Roots

60ffd7187c152b73f2e0833b21c5b76aMaya Angelou once said “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”

I moved to Upstate South Carolina when I was thirteen years old, it was the day after Christmas during my 8th grade school year. I was angry with my parents, I loved where I lived and didn’t want to leave. We had a beautiful home on a bay off Lake Ontario; where summers meant hours on the dock and playing outside until there was no light left, our parents never worrying about where we were. Fall was the time we’d eat apples picked from the orchards we weren’t supposed to be playing in. Winters included ice skating on the rink you shoveled yourself and sledding all day on the neighborhood hill. Spring meant waking up early to ride your bike to school, even though it was entirely too far. Those memories will forever be etched in my mind. There were a lot of good times and great friends; it was home to me then.

Recently, the opportunity to relive those days through the memories of others opened up to me. A few old friends contacted me through Facebook, strangely though I could only recall their names. I’ve tried to pull memories back from things they’ve told me, it’s all fuzzy now and I can’t seem to bring them into focus. I remember certain moments clear as day; the kind of moments that bring deep emotion and change us into who we become as we grow up. Those feelings like, shame, pride, embarrassment, fear and loneliness are powerful. The emotional reactions we have today as adults come from the time in our lives between fifth grade and high school, where events and situations start to establish our reaction to similar ones for the rest of our lives.

I was chatting with one of these old friends a few days ago and a girl we went to school with came up in conversation, of course I only remembered the name and recalled that we were friends but with her it was different. It brought back one of those memories connected with emotion. It was about her mother, she was our Girl Scout Troop Leader. The memory that came to mind was sitting on the grass in a circle in their beautiful front yard. I couldn’t focus on what she was teaching because I was anxious and crying. I went to the principal’s office that day for fighting with another girl and needed to tell my parents that evening. The belt was still used in those days and I was scared. I remember how she comforted me, told me how to talk to my parents and reassured me that it would all be ok. It was a memory that remained because it carried with it the feelings of shame and fear. Even today when I make a mistake or poor decision and have to admit that I was wrong, those same feeling well up inside me like I’m eleven all over again. I’ve had many other ‘moment in time’ memories just like that one, which seem to stir those emotions from childhood, that come flooding back as an adult.

At the time moving away seemed so devastating but today I couldn’t imagine being anywhere other than where I am now. I have become a southern woman, with northern roots. My first taste of the Lowcountry was in college, 1988. Moving to Charleston, the city with the smell of pluff mud rising from the marshes, the scent of jasmine which hangs on the history of downtown, and the taste of salt that the summer ocean brings; it becomes a part of you. I really grew up here; this is where I became an adult. However, I left in my early twenties knowing I would someday come back and stay. When that opportunity came I didn’t flinch, I knew it was where I belonged.

When I moved back to my southern home in 2002, I made a promise to myself and silently to my children. I would do everything and anything to keep them right where we are today. I wanted them to go through their school years with all the same friends, to know the comfort of having lifelong roots. They are beginning to start their lives, on the verge of becoming adults too; I just hope that this is the city where they choose to keep themselves planted.

Love,

g

A Case of the ‘Frances’

Frances is my second Mom. When I became friends with her daughter, Blush, all those years ago she was busy being the rock, caregiver, provider for a family that went through their fair share of trials. Frances was married to Cotton, no not a code name, it was his nickname from childhood; he had the most beautiful white hair. I never knew him to be a well person that was before my time. I used to wonder what he was like before he was sick, because he was a happy man even when he was in pain, which was all the time in his case. Whenever I picture him in my mind’s eye he is always in a hospital bed or in his beloved recliner. He had a classic southern drawl and sweet soul, even when he felt his worst he still made sure you knew he was happy to see you. Cotton had cancer.  Unfortunately, the treatment did more damage to his body than the cancer itself.  He would spend the next 20 years in and out of hospitals from Charlotte to Raleigh to Charleston and several cities in between;  tour of hospitals so to speak.  Each and every time Cotton would visit a hospital he would touch the lives of the many doctors and nurses who met him.  He had a way of asking for something and apologizing at the same time for bothering you. You couldn’t help but fall in love with him.

In August of 2005 Cotton finally lost his battle, it was time. I’m sure this is not absolutely true but how I remember it, or choose to remember it all. The last time I saw Cotton was at the Veterans hospital here in Charleston; just one of many hospitals where I spent time with him. He was there alone this time, Frances just couldn’t be with him all of time; after so many years you learn to do it alone. I took a day and snuck some of his favorite contra ban snacks and spent a few hours talking, reminiscing, and laughing. He was in pain but he never showed it and I never would have known except for the weariness that crept across his face as our time together came to an end.

During their nearly 40 year marriage Frances stood by Cotton’s side and cared for him, loved him and made unbelievable sacrifices during a time in her life when most are living a carefree life full of joy. Somehow though they found joy in what they DID have together.  After Cotton passed away Frances had to learn to live again. I can not describe how much of her life was consumed with caring for Cotton, to have him gone and learn what to do with all of her free time must have been more difficult than anyone can imagine. But she was always a happy woman with a huge laugh that engulfs a room and makes everyone laugh too. It wasn’t going to be long until someone came along and breathed new life into her…His name is Ken.

It wasn’t more than six months after Cotton died that Ken came into her life, an old acquaintance that had recently lost his wife of many years as well. It was a whirlwind romance, which had her completely, giddy. After so many years enduring the trials of a marriage that tested her endurance the taste of new love made it that much sweeter. I’ll never forget Blush putting Frances on the phone with me; her bubbling-over with excitement and details I was not expecting. Frances is a God-fearing woman and Sunday school teacher; I’m talking a prim and proper southern woman. So in my best Ouiser from Steel Magnolias voice “a dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste”. The things she was telling me! Lord have mercy… It had been a looooonnnng time since she had enjoyed the touch of a man. The kind of intimacy that makes a women quiver. Ohhhh she was a quiverin. I felt nothing but pure happiness, heart-overflowing joy for her, she deserved it and all that new love can bring.

That is how I’m feeling today. Giddy, happy, peaceful, balanced and hell yeah I’m a quiverin too. There is absolutely zero doubt that I have found my Babe. I haven’t been so sure about anything in a long time. Doubt has left my body and mind and all I can feel is gratitude for every moment of pain, every tear I cried and every douche bag I’ve dated which lead me to the man who I knew immediately, he is the one. Crazy I know! I can’t believe I’m saying it but when you know, you know.

So have a case of the ‘Frances’…over sharing, overjoyed, over the moon.

Love,

g

Giddy Up!!

I know I’ve been out of touch in the past few weeks but I’ll write about the events going on in my life, in a soon to be published post.  However, right now I have to write about the events of my lunch break today.

I have one irrational fear, which has developed over the last few years.  This is not something most people would even think about nor worry about, but I do, daily.  I work in a beautiful area right in the Downtown Charleston Historic District.  I feel very fortunate to drive by Rainbow Row every day, to stumble down Chalmers Street on the cobblestone and best of all smell the Confederate Jasmine when it’s in full bloom.  All day long dozens of horse carriages go right past my office window.  I love to listen to the drivers tell their ridiculous and sometimes made up stories.  Seeing these carriages everyday reminds me of one thing and one thing only.  Those horses are disgusting; it stinks of horse piss and manure all year and in the summer, ugh!! Gross.

My fear? To be standing on the sidewalk or crossing the street and have a horse stop, piss near me and to be splashed. I avoid the horses at all cost; I will walk across the street, stop, anything to avoid this from happening. Furthermore, I will NEVER step in standing water downtown, NEVER. I guarantee you it’s full of horse piss. Once on a beautiful, clear, sunny day, I watched a tourist allow his gorgeous, curly, blonde-haired, 2-year-old girl stomp in the puddle outside of my office. I stopped and stared in horror, I couldn’t say anything she was so cute! But damn if that girl didn’t end up with horse piss all over herself. I wasn’t gonna offer any information because then they would have wanted to bring that child into my office to clean her up…no freakin way! Yeah I’m a bad person.

These lovely horses and their carriages provide a quaint way to view and learn about my beloved city; they also know NO etiquette. They just piss and shit at will. They all wear the little diaper sacks so the shit goes in there, but they piss wherever they want. When they do, the driver drops a little half rubber ball on the street with flag sticking out.  The street cleaners drive around and pressure wash the spots with some sort of chemical, that smells just as bad. If you visit a city that has horse carriages and you see one of these, don’t pick it up! I’ve seen people do it “wonder what this is?”

Today in Charleston, it’s gorgeous, 80 degrees, sunny, perfect spring weather, just beautiful. So on my lunch hour I decided to go to my favorite park, sit on my favorite bench, and be quiet. I wanted to reflect on the events of my life over the past few weeks. As I was walking to the park, I was also using my phone, texting, checking email etc. I don’t know how I missed it but a carriage was stopped in the middle of the street and the driver was telling a story. I crossed the street directly in front of the carriage and started to walk parallel to the horse. All of a sudden, I heard it, the forceful splash of horse piss hitting the pavement. I panicked, jumped out of the way, and immediately started feeling my pant legs. The driver makes a lame joke ” haha we just sprung a radiator hose” and the tourist all enjoyed a great laugh at my piss panic. Let me just tell you this; if I had any, even one drop of horse piss on me, I would have needed to be admitted to a mental institution. I would have never gone back to work. But have no fear my pants were dry…this time.

Moral of the story…NEVER text and walk, it could kill you. Also, my irrational fear… is not so irrational.

Love,

g