studied for a year abroad in Spain; they all spent summers taking swimming lessons and going to camp; all three of the girls had big, beautiful weddings with white flowing wedding dresses, pictures on the beach, their blonde tresses flowing in the wind; there were trips to foreign countries, too numerous to name; ski vacations with their friends to the family cabin in the mountains; they were everything our family was not.

As adults, I had heard their lives were just as spectacular; much different than the disaster mine had been.  Each one was successful, happy; the girls married lawyers and other professionals; one of the boys married a very successful executive for a major network and owns a house overlooking Sea world; they own houses, have blonde haired blue-eyed children who adore them; they have loving spouses; and, they love their parents and are an intact family unit.

Needless to say, I was somewhat intimidated to visit for the holiday, even if it was only one day.  I had not seen them in years, but they all knew what my life had been like, up to and including all of the latest family drama.

Having already spent Christmas Eve with my uncle catching up and making the traditional secret family bread; we headed up the mountain early Christmas morning to visit my other uncle and my cousins.  Everybody would be there except two of my cousins, one of the twins, and the younger girl; however, the cousin I had been closest to when we had been young was going to be there along with her husband and kids.

When we walked in the door, I was overwhelmed by the warm hugs and welcomes; I was introduced to the spouse and girlfriend of my cousin K and M respectively, and reintroduced to my cousin B’s wife A whom I had met in 2001.  I barely recognized my cousins, but they warmed me and graciously invited me into their parent’s home.

There were children running all over the place opening gifts, screaming, playing, and taunting each other; it was after all, Christmas morning.  I went into the kitchen and greeted my uncle B while he was making a big breakfast for everyone; then turned around and saw my aunt P.  It was a crazy and fun madhouse.

As everyone settled in, my cousin’s K and B and Aunt P stood in the kitchen drinking mimosas cooking and catching up; they wanted to hear some stories about my life both as a child and as an adult.  I told them story after story; they were not surprised, they were somewhat saddened, though.  While my aunt knew we had a difficult life growing up, some of the stories were beyond what she saw as an outsider.

Later, my cousin K and I sat and talked for hours; she listened as I told her my woeful tale of feeling disconnected and flat, of not being able to love.  She looked at me with tears in her eyes; she stood up and hugged me, warning me to tread lightly with my relationship so I don’t end up alone.  We talked about how many times I had been in the area and had never seen or called anybody in the family for the past 20 years; she implored me not to continue the behavior.

K stood up and hugged me and I let her.

I felt incredibly warm and accepted by them, although I missed my family; my girls, my mother, sisters and brother.  The day was good, and by the time I left, I was no longer intimidated by them; they were truly no different from me.  We all embraced and said goodbye, I promised to keep in touch.

Before I left, I went to the restroom; my cousin’s 4 year-old boy was on the stairs, I asked how his Christmas was, he eyed me suspiciously and said, “I don’t like you.”  So it goes, so it goes.

I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane…

imagesSo, it’s that time again; I am flying tomorrow, so with my normal paranoia of dying in a fiery plane crash, I want to share a few little-known secrets about me.

***

My whole life, my family has always thought of me as a narcissist who has wanted to get away from the family as soon as I could; they view me as a stuck-up snob who is ashamed of my roots.  I disagree, but I tire of constantly defending myself in a losing battle.

When I was in the 5th grade, I had listened for months about the family money problems; as a kid I knew far too much about the financial woes of my parents.  There was constant talk of not wasting milk, bread, or eggs; but, as kids, we always noticed there was never a shortage of beer.

As Christmas approached, I started to shoplift small items from the local stores; every time we went shopping I began to pilfer anything I could that would go unnoticed by my mom and store staff.  As soon as we got home I would shove the items under my bed in a little pile; soon, I had the cache I was hoping for.

A few days before Christmas Eve, I crept out of my bedroom late one night and filled all of the stockings with the small items I had collected; I didn’t have as much as I thought, with four kids I had barely filled them half-way.  I had to include items for myself so nobody would suspect me, even though I didn’t want anything; I had wanted my brother and sisters to have something.

I left a few things for my parents; I don’t remember what I stole for anybody, except my mom, I left mascara for her on the ledge by the stockings as well as some other junk and stuff for my dad.

The next morning, everybody was surprised that Santa had come early; my mom was convinced that our landlord had come into the house and left the gifts.  She told my dad he must not have been such a bad guy; knowing how they were struggling with the rent, he must have known Christmas was going to be difficult.

I threw my “gifts” away; I felt too guilty to do anything else with them.

***

I cried yesterday when I was out shopping because I saw that dog in Hallmark, the talking one.  We bought it last year for my grandson right after Christmas to save and give to him this year when he was old enough; but since my daughter is not speaking to me, it is just packed away in storage.

I had to bite my lip, take a deep breath and try my best to forget about his little face and the few months I spent every day waking up with him.

***

When I was 6, I wanted a snake more than anything; I loved the song Sneaky Snake, by Tom T Hall.  I thought a snake was going to be like that; drinking root beer, wiggling and dancing, everything he did.  My dad picked up a snake from the middle of the road one day and brought him home for me.

The snake lived in an ice chest in my bedroom; it was nothing at all like Sneaky Snake.  He was not a good pet for a 6 year-old; I was terrified of it.  Finally, my dad let him go.

A snake is not a good pet.

***

I used to have a nightgown when I was 11 that was blue terry-cloth with white trim; down the front were the words Definitely, Delightful, Delicious, Delovely.  For some reason, that hideous thing was my favorite; perhaps because it was not a hand-me-down.

One day, I was wearing it in the early evening; my dad called my brother and me outside to the backyard because he had a surprise for us.  I went out back to find him with a stack of bottle rockets.  He was challenging us to light them and hold them in our hands but there was a certain timing to letting them go; if you let them go too soon, they would just fizzle out on the ground, too late and they could explode in your hand.

I could not get the timing down correctly; mine exploded flames out the back and shot fire all over the front of my gown resulting in black holes all down the front.

I still wore the gown with the holes in it for years.

***

I’m terribly afraid of the dark.

***

I want to volunteer at a senior home and chronicle the stories of the elderly; I want to help them preserve their memories, I think so many of them would like to have their stories saved, but they did not grow up journaling or writing.  I feel small and selfish for never going through with it, for never finding the time.

***

There are a million more things I could say, but that is enough for now.  I am not leaving anything behind this time, some fingerprints, I suppose; the Eeyore blanket is coming with me.  I will not be returning.

(I am hoping to have a connection to continue… the last I recollect there was only a dial-up connection.  Challenging when you rely on the Internet.)

 

Just Me and My Mom

indexWhen my girls were little, the Mercer Mayer books were some of our favorites; Just Me and My Dad, Just Me and My Mom, and Just Shopping with Mom; they were all warm and fuzzy and carried a thread of family togetherness.  I adored my girls and we loved reading; sometimes we would sit together with stacks of books, a bowl of popcorn, unsweetened iced tea, and read for hours.

Back then, I was naïve enough to believe I was creating memories with them that they would remember for their entire lives; memories I didn’t have a chance to cultivate with my mother.  I wanted them to remember the silly preschool songs I taught them about monkeys jumping on the bed and hot dogs frying in a pan, or that I taught them to write, their colors, numbers, and the alphabet, all before kindergarten, instead of the memories I had of my childhood.

I longed to live out the fantasy life of the Little Critter mom in the books as my girls and I giggled our way through the stories, trying to forget my past.

***

My mom and I never had a very good relationship; I always had the feeling I didn’t belong, and that she simply didn’t like or didn’t want me.  I wasn’t special or unique in the family; I wasn’t the oldest like my sister, not the youngest like my other sister, and I was not the only boy like my brother.

I was just me; I talked too much, asked too many questions, and I was a picky eater; when I came in from school I would ask in one word “What’sfordinnerIhateitandIamnotgoingtoeatit.”  When we sat down to eat, I would move my fork through my food trying to make it look like I was eating; often gagging, and sometimes throwing up at the table.  It was a battle scene every night; meals were tense, to say the least.

The rest of my life was just as stressful; I didn’t get new clothes, as my sister was only three years older, I had to wear her hand-me-downs, but I was the only one.  My brother was the only boy so there was nobody to hand anything down to him, and my younger sister was 10 years my junior.  Needless to say, I felt singled out by the process; it could be that was just the way the cookie crumbled, but it felt bad.

Out of four children, I was the only one who excelled at school; I enjoyed being part of the academic world, and loved being away from home any chance I could.  I loved my teachers and they loved me; I never skipped school and didn’t cause any problems, except talking excessively.

***

When I started playing the flute, I was excited that I seemed to catch on quickly and had somewhat of a talent for the instrument.  I loved the way it felt to hold the beautiful instrument in my hands and play; it made me feel cerebral and elegant as I stretched my arms and fingers to reach the keys and hit the notes properly.

I finally convinced my parents to allow me to take private music lessons after school from my music teacher every Tuesday after school.  I would go directly there after classes and my mother would pick me up when I was finished.  I was in junior high school, but the music room was at the high school so I would walk across the field to his class, take my lesson, and then sit on the curb and wait for my mother.

Usually, I would get out five minutes early so I would be waiting for her and not have her waiting for me, as she had a tendency to be highly impatient with me.

One afternoon, I was sitting on the curb at 3:25; 3:30 being the appointed time she was to pick me up that day.  I waited for her and time wore on; it started to get darker and colder.  I looked at my watch, petrified to move and look for a payphone, afraid I would miss her; it was 4:30.  As it got later, I was afraid she had been killed in a car accident and that my brother and sister had perished as well.

5:00, no mother; 5:15, 5:30, 6:00; I was terrified that my father had come home in a drunken rage and had killed them all and that I would be left a 12 year-old orphan.  I was sobbing when she finally pulled up in the station wagon; she was furious with me.  “Get in the car,” she demanded, “Where the hell have you been?”

I was stunned; I had been sitting on the curb the entire time.  “Mom,” I cried, “I have been here, on the sidewalk.”

“No you haven’t,” she threw the car in drive and peeled out, “You little liar.  Wait until I tell your dad what happened.”

“Mom,” I begged, “I was here. Mom, Mom…”

“I have been driving up and down this street, around the block,” she lied, “I went to your school. You are in big trouble.”

I clung to the door, looking out the window and cried all the way home.

***

From as early as I could remember, my dad used to say to me, “You are so beautiful and talented; you are going to be our little model or movie star.”  My mom would just roll her eyes or glare at him.  I don’t know why he said it, I never professed a desire to do either, but he was insistent; a few times my grandmother commented as well because I was “so tall”.  I was the tallest in the family, but certainly short by most standards; as a full-grown adult I am now 5’4”.

When I was 12, my dad decided I should go to modeling school; he found one in Salt Lake City and enrolled me despite my protests.  It wasn’t something I particularly wanted to do; at 12 I still played with Barbies, rode my bike and played with my stuffed animals.  The last thing I wanted to do was go to modeling school.

However, my dad was determined that I was going to be the next Brooke Shields; I started attending the school 45 miles away every Thursday night.  My mom had to drive me every Thursday after school; I would attend sessions for four hours, from 5 until 9 at night.  She would pick me up and we would make our way back home where I would have to do homework and go to bed; often times waking up exhausted on Friday mornings for school.

Some weekends I went out of town for photo shoots, or did local shoots around town; I was told to drop weight from my slender frame of 90 pounds, and I was overloaded with heavy makeup no 12 year-old should be wearing.

One Thursday evening when class got out I sat on the stoop of the building and watched the women from my group leave, one by one; then I watched the instructors leave; and finally, I watched the janitorial crew leave.  I sat and I waited in the darkest industrial area of Salt Lake City I had ever seen; nobody seemed to care that I was 13 (by this point I had turned 13) and sitting alone outside in a bad area.

It was almost midnight by the time my mother pulled up; she was drunk and angry.  I silently slid into the seat.  She sped home; I watched as the speedometer reached speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, too scared to say anything; half wishing we would just die in a fiery car crash and get it over with, and half wishing we would just make it home alive.

***

The summer I turned 15, things with my mother and I had reached a boiling point; she was through with me in every way imaginable.

I cannot even recall what we were arguing over, but the fight escalated to the point where she attacked me; she began hitting me with everything and anything she could grasp.  At first it was just her hands, her fists, then it was a wooden spoon, a long stick kept in a planter to keep the plant growing straight, a handle of a broom, and finally a yardstick.  I had crawled underneath the kitchen table and she was hitting me with it and screaming for me to come out.

Later that evening, she called her friend; she was the wife of a co-worker of my father’s.  She asked the woman to come and get me and take me away for a while because she could not have me there anymore, she just couldn’t deal with me.  I was standing in the stairwell of our split-level home; I had a cut just below my eye and my back was welted from the broom and yardstick.

The next day her friend came to pick me up; she told me to pack my bag for a few months because we were leaving for Canada.  I begged not to go; I didn’t understand what I had done wrong, I didn’t want to leave, but I wasn’t given a choice.  I wasn’t wanted there.

***

Just Me and My Mom

 

Everybody Has a Story – Everyone is Worth Knowing

19

I have always enjoyed talking to people, anybody who has ever met me would tell you I am outgoing, loquacious and talk a mile a minute; however, I appreciate the background and stories of others more than I do my own. My mantra has long been “Everybody has a story, and everyone is worth knowing.”
I believe the world is an interestingly diverse place and the people and their stories, their lives are what make each of our lives enriched. As we encounter one another and share our experiences, we enhance each other’s existences.
It is easy to walk past somebody day after day and ignore them; snubbing them because they are, perhaps, in a different societal class than you, because they are homeless, or maybe due to an invisible line that should not be crossed. Yet, when you take the time to talk to the awkward man who cannot seem to ever say the right thing when he is in a group of people, or the milquetoast at the gym, or the high strung blue collar worker from the opposite side of the plant where you work you may find they have fascinating stories they are willing to share if somebody is there to listen.
The stories that have been shared with me have been tragic, heart-warming, funny, sad, scary and assorted. While most of what I have learned is likely to be construed as anti-climactic everyday anecdotes of life, but each time I listen, watching hand gestures, sometimes tears (even from the hardest of men) and smiles, I am warmed that they chose to share with me.
I have previously opined how people have commented they feel comfortable sharing their secrets with me, and others have noticed and are amazed how I know so much about so many seemingly arbitrary people in my life, even peripheral people, those I should know almost nothing about.
Often times, I have wondered if those who felt comfortable sharing with me have looked back and remembered me since our conversations; I have a tendency to live like the tide, there is an ebb and flow to my existence. I am there, and then I am gone. So it goes, so it goes.
The other day I read a Freshly Pressed blog about a woman who had a life-changing experience with a homeless man; she looked into his eyes, determined he probably had a story, they made a connection, and he later came back to thank her for making him feel human. While few of my stories are anywhere near Movie of the Week or life changing such as hers, I give everything to everyone I listen to, offering anything I have.
Emotionally. Mentally. Caring. I welcome everyone back to the well as long as I am around. I have had varied life experiences and can usually find something to apply to any given situation. If not, I can listen; most people are happy to have an audience and to be heard.
If I could, I would spend my days walking the streets, talking to everybody I meet; the homeless, teenagers, angry drivers, anybody willing to tell me their story. I know at one time in their life somebody loved them, somebody wanted them; they were a baby, a lover or spouse, daughter or son, father or mother… they have a story, and they deserve to be known.

I do Love Christmas – Despite my Protests

imagesWhen I was a little girl, I spent every summer with my grandmother; she was not what I would call a devout Catholic, but she required me to pray on my knees every night, attend Catechism classes and go to church with her occasionally.  She had a huge cross with Jesus stretched across it hung over her bed.

Before going to sleep, we would kneel side by side, hands clasped, head bent, and we would pray together.  I would pray aloud for my mom, dad, brother, and sisters, I would include the neighbors, my grandmother and her husband, and all of our relatives, and then I would pray for my dog, Woodstock and my donkey, Cinnamon.  When we were finished saying our spoken prayers, I would always look up, towards the ceiling, and I would silently pray to God for him to make my family get better; I would ask for my parents to stop fighting.  I wanted there to be peace in my home when I returned from my summer break.

Each year my prayers went unanswered and life in our house became more troubled; every time my mom went to the hospital or my father went to jail, I started to believe less.  I started to think prayers were like wishes; either they were only fulfilled for “good” children, and I wasn’t one, or there was no such thing as God.

As life wore on, I stopped believing; I became afraid to believe because I was tired of being disappointed.

***

When I was in elementary school and middle school, I used to play “school” often; I would line up all of my stuffed animals, my favorite toys and pretend they were all my students.  My two donkeys would always sit in the front, they were the best students.

Sometimes, I would recruit my younger brother and sister to play as well; I would create math problems and sentences for them to copy, they bored easily of the game, though, and weren’t the straight-A students my animals were.  If anybody had ever asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, a favorite question of adults, I would answer I wanted to be a teacher.

As a high school student, I had the opportunity to spend my junior and senior years working at an elementary school for one of my classes.  It was a true eye-opener as to what the experience would be like if I followed my heart.  I fell in love with so many of the students; I worked at one of the schools with the lowest income levels in town, so many students lived in the weekly motels.

One particular student would come to school with various bruises, bumps, bandages, and sometimes casts.  He wore the same clothing day after day, not a crime, but a sign his family needed help.  One day I asked him about his broken arm, one “kid” to another; when he confided to me his dad had broken it but he wasn’t supposed to tell, I told the teacher I was working with.

Her response was apathetic at best, she had explained how it happened all the time in the area and there wasn’t much she could do.  Times were different in those days; but, I was crushed, I understood some of what he was experiencing.  A few weeks later, the boy was pulled from the school and he was gone.  I never saw him again.

I finished my work experience, but I changed my mind about wanting to be a teacher; I realized I would fall in love and there was nothing I could do to save all of those children.  It was around the same time I started to adopt my theory that I did not want to be a mother, either, that I would be a horrible mother, not able to protect my children from everything.

Throughout the rest of my life, those words have haunted me; my family always reminds me and my children that I “never wanted kids”.  The fact is, I was so afraid of loving them too much and of having them ripped away from me; or of never being good enough.

***

Despite the fact that my family was a shade less than perfect, my mom did her best to make the holidays magical.  Our house was decorated throughout from the day after Thanksgiving until the day after New Year’s, including the yard.  We had homemade goodies galore, Christmas music wafted through the house, and presents practically covered our tree.

Still, no matter how much tinsel she used or how many lights there were, the magic wasn’t enough to keep the police at bay.  It turns out it just wasn’t a family holiday if somebody wasn’t drunk, in jail, in the hospital, or threatening somebody; that’s just the way it was.  Though, she tried.

When I became an adult, I did everything I could to make my children’s holidays as special as I could.  But, I felt just as cursed as my parents had been; there was never enough money in the first few years.  Though, when children are very young, they don’t notice the one foot tall Charlie Brown tree with two or three gifts scattered underneath and the paper fireplace.

Then, when my first husband left on New Year’s Eve when my girls were young, the event put a bit of a pall over holidays; especially since he made a habit of calling four times a year after that, my birthday, his birthday, our anniversary, and New Year’s Eve.  We eventually forgot about him and opted to move on with our new family, the three of us and the girls’ adopted dad.

However, their new dad could not have cared less about Christmas; no matter how special I tried to make it, he was not interested.  One year, we didn’t even have a tree; something the girls and I looked forward to as soon as Halloween came knocking on the door.

As each year passed, my enthusiasm for Christmas began to wane, his dislike for the holiday and my traditions made me feel small and sad.  I wanted to give my girls not just physical gifts, but the traditions I had enjoyed the most; the Christmas Eve traditions of new pajamas, board games, fondue and snacks for dinner; the morning traditions of eating breakfast from the stockings, making a huge Christmas dinner, and all of the other traditions.

The last Christmas we spent together, I served his dinner to him at his desk upstairs while the girls and I ate together downstairs.  The girls and I went alone to go look at the Christmas lights, typically a family event.

After that, I was afraid to love Christmas; the more I love something, the further it seems to slip away from me.  I am certain the logic does not make any sense, but in my fractured mind, it protects me from getting hurt.

Acceptable Behavior

imagesWhen I was 17, my dad had a friend; he was a man who worked with my dad at the mine.  We would occasionally eat dinner at their house and they at ours; often, my aunt and uncle would join us, as my uncle worked with the men as well.  As it turned out, the friend had a teenaged son who was 19 and was attending the well-known mining school; and I was “off” from my on-again-off-again relationship with my ninth grade high-school drop-out drug-addicted boyfriend.

Needless to say, our parents thought we were a perfect match; little did they realize we could not have been more different.  He was a geology nerd with a love of rocks, and I was… well, not.

Still, every time our families got together, I gave in and would go for a ride with him just to appease everyone.  He had some type of muscle car that he thought would impress me; it was a Mustang, Camaro, or a Trans Am, they were all the same to me.  If it wasn’t a classic car, I could not have cared less at the time.  Besides, he always brought a friend; I think he was a little afraid of me.  So, I sat in the middle on the “hump” as we blared Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet and cruised the streets of The Biggest Little City in the World.

Apparently, one day he recovered from his shyness; we left the house when the boring grown-ups were having dinner to go for a ride, but we didn’t pick up his friend.  Instead, he drove to a local park and stopped the car in the parking lot.  Almost immediately, he started mauling me; I could not have been less attracted to him and pushed him off.

Suddenly, this mild-mannered Clark Kent with the thick Coke bottle eyeglasses became a fairly strong man; I had underestimated him.  He came at me aggressively as I continued to push him away, digging my nails into his flesh, drawing blood.  He called me a tease, I cried, begged, screamed in his face; he continued his assault until he had my skirt pushed around my waist, his hands pushing at me.

I grabbed his glasses, tearing at his face, scratching him; he still didn’t care; there was little room in the car, and he was bigger than I had thought he was, completely over powering me.  But, I was small, tiny.  I didn’t have a chance.

When he was finished, he drove me back to his parents, walked in as if nothing happened.  Of course, they were drunk by then and nobody noticed a thing.

Weeks later when we were supposed to go back, I refused; I was lectured about what a great catch he was, how he was going to be a mining engineer, what a screw-up I was, the usual.

I never saw him again; his dad died in a mining accident, and his mom took her settlement, went on a cruise to China, and then moved to a condo in Mexico.

***

Either a few months before or after this time, I truly do not remember; I had a boyfriend who lived a few hours away.  I used to lie to my parents and sneak over to his house to spend the weekend with him.  He was 20, a few years older than my 17 years; and I thought I was in love.

We would have romantic dinners, go to the movies, and spend the weekend playing house.

One weekend, though, was very different; I arrived on Friday night as planned, but instead of doing anything romantic or otherwise, he seemed frantic and out of sorts and asked me to drive him to a park so he could meet a friend.  I did.

We sat in my bright red 1957 Chevy Bel Air, nothing conspicuous or anything, as we waited for his friend to arrive.  As a car pulled into the space next to us, he jumped out and commanded me to wait for him.  I waited in the car, playing with the cassette player, as he got out, jumped in the other car for a while, and then finally got back in my car.

He was in a weird mood, I just couldn’t figure him out; I tried to talk to him, but he was very edgy.  I saw him bend over and snort something up his nose as we were driving down the freeway; I pulled over and started screaming at him to get out of my car immediately.

I recoiled as he slapped me hard across the face; the car continued to run as he slapped and beat me on the side of the freeway as I continued to scream for him to get out and that I never wanted to see him again.

When his rage subsided, I sat back in the seat and looked at him, and he at me, “Come on, baby, you don’t really mean that, do you?” he asked.

In fact, I guess I didn’t; I knew I couldn’t go home because my parents would know I had lied in the first place.  I drove back to his house that night and stayed with him the rest of the weekend; my face and body growing black and blue over the next few days, evidence of what had occurred.

When I left on Sunday, I was worried about my parents questioning what had happened to me; I should not have spent a moment thinking of it.  I broke it off with him, much to my parent’s chagrin; he was such a nice boy, came from a good family, with money, no less, from Lake Tahoe.

Ten years later, I was divorced with two kids and staying with my parents; “Oh, guess who called?” my mother informed me.  It was him; I had forgotten why we had broken up so I decided to go to dinner with him.

As we sat across the table from one another, he was starry-eyed as he looked at me, professing his love, “I would let you work, baby, if you wanted to.  I would take care of you and your kids.  Come on, we could make it work.”

I looked across the table from him and something snapped, I looked at him squarely in the eyes, “Nobody lets me do anything.  And, I remember why we broke up, I’m going home.”  I walked out of the restaurant leaving him with his mouth agape behind me.

***

I’m not sure if that was acceptable behavior for those boys or not, but it was to me back then.

Awkward Conversation in the Shower

imagesThis morning, I had the most awkward conversation with my sister in the shower at the gym.  She and I had taken showers at opposite sides of the aisle and, for whatever reason, began a conversation.

“So, did you work out your shoulder today?” she asked me, over the din of the water.

“Some, but I think I need to move the weights up five extra pounds, I just can’t figure out how to turn that knob thingy,” I responded, explaining how I could only adjust the weights by ten pounds.

“Just ask one of the trainers,” she suggested, “That’s what they’re there for, dork.”

“Well, I probably won’t be here much longer, anyway,” I stated.

“Yeah, what is going on with you, anyway?”

“Well, I have been trying to reach Uncle B to ask if I can come there for the holidays,” I spoke loudly, as I could hear more showers come on.

“You don’t have to do that,” her voice started to crack; “You can stay here with us.”

“No I can’t,” I answered, “Things are starting to get weird here.  You guys need your time alone; and, besides, R’s boys will be here soon and there really isn’t enough room.”

“R just needs to chill,” she said, “He stresses too much.  If we need to be alone, we can always leave.  Just stay, don’t go.  What are you going to do at Uncle B’s house?  There is nothing there for you.”

“It’s fine,” I shampooed my hair as I spoke, “And, you shouldn’t have to leave your house if you want to be alone, it’s your house.”

“I don’t want you to be alone for Christmas,” she was fully starting to cry now, “You’re my sister and I love you.  Don’t go.  I want you to stay, it’s fine.”

“I really don’t think I should,” more showers coming on, a few turning off, people coming and going as we talked, “You guys seem really stressed.  I’m clearly in the way, it is so awkward.  Besides, last year I stayed alone in a hotel for Christmas, so this really is no big deal.”

“It is a big deal,” she was sobbing, “I don’t want you to be alone.  And, after the holidays, what are you going to do then?”

“I really don’t know,” I was being completely honest with her, “I guess maybe kill myself.”

“Please, don’t say that,” still crying.

“I’m finished showering,” I stated flatly, “I’m going to go get dressed.”