Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash

In a world that values things more than people, it’s easy to forget what’s important and what isn’t. That can vary from day to day or even moment to moment.

One day, you have a fender bender. No one is hurt, but you’re upset that you didn’t see the car and backed into it in the parking lot. You were distracted with the kids screaming in the back seat or your day at work wasn’t that great because your boss let you know your performance could be better.

It could be a million little things that are bothering you and then BAM! You bump into the car you didn’t see parked there.

You exchange your information with the other driver, apologize profusely, and remind yourself to make sure you paid your insurance premium for the month.

You’re thankful the other driver was kind and didn’t throw a fit.

You worry that your insurance rates will go up again as you drive home, forcing yourself to pay attention.

You’re upset that you were so distracted that you didn’t see the car parked when you back up and you should have.

You take a deep breathe and calm yourself down. You debate whether or not you’ll report the claim to your insurance carrier or maybe bite the bullet and pay for it out of your own pocket. You say another prayer that it won’t be much because you’re about to be overdrawn in your checking account if your rent check clears before your payroll check get deposited.

All of these things are on your mind until you turn the corner onto the street you live and you see smoke.

Lots of smoke.

Pouring up into the sky…near your home.

You see the fire engines as you approach your home but you can’t tell exactly what is happening and you say your third prayer in the last hour that the smoke is from a house way down the street from you.

The last thing on your mind now is the fender bender.

All you can think about is your home being on fire.

Then you realize that if it is, right now all you care about is your family and pets.

You accelerate, with all thoughts of being a more careful driver evaporating immediately.

As you get closer, you can see that it’s not your house, but a neighbors home 6 houses down.

You heave a sigh of relief, suddenly grateful that you have not lost your home and family and pull into the driveway.

You stand there and a new emotions step in and it is one of compassion, worry, and care for your neighbors.

You’re happy you are safe and you are worried that your neighbors are not.

And that, that right there, is your greatest asset.

You thought I was going to say you are your greatest asset, didn’t you?

Well, you’re not wrong but you’re also not right.

Your greatest asset is more than something you can put in a Hallmark card or quickly write as in inspirational quote for Facebook.

Your greatest asset is what you do with you. It’s:

Your empathy

Your ability to understand others

Your level of ethics

Your integrity

Your moral compass

Your ability to be kind

To be decent

Sometimes it feels as if you have to be mean and unfeeling to get through life. There are days when the worries and stress of the world, or just the day, weigh on you relentlessly.

Sometimes we feel weak if we aren’t constantly being rude or unkind. We don’t understand why life has become such a burden.

We feel justified in snapping at the person who is moving slower than molasses in the store aisle and you can’t get past them.

What do they expect if they are slow AND blocking the aisle? What? They think they’re the only person on the planet?

There are always plenty of reasons to be mean and unkind, but there are just as many to be kind and decent.

Your biggest asset is when your heart reaches out to resolve a problem. When you let yourself be kind even though the world has given you plenty of reasons to be ornery and mean.

It is your heart and soul that is your biggest asset and it is often not your first reaction when you’re about to take the bait.

It’s important to give yourself a second or two or three to decide how you want react to a situation. Your emotions and actions are always your choice and one else’s.

And that’s what puts you high on the food chain.

Your ability to see, to decide and then to act.

No one is perfect, but don’t fall prey to those that tell you to be harsh in order to get ahead. Pay no attention to anyone who tells you that you don’t matter or you don’t make a difference.

Kindness can never be overrated and if you find yourself tempted to lash out, don’t beat yourself up if you do.

The beautiful thing about time is there is another moment right around the corner.

You are important. You influence the people around you and you make a difference in their lives.

Life is hard enough without being too hard on ourselves.

Your biggest asset is what you do with you.

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Being an Invisible Person

Posted: July 14, 2019 in Writing
Tags: ,

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Image by https://pixabay.com/users/anwarramadhan

Photo by Graham Ruttan on Unsplash
Image by pixabay.com

I didn’t expect for someone to be standing there as I climbed over my backyard fence. We had moved in a few months before but most of the houses in the new development were vacant. The Harris’ lived 3 doors down and I had met Judy. She and I were the same age and getting ready to start the 3rd grade. Pam lived up the street at the top of the hill. Pam, Judy and I were friends by default. I liked them well enough, but Pam could be bossy and Judy liked to have tea parties in her bedroom with her toy troll dolls and talk baby talk to them. I loathe baby talk, so my visits to her house lasted until she started to pull that shit.

Her dad was some type of an engineer and her mom was an anomaly; she worked full time as a nurse. This caused the housewives on our block to cluck and sneer with disapproval behind her back that she chose — or maybe she had to — work outside her home and not dedicate her entire heart and soul to her family. I don’t know why she worked, but I liked the fact that often times, Judy and I had her house to ourselves for an hour after getting home from school. We mostly spent it in front of the TV watching “Dark Shadows” and gorging on as many cookies as we thought we could get away with. We thought that her mom wouldn’t notice as if she couldn’t count. Once we heard her car pull into the garage, we quickly turned off the TV, no matter what was happening with Barnabas, and brush the cookie crumbs off the couch and our mouths. We’d grab a book — usually the latest Nancy Drew, and pretend to read when she came through the garage door and walked into the kitchen.

I first met Kathy a year after Judy’s family moved in and we were best friends even though she knocked out her front tooth in my garage when we were going round and round with our skates in a hula hoop.

“Hello. Who are you? My name is Kathy,” I heard as I hoisted myself up the fence and straddled the middle in preparation of jumping down. I was planning on playing in the yard without the prying eyes of my older brother who had been left to babysit me while my Mom ran to the store. Eric thought this made him the boss of me. It didn’t but rather than have another argument about it, I decided to go play in what I considered my own personal backyard next door.

Now someone else was here and I didn’t know why. I looked at her for a moment and suddenly felt as if I had done something wrong. I knew it wasn’t really my backyard, but until someone bought the house and moved in, I figured it was free for the taking. There wasn’t anything special about it; there was minimal landscaping for show, a cement patio without any shade and a lonely palm tree in the corner. It was that no one else used it and it was a space where I could pretend I owned. I envisioned 10 dogs running around in the yard while I sat under a fabulous patio umbrella, smoked cigarettes and read. I saw myself as having 2 cars in the garage, a refrigerator full of my favorite snacks and no stupid brothers running around, breaking my toys and spying on me. To me, that backyard was as close to heaven in my mind that I could imagine and it belonged to no one but me.

“I’m Sam. What are you doing here?” I asked as I jumped down. I almost landed on her. She stepped back but continued to smile. She was about my height but thinner. Her hair was so blond it was yellow. She had enormous blue eyes with pale lashes. Her nose was large and her skin was so white it was almost translucent.

She was wearing a starched white blouse that was tucked into her pants. Her socks had lace on them and she was wearing white saddle shoes that didn’t have a mark on them. Her hair had a ribbon in it which matched her shirt.

“Sam? Really? What kind of name is that..”

“It’s short for Samantha,” I said and sighed. It always irritates me when I had to explain.

“I live here now,” she said. She began blinking rapidly and her eyes darted for a moment. She smiled nervously and looked down at the dirt.

“What do you mean you live here now?” I asked. I quickly looked into the living room window. “I don’t see any furniture.”

Her smile got wider. “Oh, that’s because we haven’t actually moved in yet. The movers come on Saturday. We’re staying at a motel until then.”

“I see,” I said as I wiped my hands on my jeans. I wasn’t wearing any shoes and my feet were dirty. I tried to smooth my hair down but it was pointless. It was curly and stuck out everywhere. My Mom gave up trying to comb it so she cut it short and hoped it would somehow stay put.

“Do you live next door?” she asked.

“We moved here a long time ago. I know everyone in the neighborhood,” I said as if that would mean something.

“Kathy? Where are you?” I heard a man’s voice call out. Kathy turned and I saw a man approaching us.

“Hi Dad. This is Sam. She lives next door,” she said. He walked over and stuck his hand out. I shook it and hoped it was clean.

“Nice to meet you…did you say Sam?” he asked. He was tall and younger than my parents. His hair was cut short and his teeth were so straight that I wasn’t sure if they were real or not and tried not to stare.

“Yes, my name is Sam, short for Samantha.Thanks, nice to meet you too,” I said and pulled my hand away. I didn’t roll my eyes at him when I explained my name. He already looked tightly wound up.

“How did you get in the yard? I didn’t see you go through the gate,” he asked and looked directly at me.

This was the second time in 2 minutes that I felt as if I had done something wrong. “I climbed over the fence like I always do,” I said.

“Oh well, please be sure not to do that anymore. This is our house and you should come to the front door from now on.” He turned and looked down at Kathy and put his arm around her shoulders. He had spoken and I had been dismissed. “It’s time to go,” he said and turned her around. “It’s nice to have met you Sam,” he said as they walked away. Kathy turned around, smiled and waved.

I waved and walked through the gate. I left it open. I figured if he had such a bug up his ass about it, he could close it himself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

It was such a beautiful Saturday morning so I jumped on my bike and pedaled as fast as I could to Kathy’s house. I had so many things to tell her about my new crush in Junior High that I couldn’t wait. We weren’t in the same classes anymore and had different schedules. Since she wasn’t allowed to use the phone during the week, the only time we had to talk was on the weekend. Sometimes we would catch each other in the cafeteria but she had new friends I didn’t like.

One of her new friends was a girl named Helen. They sat next to each other in English class and often did their homework together. The previous year, Kathy’s parents bought a bigger house 1/2 mile away. It was still in the same neighborhood, but in a new area of nicer and bigger homes. We used to play together every day after school until we were called in for dinner, but now I only saw her on the weekends and that was only if her parents let her out of the house.

They were strict, said grace before every meal. We didn’t pray in my house and often had food fights at the dinner table. My dad was the biggest instigator of said fights. He’d usually start them when you asked him to pass the bread. Instead of handing you the plate, he’d toss a piece of bread and off we would go. Our family time was always filled with laughter and jokes; Kathy’s family time consisted of being quiet, saying grace and not interrupting the adults when they spoke. You had to ask permission to speak, so I rarely ate with them. They made me nervous and I never knew how to behave.

I once tried to tell a joke and was met with stern looks. I made the mistake the first time I had dinner with her family of tossing a piece of bread at Kathy when she asked me to pass it. She laughed and them immediately turned red.

But I learned to live with it and told myself to be nice and calm as I pedaled over to Kathy’s house and patiently waited after ringing the doorbell.

Kathy’s mom opened the door. I had parked my bike exactly where they had told me. Everything in their house was always in the exact right place. It was spotless and I often felt that if I moved wrong, I would knock something over and they would banish me forever.

“Good morning Samantha,” she said and just stood there. She always did this. I always had to tell her I was there to see Kathy even though it was obvious. She refused to call me by the name I preferred. I always wanted her to and hoped she’d choke on it, but she was an adult and whatever they said or wanted was the way it was going to be.

“Hello Mrs. Monroe. How are you?” I asked and waited. This ritual was usually short.

“I’m well. Are you here to see Kathy?” she asked.

I wanted to tell her I wasn’t. I wanted to say that I was there to visit with her even though I knew she didn’t like me and never had.

“Yes I am,” I said and continued to stand there and wait.

She looked me up and down. I automatically reached up and flattened down my hair.

“She’s upstairs in her bedroom,” she said and opened the door wider. I walked through it and started to go up the stairs.

“Thank you Mrs. Monroe,” I said.

I heard her close the door. “Kathy has a lot to do tonight, so please be back here by 4:00,’ she said as she walked into the kitchen.

I rolled my eyes but made sure she couldn’t see it. “No problem,” I said as I sprinted up the stairs and into Kathy’s room.

She was sitting at her desk. She jumped up and hugged me. I closed the door and flopped down on her bed. I wanted to leave as soon as we could. I felt like I was in jail.

“Are you ready to go?” I asked.

She turned around and smiled. “Yep. Let me just grab my purse. You want to grab some food for our bike ride? We could ride up the trail and there’s a bunch of nice spots where we could stop. Angie lives somewhere near the lake. Maybe we could go over to her house…”

“No, I don’t like Angie. I know she’s your friend but I don’t think she likes me,” I said.

“Oh, that’s not true! She does like you,” Kathy said. Kathy only saw the goodness in people. She didn’t like it when I said something unkind or mean. She would always tell me something positive. It annoyed me at times but I had grown used to it. That was just the way she was.

Her door opened and her father was standing there. They never knocked. They just walked in. Kathy never did anything wrong and I wondered if they were like that when I wasn’t around.

He stood there and I saw he was holding a book in his hand. He had a serious look on his face. I looked down at the book. It was “Soul on Ice” and right then I knew I was in trouble.

“Where did you get this book Kathy?” he asked as he held the book in front of him. Kathy looked at it and then immediately looked at me. She blushed when she realized that she had just answered his question without saying anything. She looked back at him and then down at her lap.

“Well? I asked you a question young lady,” he said.

“I gave it to her,” I said. She couldn’t lie to her father and didn’t want to get me into trouble. It was easier for her if I just told the truth.

He looked at me and slowly shook his head. “Did you…read this book?” he asked.

I nodded my head. I felt my face getting red. I knew what parts he was talking about. I looked down at my shoes. At 13 years old, much of the book I did not understand but the sex scenes were vivid enough.

“Do your parents know you read this book?”

“I have no idea. It was given to me. I read it. I gave it to Kathy to read. It’s just a book and a popular one,” I said. I did not like anyone talking to me as if they were my parents.

“Well I may have to talk to them about. I’m sure they would not approve. I think you are both a bit too young for this type of…book. There are parts that are fine. I stapled the pages that you are not to read Kathy, but you can read the rest of it,” he said and handed her the book. She took it and nodded and placed it on her desk.

He turned and looked at me. “But the next time you want Kathy to read something you find so…interesting, please give it to me first,” he said and walked out. He left the door open. I got up and closed it.

I looked down at Kathy. She was still red and was wringing her hands slightly. “Sorry I got you in trouble,” I said and took the book. I started to take the staples out of it. Kathy reached over and took the book from me.

“You can’t do that! He said I couldn’t read those parts!”

“So what? It’s my book and he had no right to ruin it. If I want the staples out of my book, I’m taking them out!” I said. I snatched the book back and began to pull out the staples and sneered every time they tore a page.

“You can see the pages that had them and if you don’t want to read them, then don’t,” I said and handed her back the book.

She shook her head. “No, that’s OK. I’ll read something else,” she said and got up and picked up her purse.

I took the book with us. We found a place to eat. I read the parts he told her not to read. Technically, she didn’t read them. I just happened to be reading out loud while Kathy was sitting there.

I never saw her blush so much for so long. It was worth it. From then on, anything I wanted her to read, I kept in my locker at school.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Photo by Liana De Laurent De Laurent on Unsplash

I could hear her guitar as I came out of my last class for the day. Her last class for the day ended an hour before mine. She had taken up the guitar and would use that hour while she waited for me to practice. We took the same bus home and that gave us time to catch-up on the day. It was my most favorite time of day except my English class because Ted was in it. I had had a crush on him since 6th grade and 6 years later, he still didn’t know I existed.

I found her sitting on the stairs near the girl’s gym. She was in her own world as she sat and strummed her guitar. Her hair was almost to her waist. She was wearing a long dress and boots with a headband and flowers pinned into it. The sun was hitting her back and her hair looked like corn silk. I tried to flatten my hair down and forgot for a moment that it was also long. I wore it pulled back most of the time and I could feel the long ponytail hit my waist as I jogged towards her.

She was practicing “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd. It had been the number one song on the charts for a few weeks. I wasn’t sure if I liked them or not. No one would ever replace The Beatles for me. I walked up and stood in front of her and waited for her to stop.

She looked up and continued to strum her guitar. She was getting better and better. She taught herself much of what she played. She had taken lessons but she had a talent for it. I tried to learn but had no patience. I wanted to pick it up, play it perfectly and refused to practice.

“You ready? I want to have a smoke before the bus comes,” I said. She stood up and walked with me to the parking lot. That was where some of us went to in order to sneak a cigarette.

As we were walking, I heard someone crying. I looked around. “Did you hear that?” I asked Kathy and stopped. She listened and then we heard it again. We looked around and followed the sound. It was subtle but someone was sobbing.

We saw a girl standing behind the partition in front of the girl’s gym. I had never seen her before. She had her face pressed against it with her hands covering her face. Her body was shaking as she sobbed and tried to be quiet. We looked at each other and walked over to her. Kathy didn’t know who she was either.

“You OK?” I asked. She jumped back and a slight scream left her mouth. She quickly put her hands over her mouth and nodded her head. She was a mess. Her face was soaked from her tears and they had dripped onto her blouse. Her nose was running.

She was a large girl with hair worse than mine. Hers stood straight up as if she had stuck her finger in a light socket. Everything about her was wrong. She was wearing a pleated skirt that was plaid with a large sweater and knee high socks. She looked as if she had just been transported from the 50’s. I looked to see if there was a poodle on her skirt. She had the thickest glasses I had ever seen and when she looked back and forth at us, only one of her eyes moved. Her left eye stared straight ahead.

Kathy stepped forward and put her hand on her arm. “What’s your name?”

She wiped her nose on her sleeve and tried to breathe. “Dawn,” she said and attempted to smile. All you could see was a mouthful of braces and she was wearing a headgear.

“I’m Kathy and this is Sam. Why are you crying?”

Dawn looked around and then stared at her shoes. She shrugged her shoulders.

I already had a good idea of what happened. She was near the girl’s gym when the cheerleaders came out. I hated those girls even though we had all been friends since 3rd grade. Something happened to some of them during the summer between Junior High School and starting our sophomore year. They had grown-up suddenly and were pretty and thin and popular. Suddenly I wasn’t allowed to have lunch with them or talk to them. My greetings went unanswered or even laughed at as they flipped their hair and wiggled their butts as they walked away.

I didn’t want to hear what they had done. Those girls had turned into demon spawn. Dawn was a perfect target. I grabbed her hand and started walking. “Come with us and don’t worry about it,” I said as I headed towards the parking lot and began to pull my cigarettes out of my purse.

I found a spot to sit where I wouldn’t be seen and could hear if anyone was approaching. I had Dawn sit down between us and lit up. Her face was beginning to dry. She looked back and forth between us. Kathy picked-up her guitar and started strumming. I leaned back, inhaled deeply and watched the smoke rise in the air.

“What happened to your eye?” I asked Dawn.

She looked at me and I saw a horrible look as it passed over her face. I wasn’t trying to be mean or rude but it was like a huge elephant sitting in the middle of a living room and no one was saying anything.

“Some girls picked on me and bullied me for a long time where I used to live,” she said. Her hand went to her eye and she rubbed it. “We just moved here. My dad lost his job, so they haven’t had any money to get me a better eye.”

“A better eye? What does that mean?” I asked.

“This is a glass eye,” she said and pointed to it. “One day, those girls held me down and one of them stuck a needle into it. They laughed. They thought it was funny.”

Kathy had stopped playing her guitar when Dawn started talking. I looked at her. Tears were in her eyes and her hand went to her mouth. I looked at Dawn as she looked out into the parking lot.

There wasn’t anything left to say.

I watched the side of Dawn’s face as she gazed at the cars coming and going. Her jaw was tight and her bottom lip quivered. I put my hand over hers and squeezed it.

We were graduating in a couple of months. Kathy was going off the college. She wanted to be a teacher. I had no plans. I didn’t want to go to school for a while. I wanted to write and be someone. Even then I knew that High School would have a memory that would never die. I sat there and felt the story Dawn had told go into my bones. I knew that it would stay there forever. I would never forget it. I saw what they did to her in my mind and I knew that memory would affect me for the rest of my life.

I was an adult and I didn’t want to be one. I wanted to sit in parking lots and smoke cigarettes and not have to think about what some people did to other people.

I saw our bus pull up. “What bus do you take?” I asked Dawn.

“I don’t. My mom will pick me up in a few. I’m OK now. Thanks,” she said.

I held out my hand and helped her up.

“Kathy and I meet for lunch under the tree in the courtyard everyday at noon. Be there or be square,” I said.

Dawn smiled and blushed. I chuckled that I now had two friends that randomly looked like beets.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Image by https://pixabay.com

“Would you like some more punch?” Mrs. Monroe asked me. She was smiling and her eyes were still judgmental. I concluded that she was born that way, had lived that way and would die that way. No matter how old I got, the lack of respect in her eyes when she looked at me would always make me feel inferior.

“No thanks. I’m good,” I said. She nodded her head and walked away. I took a deep breath and turned and watched Kathy continue to open her presents and chat with the other women. She was getting married in a few weeks. She had not forgotten to invite me to her shower even though we had not seen each other for 4 years. She graduated with her degree. I was proud of her for doing what she wanted. Being a teacher was met by approval from her parents and her entire family.

She was doing what she wanted and would soon be married.

“Are you seeing anyone?” I heard someone ask. I looked around and saw it was Debbie who had asked me the question. She was Kathy’s younger sister.

I felt my hackles go up. Once again I was about to be subjected to the third degree by women who I didn’t know but yet wanted to know all about my love life. I didn’t like Debbie and she didn’t like me. I remembered her as sneaky and quite often running to her parents to tell them something I had said.

“Yes, but no one you know,” I said. I decided it was easier to lie than explain why I wasn’t dating someone.

“Oh, please, tell us all about him!” she said and moved her chair closer. “Kathy said you weren’t seeing anyone. Is this someone new?”

I wanted to scratch her eyes out. She knew damn well I wasn’t seeing anyone but now was talking loud enough for everyone to hear. A few of Kathy’s relatives stopped talking and began to listen.

Debbie had a smug look on her face. I wondered for the millionth time if Kathy wasn’t adopted.

“What makes you think it’s a man?” I asked and batted my eyelashes.

Debbie looked confused for a moment and then she blushed. I could see the top of her head turn red where she had pulled back her hair. She put her hand to her mouth and gasped. A few of the women looked at each other.

Mrs. Monroe stood up quickly. “Would anyone like some cake?” she said and told everyone to go into the kitchen. She glared at me and told Debbie to come help her.

I chuckled as I watched everyone leave the living room. Once they were gone, I leaned back against my chair and looked at Kathy. She was blushing and shaking her head.

“What?” I asked and started to laugh.

“I can’t believe you said that! You would think that after all these years, I would get used to you, but I haven’t,” she said and laughed.

I knew our friendship was ending. She vowed that it wouldn’t, but she was getting married and moving away. I had met her fiancé Michael and I didn’t like him. He was rude and abrasive. Kathy never stood up to anyone in her life. I had not been around for the last 4 years to stick up for her and speak for her when she couldn’t. I never told her I didn’t like Michael. She wasn’t going to teach. After all she had worked for, Michael wanted her to stay home. He wanted a family right away.

“You’re going to miss me when I’m gone,” I said and held her hand in mine. She still looked 8 years old to me even with the shorter hair and breasts. I looked down at her hand and back at her.

“What are you talking about? You’re not going anywhere,” she said.

I wasn’t going anywhere but Kathy was. She didn’t understand how everything had changed over the last couple of years. We had grown up and gone our own way. She was on her way to start a new life and I was stuck in mine. I didn’t have much of a future but she did.

I no longer fit into her life.

“No, of course not. I’ll always be around,” I said. I stood up. “I have to go but I’ll see you at the wedding, OK?”

She hugged me and then stood back, held my hands and smiled. “Yep. I’ll see you at the wedding! I can hardly wait!”

She had a smile that lit up the room and I was the only one in her life that knew that.


Photo by Daniel Clay on Unsplash

I think it was when I saw you had gone to great lengths to Photoshop in your thigh gaps. I know damn well you don’t have thigh gap any more than I do. I know that you, like I, hate to wear anything that doesn’t cover our thighs because by the end of the day, we’ve got a rash from our thighs constantly rubbing against each other when we walk.

When I saw that you gave yourself perfect thighs (including NO cellulite) I stopped being amused and started to get angry. Not really angry but just enough to feel myself want to reach through the monitor and bitch slap the shit out of you.

What the fuck are you doing?

You have never had a thigh gap and never will. Well you didn’t until the invention of Photoshop, which apparently you have mastered, though you have told me on too many occasions for me to count that you barely know how to use Google.

Apparently that was a lie and that’s why I’m pissed off. I guess the desire to have perfect thighs can cause a woman to get out of her comfort zone and figure out an app to make herself look better.

You and I go way back. We’re the same age. I know how confident you were about yourself and your life. I know what it’s like to be insecure and afraid. When did that happen to you? There’s no sin in admitting to a trusted friend that you are scared or unhappy, but when you lie to me I know that the first lie was to yourself.

You constantly post on Facebook what a wonderful marriage you have and though I don’t disagree that the two of you have been married a long time, you have told him that the only way you’ll ever not be married to him is via death. Now I can’t speak for your husband, but if a man said that to me, I’d head for the hills and not look back. I see him flinch and quickly smile when you say that. You’re not seeing what I see.

I know that your husband is terrified of you. He’s afraid to say anything. I’m not saying that he wants to leave you, because he probably doesn’t because you coddle him. You are the first person to actually care for him. But I hate seeing the fear in his eyes whenever he wants to disagree with you. You’ve badgered him into silence and compliance. He’s too sweet and maybe too scared to say anything.

You and I are too old and have gone through too much for you to be so worried about what people think of you. I know that the last trip you went on and posted on Facebook was a huge disappointment. I know that you had a horrible time because you couldn’t get along with the group of people you were with. But you didn’t post that. You weren’t honest. You weren’t truthful and though I don’t expect anyone to air their dirty laundry on social media, you’re doing worse than that. You are lying to yourself and therefore everyone else.

If we have learned nothing else as women of a certain age, it’s that we may not have much and we may have been discriminated against everyday of our lives, we always fought for our integrity, our honesty, and our transparency. Because without integrity you’ve got nothing. You know that. We’ve had long discussions about it over the years. We know that the only way to be free, is to first be honest with ourselves and let the world see us as we are. We know that there’s no shame, only pride, in getting older and proudly wearing our lives on our face without apology.

We earned every damn wrinkle and gray hair.

We earned every scar and imperfection and we’re proud of them. We wear them like a badge of honor.

You were a bad ass.

When did you get scared? When did you decide that your appearance was more important than your mind? What happened that made you run and decide to put on a false personality for the world to see? What changed? What scared you? Was it looking in the mirror one day and seeing how your skin was now sagging? We’re all going through that. Hell, I hate seeing myself in the mirror. I put my make-up on as quickly as possible because though I think of myself as a much younger age, the mirror tells me differently. I fucking hate mirrors and can’t handle taking a selfie because there aren’t enough filters to make me see myself in the way that I think about myself. I know it’s part of life and I’d rather grow old than die young, but I don’t need to see wrinkles and my sagging neck. I’m not a believer in cosmetic surgery, but I admit I’d pay money to have the neck I had at 20.

Was it when you looked down and wondered where your tits went? That’s the point we all realize that gravity isn’t always our friend.

Was it when you couldn’t fit into your clothes anymore smack in the middle of menopause? I know that one too. I’ve always been able to lose weight whenever I wanted to, but the last 5 years changed all that. I woke-up one day with an additional 20 pounds. I swear the fat fairy came one night and plunked extra fat right on my stomach and hips and shrank my boobs. So not funny. It felt like it was overnight because one day, out of nowhere, my jeans didn’t fit anymore. I had to buy a bigger size (which took me months to do until I couldn’t stand the suffering of wearing too tight jeans all day and ended up with a yeast infection) and I almost started to cry in the fitting room. I didn’t because I didn’t want to admit I was bothered about it. I didn’t want to admit that after all the years of managing my weight and being fit, Mother Nature decided to play a cruel joke on me and gave me back all the weight I lost and kept off for years.

It was as if all of it no longer mattered, so why try?

Was it when you had to begin coloring your hair because the gray appearing faster than you could keep up with it? I know that one too. I now do my roots the very second I see the gray start to reappear. I should have purchased stock in L’Oreal for the amount of money I have spent on hair dye the last 30 years. It must have been something like that or something happened because I knew our friendship was on the rocks when you accused me of flirting with your husband. If you knew me at all you would know that is the last thing I would ever do. I wrote it off to the wine we were drinking and a slip of the tongue on your part. But I was wrong because you began to insist that I had done that. Later you confided that’s what you used to do as a younger woman. I knew that whatever you were running from, you were now projecting onto other people.

That made me sad and angry. That was the last time I saw you. But that didn’t stop me from seeing your posts on Facebook. It didn’t stop me from caring about you but from a distance because that was not something I was willing to have in my life. I didn’t want to step into something that not only wasn’t my creation, but was something that was only in your own mind.

What happened to you and where did you go? I’m not saying you need to show the world your cellulite and be proud of the muffin top we all have as older women, but I always thought you would be honest and proud of who you are because you should be. You’ve accomplished a lot in your long life. You have suffered great tragedy and come through it. I’ve always admired your disagreeable nature towards the world but now you’re toning yourself down, you’re dimming your light because of social media. You’re suddenly worried about what you look like and what people think of your looks and life.

Stop it. Log off. Stop posting. Stop caring about what the world thinks of you because darlin’, it will always disapprove of you. The world is not conducive to intelligent women, so stop trying to appease the Gods because it will never happen.

We’re older women.

We are valuable.

We are bad ass and we don’t listen to anyone who doesn’t see it.

Get back to being you because that is more than good enough and fuck anyone who doesn’t think so.


I recently turned 64 and that makes me a bad ass because I wasn’t always sure I’d make it this long. No, nothing as interesting as a disease or a horrible upbringing or even a bad life. No, I wasn’t sure I’d make it because I’ve dealt with too many losses and betrayals that I never saw them coming. Then again, if you see a betrayal coming, maybe then you’d have enough of a warning to stop it or at least get out of the way.

I consider myself a bad ass because I refuse to let the world change me. Every morning as I am just about to wake-up, the demons come. I call them demons because I really like that word and after having just binged watched the show “Lucifer” my affinity for demons is much higher.

You know the ones I mean. The ones that poke at you when you are your most vulnerable and whisper all your failures in your ear. Your failed marriages. Your inability to not only sustain a relationship, but the fact that you haven’t ever had a truly successful one. Sure, there were times when things were good with my husband, but they were few and far between and certainly not enough to keep me hoping.

Or how about the demon that reminds you every day that if you hadn’t been such a dumb ass, you never would have lost your house?

Then there’s the one that constantly reminds you of your debts that you’ll never be able to pay off because you’re a loser?

I think my favorite demon is the one that reminds me that I’m getting older and I’m still alone and will probably die alone at home and no one will discover my body for days.

I hear them but I don’t listen to them. I may not be able to stop the random thoughts that drift around in my mind as I wake-up in pain and with a headache most mornings, but that doesn’t mean I have to listen to them.

The only thing that shuts those fuckers up is motion. Demons don’t like action. They don’t like it when you start moving and pushing forward into the day.

Anyone that wakes up scared, worried, in pain, hurt, sad or in any way wanting to roll over and sleep for a week, but still gets up, is a bad ass.

Doesn’t matter how you got to where you are, you’re still here and still fighting.

Doesn’t matter the mistakes you made; if you are still getting through the day the best way that you can, you’re a bad ass.

Doesn’t matter what people think of you or the promotions you didn’t get or the muffled sobs you make at the gas pump — if you got up and gave it another shot and didn’t quit, you are a bad ass.

I turned 64 and I am so far from where I wanted to be at this age. I didn’t prepare for the disappointments that I faced, but I did learn that it’s not about what happens to you — it’s all about your attitude towards it.

Granted there are a few people that I do not think fondly of, but that’s OK. There’s no “Great Memo In The Sky” that dictates how anyone should feel. The problem is if I let it fester inside me and let it hamper my own joy and happiness. It’s not that I’m running around spreading glitter and rainbows, but I do work hard to have a positive attitude as best as I can each day. Those that still annoy me is because I haven’t quite made the step to let it go and that’s simply because there’s something else I need to learn about it. There’s some piece of the puzzle I haven’t taken responsibility for. There’s some unknown reason I hold onto my anger towards them.

Maybe I will figure it out and maybe I won’t, but the fact that we are still standing, still swinging at the plate and still hopeful and not a victim, makes us the biggest bad asses of all — we’ve had plenty of reasons to quit and we don’t.

Failure is not an option.

I quietly moved the hospital sheet away from his face and gently tucked his blanket around him. It wasn’t that he was aware that I was there. It was to give me something to do while I sat watched him die.

The life support had been pulled. He was wheeled into a private room with a window, a bed, and a metal folding chair. The chair was for me. I asked for a cot. One appeared within minutes. I wasn’t going to leave until he was gone.

He had been asleep for over 24 hours. It was just a matter of a day or two before he was gone. I sat night and day in the metal chair that I pulled up next to him and said nothing. There wasn’t anything left to say and yet there were a million things to say. I did not know what else to do except to sit and wait.

Once in a while a nurse would come in and check on me. Sometimes they brought me something to eat but mostly I would dash down to the cafeteria and grab a sandwich with a cup of coffee. I drank it black when they ran out of cream. I would stare at my watch when they were closed and counted the minutes until the cafeteria would be open again.

He had a brain injury he would never recover from. I had loved him since the day I was born. He was my brother, my protector, and my friend. Letting him go peacefully was the greatest gift I could give him and the I resented it. I resented that he had been hurt. I resented that he would never wake-up again and laugh and tickle me. I resented that I had to sit there by myself with nobody to talk to. I resented him dying and I resented that there wasn’t anything I could do about it.

For three days, I remembered everything I could about him. All our conversations, laughs, arguments, food fights, vacations and his relentless assurances that I was fine. I remember how angry he would make me and how horribly he would embarrass me when the grilled any boy picking me up for a date. It got so bad that I arranged to meet them down the street. He felt it was his duty and obligation to let them know that if anything happened to me, they would have to answer to him.

Those memories filled my heart and mind with tenderness and tears.

On the third day, knowing this was the day he would pass away, I had fallen asleep with my head on his bed. He had not moved for two days and the process was beginning. I slept lightly but exhaustion had taken its toll and I was in a deep sleep when I felt something brush my head. I thought I was dreaming and ignored it. I didn’t want to sleep but I also didn’t want to wake-up.

I felt it again. My head shot up. I felt a kink in my neck and rubbed it. I looked around the room. I wasn’t sure where I was for a moment. I looked down and him.

His eyes were open and he was staring at me.

I didn’t understand what was happening. The doctors had told us he was paralyzed, so who had touched my head?

“Hi,” I said. I had no idea what to say or what was happening.

He smiled. He tried to talk but no words came out. This was impossible. He was paralyzed from the neck down.

I leaned over and put my ear as close to his mouth. I held my breath.

“I love you,” he said and closed his eyes. I grabbed his hand and squeezed it as hard as I could. I stayed like that for an hour, still not believing what had happened.

“I’m sorry,” I finally said. “I’m sorry for all the times I was mean to you. I’m sorry I stole your toys and hid them and made you mad. I’m sorry this is happening and I’m sorry I can’t do anything about it.”

I felt him squeeze my hand. I started to cry. I thought that if I didn’t let go of his hand, he would live. It didn’t make sense but I was convinced of it. I held it tight all afternoon,

A nurse came in to check on us. She smiled and pulled my chair over to me as if she understood that I couldn’t let go and therefore couldn’t sit down.

I sat down and nodded her my thanks. She checked his vitals even though it was pointless. It was no longer a matter of days; it was a matter of moments.

She quietly left. The door closed and his eyes opened again. He looked around for a moment and saw me. I stood up again and smiled down at him.

“Don’t be sorry,” he whispered. I leaned over again and listened. “You’ve done nothing wrong,” he said. He closed his eyes and was gone.

I said nothing about it. I knew no one would believe me because it was physically and medically impossible for it to happen, but it did. I kept our secret.

He forgave me to lessen my burden. He did it for me and not for him. That was the greatest gift he could give me.

Weeks later, the pain was not less but I was learning to manage it. My family grieved but we tried to cope because there was nothing else to do. We carried on and pushed forward.

His last words were all about forgiveness and acceptance. Teaching me to forgive myself and acceptance of something that no one could change.

I honor him by forgiving myself when I am being my worst critic. I honor him by forgiving others when they have made a mistake because I know we all do the best we can with what we have. That includes me.

Years later as I was walking down a hospital corridor to visit a friend, a man came around the corner suddenly and bumped into me. He startled me because I had been walking with my head down, once again deep in my own thoughts of failure and anxiety about a mistake I had recently made.

I apologized as I stepped back and started to walk around him. felt his hand on my arm. I looked up and gasped. He had my brother’s eyes and smile. He could have been his twin except for his blonde hair. My brother had black hair.

“It’s OK. Everything is fine and he’s good,” he said and walked away.

I leaned against the wall to catch my breath. I had a million questions for that stranger, but knew to not question what had just happened and to accept it for what it was — something I can’t explain but believe nonetheless.

I once again felt my burden leave and love for myself return.

I smiled and continued to walk down the corridor with my head up and a light heart.