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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

It doesn't matter much how old I grow...

Shells and Shoes

The youngest child isn’t always the “spoiled” one.  Being the very much youngest of four girls, I had to learn my place rather quickly.  I was not allowed in my older sisters’ room.  I was not allowed to touch anything that belonged to any of them.  I was not allowed to handle or help with the Christmas tree ornaments.  I was not allowed…..not allowed….not allowed.  It was clear that I was an annoyance simply because I was….there. 

In spite of this, I always strived to be like my older sisters.  I wanted to fit in.  I wanted approval, so I wanted to emulate them.

My father used to take occasional trips from New York, where we lived, to Florida.  I wasn’t sure who lived there and no one ever said.  I never asked because no one ever answered my questions.  When he returned from these mysterious trips (I now believe it was his sister who lived there) he would bring back with him some souvenirs as gifts.

He took one of those trips when I was less than eight years old, but more than five.  He came back with beautiful shells and pieces of coral.  One large scallop shell, with multicolored smaller shells in all different and interesting, fascinating shapes.  He had three of them, one for each of my sisters.  I was given a small, stuffed toy that looked like an alligator.  I lost all control.

The damn burst, the temper flared, the hurt rose to the surface and would not be contained.  I screamed.  I cried. I told everyone how much I hated them and how sick I was of being the “baby.”  “Why can’t I ever have pretty things? Why do I get a stupid toy?”  I had never had a meltdown before.  Not certain, but I don’t think I ever did again, either.  Not in that household, at any rate.
They all stared.  I was sent to my room by my mother.  FINE.  They had dinner.  FINE.

I don’t care.  Leave me alone, I hate you all.  You think I don’t know that you treat me differently?  You think, because I am younger, that I am somehow stupid and unaware of your exclusive club?  I know all about it.  And now YOU know that I know.  So there
At some point my father came into the room with a bowl of ice cream.  He said he was sorry and didn’t know that I might want the shells.  I went to sleep and not a word was ever said again.

By the time I was twelve, we lived on Long Island.  The oldest two were out of the house, the next oldest was going to go off to college in the fall.  And my parents were approaching divorce…but that was also to come in the fall.

There was an occasion coming up…..a first dance?  A recital?  Maybe it was graduation from junior high?  I don’t recall precisely.  But dressy shoes were required.  My mother took me shopping.  I fell in love with a pair of black patents with a tiny little heel.  She bought them.

I was in the kitchen with my mother.  She was preparing dinner.  My next oldest sister came in….livid.  She had seen the shoes in the living room.  “Those are for her? She’s too young!  YOU never let ME have heels at that age!!! You are SO unfair!”  Whoa.   She is about to go to college.  I got a pair of shoes………

My mother never raised her voice and said very little…always.  This was no exception.  My sister disappeared upstairs.  My mother continued doing what she was doing.  But something had changed.  I was vindicated. I won that one without a single peep out of me.

Clearly, ours was a dysfunctional family or there would not have been such open rancor and competition over petty things.  My parents were flawed people.  We all are, certainly, but their flaws spilled into an entire family and, in spite of all the time and in spite of conscious exploration and examination of the causes and effects, the wounds bear scars forever.

In her last letter to me before she passed away, my mother wrote, “You try to tell your children you love them.”  That one sentence was as close as she ever came to doing just that.  Oh, and the shoes.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Wild horses couldn't drag me away.....

I have a new pet peeve.  It seems to be cropping up everywhere and drives me crazy.

Drug is a noun - that is, it is a person, place or thing.  In this case, a thing.  A drug is a medicinal concoction, a thing that is taken or administered.  Whendrugged generally has a negative connotation.  "She was drugged so he could take advantage of her."  Or, "He drove the car into the ditch because he was drugged." 
someone is "drugged" they have had a medicinal intervention of some sort.  To be

To drag is an entirely different word and concept.  Ok, so, when one takes something and pulls it around forcefully or with difficulty, one is dragging something.  To drag something is a verb, an action word.  When you drag something and you are done dragging it, the thing has been dragged.  It is not "drug" because a drug is a thing and to take many drugs leads to being drugged.  It is completely different than being dragged.  NOT the same thing. 

That's all - other than the fact the people on television who are paid professionals making large salaries for speaking on television should know better.  SOMEONE should know better and correct them. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

As tears go by....

Sad Song

Why do I feel the sadness of the world?
It hurts so much, like love gone wrong.
Why does my heart hear the world’s sad song?

The tears want to come but I fight them back
Trying to be brave and strong.
Why do I hear the world’s sad song?

Others are smiling, laughing…nary a care
While my days with wreaths of grief are hung.
Why do I feel the world’s sad song?

I yearn for the safety I used to know
Although well aware it was a lie all along…
I feel powerless to stop the world’s sad song.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Try to remember...

Dear Peter,

I never thanked you.

I wanted you to know that I remember.  I remember slow dancing in the bowling alley.  I remember having lunch in the college cafeteria.  In retrospect, I realize that perhaps you were encouraging me to be a better person, to fulfill my potential.  But, at that point, I was so very young and afraid. 

I also remember seeing “Funny Girl” with you and having dinner in a local restaurant.  I remember that you brought me a bouquet of flowers (my first!) when I had my wisdom teeth extracted.

And, of course, I remember your other gift.  My birthday gift.  The one you sent by mail.  Because, by that time, I was being courted by another young man.  And I fell for him.  He didn’t encourage me to go back to college.  He had a house and a sports car.  I was only seventeen…..and I wanted so desperately to get out of my mother’s house. He offered me the quick and easy solution.

But you were correct.  It was a huge mistake, the first of many that I would continue to make for years to come.  I wonder what I would have done if you had tried harder?

I remember the brown paper package.  Opening it to find a square box wrapped in pink and red rose printed wrapping paper.  Very pretty.  Rose is the flower of June.  How a propos.  I remember opening it and finding the stuffed toy animal – the donkey.  The jackass, to be more precise.  I was horrified.  You were such a nice, sweet young man.  How could you do such a thing?  I could feel my face burning.  

You can see that you left a lasting impression.  I never forgot it or you.  As I said before, I wonder if you might have swayed me if you had persisted just a bit more?  But it was so long ago……
I do thank you.  I knew, from your “comment,” that I was heading toward disaster, and yet I continued forging ahead.  Thank you for telling me what you really thought, albeit symbolically.  I wish some more people had said, one way or another, “June, you’re being an ass.”  No one did.

Somehow, eventually, I managed to land on my feet.
So, thank you, Peter.  I hope all worked out well for you. 

With (mostly) fond memories,