The Summer She Saved Me

March 14, 2019



The summer between 7th and 8th grade, my group of friends decided that they hated me. That group of girls made Lord of the Flies look like hopscotch.

I spent my entire 7th grade year living in terror, wondering when it was going to be my turn to be “out.” Because I knew it was coming, and coming it did. Summer.

You know what’s weird about bullying? People talk about it all the time. The endless weeks of ass-kicking at recess, the lies they tell their mothers about the bruises and black eyes, because the backlash from the truth terrifies more than any fist. The extended legs that trip them in the crowded, nasty hallway next to the choir room. That kind of bullying? It’s front page news. For good reason. But.

There’s bullying of a different flavor, and that kind of flavor is feminine. Boys duke it out in the field after school and shake hands over bloody noses. Girls destroy each other. They do it in a manner that is indicative of their gender. Death by Exclusion. Girls don’t beat your ass; girls decide you don’t exist. And then proceed accordingly.

One day, you walk to school with a sack lunch, hang your coat on a hook, walk over to the same group of girls you sat with yesterday, and they look right through you. Turn their backs like they never even saw you.

But you know they saw you. Of course they did.

The Summer of Shunning was fuck-all terrible. Especially because those hyenas forgot to ignore me. They’d call and say, “You know what we did today? Remember all of the pictures we took the last day of school? Well, today, we went through them and every picture you were in, we burned in Shannon’s backyard.”

It was a summer I’d love to forget.  I wanted the world to swallow me whole.

The world didn’t answer, that bastard.

Instead, the universe brought me an unexpected guest. My sister. The older sister who pushed me down the stairs and snarled and hissed and demanded that I leave her alone when I was a child.  That sister.

That sister somehow understood. Maybe because she has a history of shitting in her own nest but I like to think that she softened. That she knew I had no bearings.

That summer, she was working for Daddy-o (didn’t we both, sir!) and had been issued a company car, which was horrid and awesome at the same time. Horrid: Silver Oldsmobile. Long as an anaconda. Awesome: Daddy owns the damn gas station and has the magic gas card–free gas all summer long.

She deemed the vehicle “The Serpent,” because it was long and thin and had a lazy way of navigating turns. It didn’t so much turn as glide.

It made me laugh, that she called it “The Serpent.”

She even made up her own little ditty to the Beach Boys–we were “Serpin’ USA.” And I laughed so hard I’d thought I’d break and loved her then. I loved her.

We Serped around that summer, radio blasting, angry and taking on the world, Journey screaming from the radio.

We Serped and Serped, slithering around town.

It was the summer my sister saved me.

That’s what I want to remember.

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The Un-Birthday

February 24, 2019

 

You guys, January and February can suck it. Suck it, suck it, kiss my grits and supersuck it.

But first of all, thank you so much for the birthday wishes and kind words and making me laugh with your naughty memes. They made me smile and laugh when it’s been almost impossible to do so.

I did have to cancel (okay…postpone) my birthday this year, though. We didn’t celebrate much because frankly, none of us were feeling it.

Things Making Us Not Feel It:

-I am still really concussed and impaired, and I am so frustrated that sometimes I’m a furious, weepy mess. And sometimes my husband comes home to 7 different wives, which isn’t fun for him, especially when he’s been such a trooper. Even basic tasks like doing laundry or making lunch exhaust me and I have crushing headaches. My vision dicks around with me too, so I can’t really read or write and most of the time I’m in the dark basement like a bitchy Nosferatu.

-Sleep assholery. See above ^^^

-I still can’t drive anywhere, which makes me embarrassingly dependent on the drivers in my house and family friends.

-February has been colder than a Witch’s Tit. It’s the coldest February we’ve had in many years, and even though I can’t really leave the house except to walk the Mozz-man, it’s miserable out there.

-Another loss of a human close to our family last week. It was sudden, shocking and has again left us gasping for air. Miss D. is especially impacted by this one and it hurts to see your child hurt. She’s struggling to figure out how to comfort people she loves, and that’s tough water to navigate for anyone, let alone a seventeen year-old. I guess the only upside is that we’re having some good conversations about how nobody knows what to say in these situations and we all feel paralyzed by the prospect of saying the wrong thing and that’s normal.

And that the only real answer is to just show up.

It’s important, showing up, because we belong to each other, all of us, in our beautiful wreckage. And sometimes we really need each other and it’s okay to just sit with someone and not say anything at all.

So we’re trying to show up.

Well, I’m hibernating like a subterranean creature but it’s  the best I can do.

 

 

I guess what I am clumsily trying to say is that I appreciate you showing up for me. It matters. I can’t return the favor right now, but February ends and March will begin and maybe I’ll begin again, too.

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Serenade: a sister poem

January 28, 2019

 

 

 

Serenade

 

 

In brown-skinned summers,
You and I, sun-stung
From looking for tomato bugs
Would run to the rickety ice-house
Where Grandpa would teach us
The secret of watermelons.

Dappled-skinned melons were best.
Grandpa would squint, study, pluck
Only the choicest of suspects,
Rap his gnarled knuckles hard–
Knocking.
Knocking for secrets, seeking the sweet.

Crouch-down anxious, we’d wait
As Grandpa clicked his pocketknife,
Cutting hard circle
Into innocent flesh.
His foolproof method only failed twice,
Yielding dry melons
He fails to remember.

Sunset. Drugged with heat and dust,
We bit into crimson–
Let it bleed down our arms, bugs be damned,
Spit seeds into the evening
Shooting at the gray goose that hissed,
Extra points if we plundered backside.
I loved you then.

Sometimes, over your second
Gin and tonic of the evening,
You will throw your head back, laughing
Pearly picket-fence teeth bared,
And for an instant, I see the girl
Of our watermelon summers
Knocking.

~August 1994

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Let it Be

November 26, 2018

Run

October 31, 2018

Tabbouleh

October 11, 2018