A Rocky Reminder

I don’t remember how it happened, because in my mind it only mattered that it happened.

I remember the wind tousling my hair as I gained speed, the hard black handles leaving indents in my fingers as I gripped them tightly and a sense of new found freedom. I could ride just like the big girls in our neighborhood. I stood up and forced my weight down on each pedal, wobbling with exertion to gain speed. I was invincible!

I saw the scattered construction debris on the sidewalk ahead of me and knew I could speed over it with ease. It felt bumpy at first and then a moment later the wheels were locked and skidding out of control! I opened my eyes and blinked in wonder that I was staring down at hot asphalt just inches beneath my nose. It was when I stood up that I felt the warmth and the burn. Tears were instant followed by loud 5 year old cries. Blood was streaming from my knee and my hands were burning not only from the hot asphalt but from being skinned. My mother was running toward me and in a moment had scooped me up into her arms. I looked over her shoulder and saw my bike, shiny blue in the sunlight lying on its side, wheel spinning slowly.

Once inside I was rushed to the bathroom where my father set about examining my wounds. Added to my pain was fear as I saw him pull out the tweezers and peroxide. I clutched my knee, digging my nails into the skin hard, trying to dissuade him from using those tweezers. But my pleas were ignored as I evidently had several pieces of rock ground into my knee. The ordeal ended with me being properly patched up and my father half deaf from my screaming and crying.

A week or so later as I examined my knee I noticed a very tiny hard purple fleck just beneath the skin on my knee cap. A tiny piece of rock had been missed and my skin had grown over it. As I examined the fascinating revelation, I suddenly decided that one spill on my bike wasn’t going to scare me away from riding it again.

I still have that little purple spot, though as I’ve grown it has decreased in size and is barely visible anymore. But it’s forever a reminder to me of my love for that first bike and the determination it gave me to face my fears.

This post inspired by Scribbit’s February Writing Contest




Honored and Excited!

So if you don’t read Scribbit (and if you don’t I highly recommend you check it out) then you may not have heard that I am to be January’s judge for her Write-Away competition! I like to enter them whenever I can and I am very excited to read all the entries (submitted to me anonymously via email) and choose my favorite this month.

The topic is “The Finish Line” so find a post in your archives or write one that has something to do with that topic and enter!




A First

My glances at his face were brief. I tried to focus on anything but him, which was difficult to do considering that he was talking to me. His voice sounded so quiet and distant compared to the thrum of blood sounding in my ears. At the same time I ached with anticipation I trembled with fear. He knew I’d never been kissed by another boy in all my 17 years. He respected that and had told me he wouldn’t dream of kissing me without my permission. That was when I wasn’t sure I wanted to be kissed yet. When I wasn’t sure if things would continue to progress.

Now they had and my feelings for him had deepened immensely. He was my close friend and I was insanely attracted to him. I had to kiss him! But I had no experience. What would he think?

He paused from whatever it was he had been saying and asked if I was ok. My anxiety must have been showing on my face.

“Yeah,” I reassured him and then I hugged him close. As we held each other tight I quietly said the words I had been thinking all night, “I really want to kiss you, bad.” Then I squeezed him tighter hoping maybe he hadn’t heard me, or that maybe I could stay in his embrace forever and not have him look at me with my face red enough to notice even in the moonlight.

But I felt his arms slacken, and then his hands gripping my biceps as he pushed me strongly away from him. I had no choice but to look into his eyes as he held me there. And then his lips warm and gentle were molding into mine. It was brief but sweet and it sent tingles all through me. He pulled away looking at me with that gorgeous smile and I knew he had loved it as much as I had.

This post has been entered into Scribbits August Write-Away Contest




Misconception

I walked into the room with my chin tilted down trying to steal an inconspicuous glance at my stomach. Sucked in? Check. The room was abuzz with chatter, broken momentarily by smiles and greetings directed at me. I gave my cautious, tight lipped half smile in return and quickly found a seat in the emptiest corner of the room. I watched women daintily adding food to their plates. A sprinkling of pita chips here, a dollop of hummus there, a thin slice of pumpkin cake layered with cream cheese icing and pomegranate seeds, a glass of root beer. All delicious and such a pity that more eager consumption was not occurring. I stood and made my way over to the buffet for a hefty piece of that pumpkin cake and a large serving of hummus with some pita chips on the side. Lauren joined me at the table for some chit chat but I heard next to nothing she said. I was too busy analyzing her. She looked amazing as usual. Not a blonde hair out of place on her head, flawless makeup, tan skin, 5 foot 10 inch frame, a stomach so flat you’d never know she had a 2 year old. If only I looked like Lauren. She had it so together, to take care of herself like that and look so presentable every day. She was definitely not someone I could relate to. I went back to my corner and sat down to eat and observe.

Across the room sat Anya, her voluminous strawberry blonde curls hanging over her shoulders. She had a smile to match Giada De Laurentiis’, bright white teeth and all and a personality so full of optimism it was contagious. I liked her a lot but I still hadn’t let myself get close. Her barely 5 year old son could recite at least 10 different scriptures from memory and could read and write already. Not only that but he was the best behaved, most polite, most intelligent child I’d ever met. I knew she was the perfect mother, the kind who loved every single moment of both pregnancy and mothering and put all her interests on the back burner when kids came along. I couldn’t relate to that.

There was Tierny, our host with the patience of an angel as she sent her girls back to their bedrooms for the third time that evening. I was certain she never yelled at her kids. There was Lydia, who managed to balance daytime mothering with evening college courses and still stay happy and bubbly at every event. By the end of that evening, I was certain I was the worst mother in the group. I didn’t have white teeth, I yelled at my children, I was a bit of a pessimist, I’d never finished college, my smile was crooked, I didn’t do my hair enough, I couldn’t tan and I liked to go overboard on dessert! Why was everyone else so amazing? Where had I gone wrong?

Several weeks later I had a visit from a relatively new friend. I had liked her the moment I saw her. She was tall with hair the color of ebony and an accepting manner about her. We were having a nice conversation and I was talking about my latest adventures. Did you know I took up jewelry making? Oh and I also decorated another cake. The kids and I did this. I crocheted this. I’m teaching myself this. Then suddenly she stopped me and asked me a question:

“How do you do it all?”

I was stunned at first and she went on to use phrases like “amazing person” and “could never do that”. I think I said something along the lines of, of course you can learn these things and I’m just motivated. But the conversation left me feeling flustered and frustrated and thinking of what I wish I had said.

Amazing?!? HAH! Half my motivation for being constantly busy is to try and escape the hell that is my mind. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is something I try to live with as often as I try to run away from it. How do I do it all? I have never “done it all”, never will I be able to “do it all”. Sometimes I’m not the best mother I should be because I’m focusing to much on my hobbies. I’m as selfish as I am giving.
And what do you mean you could never do that? You could learn anything you wanted to, you could become anyone you wanted to, it just takes desire and drive to accomplish. I’m not wonder woman, I just have different priorities is all.

That’s when the light bulb went on in my head. Somebody saw me the way I saw so many other mothers. How could this be? I didn’t want to be the unapproachable perfect mother and wife I’d made so many others into. I knew I had faults and plenty of them, but those around me only saw my best behaved self, if you discount licking the pita chip salt off my fingers anyway. Then I realized that maybe those other moms who I felt I couldn’t relate to, might have faults to. That maybe, if I tried to be my real self around them they would feel comfortable doing the same and the burden of putting on even a small fasade could be set aside for some serious soda chugging, finger licking, belching good times. (Ok, well maybe I’m the only woman who belches but you don’t have to hold that against me right)?

I’m not perfect. I’m not a wonder woman. No mother is, but most of us are trying to better our families and ourselves, and that is doing something wonderful.

This post was submited to Scribbit’s July Write-Away Contest




Fast Changes

I had never been on a plane before. I was anxious. Not for fear of flying, but about what I would do to keep busy in cramped quarters for 14 hours. My eyes focused on my worn sandals. I stared at them with what I knew was an empty look, but all around me I processed the sounds. The chatter, the laughter, the squeaking wheels of luggage being pulled past.

“Dude, you like, should totally do it dude,” Sandy was saying, “Dude, I dare you!”
“I’m not gonna moon somebody in the flippin’ airport,” Emily replied.
“But dude! It would so awesome!” Sandy retorted.

Sandy always used Dude, way too much.

“Hey, you want some of my Cinnabon?” Gail said to Lane. I saw the feet of the two girls sitting across the way from me. Gail had on dirty pink beach thongs and Lane had slipped her sandals off, preferring instead to sit wiggling her big toe as she sat. I wondered if she always did this. I heard the scraping of a plastic fork and knew that Lane was cutting into the cinnamon roll. With Gails fork. Taking a bite. With Gails fork. I couldn’t believe unrelated people would share germs like that.

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Not four hours into the flight I was already severely annoyed by my classmates. The constant giggling and “Dudes” were taking their toll. I was trying to enjoy my book. Couldn’t they see that? Couldn’t they be a little more respectful? As I sat there fuming over their immature behavior I began to feel very uncomfortable. Had I spilled some water in my lap? I excused myself to the lavatory to discover that at age 14 and on my first flight, I had become more than a girl.

As I walked off of that plane, my underwear stuffed with toilet paper I prayed no one would notice and I thought kinder thoughts, perhaps in the hope that Karma wouldn’t come and reveal my plight. A brief layover offered enough time to grab some liners and then it was back onto the plane.

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I had underestimated the amount of liners I would need for the duration of the flight and I walked into the airport at a semi-waddle, stuffed again with toilet paper. I tried to put on my best face for the host family who held a sign with my name scrawled on it. They each greeted me with an uncomfortable amount of hugging and kissing and I returned the favor holding back tears. Katja was especially excited to see me since she had stayed with my family as an exchange student the previous summer.

“Wie gehts Summer?” She asked cheerily
“Ich bin gut,” I lied.
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I was mortified as Katja held up the liner and asked me if it was mine. I had replaced it with a new one and accidentally left it on the bathroom windowsill. I blubbered that it was mine and that I forgot it and that I was new to all of it and that I was so sorry. Katja hugged me and told me it was alright, and for the first time since leaving for the trip I relaxed. I had not anticipated her caring, understanding reaction. It meant so much to me, I decided I needed to be more kind and understanding.

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I wiped the sweat from my forehead and trudged slowly up the hill.

“Summer, wait up!” Penny called.

I slowed my pace so Penny could catch up and she fell into step with me.

“Are you sure you know how to get back to Katarina’s house?” I questioned.
“Pretty sure,” Penny said. I raised my eyebrow at her.
“I sure could use a drink. Why didn’t I think to bring water?” I wondered out loud.

We turned a corner and as if in answer to my thirst, we suddenly saw it . A big black vending machine situated next to a lone bench, in what seemed the most isolated and strangest of places. We walked up to it eagerly, hoping for a bottle of cool normal water.

“Dang, only Mineral Wasser of course!” I said.
“Oh look,” Penny said excitedly, “Coke!”

We both stared with parched lips at the button with the bright red emblem of familiarity and started rummaging through our pockets.

“I only have a couple D-Marks,” I said sadly.
“Well, I have enough for one bottle,” Penny replied.

Penny inserted the marks and pulled the can out. She popped the metal fastener off and inhaled the sweet mist. Then she put her lips to the rim, tilted her head back and took a good long guzzle. She handed the can over to me and I didn’t hesitate to finish it off.
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I reclined my chair and closed my eyes as I absorbed the music. Someone lifted the ear phone off of my left ear and asked, “Hey Summer, are you ever gonna give my walkman back?”

I chuckled and took off the headphones.

“Thanks Emily. I really like the Goo Goo Dolls.”
“I never figured you as the type that would,” she replied.
“Neither did I,” I said.

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My mom hugged me tightly as soon as she could reach me. My bright blue sunglasses were perched lightly atop my sun drenched hair.

“I can’t wait to hear about and see pictures of all the places you went!” she said excitedly.

“We’ll have to get the film developed first,” I said, ” Oh, mom, wait.”

I jogged toward Sandy and her family.

“Dude, you almost forgot this,” I said, handing her a souvenir shot glass she had let me look at while on the plane.

I jogged back over to my mom and we walked arm in arm toward the parking garage.

“You know,” she commented, “I think you’ve changed a bit over this last month.”

“I have,” I replied smiling.

This post has been entered into Scribbit’s June Write Away Contest




Forty Six

As a 17 year old teenager, I never would have predicted that by age 26 I would have been married 7 years and born 3 children. I would never have predicted that I wouldn’t have a college degree or that I wouldn’t be married to the boyfriend I had at that time.

My plans seemed so certain, and so unlike the way my life has turned out.

I always knew I would marry, but didn’t think I would be barely 19 when it happened.
I always knew I wanted to have babies, but didn’t anticipate the part where they grow up.
I always knew I would change both physically and emotionally, but I didn’t think it would be so hard.

When I think of my children I look forward to the next twenty years with joy. In addition to Mother, I might carry the titles of Mother-in-Law and Grandma when I’m forty six.

When I think of my husband I look forward to the next twenty years with joy. Each year I’ve been with this man, has been better than the last.

When I think of my Grandmother, I look forward to the next twenty years with hope and determination. If she has survived 50 years of panic attacks, then I can do it too. If she can call me in a pleasant mood while telling me that all of her hair has fallen out and that the chemotherapy makes her so ill she can’t move, then I can also choose to practice calm thoughts and hope in the face of darkness and pain.

There is much to fear, and much to hope for in the next twenty years. While I can’t choose what will come, I can choose how I will react to what comes. One thing is certain, all the good things I envision for myself in twenty years, can only be reached by taking one persevering step at a time.

This post inspired by Scribbit’s March Write-Away Contest

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The Piano

She sits slumped over the black and white keys, hands in her lap. Her eyes are closed as she slowly rocks forward, letting her head drop. She stops, her nose so close to one of the keys it tingles in anticipation of the actual touch. A single tear forms in the corner of her closed eyelid and begins it’s descent down the slope of her nose. It tickles her skin yet she makes no effort to interrupt its descent. Now it clings to the tip of her nose and stretches, bridging the gap momentarily between emotion and release.

Her hands, flaccid with grief, find their way to the keys. Time to play. Time to escape. Time to transfer the grief into something palpable. A song for her sorrow. The fact that she stumbles through the creation does not hinder her emotion. She is still slumped over the keys as her fingers fumble for the notes that will ring out the true feelings of her soul in this moment. Her body sways side to side, back and forth, trembling at times under the weight of so much feeling. But as she continues she finds herself getting stronger, or perhaps her burden getting lighter.

She still sways but with an upended posture. Her body now trembles with release. She weeps freely, salty drops splashing onto the keys below. Though blinded by tears, her fingers more sure of their course, play the right notes effortlessly. They convey adequately the depth of her sorrow, and then suddenly, something she did not expect. This, a mistake of her fingers, yet it rings true in her heart. She thought to be consumed with grief, but sure as her fingers played it out over the keys, she feels it. Hope. Determination.

She finds the despair is flushed from her by a desire to overcome. She weeps no more with sorrow but with conviction in her ability to choose. She can choose for her life to play out differently. She can choose to remember without being brought down into despair. She can choose to face the darkest parts of herself without thought of escape or denial.

She will not let the song of her soul be one of monotony.

This post was entered in January’s Write-Away Contest at Scribbit

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Summer Owens

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