Did I do it again?

I found some of my writing on the back of an oil painting that I made in 1998.  I don’t remember writing this but I can remember this time in my life very well.  I felt disconnected from the entire world and I was so lost.  I had been longing to find someone who I could relate to, and someone who could love me for who I am not who they want me to be.  Funny that I didn’t realize at the time I wrote this is that he had been there all along, patiently waiting for me to recognize him (my roommate, now husband of 13 years).  Life sure is strange.  Beautiful and strange!

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The original title that I tried to erase was New Beginnings & Old Feelings, and the title I replaced that with was Did I do it again?

Did I do it again?

Why won’t you tell me what’s wrong?

What did I do to you to make you want to treat me this way?

I just want to crawl inside of you and fix everything that causes you pain, but may

be you don’t want to be fixed.

You never even gave me a chance to show you who I am, and you probably don’t deserve to know me anyway.

And why do I fall so easily?

What in the hell made me think you were so special?

You are all the same guy/man/boy that just keeps popping into my life.  Well stay the fuck away next time!

And I’m always around and I am always at home, and I am always convenient, for you.

Talking about your problems, hanging around your friends, easing your pain.

You are just a scared, lonely, pathetic little boy inside, and all you need is your Mommy, not me.

Blue Coat

Mom came home excited this morning cause she had finally found a warm coat at a garage sale for me.  We were already over a month into an unusually cold winter and Mom has done nothing but worry.  Mom was worried now that I wouldn’t like this coat because it was blue and made for a boy.  Blue just so happened to be my favorite color and besides, this thing looks brand new!  I was happy that I would no longer have to layer my clothing to stay warm at school, but I was also thankful that Mom could finally stop worrying about me!

I can remember feeling confident, and warm when I had arrived to school that following Monday.  I kept my bare hands buried deep inside of both coat pockets, and I smiled when the mornings winter sun shined through my breathe.  My new blue coat had made me feel invincible, not only from the cold weather but from everything, and from everyone!

My new blue coat didn’t have a hood but I hung it nicely by the collar on the back of my seat. During my first period class Becky had approached my desk, and she complimented me on my new coat while she ran fingers down the sleeve.  I really couldn’t tell if Becky was trying to be mean when she said to me “Nice coat, Monica.”  A moment after she left I turned around in my seat and I watched Becky whispering and giggling with this group of girls who were sitting in a circle on the floor in my class.  My stomach is now twisted in knots and I stare up at the clock praying for time to speed up.

During my third period class I always have to sit in the back adjacent to Brian.  At the start of the school year Ms. Gibbons asked me if she could move my desk to the back of the class, next to Brian.  She said that by me agreeing to do this that I would be her big helper, whatever that was supposed to mean.  Brian gets picked on a lot and by everyone, well by everyone at school except for me.  The bullies in our class nicknamed him “Tic-toc,” because of the way he walks.  I can say with all honesty that before today I have never been cruel to Brian.  Today Brian makes a comments to me about my new coat, only Brian looks pretty worried at me when he begins to speak.  Brian was trying to be desecrate with a hand cupped over his mouth as he says out loud for all to hear “Monica?  Is that MY coat?”  My fear of being found out by everyone overcame me, and I panicked.  I did the only thing that came to mind and I reacted to Brian’s question by being mean.  I denied it all.  Instead I give Brian a dirty look and I called him a name.  Then I asked the teacher to move him because he would not leave me alone, and I lied and told him that he smelled bad.  I watched Brian’s eyes flood with tears, so many that they changed the color from blue eyes to silver.  When Brian returns to his desk that is now off in a corner alone it pained my heart to listen to his muffled whimpers and his best attempt to swallow all of his feelings and not cry.

At lunch recess Brian was all that I can think about.  I found a familiar place to hide in the courtyard until the bell rings. My new blue coat was still keeping me warm but I feel partially exposed.  Just then I notice Brian and he was playing with the same group of girls that were in my first period class, and Brian looks pretty happy!  I watched them play for a while until Brian notices me, and I watched him point a finger at me and say something to the girls.  They are all staring at me from across the courtyard now and one of the girls I recognize, she is my cousin, Angela.  The first bell rings so I run towards my classroom door.  I am waiting to enter my classroom when I hear Angela’s voice from behind me yelling “Come on Brian!”  The cold winter air sent shivers down my spine as my neck and my back are completely exposed.  Angela has grabbed a hold of the collar of my new blue coat and she will not let go.  She’s holding the collar tight so that when I tried to wriggle out of her grip I stumbled and fell and she’s now holding me up with my coat.  Angela now peeling my new coat from off my arms and when I open my eyes I only see Brian’s face while he’s standing in front of me.  Brian is shocked, he’s surprised, but he’s also completely satisfied.  Angela hands Brian my coat and Brian holds the coat inside out and presents the collar for everyone to see.  “SEE!  SEE!  I told ya, Monica!  This IS my coat. That’s my name, right there!”

A black permanent marker had made me a liar to everyone that day.  I was humiliated and I felt a little like dying.  My heart was racing and I was overwhelmed by humiliation.  It distorts all of my senses, but I can distinctly make out one sound, and that is Angela’s laughter, above it all.

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Okie from Muskogee

Dad had been driving us around town in the brown Chevy van one summer day.  We had been stopped at a red light when Dad begins to laugh, and he’s pointing a finger towards a thin blonde girl just as she begins to enter the crosswalk.  He’s yelling out to us kids but I think he wanted everyone on earth to hear him: “Holy shit!  Check her out!  That’s an Okie!  And I wonder if she’s from Muskogee?!”  Just then she slowed her walk and she turned her head up slightly but she only saw me.  Dad now has the other kids chanting and singing to her “♪♫ Okie From Muskogee, Okie From Muskogee..♪♫”  The look she gave me really frightened me, but it also broke my heart a little.  Dad thought he was so damn funny but I was pissed at him.  Why did he do that?  She was a stranger, and why does he always have to get us kids involved in all of his hatred and bigotry?  I hate because I wonder if he’s ever had a clue that I get made fun of just like this every day at school.  It was the first time that I ever saw that tall blonde girl, but she would never forget my face!

It was a year later when I saw her again, only this time I was all alone.  I had forgotten what Mom told me about riding my bike near those canals.  Now both new tires on my bike are covered in goat head thorns and flat as a pancake.  Mom is going to kill me when she sees this so I decide to take the long way home and walk through the alley.  I need an alibi and I needed more time to think, only I had no idea that SHE lived here!  As soon as she saw me she smiled big and waved.  I then wondered if she had been sitting on this wall waiting for me to pass in front of her house since that day I first saw her in the brown Chevy van.  She has recognized me and I watch her then nudge her friend Jeanette, and without hesitation they both came running right at me.  From the moment I recognized her I had stood there completely frozen in fear, clenching on to the handlebars of my bike.  Jeanette first snatching my bike out of my grip, and the next thing I know I am on my back on the ground, and I can’t breathe.

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When time stood still I looked up at the clouds in the sky above me and I wondered if I might be dying, but this was the result of a perfectly placed, and well timed punch to my stomach. I was lying on top a large pile of fresh cut grass in the alley clawing at my belly and trying to get air into my lungs.  Now both girls are taking turns picking up my bike and throwing it on top of my body, but I never felt any pain.  The fear and adrenaline were taking over all of my senses and I can finally breathe again.  The girls each grabbed a hold of one of my legs and they pulled me further into the alley where they finished beating me up by landing kicks to my ribs, back and stomach.  When they were satisfied they both towered over me blocking the sun and the clouds and they are cussing at me and spitting in my hair and on my face.  I was frozen, and I took all of it never showing either of them any of my fear or emotion.  I never cried, and I had just completely shut down.  I retreated so far inside of myself that I had been watching all of this happen to someone else.

The tall blonde’s friend, Jeanette had been cussing at me in Spanish, and I remember the last thing she said to me was: “Pinche Puta!  Your’e not even a REAL woman!  THIS is what a REAL woman looks like,” and Jeanette lifts up her shirt and she flashes and wiggles her fat tan breasts at me.  I was shocked, and confused.  That was when the tall blonde finished me off by kicking a large pile of dirt into my face and mouth.  Both girls finally leave and as they are walking away from the alley I can hear them laughing, and I feel so relieved when I can no longer see them.

I know Jeanette’s family and I know both girls are my brother’s age; both girls are in high school and I had just turned 10.  I never told a soul about this until now.  I laid in the alley for what felt like an hour, just trying to find the strength to pick myself up, pick up my bike and walk back home.  During that time I could still hear those girls still taunting me from the road.  I think they were waiting for me to come out of the alley.  I finally stand, pick up my bike, and now I can feel my body aching everywhere I was hit.  I finally cry when I realize that all of this is my Dad’s fault.  I walk back home the same way I came to avoid passing the girls again.  When I make it home I tell Mom a lie and say I was almost hit by a car while I was riding my bike home, and I fell from the street into the canal.  She believed me but she was still pissed about my flat bike tires.

A few months later I was in the front seat of the brown Chevy van with Dad when I saw the tall blonde again.  Dad didn’t notice her this time and he was distracted by singing along to the radio.  While we are stopped at a light she tries to get my attention by smiling and waving at me and when I look up she gives me the finger and laughs.  So I smiled and waved back at her.

Our little secret

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I watch the blood drain out of her face from my seat in her shopping cart.  Her mouth moving silently and her eyes now racing around the store.  A man dressed in all black had emerged from behind my Mom and grabbed her firmly by the arm.  The man steps in close and whispers something in her ear.  When the words fell onto Mom’s ear they melted her posture; her shoulders sinking first, quickly followed with her bowed head.  Tears now streaming down her cheeks Mom tries to speak but the only sounds escaping were quick gasps for air, like she were a fish out of water.  The man begins to lead us to the back of the store.  Mom follows him down a dark hallway, and lastly through a set of double push doors that were pale green and covered in filth.  We reach an office door with a single chair placed in front of it.  Mom stops pushing the cart and she gently lifts me out of my seat and then she collects her purse.  The man now commanding us both with his voice and an index finger: “HERE!  SIT!  WAIT!”  Mom reacts quickly by taking a seat and immediately placing me on her lap.  The man in black disappears pushing the cart through the filthy pale green doors.  When we could no longer hear his footsteps Mom drops her purse on the floor and kicks it underneath the chair we are seating on.

The fluorescent light above us is buzzing loudly.  A silly smile stretched across my mouth when I thought about that bug catcher on Grandma’s back porch.  Last summer I watched my brother chase the neighbor girls around with the monster sized moth we both found.  I am just so bored and we have been waiting here a really long time now.  Mom has not stopped mumbling something to herself; over and over, and she has been tapping her foot so hard and fast that it’s blurred my vision.  I begin to study the dust bunnies that are camouflaged but roaming across the tiles of the gray floor.  In my blurred vision some of them appear to be crawling and coming to life.

Just then the loud and fast footsteps of two people startle us and Mom is finally sitting still.   When the pale green doors opened dusty refrigerated air was forced down into our lungs.  The two men enter the room and they are now standing in front of us.  I feel frightened and small.  They are speaking in large words that I don’t completely understand, but I do know they are angry.  When they bent their bodies to crouch down over us both it was then that I noticed the man in black had a giant gold and silver button on his shirt.  They ask Mom a question that she refuses to answer, and then they ask her again while they reach for her purse.  Mom is finally now able to let some words slip through her sobbing and watches the men reaching inside of her purse.  I hear my Mom say to them in her most gentle voice: “I am sorry.  Please forgive me.  We don’t have any food, and my kids are hungry!  I did what I had to do!”  That was when I watched the men begin to remove store packaged foods from Mom’s purse that she had not yet paid for.  They ask Mom some more questions that only make her cry harder and I hear some words that I recognize but they are so mean, and I am confused.  They tell my Mom to “LEAVE”  and “Never come back!”

When we are finally back inside the car all I can do is stare helplessly at my sobbing Mother.  Her head resting on her folded arms that are stretched across the steering wheel of her car.  Mom finally takes a couple of deep breaths before she can look at me.  She begins wiping tears from under both of her eyes and she managed to force a fake smile.  She speaks to me softly when she asks “Honey?  Do you think we keep this between us?  It will be our little secret?”  I knew what she was asking me and now I can’t speak.  Emotion was strangling me while I fought back my own tears.  I lunged across the seat locking my arms around her neck and I hugged my Mom as tightly as I could, and I always kept that promise to her.

 

The last day of Sunday school

Today is the last day of vacation bible school and Mom had dressed sister and I up in our Easter best.  Our white hats and shoes matched our pastel blue with white laced trim dresses that both tied neatly in the back in a bow.  I fidget the entire bus ride with my white lace gloves.  Trying carefully to squish pudgy fleshy fingers down the narrow passages of the delicate lace. I couldn’t get the gloves on neatly and it bothered me all day long.  I had been so distracted with my lace gloves that I never heard what the pastor said that excited everyone.  I follow my sister to a line where they were serving snow cones!  Sister was so excited and we waited patiently at the very end of the line.  It was finally our turn, and the pastor hands us each a paper cup filled with sugary red ice.  I am still focused and bothered with the lace bunny ears that now formed over the tips of my fingers.  I watch as baby sister shoves her face into her paper cone.  She looks up at me smiling and I watch the red sticky goodness pool into each corner of her mouth.  We both giggle.  I love to see her this happy and I will lie and tell Mom that the red stains on the front of her dress were not at all her fault.  I lead her to the shade of an Olive tree where we sit away from the others while we enjoyed our cool treats.

Moments later I lead sister to the north side of the church property where I could help her wash up her hands and face.  That was when I noticed that the bus was driving down the dirt road away from the property.  I tried so hard to run after them screaming and waving my arms in the air, but it was already too late.  Everyone was gone.  They had left us.  We were alone!  Sister became so frightened that she panicked curled up into a ball and began sucking on her thumb.  I knew that I had to be brave enough for both of us, and I had to find a way to get us home.  I had also been left before.  This feeling wasn’t new, not for me.  I have forgotten all about my lace gloves now.

I have my baby sister hold on to the bow on the back of my dress and I tell her to just keep walking and to keep looking down at your feet.  I know she’s frightened because she can’t stop sobbing, but I somehow remain calm and brave enough for both of us.  I walk us carefully down the dirt road and we slowly made our way to the main highway.  The fast and cold air that pushes off of the vehicles passing us snatched the breathe right out of my lungs.  There was no sidewalk which meant there was no room for 2 small children to be passing as pedestrians.  The police officer that eventually stopped traffic to pick us up told me we had walked over 3 miles.  The church was over 6 miles from our home, and I only know that from having mapped it in my adult life.

I think about this event more now than ever because I realize this shaped and possibly defined who I am.  I was so brave, fearless and so sure of myself at the age of 5.

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The Cheese

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Mr. Ricard was my Kindergarten teacher at Las Lomas Elementary. His smile was big and warm, and stretched out it fits perfectly inside of his neatly groomed facial hair. He had a perfectly round shaped,  and shiny bald head and he always wore corduroy pants with plaid flannel button down shirts.  I loved him immediately.  He felt familiar, and safe, just like my worn out Paddington bear. I just couldn’t stand the way he would sometimes look at me with so much pity and concern. It always made me feel guilty, or even ashamed that I couldn’t ever just make him feel happy. I know he was only trying to help me cope with being bullied at school but I also wondered if the extra attention he’s giving me is only making things worse.

I can remember when all of the name calling and the bullying started, but even when i tried to put myself in their shoes I could never understand any of it. How can you make fun of somebody for something they have no control over? And, Why? I was only five years old when I learned from these bullies that my family was poor.  It made me so lonely, afraid and confused.  How could children be so cruel?

I dreaded everything about school, but I always feared recess the most.  When lunch was over I would push my way to the front of the gate so that I could be the first kid out on that playground. As soon as the gate swung open I ran as fast I could  towards a large flesh-colored round plastic structure with small holes cut out that all of the kids had nicknamed The Cheese. They named it for its shape, and I have to agree.  It sort of resembles one of those big hunks of swiss from The Tom & Jerry show.  If I ran fast enough after that gate opened I could make it to The Cheese before anyone would see me.  On those days I always felt the most happy while at school. I thought being ignored and left alone was always better than being bullied.  I feel like i could spend an eternity here. On the bad days I would lay here on this cold wet sand, in the center of The Cheese,  curled up in the ball with my eyes closed shut.   On those days Mr. Ricard would have to come find me.  The silence of The Cheese muffled the laughter of playing children.  This cold wet sand felt like home, and it soothed me.  I missed my Mom.

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I wished you would die

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Everything was perfect before you were born.  Why did they think they needed you?  Wasn’t I enough for them?  I am so afraid.  I can see the way they hold you and the way their faces look at you, together.  I know they feel complete and more in love now that they have a child made from both of them.  Dad has never looked at me the way he looks at you.  Mom has always loved me more but you take away so much of her attention.  I wish sometimes that you would just die or that you were never born.  I hate feeling left alone, and I hate feeling responsible for you!  What is so great about you anyway?  I sit here on our porch watching you in your playpen.  You look like a helpless and pink piggy with a diaper.  Why do I have to watch you?  This feels like punishment!

Here.  Why don’t you eat this?!  “It’s chocolate” I say out loud.  “Uh Oh!  What is happening?  What are you doing?  What have I done?

Come on I was only kidding!  Please just swallow it!”

She’s turning red.  I don’t think she’s breathing!

I hit her on her back as hard as I can over, and over!  For once I feel relief when I hear your screams and cries.

I still hate you, and I still wish you would die!

 

Your secret will forever be safe with me ❤

 

*Note: I worte this in response to a blog post that I could not comment on (??)  Anywho, here is the link and the reason I wrote this:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/reverse-shot/