Something at First Sight

At the end of the major street that split the subdivision, was a lake.  Next to the lake, were ball parks, a playground with picnic areas, a golf course and a sailing club.  When school was out, ball was on.  So, being healthy 15 and 16 year-old girls, we climbed in Mikayla’s massive family wagon (In my new color block top that had the tie on the side.) and headed down to the ball park.

All the usual suspects were there.  And someone new to me.

He was taking our dollar at the gate and selling the cokes.  Red hair, exceptional medium build.  Eyes.  Eyes forever. My heart still squeezes.

We hadn’t even been seated in the bleachers for five minutes, when someone told Mikayla he wanted to talk to me.

Being so young and so unused to that kind of attention, I didn’t leap right up and run over.

The game had barely gotten underway, but Mikayla was soooooo boy-crazy, she wouldn’t even leave me alone.  So it was get up the nerve or be gnawed to death by Mik, I had my choice.  I went with getting up and walking over there.

I went to the concession stand and waited quietly; while a BUNCH of our friends bought candy, interspersed with people who weren’t nosy; they wanted a snack.

Then some people came and needed to pay their dollars to get in.

Then he had to go unlock something.

Finally, he was free to chat a bit.

I stood there in the shade of the concession stand.  Our eyes met and held.  It felt promise-y and comfortable as broken in jeans.  Not silly or self-conscious.  Seen.

We’d barely started to talk, when Mikayla had to leave.

When we got in the car, she jabbered away in her usual style.  Completely unaware.  You didn’t tell her anything remotely confidential.

His family was moving.

That week.

I guess they must have.

That was 1982.

 

 

 

With Miles to Go Before I….Sleep

While we waited at the light just before the post office, a ’78 Z-28 turned left in front of us and cruised up Washington Pike.  I startled, then sighed, “Mike drove one of those…”

“Mike, who?”

Another sigh.

“I can’t tell you.”

“Then why’d you bring it up? You can’t just do that.”

“Surely, I’ve told you about Mike.”

In the small hours this morning, I remembered Mike, again.

It was Valentine’s Day, but for my friend and I, just Wednesday.  We were taking a walk.  We paid no attention to the Z-28.  We couldn’t drive and the car didn’t belong to anyone we knew in the neighborhood.

The he must have been lost, because he passed us four times, before he stopped.

“Do you know where Joy Miller lives?”  We gave him directions and he took off.

Then he came back.  He hadn’t needed directions.

We managed not to faint as he introduced himself and asked for my number.  He was a junior and I was still in junior high, a freshman.

Valentine's Day 1982

Valentine’s Day 1982

He called a couple of days later.

We talked on the phone.  He made me laugh.  Somehow, I made him laugh, too.

“NO, you can’t date, you’re too young,” and it was true. I’d barely had my 15th birthday.

I had to tell him I couldn’t go anywhere with him.

Several calls and several nights later, after the house was quiet, the tap on my bedroom window was not a surprise.

I climbed on a chair, and opened the high window and there he stood.  Looking up.  Tennis shorts. Expensive haircut. Halston 1-12 thickened the warmth that radiated up to me.  Glad for the window, he’d never know I was trembling so I could barely stand.

We talked for a long time.  As I watched him walk back up the driveway, a strange feeling passed over me I’d never felt before.

Several nights later, we’d agreed again on the same signal.  This time, he was more persuasive or I was bolder, but I wasn’t trembling when I slid open the door, went to the gate, and let myself out.  Or him in.  Who really cares?

We talked for just a minute.  He stepped closer.  He had not come there to chat.  We could do that on the phone.

He took my face in his hands.

And he kissed me.

For an hour.

When my knees went weak, he put his arms around me.

And he kissed me.

I forgot I didn’t know how.

His hands never traveled.

Not so it’d matter.

For another hour.

“Go back in the house and go to bed,” he whispered.

And he kissed me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gritty By Grace

When I was little, we moved off the farm and into the city and mom made me wear dresses all the time.  Short ones.  Remember Cindy Brady?  That short.

I wanted jeans.  The cousin, who supplied all my clothes, passed down a pair of embroidered jeans.  I wore them until they disappeared.  When I was in 6th grade, my mom bought me a pair of ‘straight leg’ jeans. In seventh, Hazel took me shopping to dress me like I belonged to someone. I came home with Calvin Klein Jeans.  Shortly, I’m not exactly sure when, Levi’s Shrink-to-Fit 501s came in style.

And stayed awhile.

Through the years, my mom did a lot of things to give me a better education than she’d had.  We lived in better neighborhoods with better schools.  She kept me in church; finally finding the Episcopalians, with alcohol in church and being cool with divorce and incredible networking.  I sang in their whizbang choir and my fellow singers were from the best neighborhoods and attended the best private schools.  We attended the arts festival for the egg rolls.  We went to the ballet.  We ate at the Magic Pan and shopped (without buying) at high fashion shops.

It was bread and meat to a girl who couldn’t have extra-curriculars because working moms couldn’t pick kids up from practices and needed to spend their money on nachos and vodka (that’s her story and she’s sticking to it).

When I was about 11, this guy decided he was going to get to her by spoiling me (WRONG TREE!!! WRONG TREE!!!).  He profiled me– reader, straight As, wearing rags but knows where Balliet’s is.  And sent me subscriptions to Smithsonian and W.

When I began to dress myself I was strictly tailored.

My soul wears navy blue and pearls. It believes the rules are there to help us live like civilized human beings. Manners are to help others feel comfortable; not to manipulate them into pretending you aren’t being ungracious (Target Line Cutter Lady, I am talking to you). Education doesn’t stop at the 3 Rs, but extends to the arts and culture.

When I was in high school, I heard stories of wild parties.  I never was invited to one.

I dated a college guy at the end of my senior year.  On the outside, he was all conservative Republican, Son of a Fundamentalist Preacher.  On the inside, he was a monster.

Navy blue and pearls girl may have gotten a little damaged.

Lesson learned: The outside is for your mama, the preacher, and the person who watches rated R movies but condemns people who curse. The inside is what you are.  It’s what monsters want to destroy.

One day when I was wearing my navy blue and pearls, my jeans got a little rip.  I liked the little rip. Eventually, I’d find a best friend whose jeans had a little rip, too.

When I was in college, I wore my Rockies or my Wranglers when I was feeling like flying my freak flag. Which good girls aren’t supposed to have. But I do.

Jesus knows about the freak flag.

He made it, so I would not have to carry my own books.

I lavishly adore buttoned down; it goes so well with barefoot, ripped jeans, and hair loose.

Because grace is sometimes gritty and perfect love sometimes sees you in your lucky pants.

 

 

I am linking this post with PYHO @ Things I Can’t Say.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Summer We Lived with Grandma

She lived 25 miles from where my mom worked, and gasoline was up to $.60.

Shut up.

It was the Bi-centennial.

Grandpa had retired from the oil field and they’d expanded the garden.  Because there were more people there to help work it.

They had these two old apricot trees.  They’d been there for twenty years. Never blossomed.  Never put on fruit.  Until this year. They made up for all the years of disappointment.

For their anniversary, grandpa had made Grandma a swing.  Like a porch swing, only it sat out in the back under the mimosa tree.

The days were long and hot. In Oklahoma, the wind blows continually, not in gusts, but relentlessly.  My hair was continually blowing everywhere.  So mom kept it short.

She would leave for work early in the morning.  And I would take all Grandma’s berry baskets (collected since the great depression) and go drop on the ground beneath the apricot trees.  I would fill the baskets and take them in.  Grandma washed the apricots and returned the baskets to me.  At the peak of the crop, I could fill them up to six times per day.  Grandma added this to her full time work with the garden.

They also grew zucchini bigger than my leg from the knee down.  And green beans.  There were, of course, tomatoes and peppers.  These grandparents didn’t grow corn(the others fought the good fight for ‘roasting ears’.).  But that’s about all they didn’t grow.  I was never thorough enough to suit anybody as a green bean harvester.  Which was just as well, as my work made it possible to add apricots to the harvest.

It was not without a good deal of noise, that I did my work.  I cried at the injustice and mistreatment. And my wishing for rain gave me the opportunity to wish for the sun to come out.  It was more pleasant to pick up the apricots from the dry ground than to kneel in the mud.

Grandma didn’t love to turn the air conditioner on.  She saw it as needless waste.  Not one living person supported her in this.  Oh, in April, we all agreed.  You shouldn’t need it in April.  But in mid-July?  There were no prizes for being the last one to close the windows and turn it on.

She had her swing.  She worked like a maniac in the blazing sun or the stifling kitchen all day.  When the dinner dishes were back in the cabinet, she’d get a cold drink and her cigarettes, and go outside and sit in the swing with the sun at her back. Under the mimosas, she’d smoke and watch the hummingbirds come to the mimosa blossoms.  Mom would sit with her, too.  She’d put in a day at the medical office, come home and change and join Grandma in harvesting and canning the green beans.

By the time the weather cooled in the fall, I couldn’t eat apricots anymore.  I wasn’t filing it in the ‘great moments of my life’ file. But now, I think about my equal role in the work.  I didn’t sit around nagging about the two activities I was willing to think of as fun.  A lot of hard work made me grateful as a Pilgrim for time to read or write or play or watch tv.

I think I’ll move that summer from the “Argh” file to the “Good stuff” file.

 

 

 

Music Shapes Minds and Hearts

,A week month or so ago, Jennifer @ Momma Made It Look Easy asked a question on Facebook:

“Let’s talk song lyrics. What do you do about sexually suggestive song lyrics when they come on the radio? For example, Flo Rida’s new song Whistle, Katy Perry’s Peacock, DEV’s Dancing in the Dark. Do you change the station? Tell your kids they can’t listen because it is inappropriate? Does that open up the door for more questions? How do you explain it is inappropriate? Or do you just hope that they don’t figure out the meaning or start singing it in the produce aisle at the grocery store?

I started by trying to listen to the link to a video that Jennifer had provided.  Oops.  That’s not one I would even listen to with the kids in the room. By the time I scrambled to stop it, 24 seconds had passed.  Plenty of time.

Whistle, indeed.  It was an oral sex tutorial.

My simple answer: I turn it off.

Is anything that simple?  When your children are small, maybe you can turn it off and if they protest, say,”What?  Oh.  I wasn’t paying attention to the song. I’m just trying to find a station with the weather on.”

Not here.  Not anymore.

When I was a kid, we listened to the radio, a lot.  My husband’s favorite freakish gift of mine is that I have a nearly complete catalog of 1970s pop lyrics in my head, accessible at any time.  Off the top of my head, I can list several that are about  intercourse, oral sex, or masturbation–all hits on the Adult Contemprary Top 40 before 1985.

 I went around singing whatever was on. I wonder what boys thought.  I wonder what random men in public places thought.  I don’t wonder much.  Neither, do I wonder, now that I am an adult, familiar with idiom and euphemism, what men think, when my daughters sing along to the greatest hits of their time.

Periodically, I take the lyric of a song and parce it out for my daughters. They hate this.

Yet, I’ve noticed, if they are listening to the AC station regularly, they become even more oppositional, even more self-centered, and begin to dress with less regard to fashion or self-respect.

Some songs have to do with suicide, stalking, infidelity or one night stands. The middle ground is selfish, self-centeredness and inflated ego, mixed with tales of co-dependency and a search for meaning in mediocrity.

We become what our hearts meditate on.

It’s a parent’s privilege, not only to guard their children from too much information too soon, but also to grow those people’s hearts into unselfish, hard-working, imaginative, healthy adults.

Trouble is, the radio station is marketing to young adults aged 18-24, and they like it dirty.

The strategy that works best in our home is a full toolbox:

–Ask them to turn it off.

–If it’s my option, I turn it off.

–If it’s somewhere that the radio doesn’t belong to us– a)distract,  b)re-direct, or c)leave the area.

— “Please don’t sing that song. I know it’s just a catchy tune, but it says two things and one of them is not nice.”

“What, Mommy?”

“You don’t need to know.  You just have to trust me.”

Just like God says to me, when He asks me to relinquish something mediocre for an excellent promise I will not receive until much later.

Don’t Come Out Until I Come to Get You

This apartment.  Such good news.  We don’t have to live with Grandma anymore and I can stay at the same school.

“Get in here.  Don’t come out.  I will come and get you.”

I climbed on top of the boxes and she closed the cheap, bi-fold closet doors.

I could imagine the apartment.

Dark as my closet.

My bed was made. My room was neat.

I knew they were sitting in the darkness.

Smoking.

I could imagine the glow of the cigarette in the dark…

Glass shattered.

“I know that bitch is in there.”

“I’m gonna kill her.”

Pounding on the apartment door.

Screaming.

Banging.

Probably some kicking.

Silence.

The police arrive.

I think.

The guy who moved in, turns out, he’s still married, but both of them can walk to the office from here.

They’re pretty sure she doesn’t know mom has an 11 year-old.

That’s why I’m in the closet. So I’m safe.

 

Today I’m linking with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.  Prompt #5.

Mama's Losin' It

 

 

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