All of Me



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