Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The first time people looked at me like I was a crazy.

My mother had stayed at home and watched a couple other preschool kids prior to my starting school. Being the not only the middle child, but the quite / shy one, I was generally forgotten, so I ran fairly wild in our large yard, nearby fields and river banks. I was educated in strange foods, poured over National Geographic’s and listened intently to everything around me. Including the sounds of the trees, the river we could see from 90% of the house and yard, the animals and occasionally the people around me.

In 1976 it was time to start kindergarten. The thought terrified me, I had never been around that many kids or away from my outdoor world with it’s many hidden safe places beneath tree boughs, between the basement wall and wood pile… Where would I hide if I needed to?

The room seemed cheery enough with all the toys, chalk boards, games and smiling teachers. The nice teachers encouraged me to play with the other girls, but I was afraid of dolls and found making house boring. So I stayed with the boys playing cars and marbles and running in cowboy or cop reenactments. While there was probably concern over the scrawny pale girl that preferred sticks and rocks to dolls and tea, they seemed to come around and stop pestering me.

At one point we were given an assignment; who is your hero and why, we had a couple days to think about it and put together a presentation. I didn’t need to think about it, I knew right away who my hero was.

The day came and the kids that were not shy were running up to make their announcements and state their case for their idols. Being very shy, I never raised my hand, but politely listened to everyone else first. The kids all had great stories from Super Man, Astronauts, Dads, Aunt’s and so on. At last the teachers scanned the room to see if everyone had been given their turn, “Marci, are you ready?”

I stood up and in front of mostly 5 year olds and a couple young teachers who had probably never left Montana, my hero is Nelson Mandela. I then started to tell about his life and struggle for the people of South Africa. They stopped me and pulled me aside to ask. “Do you really know who you are talking about?” I excitedly went on about his imprisonment, the letters that made it out and how one day things would be better for the black people in South Africa.

The panic struck teachers looked at each other with wide eyes. “Is what she saying correct?” one asked the other, “I think so.” I never did finish my presentation; I had no idea what I had done wrong. I was blissfully ignorant of the prejudice that probably swarmed around me. Now, I wish I could go back in time and cheer myself on.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thanks for the tears Jeffrey

Today I cried. Not because I was sad, but the lesson that we are not totally alone in our experience can be very comforting. The act of crying is a normal experience for many people, and the first sentence would seem quite trivial. Talk to my husband, who still can’t believe I didn’t cry at our wedding and he can give you a long list of times he has hoped I would cry, out happiness of course.
I grew up in a less than ideal home and place. Each day was a mystery as to what kind of day it would be. There was the typical absentee father, then a very abusive sister and then the matriarch, I should say matriarchs, all wrapped into one. Yes, mom has multiple personalities, it’s not as cute in real life as it is on TV. There was also a younger brother that I always felt responsible for protecting. Living in such a house I layered up with allot of armor, distance and a big imagination.
It has not been an easy journey to make the armor permeable and flexible. While I like to think it served me well while growing up a story I read brought one of my own experiences rushing through my core.
I should describe myself, at nearly 40 I can stretch myself to almost 5’3 and I weigh about 118, the most I have ever weighed (except when preggo). So at 12 years old I might been close to my looming height, but I was pretty scrawny, and way too scrappy. A friend and I were taking a walk, we happened to walk down the ‘wrong’ street. To shorten the story, first about 5 girls tried to beat me up, then a group of guys took turns, three of them held me while at least two of them punched, kicked and kneed me. They kept telling me they would quite if I would apologize for walking on their street, or if I would cry.
These thoughts occurred to me after reading the article X is for eXtreme, by Jeffrey Pierce. ( http://jeffreypiercebooks.blogspot.com/2011/04/x-is-for-extreme.html )I now have to laugh at myself. What a silly thing to be afraid of; crying.