What is that on the baby?

Some of you have asked what was all over the baby -- finger paint. Yes, finger paint.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


So, once upon a time, I had this friend.  I loved her like a sister. She was funny, smart, clever, talented, and an amazingly good time. I already told you what my town was like, and how desperately I needed to escape. Unfortunately, in the course of my escape I left her behind. I went off to college and got caught up with the wild side of that life. I was finding myself while losing myself daily. And she was home. 

She went to school, too. But she commuted, and eventually it was too much for her. She quit and went to work. She moved in with a guy that wasn't good enough for her, and I told her as much. We grew apart. I lost her. But I always figured it was a natural deterioration, sad but nothing personal. Still, I always missed her, and lamented the loss of one of the best relationships of my life.

Then, about 10 years later, we found each other. I don't remember who found who, but that isn't the point. The point is that I found out the absolution of our relationship was very personal. She walked back into my life to prove to me that she had made good choices. She brought her wonderful little baby, who looked just like her baby pictures, and bragged about her life as a mom and a married woman. Then she dropped a bomb on me. She had purposely pulled away from me because I was too judgmental of her mate and the life she had chosen. She felt I didn't support her, and I crushed her by abandoning her. My heart broke. Then she walked back out of my life. 

Now, she's back again. I am uneasy with this reincarnation, but at the same time I want a second chance. I'm afraid that I'll let her down again, but I can't help but reach out. In many ways, she's still one of the smartest, funniest, most clever people I've ever known. And the one afternoon we met for coffee felt so comfortable, like sliding right back into a pair of old jeans. 

Still, is it like this for her? Is she waiting for me to hurt her again? What can we be to each other at this point? How can I navigate a relationship with her if her husband (rightly) hates me? After all, I talked so much smack about him, but in the end I was the one who hurt her. My husband says we can never have what once was. Logically, I know this and emotionally I'm not even sure I'd want it. But still, never? If that's true, what am I doing? And what do I want? 

I invited her to dinner. 

Friday, September 25, 2009

House on Mango Street

I feel like Sandra Cisneros as I write this, but my hometown is a tough place to live. I don't want to sound like an NPR douche, but it just doesn't match my values. I think I have to leave, or burn it down, or something. My husband, Homemaker Man, and I bought our house almost 2 years ago. I really wanted to own a home and we don't make much money (with my job as a teacher and his as a homemaker), so we needed to move out of the urbane neighborhoods we'd been living in for almost 20 years. Basically, we couldn't afford to own where we lived.

So... Cue drum roll... I suggested my old city. After all, it is reasonably safe for a working class town, the schools still have strong art and sports programs. The people are hard working, and neighborly. I'd be able to give something back.  And, best of all, we could afford it. Sounds good, right?

My G-D, was I delusional.

Right now, in this moment, I have no idea why I did this. I hated living here as a kid. I hated it so much that I left at 16 on my own, and didn't return until now, in my mid-thirties. There were other factors in my exodus, but hating this town was high on the list. It is provincial, narrow, racist, ignorant, dirty and poor. The local politicians are so ass-backwards that they make the most idiotic, lazy mistakes. The business owners don't invest in their community; they are like absentee landlords. And the citizens don't get actively involved in anything but complaining.  

Everything good about the town (and there are good things) is sucked out by this all-encompassing self-loathing shame that the citizens seem to feel for their community. As a group, they hate change and resist it at all cost, and they fear the unknown.  They hate themselves for still living here, but they hate the thought of leaving. As individuals, they are generous, neighborly and thoughtful. They take pride in their homes and families. They are very difficult people.

My town is the fat paste-eater in preschool. It's the smelly kid in grade school. It's the stupid, white trash bully in middle school. It's the pregnant chick smoking outside of study hall in high school. My town sucks. Why did I move back here?

I am planning my next exodus; it should take about 5 years. Moving with kids is way more complicated. I wish I could just run away again. 
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