I could’ve done without today for many reasons. One being, I almost died again. If you didn’t hear about the first time, go back a few blogs, it’s there.
Needless to say, I called my best friend, my confidant, my therapist, my partner in crime…Jen.
“You are not going to believe what happened!”
“What? Did you try to exfoliate and shave your eyebrows off again?!”
God no. I learned my lesson on that one. Never exfoliate with a razor in the shower because something bad is bound to happen like losing an eyebrow or two.
“I almost passed out in the fricken grocery store. My blood sugar, again.”
Long story short, I didn’t eat, went to the busiest grocery store this side of the Mississippi and almost passed out in line. The “significant other” was somewhere scratching lotto tickets as I began to wobble in the checkout lane. I made it out, ate some jelly packets that I had stolen from a recent restaurant visit and felt better. The “significant other” had to deal the wrath of a very hungry, irritated, not to mention hot, woman that was ready to morph into a beast of some sort.
Jen listened, the way she always does. Pointing out the comedic aspects as well as what to do in case a future hypoglycemic attack comes on because like a million other things we have in common, she also has low blood sugar at times.
“If you need to carry a goddam lunch pail, that’s what you do!”
So, tomorrow I am headed to Wal-Mart to find a “lunch pail”.
There was a time that I didn’t have Jen and her infinite wisdom in my life.
For those that read our B-303 series, know that we had a falling out about 2002ish when I left the apartment and never looked back.
Until I found out I was pregnant with my daughter.
Jen was the first one I told.
It didn’t matter that we hadn’t talked in months or that we had differences of opinion on her then current relationship. That all didn’t matter because I needed my best friend at that moment and she was there.
Fast forward to 2004. I had moved to Eastern Washington when I was about 6 months pregnant with my son, Jen was about 3 months pregnant with Gracie. Because of both of us dealing with complex life issues, we didn’t talk for months. Yet, when I came out of my surgery from my C-section, guess who was there…Jen.
People come in and out of our lives, with no real rhyme or reason.
Some come back to reconnect, just like Jen and I did a million years ago, and some come back because a certain best friend decided on a straight vodka night to friend request them on Facebook.
I have qualms about the latter, but I will save that for another blog.
Most recently, I have had someone from the past come back into my life after many years. I was both happy yet on guard because you never know people’s ulterior motives. I watch Dateline and the ID channel. Knowing my luck, I would reconnect with someone and end up swimming with the fishes.
Despite my initial hesitation, I have been pleasantly surprised at getting to reconnect with this person.
I have found that with someone people, no matter how complicated the history, it is as if no time has passed.
Just as with life, I don’t know if this person will stay or go at some point, but as with all people that have come and gone, an imprint of them will always remain in who I am.
Time changes everything and nothing.
Just like time has changed both Jen and me as individuals, however, time will never change the friendship we’ve shared for the last 17 years.
Today is Joe’s birthday. Joe took the day off from work, not to celebrate his birthday, but because he hates when people wish him a “Happy Birthday.” He does not want it acknowledged, nothing. So, naturally, the girls and I picked him out some Philidelphia Eagle gear. It’s almost comical watching how uncomfortable he gets. Even with is own children, you can tell his reaction is awkward. The only sincere reaction I have ever seen from him on Birthdays is when my parents send him a card with some cash.
“What? They did not have to do that. They are good people. You have to send it back to them.”
And then that starts another huge debate, which goes a little something like this. “Have you not met my parents. Take it, they want you to have it.”
I am blessed to have both wonderful caring parents and a husband.
Joe took the girls to breakfast and the mall this morning. A little Dad and Daughter one on one time, while I caught up on much-needed sleep.
Once they return home, I get an earful.
Sofia~ Mom, I know it may seem I am in a bad mood but I am not. I ate so much at Denny’s! It was so good I could not tell my tummy no. I just need to sleep.
Joe~ Ummm, when did Gracie get a black eye?
Gracie~ Will THIS go away before school starts? (pointing to her black eye)
So…to recap, apparently there was some sort of late-night incident with the girls. Depending on which one you ask, they have a different version of events. Last night, at an undisclosed time, Sofia kicked Gracie in the face. Evidence is pointing to accidental. However, the black eye made it’s appearance today, while Joe had the girls…..in Bath & Body Works, searching for lotion.
I called Christin. She has been crazy busy the last week. Just got back from a vacation at the Oregon coast, and now needs a vacation from her vacation, while trying to get her kids ready for school while navigating work. So, what better time to call, right?
Me~ Hey! You busy?
Christin~ No, hold on I need to take the batteries out.
Christin~ Hold on, I need to take the batteries out of my personal affairs so I can turn the music down.
(Long, awkward, pause)
Christin~ Okay I am back.
Me~ Do you need me to call you back?
Christin~ No, I had to switch the batteries from my……..(muffled conversation)
Me~ YOU HAD TO TAKE THEM OUT OF WHAT???????
Christin~ (laughing) my personal fan, what is wrong with you???
(Another long pause)
Me~ Oh……okay. I get it. I thought you said you had to take the batteries out of your “personal affair” and, ummm, you know, I thought it was weird, but now I get it!
I am now on a three-day ban from calling Christin.
My beloved NY GIANTS had their first pre-season game tonight. Eli, their quarterback, got sacked two times in the first quarter. They played the Browns. If you are familiar with football and my love for the hard-to-love GIANTS, you can feel my pain and confusion.
I am just happy we are back in football season, which to me, is the start of the holiday season! After pre-season, the weather starts to cool off for most of us who are not living in Texas. School is back in session, pumpkin spice everything is at our disposal. Before we know it, jeans and hoodies, boots and scarfs will be here along with crisp Autumn air, and plans for Halloween. Sofia already knows what she wants to be. I am still trying to wrap my mind around it. Pikachu.
There are also big changes on the horizon. I have a very close family member who is running for Congress, yet, at this very moment, he is in Texas preparing for his mothers funeral. Sad times. This is a strong woman who I have had the pleasure of meeting. I have been in her home before while she served me authentic German food and ordered me to “eat!” I will pray for a peaceful passing for all involved.
Today, while Joe and the girls had an early start to their day, and by early I mean the mall was not even open yet, I was in and out of sleep. I caught wind of Vinnie coming and going. Once I awoke at a normal hour (up and going by 9 with coffee in hand) Vinnie comes home with a nice new haircut.
My first thought is, what kind of Barber is open at this ungodly hour? My second thought was “Am I the only night owl. It is 9:00am and I am struggling, meanwhile, Joe and the girls have been gone for at least an hour. At least my cats are on the same page as I am.
So, Vinnie comes in, and he looks good. This new haircut suits him. I am drinking my coffee, scrolling through Facebook, watching Vinnie, who does not have to be at work for another six hours. Gone are the days when he would ask me for a ride. He got himself to his Barber, paid for his own haircut, and is now home doing his chores while I have not even made it out of my pajamas yet. I am proud of him.
Many times the topic of conversation between Christin and I is how she cannot wait for her daughter to learn how to drive. 95% of Christin’s day is spent driving her kids too and from. My girls are not at that point yet. It will come soon enough, but not yet. Meanwhile, Vinnie, who is only two years older than Christin’s daughter is kinda killing it at this whole life, school, work thing.
As I make a new pot of coffee, while telling Vinnie how much I love his new haircut, I make a mental note. I need to talk to Christin. I need to let her know, cherish these days where you have to play chauffeur to your kids, because, before you know it, you will wake up one lazy morning and realize your kids have a better sleep schedule than you do, and, they won’t need you anymore to run them around. So…enjoy it now, savor every moment of the sleep-deprived drives to the lake and Walmart, because, in a blink of an eye, they will be doing it without you.
This, my forever best friend, this is the time of your life.
Today I almost died. I think I saw the white light or maybe it was just the reflection of the blazing hot sun, either way, death was near.
Between the heat, doing the low-carb diet, or not having chocolate for almost a week, I knew this was the end for me.
I contemplated calling my mom or 911, even maybe writing a quick memo on how my cats needed to be tended to once I was at the pearly gates.
For a moment, I took a quick inventory on how clean my house was just in case the paramedics needed to scoop me up out of here.
Is the kitchen mopped?
How many dishes are in the sink?
Shit, I forgot to clean out the litter box yesterday, so now I can’t call 911!
All of these thoughts flying through my head like a ping-pong ball.
The room is spinning, while my cat lays next to me, looking at me like “Why did you stop scratching my ears?”
Enter my teenage daughter.
“Mom, can you take me to Wal-Mart?”
“Umm, No, I am dying!”
“No, you aren’t mom. You are so dramatic.”
“Can you get me a wet washcloth?”
“Do I look like your maid?”
She leaves the room, just as the cat decides to depart as well.
Lying on my bed, thinking about all the things I didn’t get to do in my short 38 years of life.
Swim with the dolphins
Go to Jamaica
See the Northern Lights
There are more but you get the gist.
Enter my son.
“Mom, my Xbox Gold ran out! You need to renew it!”
“ I can’t right now! I think I’m dying.”
As reality set in, I would die here alone, no kids, no cats, no beach in Jamaica…
I contemplated a call to Jen.
“Hey what are you doing?”
“I am dying.”
“What happened? Did you try to run around the block again?”
At which point she would recap the story of the time we tried to “run” around the apartment building back in Apt B303, 17 years ago, because we were trying to get into shape. We ended up half-way around before she started coughing her lungs out and as my knee-caps were about to fall off.
Calling Jen was a no-go.
Instead, I called another friend of mine, who is very Zen and centered, everything Jen is not.
“Hey, I think I’m dying.”
“Hold on, let see, did you try, A, B, C, D, E?
“I am working on it. It could be the heat, or maybe I ate something bad. The chicken I cooked last did look a little pink.”
“You are going to be fine. Probably just dehydrated. Here are some meditation videos to help relax you.”
After having some sugar and a few meditation sessions, I was feeling better.
The good news I didn’t die today.
The bad news is there are still floors to be mopped, dishes to do, and a litter box to clean out.
I will most likely have a trip to Wal-Mart in the near future and I will pull out my debit card and “renew” this game thing.
Come to think about it, maybe the other option wasn’t so bad after all.
I dropped Vinnie off at work 3pm, then made my way to the bank. Right before my turn, I get a call. “Mom, the Chef messed up, he does not need me until 5.” Instead of turning left, I made a quick, messy, U-turn, heading back to pick Vinnie up. “No Mom, it’s cool, I can wait until 5.” There was no way I was going to have him wait two hours just to start work. Plus, I was just up the road. “I will pick you up, but you are coming with me to run my errands.”
At the grocery store, I had a list. A very specific list that included cat food, ice cream, vodka, and something for dinner. Vinnie and I are walking around the store, somewhat at a fast, brisk pace.
“Mom, that’s a rip-off. Seven dollars for strawberry’s?!”
“Look at the sign, it is two for seven.”
“There’s like a strawberry place up the road where you can go pick them yourself!”
I find it both funny and endearing now that he is making his own money, he pays attention to the price tag.
“No, those are blackberries and no one keeps up with it. The field is dry and gross.”
This pretty much sums up our exchange during the forty-five minutes we were in Fred Meyer.
“Nine dollars for a frozen pizza? The cheap ones are 2.99!”
“Gracie can’t eat the cheap ones, she needs gluten-free.”
“So let me get this straight, it cost more money to make sure your kid eats healthy?”
“You catch on quick!”
I would say it was an unexpected learning experience for him and a good one at that.
While in line, Vinnie and I are watching the two teenagers ahead of us arguing with the cashier over some makeup that was supposed to be half off. Looking at the young girl, with different bills in her hand, I already knew she was on a strict budget. She probably had the exact amount of money for her makeup, nothing more, nothing less. I was on a time limit, and getting annoyed that they were arguing over four dollars. I reached my hand into my purse, ready to dig out the difference in the leftover quarters I had accumulated for Vinnie’s bus money.
“Mom! Don’t you have a birthday coming up?”
The cashier gave the young girls the four dollar discount.
“Ummm, let me think, oh yeah it was on Wednesday!”
I despise birthdays.
When I turned thirty, that one, that birthday was a shit-show. I got fired and found out I was pregnant all in the same day. It was horrible. Joe, well, Joe is great about being supportive, and always having a plan to fix things. What he is not so good at is birthdays. My friend, Amanda, came over after she heard I was fired. Actually, the icing on the non-existent birthday cake, both Christin and I were fired on the same day. So Amanda comes over to see how I am doing, not even realizing that Christin was fired as well.
“Jen! I am so sorry this happened to you, and on your birthday too?! Get dressed I am taking you out!”
Are you familiar with how a deer looks in headlights? The deer, innocently crossing a road, and before he knows it he is face to face with the headlights on a car that will determine his fate. This was Joe’s look.
“Wait, it’s your birthday?”
Amanda looks at me, bewildered.
“Yes, it is my birthday, I do not want to talk about it!”
Joe gets up from playing the x-box. Reaches for his wallet, and gives me some money.
“Here, Happy Birthday! Go out with your friend and have a good time.”
Naturally, I threw a fit.
“No thank you! I am not a whore!”
And with that, I left in a dramatic Oscar worth performance and went to my room to cry.
By the time I turned thirty-something I already knew how this whole birthday thing was going to go. It wasn’t. It would be up to me to plan something with the kids and Joe, and quite frankly, I just did not have the energy to plan my own birthday. What I did have the energy for was to finally take the good ole Botox plunge. It had been something I had been thinking about for a long time. I did my research, saved up some money.
On the day of my birthday, I made sure Joe and the kids knew I had a doctor’s appointment for “female things.” No one questioned it. I had my appointment and honestly, never felt better. This was my well deserved present for myself. And even though Dr. Rex, an older gentleman, who was a little heavy-handed on the Botox for himself, he did a wonderful, subtle job on me. I knew, one way or another, this was something I would keep up with.
As the years went on, I was not able to keep up with my Botox. It was just too much money for what was going on on the home front, and I was okay with that. Birthdays, they still were a “hit or miss.” Some years, Joe would remember and come home with a well picked out card and chocolate. Other years, he would not remember it was my birthday until he received his own birthday card from my own parents in the mail…..three weeks after mine.
“Oh, they did not have to do that, wait….did I miss your birthday?”
I feel like I am now a pro at this.
“Yes you did, it’s okay, we can call it good if you wash the dishes.”
I mean I still have to get something out of this, right? Many times he would try to give me the birthday money that my parents sent him, “I feel bad, just go buy something!”
But, for me, it was never about buying something. Plus, my parents remembered my birthday and had already sent me my own birthday goodies.
This birthday. It was not much different. The Sunday before my birthday, I talked to Dad on the phone.
Dad~ “So, you have a birthday coming up this week?”
Me~ @*$% ($*%&#^@!!
I was over it. There is too much pressure. Pressure that I admittedly put on myself, but still pressure.
First, there is the fifty plus “Happy Birthday” post on Facebook. Which I feel I have to answer each one individually. If these people, my friends, and family took the time to write on my wall, then in my mind I figured the very least I can do is respond to each one individually.
Next, it’s my kids. I feel silly telling them “I have a birthday coming up!” I do not want them to feel pressured into getting me anything, especially since only two of my children work, and the other two, the two that would most likely want to do something, can’t. So I never say anything. I used to hope that Joe would give them the heads up “Mommy has a birthday this week, let’s draw her a picture.” But, Joe has the memory of a shoe, so I was not banking on much.
This is where I need to take a page out of Christin’s book. Every year, without fail, shortly after midnight on the day of our birthday (we happen to share the same birthday) she wakes her family out of their slumber and plays 50 Cent’s “It’s Your Birthday!”
I know this goes over well with her family, as I have been on the phone listening to how her significant other threw his hip out because the music was too loud and woke him out of a quiet slumber.
Thursday morning, the day after my birthday, we had an early start. Gracie was scheduled to have an MRI done. Her Neuro wanted to compare a new MRI to an older one to see if there had been any changes. The goal is, no change. This MRI would be a bit more challenging in the sense that Gracie would not be sedated. And, something as simple as “Gracie, you cannot move.” She will not understand it. In fact, she did not understand it. She asked me “Mom, am I allowed to blink?” She was not trying to be funny, she was serious. This is how the mind of an autistic child works.
Before Joe and the girls and I headed out to her MRI, Joe called all of us together. Right by our foyer, with our belongings in hand, and Vinnie close by, Joe says “Okay, let’s do a quick family prayer.”
The kids and I are giving each other looks as we gather in a circle, join hands and ask God to be with us all today.
We said our good-byes to Vinnie with the promise of texting him to let him know what was going on. Before we hit the road to Tacoma, we stopped at one of my favorite coffee shops. Sofia and I put our order in while Joe and Gracie waited in the car.
As we are waiting for our order, I am looking around the coffee shop. Nervous, but trying to play it off so Sofia would not worry.
There on the counter next to the cream and sugar and stacks of newspapers was a jar, a big glass jar. On this jar was a note that read…
“If you need prayer for anything, family, friends, home/work place finances, etc, B&R would love to pray for you. Just write it down and put it in the jar.”
In that moment, I knew. I felt Joe’s prayer, I felt the prayers from friends and family across the United States. In that moment, birthdays and lack thereof were the furthest thing from mind. I knew, everything would be okay.
And, it was.
There was absolutely no change in her MRI.
I could not have asked for a better birthday present.
My life and Christin’s intertwine on a daily basis. We are constantly on the phone or texting.
“Have to drop Kharizma off at her driving class, call you when I get home.”
“Dropping Vinnie off at work, give me twenty.”
“Washing dishes, talk to me I am bored!”
“I need help with an email.”
“I need help with an application.”
Before noon, it is safe to say we have spoken on the phone at least three times. This is how we roll.
Except, this weekend was different. Life took us in different directions, and this, well, this was each of our takeaways.
The Four Loves
Jen sent me an article the other day, and for whatever reason, it resonated with me. I will post a link of the article down below, but I will give a quick summary.
We only fall in love three times in our life, each time is for a specific reason. The reasoning behind the first is the idealistic love, the love that finds us at a very young age. It is the fairytale love that we grow up thinking about, although it holds a very special place in our hearts, it wasn’t the one that we were going to end up with. Although there are exceptions for this, one being my grandparents who met at age 15 on a hayride and proceeded to be married for 54 years. I’m sure all those years weren’t easy, but they made it work until the untimely passing of my grandma. Point being, some are lucky to find and stay with their first love, most of us are not.
The second time we fall in love is meant to teach us the lessons. It is to show us what we want and what we don’t want, it is often like riding a rollercoaster of emotions. Often, this love is filled with hurt, lies, and manipulation. I am sure some of you are wondering how love and lies can be in the same sentence, but this love is Hard Love, it is often unhealthy and addictive in some ways. We have all had those second loves. The ones where we are so focused on making it work, we lose ourselves in the process.
Now for the third love, listen closely. This love happens when we least expect it. This love doesn’t look like what we had thought it would. It’s a connection that is often unexplainable, real, and fitting. It’s like coming home.
As I reflect on my own experiences with falling in love, I am reminded that no matter where you are in the “love” game, it can be emotionally taxing, but it can also be the best experience of your life.
The first time I really fell in love I was 19 years old. This person was everything I wanted and more, however when you are that young and naïve, you don’t really know what you want. I wanted freedom and adventure, he, however, did not. Adventure won out, and so was the end of my first love. My second time falling in love was much more complicated. It was unexpected but something I thought I wanted. Turns out, it is only what you “think” it is, not the reality of what it really is. The third time I fell in love, the connection was beyond explanation. This love allows me to be who I am without any fear. This one is encouraging, supportive, and encompasses everything that I ever wanted in another human.
This blog isn’t really about me though. It’s about you.
Wherever you are at in your life, whether you are on your first love or tenth love, it isn’t about the number of loves you have or haven’t had. I think the first real love must be with yourself.
If you don’t love you, how do you expect someone else to?
It isn’t always easy to love yourself. Have you heard the saying “You are your own worst critic?” Well, it’s true. We all have insecurities that plague us with doubt and hesitation. Those voices in the back of our head that remind us that we are not good enough, pretty enough, strong enough or capable enough. You know what I am talking about. These voices make it hard to accept and love ourselves, despite our idiosyncrasies and flaws. It’s really a process, I think. Maybe you fake it till you make it. However you decide to love yourself, I know it is an ever-changing, one day at a time type situation. It’s a struggle, something I know very personally. It only has been over the last couple of years that I have really worked on being kinder to myself. It wasn’t easy at first, but as time goes by, I feel like I am beginning to just accept myself as is.
I am no expert; however, I am an observer.
I have recently seen some relationships for whatever reason, going through some difficult times. Some will stay together, some will not. My hope for those that don’t stay together is that they know that love will find them. Maybe the third, fourth or fifth time is a charm. To give up on finding love is to cut ourselves short of both wonderful and fulfilling experience. Each time we fall in love, we open ourselves up to a possibility of betrayal and hurt, but we also can allow ourselves to receive unconditional love which allows for both personal growth as well as a deeper connection. It’s scary, I know. I have had my own ups in downs in past relationships, hell, we all have. But if you can just do it one more time, then all those failed relationship and heartaches will be worth it.
My hope for you is that you learn to love yourself first that way whatever love is heading your way, you can really let it in because you know, we all deserve to have the greatest love.
In the Trenches
I had a very good weekend. Between Friday evening and Sunday evening, I read three books. All memoirs.
“Manic Kingdom” is the story about a girl who begins her journey to medical school. We then follow along with her on her journey into a downward spiral. We share in her breakdown, and then break through.
“Forward” is the memoir by the one and only Abby Wambach, a retired soccer player, two times Olympic Gold medalist. I can promise you, if you are not a fan of soccer, you will be after reading her book. Abby also takes us on her journey into a downward spiral.
Last night I started “The Glass Castle” a true account of a young girl and her siblings. Both parents suffer from a form of mental illness, which leaves the children with nothing but a childhood of extreme poverty.
All three heroines have a common theme. “In the trenches.” A term used for our soldiers who found themselves in the trenches of war, and having to dig themselves out.
As I said, I had a very good weekend. I am doing a four-day mini boot-camp type of thing that concentrates on mind, body, spirit. Today was a good day. All my problems are still there. Finances, seeking employment, car issues, yet, my mind was in a different place. A better place. Today was a good day.
It was a record high in my little Seattle suburb. We hit 93 degrees. The last time we hit that high was back in 1952. It has been brutal. If you want an escape from the sweltering heat, you are looking at the grocery store or mall. The simple task of washing dishes drenched me in sweat. Makeup? Forget about it. I throw my hair up in a clip and call it good.
I dropped Vinnie off at work. Made the short eight-minute drive back home. Pac. Hwy takes me pretty much from my front door to his restaurant. The only thing, so many damn lights. On the way home, I got lucky, I only hit one light. As I am sitting there at the stop light, still drenched in sweat, afraid to turn my AC on (car issues and all) I notice a girl standing on the corner to my right. Young. If I had to guess, I would say barely in her twenties. She is by herself. Her body language tells me she is standing exactly where she wants to be. I cannot stop looking at her. The young girl is wearing short cut-off shorts, about two sizes too small, a halter top that I would guess to be the same size, and boots. Boots I have come to refer to as “hooker boots” first brought to us from the lovely Vivian in “Pretty Woman.” The young girl had both hands on her hips in what I am assuming was supposed to be some sort of enticing pose. She is a prostitute. I continue to watch her in my rearview mirror as a car stops and motions her over. She is leaning into the passenger sides window. “Honk-Honk.” I had lost track of time. The light was now green and the car behind me was reminding me to “pay attention.” Slowly, I put my foot on the gas while keeping an eye on the girl in my rearview mirror. She got into the car. I cannot even begin to imagine what is going on in her life to bring her to the corner of Pac. Hwy and 304th. She is in the trenches.
I came home to my 103-degree apartment, brought some leftovers out for dinner and called Christin. While on the phone, Christin told me about a mutual friend, Lydia, who is going through a hard time. Lydia and I have lost touch over the years. I rely on Christin for updates. Sadly, it seems that Lydia is in a co-dependent, verbally abusive relationship. It’s sad. Lydia has it in her to escape. Lydia has the strength. Lydia just does not see what we all see in her. While Lydia is confused and trying to keep the peace while questioning everything she thought she already knew, Lydia, no doubt, is in the trenches.
After my phone call, I decide to take one of many showers to cool off. Nothing works. It’s one of those times where as soon as you come out of the ice-cold shower, you are once again drenched in sweat.
While my hair still wet, and as few clothes on as possible without traumatizing my children, I take my place in front of the fan and pretty much refuse to move. I open up my Facebook just to see what I have been missing since I have been engrossed in reading this weekend.
Ashley is a Facebook acquaintance of mine. I have known her for years. We met in a low-carb chat room many years ago when Sofia was just a newborn. Ashley is never one for drama, a very tell-it-like-it-is person, and private. When I saw her Facebook post “Nothing else matters, I have to be strong for my daughter.” I knew something was up. I offered support in the best way I could, without intruding on her privacy. I do not know if there are problems in her marriage, or perhaps an illness, but something is going on. Ashley, she is in the trenches.
I kept scrolling my feed. I was comfortable and starting to cool off. I know if I dared to leave my comfy spot in front of the fan, someone would take my spot, and by “someone” I mean most likely one of the cats.
As I am scrolling, I see the food pictures, I see the fake selfies, I see the “I have the best husband” post, I see the “I have the best wife” post, and really, we all know the wife most likely hijacked her husband’s Facebook. Then, I see a long post. One of those long post that says “see more” and you have to click on the link to read it all. It was from Rich.
Funny story about Rich. Rich is more of an acquaintance of mine. I know him through Christin. Christin has a long history with Rich and introduced us on social media. I like Rich. I have good vibes from Rich. Rich is one of the good ones, and although I have no proof of this other than my gut and Christin’s history, trust when I say Rich is a good one. So, I clicked on the link that says “see more” and I read. I read and I read. Rich, well, he is not doing good. He is fighting for his marriage. I do not know the details. I do not need to know the details. All I know is Rich, he is lost, and broken. He is fighting for something that may or may not be able to be fixed. Rich is in the trenches.
Callie is a good friend of mine. I talk to her on the phone about three times a week. Sometimes I am jealous of Callie, and because we have a solid friendship, I have told her so. Financially, she is better off than I am. Although her kids are older, it seems Callie is always on the go. Doing this, doing that, doing whatever she can. Lunch out, an early morning breakfast, fireworks at the waterfront, swimming at the lake. I do not have the means financially to make memories with my kids like Callie does. However, just like all the stories above, nothing is what it may seem. Callie struggles. She struggles in a way where Christin and I are most likely her only outlet. You see, Callie has some stuff going on “behind the scenes” that she can not talk about, because if the wrong person found out, then life as Callie knew it, it would be over. Callie is in the trenches.
“I know it’s all you’ve got to just, be strong And it’s a fight just to keep it together, together I know you think, that you are too far gone But hope is never lost Hope is never lost”
Those of you that know me, or have been long-time followers of Vodka Calling, you guys know I have spent many times in the trenches. Hell, it’s safe to say I have a bottle of vodka, chocolate, and my favorite pillow down in those trenches. I can give you a tour and pretty much an estimation date of when you will find your way out of the trenches.
But, as long as you hold on, I know you will find your way out.
Joe is in his final days of Inventory Hell at work. It is completely insane. He works his ass off, twelve hours a day, for Inventory. Needless to say, we are on two completely different schedules.
The other night, he went to bed early while I was still up watching the Golden Girls and writing. One of Joe’s complaints is that I always fall asleep on the sofa, watching t.v and writing, which I do. Because, and there is a method to my madness, by the time I go to bed, his alarm will go off in an hour or so, at which point I always come to the living room anyway.
I felt guilty. I told myself no matter what time I get tired, I will go sleep in the bedroom with him.
So, there I am, laying in bed next to a very loud snoring Joe. Me and my bright ideas, right? I could not even watch t.v because Joe is such a light sleeper, but hey, at least I am in bed, right? Facebook it is! I grab my phone, start scrolling the news feed and quickly realize that all my friends must be asleep as well. I put the phone down, tried to play with my cat for a bit, however, the damn cat was trying to sleep as well. Am I the only night owl out there?
Tossing and turning I just cannot get comfortable. I cannot get comfortable because I am not tired! I rolled over, adjusted my pillows for the tenth time. There, with the soft glistening light from the hall, there it was, Joe’s phone.
Hmmm. This could be fun. Last time I took his phone without him knowing I changed my name in his contacts from “Jen” to “Hot Wife.” Well, somehow I just got distracted by his messages. I mean I needed something to help me sleep, so, ya know, why not go through his messages.
I had to go back to one “questionable” message, but, this is one I cannot talk about because it involves his job, and the police, and a crazy person.
Well, somehow, as I was reading a message from his boss, I ended up accidentally calling the boss. Before I knew it, I hear “Joe, your up early, what’s up?”
HOLY MOTHER MARY OF GOD WHAT DID I JUST DO?!?!
So, I threw the phone down and ran to the bathroom, because you know, that’s what any normal person does.
As I am in the bathroom playing dumb, I hear the freakin phone ring! Like seriously, has his boss never heard of “butt dialing” even if it is at 2am?
On the fourth ring, I make my out of the bathroom, hop back in bed.
Joe rolls over, still have asleep. “Did my phone just ring?”
I look around and notice one of the cats sitting there, just ready to rat me out.
“Nope! I did not hear anything!”
and just like that, he rolled back over and went to sleep for the last 45 minutes.
Moral of the story: When you decide to be sneaky, turn the ringer off!
I still remember the first day we got the 8-week old fluff ball. She looked like a ball of hair with eyes. We couldn’t come up with a name. She may have had 3 different names before we ended up with the name Princess. The kids were 3 & 5 at the time. Over the next 9 years, Princess would become an integral part of our family. Even moving across the state with us, although she wasn’t thrilled with the Seattle weather that awaited her. Kharizma was her person from the beginning. Every now and then Princess would make her way out to the living room after the kids were fast asleep. She would hop on my lap, and purr as I pet her, careful to stay away from her “bad spots” which was her tail and her toes. She would attack if I got near those places. Princess was a good, loyal cat to our family, through thick and thin she was there. A couple of years ago, our beloved Princess just disappeared one day. Frantically I put up flyers all over the city, made online posts to all the animal sites and made several calls to every vet in a 100-mile radius. Kharizma was crushed as were the rest of us. Our Princess was gone.
I always knew we would get another kitten, it just had to be the right one and the right time. Fast forward 2 years, the time came. I found a kitten that I fell in love with, the only kicker was, we would have to wait two months to get our sweet girl.
Over the next two months, I would get updates and pictures of our growing kitty. I got the call last Thursday:
“She is ready to go! You want to pick her up this weekend?”
“Yes, I will!”
And so, began the shopping trip to pick up all the things a new kitty would need.
Except we forgot to pick a name.
So, naturally who has 8 cats and would be able to help me come up with a great name?
“Jen, I have no idea what are we are going to name her!”
Of course, for the next hour, we bounced around some names, eventually coming up with Ashey Delilah. The Delilah part of the name is a meaningful one. For those that know me well, you know that I have had a borderline obsession with the Delilah radio talk show for the last 20+ years. This story needs a blog all on its own and hopefully one day I will tell the whole story, but for now, we will keep it as that.
Anticipation built as we made the 45-minute drive to get the kitten. I thought about how Ashey Delilah would become a part of our family, just as Princess did. She would be loyal and a part of the family, only if we could get our 20-lb. furry feline Daisy on board. That was going to be the hard part, so I thought.
“We are home!” The kitten is heeeere!”
The kids, now 13 & 15 (going on 25) come running out.
“Meet Ashey Delilah!”
“Mom, we are not naming her that!!”
“Why not? It’s cute. I like the name.”
“We are gonna come up with another name!”
A few minutes later, I get a text from Jen.
“How is Ashey Delilah? Send me pics!!!”
“The kitten is great. Her name is no longer Ashey Delilah though.”
I didn’t need to explain anything. Jen knows my strong-willed daughter very well. She already knew I got overruled by a 15-year-old.
Because she is my best friend, she took the liberty and sent a little text to her that went something like this:
“Kharizma, do you know how important the name Delilah is to your mom? It’s just breaking her heart that you don’t want to use the name.”
20 minutes later Kharizma informs me we can use Delilah for the kitty’s middle name.
I have always been a pretty easy-going parent. As a single mom for most of my kids’ lives, I had to be everything all rolled into one, so sometimes I have had to just pick my battles.
Which is how I have been in other areas of my life. For so long, I just went with the flow. In my relationships, my jobs, and even my family. I would just allow them to be in my life because I never really thought I had a choice.
This all changed about a year ago.
I decided that I had paid my dues to people that didn’t really deserve them. I am not perfect by any means but I have always had good intentions whether it be with co-workers, friends, acquaintances, in relationships, hell, even my neighbors could come to ask for a cup of sugar every day and I would give it to them.
I have been lied to, cheated on, treated like shit and made to feel like I deserved all the above. Times have changed and so have I.
In this last year, I have cut-off people that are no longer beneficial in my life. If you can’t bring something to the table like support and positivity, then guess what? Take a seat at some else’s table because there is no room for you here at mine. I keep my circle small. Most of my friends have been in my life for 10+ years. I no longer need to entertain anyone for any reason.
I am learning to be very selective about who I let in. If I feel any bad vibes or intent, I will excuse you promptly with no reasoning because for so long, I have explained myself to people that didn’t deserve a word.
I am taking back the power that was lost so long ago. It really isn’t about the cat, but more about me taking control of my life. I have come this far. As some of you might know, I will be graduating with my BA next year which I know will yield big changes for me. Some I am not sure of yet. But what I know for sure is this, I will not settle for anything less than what I deserve. In my career, friendships, relationships…I will weed out the bad and keep the good for myself because I have earned it.
Like Carrie Bradshaw said when she was forced to choose between Mr. Big and The Russian in the final episode of Sex and the City…
This 4th of July would be like many others. Unlike Jen, I had only a plan A, so if there were any snafu’s, my other options would be limited. We have done the same thing for the last several years, so I didn’t really feel the need to have backup plans.
As told in Memories & Shit Part 1, Jen and I had discussed our plans for the day. As mentioned, I did tell her about my thoughts of being abandoned by the kids once we were at our destination. She laughed at my dilemma, as she often does, citing that “it is normal for your kids to ditch you, trust me.” Like the fool I am, I will trust her…
Piling in the car, a total of 4 teenagers and a grumpy old troll. I say that because he is not fond of any holiday. I have a tendency to go overboard every holiday, so you can only imagine the conversations among us.
“Why are you putting the Christmas tree up on November 1st?”
“Because Halloween is over! It’s Christmas time, duh.”
Well, you get the point. It’s just who I fundamentally am, I can’t help it.
4th of July is no different.
25 minutes later we arrive at our destination. Kingston is a little beach town, perfect for a fabulous 4th of July festival by the water.
One by one, we all pile out and before my feet hit the ground, all the kids are gone. All of them.
I notice a young man, maybe about 25, sitting alone on the back of his truck next to ours. Nothing out of the norm, just an observation of mine because I by nature, I am a little nosey.
I set up my chair while the grumpy old troll and I made small talk. Instead of listening, I instead began reflecting over past 4th of July’s, when my kids still wanted to hang-out with me.
One year, the kids were probably 1 and 3, I took them to Leavenworth. It’s a quaint little Bavarian-styled village up in the cascade mountains. Both on my lap, we spent the day watching the parade and fireworks show. It was a day I will always remember.
One year, we went to a neighborhood fireworks show. It was all fun and games until a big falling firework landed on my head. Kids were young enough not to remember this one, however, I think I still feel a lump on my the top of my noggin.
One year, we were in Yakima for the holiday. We spent the day with family and attended a fair where my kids and nephew rode the rides and ate cotton candy. It was hotter than hell that day but memories were made.
For the last 15 years, all the memories I have made have been for my kids. I know times are a changing and in the words of my oldest “mom, you don’t have to do EVERYTHING with us.” But maybe I want to. Maybe I want to be a part of all the memories. Maybe I am afraid of being forgotten after they leave for college. Maybe they have been with me pretty much every day since I was 22 and even the thought of not waking up or going to sleep in the same house makes me sad.
As I am contemplating which one of my kids’ basement I will live in once they do “fly the nest”, I look over at the young man who is still sitting by himself in the back of his truck.
All the scenarios play out in my mind:
His girlfriend is running late. She got caught up in traffic and will be here any minute. He is waiting patiently as he feels for the ring in his pocket. Tonight is the night, he will propose to the girl of his dreams.
He is a lonely soldier far from home. He knows nobody and instead of staying in his shitty base apartment, he comes out to enjoy the fireworks by himself to get his mind off of being homesick. He misses his mama’s apple pie and his daddy’s long talks while fishing.
He is meeting someone on a blind date. The nerves are getting to him as he keeps looking from the phone to the street. Is she coming? Did she stand me up? He will continue watching and waiting until the end of the show.
He had a fight with his girlfriend. She wanted to go to Seattle for the 4th and he just wanted a nice, relaxing day, just the two of them. Why did she have to be so damned stubborn? He was clearing his head before heading home to an empty apartment.
His friends told him they would meet him there. After a few hours of drinking, they decide to get into the car and never make it to the festival. He keeps calling them with no answer. Where could they be?
The fireworks begin, with no kids in sight. They came back for a minute, just to grab their blankets and some money.
As I gaze up at the fireworks, I wonder:
What’s next for me? My kids have always been a huge part of my identity. What happens in the next chapter of my life when they begin their own lives?
I have a few more years to figure it out. I will try not to stress about it. Until then, I will enjoy every moment, every holiday, with these two kids of mine. Maybe they will leave me sometimes, but I know they will always come back to be with their old mom and make memories and shit.
Christin and I had our usual mid-morning phone call this morning.
Me~ So what are your plans for today?
Christin~ You know, making memories with the kids and shit even though I am not going to be in any of those memories because they will leave me as soon as we get to our destination!
Me~ Sounds about right!
Christin~ What about you guys?
The plan was, at thirteen hundred hours, Joe would arrive home from work. He would take a quick shower and off we would go to, as Christin so eloquently put it, ” to make memories and shit.”
First up would be a late lunch. With Vinnie staying the night at a friend’s house, I only had to worry about the girls. I made sure, much to Sofia’s detriment, that they had a very light breakfast. I did not want them to fill up on eggs and bacon if we were going out for a nice lunch.
Now with my kids, there has to be a plan. With Joe, there has to be a plan. Everyone is confident the plan can be executed, be we always need a plan in place.
Enter “Your’s Truly.”
An hour before Joe was expected home, I brought up the menus of local restaurants on my desktop. First step, I need to look over the menu to make sure it is suitable for Gracie’s needs.
Next up, one at a time, I have to bring the girls out, let them see the pictures, so they can see if there is anything on the menu they will like.
I narrowed it down to three.
“The Ram” a local sports bar/burger joint. It was also the place Joe took me on our very first date. This is important info for later in the post.
“Puerto Vallarta” a nice Mexican restaurant, that has a very nice selection of all the favorites.
“The Village Inn” a cute local diner. A step up from Denny’s. Nice menu selections.
So from the get-go, the girls and I eliminated The Village Inn, only because we go there all the time, and everyone wanted to try something different.
Puerto Vallarta came out the clear winner. I think it was the endless chips and salsa that sealed the deal for Sofia, Gracie wanted some nachos, and Joe, well all he told me was to come up with a plan!
Joe comes home, and I tell him “THE PLAN!” Mexican, then bowling. Joe is still in work mode so he is all clapping his hands, “Okay team, let’s get this done!”
Well, guess what. The damn Mexican restaurant was closed! The website said it was open, but of course, Joe is all like “Did you call to confirm?” No, I did not call to confirm because the website said it was currently open!
On to Plan B. Important to note there was no Plan B. Why should there be a Plan B when I now had my heart set on Mexican food because the website said they were open?!
So we drive to our local mall, where there is a nice selection of restaurants to choose from, including Azteca, another Mexican restaurant.
It will come as no surprise to you to hear they were closed as well.
Like, seriously?!?!?!?! Who knew Mexican’s celebrated the 4th of July. Now, at this point, the girls and I are starving. While I was instructing them to have a light breakfast, I somehow forgot to put a little something in my stomach. I mean at this time I was expecting to be sitting at a table by now munching on chips and salsa.
Sofia~ “Can we just please find some food?!”
Me~ You need to pull over I am about to pass out, I have a diet bar in the trunk.
Gracie~ Is my lipstick still on?
Joe~ Okay team! I do not want to drive but I will drive wherever you want!
DUDE, TAKE THE WORK HAT OFF!!!!
We are now across the street from the mall, looking at which restaurants are open. We have two options. Red Lobster or The Ram. Remember, The Ram was one of my original options.
In a hypoglycemic state of mind, I say to Joe “Look, The Ram is open, how about we go there?”
“Nah, I do not want to go there, I hate that place.”
Hmmm. That does not seem very “team-spirited” not to mention the fact that, THAT’S WHERE HE TOOK ME FOR OUR FIRST DATE!
We drive across the street to Red Lobster. Finally, those glorious cheddar bay biscuits are mere moments away. my blood sugar thanks you.
The lovely hostess with the red, white and blue eyeshadow informed us “It will be about a twenty-five-minute wait.”
Of course it will.
I snagged a menu while we took our seat on the bench reserved for the morons who thought it would be a good idea to go out to eat on July 4th.
As I am looking through the menu, determined to have our order ready to go as soon as we are seated, I saw a problem. A big huge problem. Sofia, believe it or not, cannot stand seafood. I (wrongly) assumed that there would be at least a burger or something on the menu that would suit her fancy. Frantically, I am flipping through the pages of The Red Lobster menu. Hoping beyond hope that there is a burger option at this seafood joint.
I pass the menu over to Joe while trying to come up with a Plan C, without making it look that I forgot my daughter does not like seafood.
As Joe is looking through the menu I can tell he is not impressed with anything. Hmmm. This may be easier than I thought.
He looks at the girls. “Do you guys know what you feel like?”
Sofia~ I HATE SEAFOOD!
Gracie~ Is my hair messed up, it was windy outside.
This is my life.
“Okay team, let’s make a call, do we stay for twenty-five minutes or do we backtrack to the mall and grab something there?”
Sofia~ Please, can we just go to the mall and get food?!
Gracie~ I do not care as long as my hair does not mess up.
Me~ Your call Boss.
We are now at the mall. We are also now on Plan D.
I do not even know where to go from here.
Cliff note version. Sofia decided on Subway because for some reason she loves that place, even though I strongly believe I make better sandwiches.
Gracie was able to get her nachos while looking at herself in her compact makeup mirror.
Joe and I decided on one of our all-time favorites, Gyros. Seriously, for all you locals, if you have never been to Gyro House at the mall, you need to go.
So, there we all our, sitting, scarfing down our food, and Joe asks “Okay team what’s next?” While looking at the girls, “What do you guys do with Mommy when she brings you here?”
Sofia, without missing a beat. “We go to the perfume store, but I do not think you would like that.”
“What?! Just because I am a guy, I can go to the perfume store! I bet they have some nice things in there.”
Sofia laughs, “Oh dad, you are so funny!”
Gracie is literally applying lipstick after every bite she takes from her nachos.
Wiping my hands from the messy but heavenly sent gyro and its tzatziki sauce, I tell Joe “Okay Boss, you put in a good effort, but trust me, you do not want to go to the perfume store.”
He passes his fries to Sofia. “Why not, I am sure there are some cool things in there.”
Taking a sip of my diet coke, “I mean yeah, but there is also a 75% Fourth of July sale going on, the store will be packed.”
Joe puts his gyro down, “How about bowling, let’s try bowling!”
After assuring Gracie that bowling is healthy and will not mess up her hair or bring on a seizure, it was a done deal.
We left the mall, destination, Bowling Alley!
Will any of you be surprised to hear the bowling alley was closed?
At this point, we were all spent. Now, remember, Joe had been working since 4:00am. So, because I still wanted to “make memories and shit” we collectively decided that the girls and I would drop Joe off, and we would head to the good ol Wal-Mart, trying to occupy our time while “making memories and shit.”
You guys, I have a problem. I cannot say “no” to the girls. They do not ask for much. Both girls are on a mission for “cool” school clothes, and Gracie and her never-ending makeup. Sofia and her notebooks, I cannot tell them “no.” I can only imagine many parents have this problem?
Due to a rent increase, and having to pay an out-of-pocket portion for Gracie’s MRI, we are on a very tight budget, yet, I still cannot tell them no. How do I tell my daughter that “maybe we should wait on a 6.00 eyeshadow palate?” I can’t. They are such good kids, they deserve so much more than I am able to give them.
Here’s the thing. A six-dollar eyeshadow palate and a four dollar notebook and a couple of three dollar t-shirts and two dollar tank tops, well, that adds up, but I cannot tell them no.
I left Wal-Mart spending 109.00.
We will make it work, we always do, but damn! Although, you already know 109.00 can go far at Wal-Mart.
I came home, told Joe how I may have spent a little above the budget, but he gets it. He is going to use vacation time and not take a vacation to get us to where we need to be.
Although I am confident I will find a job next month, Joe does not want to depend on that. We may have to downsize. I do not know. People tell you things to make themselves feel better. So, we wait, and we pray for guidance, all the while, I am making memories with the girls, because watching Sofia write a story in her new notebook, and try on new clothes, watching Gracie play around with her new makeup, well, that shit is priceless.
At the end of the night, while Joe is passed out on the sofa. Gracie has her headphones on to drown out the fireworks, I grab Sofia. We go out on my balcony, and watch the firework show. She gets it. She knows we can not be close to the fireworks because her sister may have a seizure. But, because she gets it, and because she is always willing to put her wants aside, that is why I want to do more for her, I want to do whatever I can to make those memories, so when she has her own children, she will be able to look back on these hard times and still feel some sort of nostalgia, knowing as an adult, that we struggled, but before anything else, we wanted the kids, to have a childhood, a wonderful magical childhood where there was no worry of how late the power bill would be, or if there was enough money for school shoes and backpacks. I want all my kids to look back on their childhood and realize that although it is never easy, one way or another we will make it work, because we are a team.
“Mom, was that it? Was that the last fireworks?”
Taking a sip from my drink, while discreetly looking inside to make sure Gracie is okay, “Yes, I think that was the big one, that’s it.”
“Thanks Mom, today was a good day, that was the best!”
And, that is why, my wonderful readers, that is why I will always push through, and in the hardest of times, I will find a way to “make memories and shit.”
Writing Prompt: A time you got in trouble over the summer.
Believe it or not, it was hard for me to come up with a story for this post. I was a pretty good kid. I mean you guys know it was only after I left home that I found myself in some “questionable” situations. I am curious what Christin is going to write about though. As soon as we stumbled on the writing prompt “A time you got in trouble over the Summer” Christin got me off the phone so fast, proclaiming “I KNOW WHAT I AM GOING TO WRITE ABOUT.” So, while she is off typing away, here I sit talking about what a good kid I was.
I suppose if I have to write about something, I could talk about the time I hung out in a trailer park one summer, but trust me, it sounds worse than it really is. I mean my parents may not agree, but, it wasn’t “that” bad.
It was the Summer I turned 14. You are not getting the year out of me so stop trying to figure it out. School was out. Thank the Holy Mother Mary of Jesus for that. All kids love summer break, then you have the kids, such as myself, who had no friends. For me, summer break meant no more “faking it.” I could relax, hang out with my church friends, and call it a day.
In the youth group at church, I actually had friends. Many times on the weekends I would hang out with my church friends, or they would come over to my house. We would go to the mall, or, actually, I think the mall was the big thing back then. If I was not at the trailer park, I was either home or at the mall. At church, there were two sisters who were right around my age. “The Anderson Sisters.” They came to church on their own. The church bus would pick them up, or even our youth pastor. He would pick them up from their house in the trailer park. I never knew much about their mom or dad, other than their dad was very strict. Anytime I called over to their house, and if by chance their dad answered the phone, I would cringe. It just never ended well. On one particular Sunday, I asked “The Anderson Sisters” if they could come over after church and hang out. Well, they could not. However, it was a very rare occasion where I was allowed to go over there. I asked my parents if it was okay, promised them that I would meet them back at church later that evening, and we were good to go.
“The Anderson Sisters” lived next door to a young single mom who had three small daughters. Julie. Julie was the first person I met in the trailer park. She was very nice, and in my eyes beautiful. Even back then I had no idea how she did it with three small daughters, but she did. I hung out at Julie’s house while The Anderson Sisters went home to check in with their parents and change clothes. As soon as they came back, the three of us said goodbye to Julie and walked the trailer park. The Anderson Sisters knew everyone. Every time we passed a friend or acquaintance of theirs on the streets, quick introductions were made. This was a new world for me. The Anderson Sisters were popular in their own school, cheerleaders in fact, and our church was so small and non-judgmental, we all just became friends. I could not believe how many people The Anderson Sisters knew, I could not believe how nice everyone was, how nice they were to me. No one made fun of me (unlike school) and they just made me feel welcome in their little community.
We spent that afternoon going to 7-11, buying junk food, and sitting by the community pool, just talking and eating. I had fun, it was a good visit. We all made it back to church on time. I spoke to the twins Wednesday night church, asking if they wanted to do anything that weekend. As usual for them, they were not allowed to spend the night out but asked me if I wanted to spend the night. Well Duh!!
I asked my parents, got their permission, I had given them the phone number all was good.
Now here is where the story may get a little tricky, however it is still not that bad.
So, come to find out, I was never really allowed to spend the night AT The Anderson Sisters house, I was able to spend the night AT the trailer park, specifically at Julie’s house, who lived right next door. I mean it is kinda the same thing, right? Of course, it is!
Quickly, a new routine developed. I would spend my time at The Anderson Sisters house, which really means Julie’s house, but it was all one in the same. I mean the only time I was not with The Anderson Sisters was when it was time for bed. We would spend our evenings “walking the Park” in the humid Virginia night air. This was back in the days when Motley Crue was at the height of their career. Throughout the whole Park, you could hear Motley Crue playing from the bedrooms of the teenager it occupied, you could hear it from the boom box on the front porch while watching the older guys work on cars, on occasion you could even hear it from Julie’s house as she was preparing dinner for her small daughters. It just so happened that The Crue would be coming to Virginia Beach for a concert, so that was just the in thing, it was always about Motley Crue and who is going to the concert. Funny thing, The Anderson Sisters did not even like Motley Crue.
I don’t know, it was just a nice time for me. I felt appreciated, I felt I had my own friends. I thought everything was working out nicely until one morning on the ride to church I somehow let it slip that it was Julie’s house who I stayed the night at, and not The Anderson Sisters. Holy Hell I can still hear the yelling.
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN?”
“I CALLED OVER TO THEIR HOUSE AND TALKED TO YOU!”
“WHO IS JULIE?”
Okay. This was not going as planned. What was I missing here? I mean yes, I was with The Anderson Sisters, and yes, that is where I could be reached. I just did not physically sleep there because you know, strict parents and all. I was not doing anything wrong. I think the worse thing I did was let a guy dance with me when Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil” came on the radio as we were all eating stale Doritos from a shared bag.
I mean if you REALLY think about it, this was a good thing! I finally felt like I fit in somewhere. It was my “coming of age” summer so to speak. The bright lights of the trailer park, hot humid nights, mosquitos, Motley Crue blaring from the houses, 7-11 junk food, good times well spent.
Unfortunately I never made it back to the Park. “The Parents” never quite saw it my way.
The Anderson Sisters went on to become high-powered attorneys in the Virginia Beach area. I remain in touch with them to this day.
Alright Dad, if you are reading this, I think a good ol follow-up needs to happen from your point of view.
And….Gracie and Sofia, if one day you come across this blog while you are locked up in your room listening to your own “Motley Crue” all I have to say is do not even think about trying it!
It was the summer of 1996. I was looking forward to this summer for a million reasons:
I would turn 16 this summer.
I would be able to get a job.
I could get my driver’s license.
I could finally gain some independence.
The summer started like every other one. Long, hot days and hours upon hours of swimming and tanning at the pool in our apartment complex. About a week in, I notice a blond-haired girl about my age sitting across the pool from me. She was pretty, but in an All-American girl kind of way.
After a particular hot day, I packed up my stuff and my brother, and headed back to the apartment. The blond-haired girl looked to be doing the same. As we walked in similar directions, she smiled at me.
“Hi, I’m Kari and this is Sam, she said, pointing to her sister. We live in that apartment up there.”
“I’m Christin, and that’s my brother Josh. We are in this apartment right here.”
“We just moved in couple of weeks ago. Do you like Alanis Morrissette? I just got her new CD. Do you want to come up and listen to it?”
“Sure. Let me ask my mom.”
An hour later we were up in her room listening to the CD for the 2nd time.
An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay
It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late
Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think
It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought, it figures
Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
“Well, isn’t this nice.”
And isn’t it ironic, don’t you think
From that day on, Kari and I were connected at the hip. We had a lot on common, both raised by single mom’s, had 1 younger sibling, and we both were contemplating adulthood, just in different ways.
Everyday we would meet at the pool the moment it opened. We would take turns singing the top hit of the summer.
California, knows how to party
California, knows how to party
In the city of L.A.
In the city of good ol’ Watts
In the city, the city of Compton
We keep it rocking!
We keep it rocking!
Late one summer night, before the pool closed, Kari and I were dangling our feet in the water, talking about her ex-boyfriend, Ray. Unfortunately, Ray had just broke up with Kari and started dating her friend. This was one conversation I couldn’t contribute to because at 16, I had yet had a boyfriend, unless you count that one time in freshman year that I held a boy’s hand for .5 seconds but then turned the color of tomato and ran off. This was all her. As I sat listening to her recount her recent heart-break, I noticed a boy, about our age, performing cannon balls off the side of the pool.
“I think he is trying to get our attention,” I said, nudging Kari with my elbow.
Watching from the sidelines, we watch as this blond-haired, blue-eyed boy performs circus-like tricks in the pool.
“He’s kind of cute,” Kari said, watching as he did the 5th backflip.
“He’s okay,” I said, grabbing my towel.
“Gotta go. Pools almost closed.”
We rounded up our stuff and walked towards the gate.
“Hey, do you guys want to go play a game of pool?”
Kari and I flipped around, and in unison “Sure!”
Turns out the boy band look-alike had a name, Travis.
Like us, he was the kid of single mom and had a younger sibling too.
From that day forward, the three of us could be found at the pool or playing pool in the clubhouse.
Travis was a good kid, although a little bit of a trouble maker, but not anything serious. I think him, and Kari hit it off first because they both had a little more “life” experience, me not so much. I was sheltered in more ways than one. They both had smoked pot, I had not. They both had sex, I had not.
By the end of June, the three of us had a tan that most would pay for. The only thing I needed was blonder hair, like Kari’s. With my new best friend’s suggestions, hydrogen peroxide would indeed turn my hair a beautiful shade of blond.
Finally, I would look like Pamela Anderson in Bay Watch! Sans the implants and size 2 physique of course, but at least my hair would be blond.
Day 5 of the “Peroxide” went well. I doused my hair in the stinky substance before heading out to meet Travis and Kari.
As I grabbed the sun tanning lotion and towel off the table, I caught sight of 2 girls sitting with Kari and Travis.
As I opened the gate, Kari waved me over, “Hey I saved a chair for you!”
I spread my towel and took my place next to Kari.
“Christin, this is Shannon and her little sister, Cassie.”
“Hi, I said, envious of the modelesque body that Shannon was blessed with.
Tall, thin and pretty, everything I was not.
Shannon was older, about 18. Cassie was younger than us, maybe about 13.
Once again, we all had a lot in common, raised by single mom’s and all.
A few weeks later, we were all in our normal spots poolside.
Our duo had grown to a dysfunctional quartet.
“Travis, you’re an idiot!” Shannon screamed while trying to escape his grasp. She failed miserable as both fell into the pool.
Kari and I sat in our respective loungers, still working on that summer tan, while Cassie put her Walkman headphones on.
The dog days of summer went by, easy and non-eventful. Unless you count that one time, the 5 of us tried to sneak into the pool after hours. The Apartment manager caught us and sent us home. No harm, no foul.
The summer was ending. We would all go back to school in a couple of weeks. No more endless days at the pool, no more tan, and I would have to figure out what to do with my Rainbow Bright orange hair that had never made the transformation to blonde. Somewhere in the midst of my teenage mind, I forgot to factor in the CHLORINE with the peroxide. My hair was now glowing orange and fried to a crisp. But my tan looked amazing, so at least I had that.
“My mom is out-of-town for the weekend, let’s plan something at my house Friday night,” Travis said, lining up his cue stick.
“I’m down,” Kari said, without a thought. I was always a little jealous of her because her mom let her do whatever she wanted, mine was not so relaxed with letting me go anywhere without knowing:
Who is going to be there?
Is a parent going to be present? (In which case she would call said parent)
What are you going to do there?
How many people are going to be there?
What are the names of the people?
What is the address, phone number, social security number…?
Well you get it. She was a little overprotective or a lot.
“You know I will be there,” Shannon said, taking the shot at the 8 ball.
“I want to go,” Cassie said, knowing damn well her mom was not going to let her come to a party with a bunch of older kids.
“Yeah right!” Shannon said, “What about you, Christin?”
They all knew my mom was not going to give me permission.
“I will be there,” I said.
Friday night was finally upon us.
I crawled into bed a little early that night.
Waiting patiently, I could feel my heart racing as I waited for the right time.
“Goodnight Christin,” my mom said, through my closed bedroom door.
Every minute seemed to last forever, as I waited to hear her snoring through the paper-thin walls.
After what seemed like an eternity, I slowly threw back the covers, and slipped on my sandals.
My hands shook as I quietly slid my bedroom window, careful not to make any noise.
Once the window was wide open, I jumped up and out in one swift motion, hopped to my feet and ran to Travis’ apartment.
Out of breath, I knocked on the door.
“Heyyyyy, look who FINALLY made it?” Travis said, ushering me inside.
“Want a wine cooler?”
“No, I’m good.” I said. That’s all I would need. If I got busted for sneaking out that would be one thing, but drinking and sneaking out, I would be grounded for life. Besides, I had never drink before and didn’t really have a desire to change that.
Bone bone bone bone, bone, bone, bone, bone, bone
Now tell me whatcha gonna do
When there ain’t no where to run (tell me what)
(When judgment comes for you, when judgment comes for you)
And whatcha gonna do
When there aint no where to hide (tell me what)
When judgment comes for you (’cause it’s gonna come for you)
Let’s all bring it in for wally, eazy sees uncle charlie
Little boo, god’s got him and I’m gonna miss everybody
I only roll with bone my gang look to where they lay
When playing with destiny, plays too deep for me to say
Lil’ layzie came to me, told me if he should decease well then please
Bury me by my grand-grand and when you can, come follow me
God bless you working on a plan to heaven
Follow the lord all twenty-four-seven days, God is who we praise
Even though the devil’s all up in my face
But he keeping me safe and in my place, say grace
For the case to race with a chance to face the judge
And I’m guessing my soul won’t budge
Grudge because there’s no mercy for thugs
Oh what can I do it’s all about our family and how we roll
Can I get a witness let it unfold
We living our lives to eternal our soul aye-oh-aye-oh
My first real party was off to a great start. Good music, good food, and freedom at last.
“What do you guys want to listen to now?” Shannon asked, as she pulled out her CD binder.
“Do you have any Keith Sweat?” Kari asked, taking a sip of her strawberry wine cooler.
“Yes!” she said, taking a drag of her cigarette.
I grabbed a handful of Doritos and was stuffing them in my mouth just as I heard something from the front of the apartment..
The four of us stopped in our tracks.
“Who the hell is that?” Kari asked, putting her winecooler in the microwave.
“I don’t know,” Travis said, scanning the room quickly to make sure everything was out of sight.
He made his way to the peep-hole.
“Oh shit! Christin it’s your mom!”
“Oh shit!” I said, choking on my mouthful of chips.
I looked from Shannon to Kari to Travis, hoping for someone to say something.
Everyone just stood there, frozen.
Travis was the first to move, towards the door.
Slowly, he turned the knob, revealing my mother on the other side.
“You are in BIG TROUBLE, YOU NEED TO GET HOME NOW!”
Without another word, I took the walk of shame out of the apartment and straight to my room. I knew, I was going to be grounded for life for this one.
The good news is I wasn’t grounded for life, but for pretty much the rest of that summer.
My first party lasted exactly 20 minutes.
I didn’t regret it for a single second. It was the best ending to one of the best summers of my teenage life.
I would like to tell you we all stayed in touch after that summer.
Kari got pregnant and moved away. Travis dropped out of high school and a few years later reconnected with Shannon. They had a son together and Travis skipped town, so I heard. I graduated a few years later and moved to California, as most of you know.
I had a lot of fun that summer. It would be the last of many things but my personal favorite, is my first (and last) escape attempt. But you know what they say, you live and you learn.