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Being “different”, although painful, may be the right path after all

Welcome! There's room on the glider for you

Welcome! There's room on the glider for you

I’ve come a long way in my thinking about people who are “different” than I am. It has taken me five decades to realize the way I think may not be the wrong way after all.

I was born on this planet to an older couple (in their 40s)  who lived in a small community outside a larger city  in central Illinois. That meant that the only “diversity” was whether you lived in town or on a farm, whether you were a Lutheran or Methodist, whether your father was a “working man” or a “suit”. Different had nothing to do with color of skin or religious convictions…there were no non-Christians (unless as some people believed, you were Catholic or you were “unchurched”.

I was the one who was different. I lost my  mother before I was four. I had to wear glasses which became increasingly thicker starting when I was eight. I started gaining weight after third grade and was quite round off and on the rest of my life. (Can we say yo-yo?) I  was asthmatic and had several bronchial infections each year causing me to miss school and social events. In seventh grade I developed pitting acne which lasted for the next four years. All of this made me extremely self-conscious and I climbed into a shell. How does this lead to a conversation about diversity?

I was starved for love and friendship. If anyone wanted to be my friend, I was open to the idea.

I had no contact with people whose skin was dark. Occasionally when we went to town I would see well dressed black women walking down the sidewalk and I would stare. I didn’t know what they were. My aunt would grab my arm and pull me along. “Don’t stare! Just ignore them,” she would admonish.

When I was thirteen I became a volunteer at a local hospital. We would take breaks and sit in the same room as the maids. I honestly could never tell them apart. All I saw was brown skin.

It was that summer that I had my first skin to skin encounter. I worked several different areas of the hospital but my favorite was pediatrics. There was a small  year old black boy in one of the cribs. The toddlers were all kept in the same nursery. Day after day I would go from one crib to another talking and playing with, rocking, and feeding all the white babies in the room. I could feel the eyes of the little boy follow me every time I was there. I avoided him because he was black. He was different from me.

He was love incarnate

He was love incarnate

One day I entered the nursery and he was screaming. He looked so pathetic. I did my usual tour of the other cribs. He didn’t stop crying. He stood there holding on to the railing of the crib, following me with his pleading eyes. No other adult  was in the room. Finally, I couldn’t take it any more. I lowered the side on his crib and took him into my arms. He stopped crying immediately. To this day, that contact had such a profound impact on my emotions I can still feel his chubby arms around my neck and his tear soaked face burrowed into my shoulder. The feel of his curly hair is right there on my chin. I felt all the resistence and fear drain from my body. I fell in love with that little boy right there and then.

When I applied for my last teaching job, it was for a position in an inner city school. When I was asked about any educational experience I had with minorities, I truthfully stated I went to an integrated high school and college. The interviewers didn’t  ask how integrated. There was a state hospital in my home town. A  doctor and his family moved there from “the islands” somewhere. The daughter attended my school. We never had any classes together. I would only see her occasionally while passing in the hall. But she did integrate the school.

My freshman year in college I went to a large university outside Chicago. There were two black girls on my floor, Diane and Bea. Within a few days, Diane and I became friends. There were few freshmen on our floor and the older ones already had their friends. The Chicago girls tended to flock together. Once again I was the outsider. I liked Diane. Why she gravitated towards me, I didn’t really know but I didn’t care. A couple of weeks after we met we walked over to the nearby small shopping area. As a car passed I heard a young man’s voice yell out, except that I really didn’t hear exactly what he said. I just heard laughter coming from inside the car. Diane just kept walking and I soon forgot about it.

The next day in the dorm one of the other girls came  to apologize to me. She had been in the car. She told me what the guy had yelled. “N***er Lover. I had never heard that phrase. From that point on, for the most part, Diane and I for the rest of the year were friends only with each other. I was the white “N***er Lover” and was beneath the rest of them. Once more I was very lonely and isolated for being different. But Diane was a good friend. She was a little rowdy to my reticence and did stretch the truth now and then (her affair with Bobby Orr who didn’t even join the Black Hawks for eleven more years!)

At Christmas time Diane invited me to Chicago to spend some time with her and her family. She lived on the near South side of the city. When I asked my father, we reallly didn’t discuss it, but he said no to the idea. I was “wanted” at home. In November of that fall term I was introduced to a young Jewish student. He was a genuine “nice guy”. I didn’t have many dates with him but I did go to a Hanukkah party. I had potato latkes, brisket, and chala among other dishes. I was persuaded to learn to dance the hora. None of this wonderful, festive fun would be understood by my family.

I was finding fun

I was finding fun

Another day to clean out and fix up my house. You wouldn’t believe my porch. My neighbor volunteered to come over with his power jet. The porch and sidewalk look brand new. I hope you feel they are welcoming you.It’s too nice in the morning to sit in the attic. Come share my view of the world as long as it lasts. Namaste. Attic Annie

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MKSBTTAI Mantra…four days later

Meditation

Not OM but O M G!

Six days ago I told you my mantra is MKSBTTAI….maybe, kinda, sorta, beginning to think about it. I described my neighborhood and how hard it would be to leave it. Yesterday I signed papers putting the house on multiple listings. WHOA! My head is still spinning. I’m still on the maybe, kinda, sorta stage and my realtor is planning an open house! I had called her to ask for an estimate of what she thought the house was worth because I’m fighting my taxes and the next thing I know, we are looking for houses. Her name is Ingrid and, boy, does she know how to jump on opportunities.

As I was thoroughly cleaning this place in anticipation of the first couple looking at it before it was even listed, I realized how much I love this house. The unpleasant things that happened here are hazy memories. I thought about how beautiful my house looks when it is decorated for Christmas. I think about the feeling of tranquility in my blue living room being able to look out my big picture window at the distant crepe myrtles in the yard across the street. These are not his, but you get the idea.

crepe_myrtle_tree

 

I remember the fights my son and I had when he was so intent on being an alpha male when my ex left. His alpha maleness was a problem until he left his frosh year in high school for military school. Alpha male found bigger alpha males. He came back home a changed person. (It was his idea that he go.)

So many small things make me feel this is my HOME. I will have lived here 32 years by the middle of September. That’s a long time to grow roots! I’ve lived here  ten years longer than I did in my childhood home.

I told my realtor about the feeling of dragging my feet and how attached I really felt about this house. We both have similiar beliefs about the universe. She told me that when sellers are reluctant to sell, it takes longer to find a buyer. I have to release my house according to the laws of attraction. www.law-of-attraction-info.com 

(Please bear with my problems with my links until I find someone to help. Computer glitches are sooooo much fun.  My computer won’t let me hyperlink. )

I was instructed to take a deep breath and exhale. She then explained I should thank my house for providing me shelter all these years and tell my house to release me and let me move on to whatever destination the road might lead me. A new family will soon be entering to love it as much as I do. I am only a single person. Imagine the love a family with several children might have. OK they may all be monsters who yell and scream and mark on walls and throw temper tantrums. I think this house will be still be able to handle all that energy. Some times I think we age because of too little energy instead of too much. A family like that would energize this house again.

As much as I love this house, it will allow me to not have daily reminders of the tears and fears which accompanied the first five years of occupancy. There are so many sad memories during that time. When I hand over the keys, I will be leaving those memories behind and having an opportunity to create new ones.

I have looked at one home twice already. I am beginning to picture what it would be like to move in there. There are many possibilities to make it my home. I think I am going to downsize gradually. I’m going from a four bed down to a three bed. Maybe I’ll live there and move to an active retirement community in another twenty years to a one bedroom. I don’t plan to live until my bed is all I have in a nursing home. That’s downsizing too much!

 

nursing home

This is not my idea of final prime real estate! God bless this person.

If I move into that home I would be much closer to the duck pond where my dog and I sometimes walk when mornings are cooler. It’s on private property but I’ve been given permission to sit on the bench and watch the ducks. I especially love it when I get there just as the sun rises.

When we moved to this home there was a brand new McDonald’s built about a mile from this house. It was in the middle of NOWHERE! I mean open field south, west, and east of it for miles. I laughed at the thought that they wouldn’t be open for business very long. Within a matter of months, homes, and other businesses started popping up like mushrooms after a rain. Today I passed by that corner. All that was there was the golden arch on top the pole and a mountain  of rubbish waiting to be carted away. I thought, “That’s a sign of synchronicity.” We  arrived at the same time. Now that I no longer need this house, we are changing at the same time.” I don’t know if McD’s is just building a newer larger place or if something else will be going on that corner.

With all the activity in my life and a cranky computer, I may or may not be able to blog every day but I’ll try. Except for letting me hypertext, the good ol’ computer seems to be running. For those of you who might have started coming back on a regular basis, please keep checking back.

If it is cool, there’s always room on my porch until I sell…and my climate-controlled attic will never go away.

In the meantime, “Namaste” Attic Annie

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Hello world!

Welcome to Annie’s attic. Now I know that to some,

especially in Texas, that is the LAST place you would

like to be, but you can relax. This attic is climate-

controlled. It’s a comfortable place with recliners,

big pillows on the floor, and plush, sink-your-toes in

carpet. There are refreshments at the bar and soft

music in the background. Annie’s attic once had a

place on a CFS Fibromyalgia BB a looonnnngggg time

ago. I missed the company I had there so I’d like

to try again. All comments are welcome in this

retreat from reality. Welcome to my hide-away.

Annie

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