It’s dawn in the suburbs and I am up
a little early. It’s raining and it’s sunny at the same time.
My daughter asked me once how these two opposite
forces could occur at the same time. “How is it possible for both
to happen at once?” she wondered.
Got me thinking.
There was a woman who, as a young girl, stole a candy bar
from a store. She never told anyone and really it wasn’t on purpose,
she told herself. She stared with green eyes at the Barbie townhouse
in her friend’s playroom. Like a rug burn, she hurt for that house. One day
the elevator found it’s string mysteriously cut. Shrugging her shoulders
the girl blamed her friend’s brothers. They were assholes anyway.
On the schoolyard, this same girl pulled the hair of another girl who
called her friend Missy a “low down blackie.” She got in trouble, of course,
but Missy quietly thanked her. Saying no one had ever stood up
for her before. It made the girl feel good. She made friends with the
cast-outs and the fringe kids. They, she thought, were the real ones.
As a teenager, she smoked cigarettes behind the Friends meeting
house. The foul language mixed with the smoke coming out of her mouth
would have made her mother’s hair curl. She earned honors in her classes
and people said she was smart but didn’t apply herself. To what? She had
wondered. As if she were glue. Her first boyfriend, well, now he’s in jail.
The second is a surgeon. Guess which one was nicer. To school, she wore
her plaid Catholic school uniform, all prim and proper. To the nuns, she
was the quiet one. Studied hard. She was glad she could wear a uniform.
Because her parents couldn’t afford designer jeans.
In college, she drank too much. As lots of kids do. And she was not very
good with money. A friend who really needed her started to get on her
nerves and felt like a drain. So she ditched her. She ate her neighbor’s
food all the time instead of buying her own. The girl now woman, well, she
graduated magna cum laude. A bachelor’s degree. Then, after work, she
earned a masters degree. Very quickly, she understood. On the
weekends she helped in the AIDS clinic. She spoke up in meetings. She
wore a white coat. She was respected. She walked right by the homeless
people outside her building.
This woman is now here in the suburbs, now a mom, now someone
who cares, who matters, who makes a difference. But also
someone who is not always right, is imperfect and flawed.
I tell my daughter, “It’s called a sun-shower. And it can happen.
It happens all the time.”
photo by Barbara Paulsen at tandemechoes.com.