I came home to New York for the final time; for a maybe.

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I gave up believing in the perfect person years ago. It was a complex lesson, but it was a much needed lesson.

And at the end of this lesson, I understood what unconditional love really meant.

I came back to New York for a ‘maybe’.

This is my ‘maybe’ story.

According to text books, I should not have moved to Louisiana after the death of my first husband, Eric.

I don’t always choose to follow text books recommendations.

Sometimes I follow my heart. It is a path that not all understand.

We shared a lot of stories long distance. I spoke to him on the phone from time to time. We were good friends.

He knew Eric had died. He knew I had to leave.

I remember the day he called me and told me he was coming to visit me.

“I think I’m gonna come visit you.”

I laughed and said, “Okay, come on down. I will take you to New Orleans. It’s not that far.”

Honestly, when he told me he was coming down; I imagined he may actually come in about six months. It wasn’t like him to jump on a plane and come half way across the country to see a woman on a whim. He is a practical man; most of the time.

His next words surprised me. I remember being surprised.

He told me he would be coming down in a few days. I had no idea he had already purchased tickets. I was shocked, but I was excited.

I picked him up at the airport in New Orleans. We talked a lot. He worked on my bathroom. I remember him helping me install a new floor.

I had known Aaron all my life. I knew his story. We had graduated together years before; a whopping graduating class of 16.  We had some history; not much, but some.

I had seen him casually that fall of 2000.

Neither of us wanted commitment. Neither of us wanted much from each other. I was waiting for a miracle. I think he was too.

I remember the moment. It shocked me.

He tackled me; laughing. He hugged me and said, “How does Christine [insert his last name here] sound?”

It was a game changer.

I remember I got upset at first. I sat up. I told him that wasn’t something to joke about. An impromptu proposal wasn’t a joking matter; not at this point in my journey. There was a lot involved with that idea.

I asked him if he was serious.

He said “Maybe…..”

I remember taking him back to New Orleans to catch his flight back to New York. We spent a few days there. We had a lot of fun walking around that old city.

He constantly kept asking me what time it was.  He had his watch off. It was lying in the console of the car. We were driving around; wasting the last of our hours together.

Perhaps it was my learned obsession with clock watching, but I did the opposite that day.

I threw his watch out the window; on the streets of New Orleans.

Time stopped.

He laughed. He called me crazy and he held my hand.

His missed his flight that day.

We went back to my house. We tried to figure out what came next.

I remembered his ‘maybe’.

We had a long talk about the future. I was not comfortable moving my children halfway across the country for a ‘maybe’. It was a huge risk for a lot of people that were involved.

He told me that he couldn’t commit at that moment to forever. He told me he had come to Louisiana to know for sure. He wanted to take our relationship to the next level; we both agreed on this, but there was also honesty; and a maybe. I have always loved his honesty.

I sold my house to friends quickly. He helped me pack. We got a Ryder truck. Things came along easier and faster than either he or I anticipated, at first.

Within a few days, Aaron and I embarked on a cross country road trip with my four children.

I came home to New York for the final time; for a maybe.

There are a lot of memories from this road trip. There were bad storms.

I remember the tornados. We saw the funnel clouds form as we drove down that interstate.

He drove the Ryder truck. I followed him in my car.

I remember thinking I was nuts.

Who does this? Who drives across country with four children for a ‘maybe’ through tornadoes?

I did. So did he.

I called him on my cell at one point. The emergency broadcast system was on every single radio station. I couldn’t escape it. My fear was running rapid.  I begged him to stop.

I remember all of the cars under the overpasses. I remember the fear.

Things flew in the air. A huge chunk of wood hit the Ryder. We pulled over for a while.

We made it through that storm, but it wasn’t the only challenge.

We stopped at a gas station to fill up. I drove over one of those little holes where they put the gasoline in storage underground. It caught on my exhaust system. Almost six feet of pipe came off from the under-rear of my car. It is the only time I drove a Harley.

We made it to New York within a few days.

I wouldn’t classify it as easy. He doesn’t either.

He told me from the get-go. He told me he wasn’t sure. He told me he needed to know for sure. This is why I chose to give it a trial run; this is why I chose to come home for a ‘maybe’.

I understood his point of view. I had a lot of weight on my shoulders – we both knew this. It was a big decision; a huge commitment.

About a year later, he proposed.

We have been married over ten years now. It wasn’t perfect. It was challenging at times. We both made mistakes. We have had struggles. We separated twice.

The first time was when I lost Christa (She was my step-mother).  She died of a rare terminal disease. She was not supposed to die. I did not believe she would die.

Emotionally, I fell off a cliff with that loss. It threw me into a tailspin. I questioned every value I had, every value I had been taught. I questioned faith. I questioned life. I questioned myself.

We separated again mutually a few years later. We thought we were just too different.

It never worked though; our separations. There was a night that he had come over late at night; one of many. I remember the words.

“What are we doing?”

I really wanted to believe in him. I wanted him to be perfect. I wanted him to magically restore my belief in love.

I held a high bar. I set the bar too high honestly.

I was afraid of being hurt. All he wanted was to love me and be loved in return.

Truth is, there is no such thing as perfect. Even the most ‘perfect’ love hurts sometimes; I believe this. I realized that somewhere along the way. I took down the bar. I loved him. He loved me in return.

It hasn’t always been an easy road; for telling you that would be lying. But I can say that it has been all worth it. He is not perfect. Neither am I. But our love is imperfectly ‘perfect’.

Sometimes, “Maybe” is worth the risk…..

 

© LifeasChristine, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grateful…..

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I have recently received two nominations for The Liebster Award. My sincerest thank you to http://altercationsofagirlwithgumption.wordpress.com/  & http://goingagainstthestereotype.wordpress.com/. Thank you ladies, for not only reading my stories, but for the nominations!

 

The Liebster Award is an award for new bloggers and helps others blogger’s ‘discover’ the newbies.

The Rules
1. Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. Display the award on your blog
3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers.
6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
7. List these rules in your post
8. Inform the blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it

I am answering both sets of questions in one post (killing two birds with one stone – the most efficient way; although I am writing figuratively, not literally. I don’t literally kill birds).

First set of questions as asked by http://goingagainstthestereotype.wordpress.com/:

  1. If you could live anywhere, where would it be? There are so many places that I have not discovered; it is a difficult question. I am happy where I am, but I wouldn’t mind living in Belize. What could be better than my own citrus orchard and no snow? Heaven on a stick!
  2. When did you realize you wanted to write a blog? It was a suggestion by another. I really wanted to just start with a story; my story.
  3. Do you have any kids? I am a mother to many – not just my blood. So yes, I have kids.
  4. Big family or only child? I have one brother and two half-sisters (one from each parent). Though I hate the word ‘half’…. it’s irrelevant really.
  5. What is your favorite meal? Lasagna or Lobster – I’m flexible.
  6. Do you like or dislike school? I enjoy learning.
  7. What is your escape? Canoeing, painting, art projects, diy.
  8. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you got older? A mother.
  9. How many of your friends/family know about your blog? Many; I’m an open book.
  10. Do you love brand names or are you a “plain Jane”? Neither ;)
  11. Why did you start your blog? To start my book; to tell my story.

Second set of questions as asked by http://altercationsofagirlwithgumption.wordpress.com/:

1. What’s your go-to snack food? Chips & dip works, but I’m not too picky.

2. Country or City? Why? Country to live, city to visit. Why not?

3. Who is your idol? Why?  I admire Socrates and Einstein. Why? Because their words and ideas have made me mull (think).

4. Dogs or Cats? Dogs.

5. Favorite childhood memory? A vacation once when I was young up in Northern, remote Canada. It was beyond magical.

6. Do you put your ketchup on your fries or do you dip them on the side? On the side; unless I’m at a carnival, festival etc., then I dump it all on – vinegar, salt, ketchup. YUM!

7. If you could go back to high school, would you? Knowing what I know now? Why not…

8. Favorite social media site? I wouldn’t label it a favorite, just the only one I use: FB

9. Do you watch/read/listen to the news? Why? Why not? From time to time, but not the common ones (FOX, CNN, etc). I try to find unbiased and real news – not what they try to feed us.

10. Why did you start a blog? To start writing my story.

 

11 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME

1. I always order my bacon extra crispy.

2. I love boots.

3. I got stuck briefly on my father’s roof while painting his house one summer.

4. I listen to classical music while I write.

5. I dye my hair with henna.

6. I hate politics.

7. I am a firework fanatic.

8. I dislike malls.

9. I am not a fan of winter in Western New York.

10. My first kiss was a disaster.

11. Since 18, I have shrunk almost two inches.

NOMINATIONS

1. Going Against The Stereotype

2. Altercations Of A Girl With Gumption

3. A Stroke of Good Fortune

4. Miss Confident Lady

5. Chaos and Clementines

Questions for my nominees…

1. What do you think is the greatest personality trait anyone could have?

2. Why did you start your blog?

3. What sustains you through the darkest of times?

4. Have you known loss?

5. Have you known love?

6. Are you aware of your regrets or do you believe in the quote “no regrets”?

7. Sweet or salty?

8. One word that can sum up your personality?

9. If someone magically offered you an ‘Easy’ button to life, would you take it if you knew there would be less joy as well?

10. Would you ride the donkey on the edge of the Grand Canyon trails or would you choose your own two feet?

11. What is the biggest dream that you currently have?

College; round two…..

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Quitting college and moving back to a small town is almost worse than not going to college at all. I was very aware of the talk. Boy, can small towns talk. This is a con of small town living.

I was surprised to learn that many of my classmates didn’t end up going to college after all. A few did. Some had returned shortly after leaving; as I did.

I wasn’t sure what to do when I returned. I became trained as a CNA. I got a job at a nursing home.

It was not my cup of tea.

I am thankful that we all have strengths in different areas; for this is not one of my strengths. I had no idea how much more I would grow to hate nursing homes through the course of my life, but that is a combination of other stories.

I saw a different part of life working there. This wasn’t my first job at a nursing home, but it was my first working directly with the patients. I think I was there about a year before I quit.

I quit soon after having to body bag an elderly woman that had died.

It took me a long time to make it back to college.

I wanted to go after I had gotten discharged from the military. My first husband initially laughed at my proposal. When he realized I was serious, he became very angry. He told me, “Over my dead body”.  It became a fight.

I wondered later on, through the years, what he was afraid of. I wondered why he was afraid of letting me fly. I resented him for trying to cage me.

Honestly, I didn’t fight too hard though. I had a full plate and I was well aware of that.

You see, life didn’t just stop when I quit college. Life became very full.

In that space between college attempt one and college attempt two, there had been a lot of life.

College wasn’t priority. Life became priority.

I made it back to college when my youngest started school.

I had made my last cross country trip back to New York a few years prior. I chose to come back for a ‘maybe’. This is another story.

I enrolled in my local community college part time; less than a week before the start of classes.

It was very humbling returning to college the second time. I baby-stepped.  I changed my major a few times. I tried to find my niche. I wanted to find my niche. I have always wanted to be a good mom; to have a good marriage. That took precedence in my life; the most valued. It is not all that I wanted though.

My final choice in majors was Human Services.

I attended a satellite campus of my local community college. I chose this avenue. I knew I was baby-stepping. I was comfortable with this choice.

While it is difficult to be the non-traditional, returning to college, adult student; I remember feeling relieved that I was not alone. There were others there. A few remain good friends of mine; even today.

It wasn’t always easy. There were some challenges along the way. There was a lot of pressure from society and some family to just ‘get it done’.

It wasn’t that easy.

I understand many do not get this philosophy. We all walk in our own shoes. This was my walk; my shoes.

Honestly, looking back it was an uphill battle trying to finish something I started twenty some years before.

There were some setbacks.

One of my mothers had died in this time; I had been blessed to have two. That was beyond a challenge; I had a strong attachment to her. I withdrew from all classes when she died. I returned the following semester.

My brother had been diagnosed with a brain tumor in this time. After his surgery, he ended up contracting meningitis. He almost died from meningitis. I had made a few trips to Virginia to see him. I was so scared that it would be the last time.

My oldest child had a severe snowboarding accident. He had gone with the school ski club. I was not with him. We had gotten the call. It was serious. He had ruptured his spleen. They wanted to operate immediately. I had him transferred to a children’s hospital. He was in ICU for a while. He remained in the children’s hospital for a little over a week. It was beyond scary.

There were other challenges as well.

I remember the day one of my children broke down crying in the cafeteria because his elementary teacher mentioned his father.

I remember choosing to hold back one of my children in kindergarten because he needed extra time.

I remember the challenges of the blended family. There were a lot and it wasn’t always easy. I didn’t always know what to do and I made some mistakes.

Statistics was a major challenge. If you have been following along in my writing, you may have noticed mention of ‘statistics’.

I have been aware of statistics since a young age. I hated the statistics. I hated being placed in statistics. I hated seeing myself in those numbers. I hated when people brought up statistics. It was always in a negative manner. It was always a limitation. The layman never looks beyond statistics. I knew that my hatred of statistics ran deeper than the numbers.

Statistics was part of my degree requirement. I was not happy about that. I tried twice. The first time I attempted was the semester that one of my mothers had died. My stats professor had died too; of cancer. I withdrew that semester.

The second time I attempted I think it was online. I was confused and frustrated. I hated statistics. I withdrew again.

It took me about four years to get through a two year school. I never did get my Associates degree because I lacked statistics.

I put it on the back burner and did what everyone else does; I got a job….

 

© LifeasChristine, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

College; round one……………

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I went to college right after high school. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do.

I remember my senior year I had a fascinating history teacher. He really engaged with us. He was unconventional. Most of us loved him. He sat on his desk one day and asked us where we were going; what we wanted in life. We all went around the room and engaged in this conversation.

I remember some of the other answers.

“I want to go to the Art Institute of Pennsylvania”

“I want to be a Marine Biologist”

My response to his question brought laughter that day.

I was honest and what I saw as success, didn’t necessarily fit with other views.

“I want to be a good mom. I want a successful marriage. I want to be happy.”

I had gotten a recommendation from my high school principal. Many didn’t like her; although, I respected her.

I remember the day she called me into her office and we talked about what I wanted to do after high school. I told her I was thinking about elementary education. She suggested her alma mater; Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. I remember telling her I would consider it.

I only remember visiting two colleges total.

I visited SUNY Fredonia with a friend of mine. I visited Edinboro University with my Dad, Stepmom and baby sister.

I don’t remember the visit to SUNY Fredonia, but I do remember the visit to Edinboro.

It really wasn’t that far away from where I grew up; only about 2 ½ hours away. I loved that campus from the moment I got there.

I remember some guys yelling out the window as we were all walking by. I think they yelled something like, “Don’t pick this one; it’s too much fun.” I remember Dad said, “Oh, great”.

I chose Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and majored in Elementary Education. I left for Pennsylvania the fall of ’91.

I loved some of the classes. I had a psychology class. I remember the professor was lecturing about illusions.

I remember thinking he was a quack; and yet, I was intrigued. I asked a lot of questions. I debated. I engaged.

I remember another class too. I remember learning about state testing. I remember I didn’t see eye to eye with that professor or the material.

Biology was first thing in the morning. It was a double whammy!

8 a.m. AND a science class.

Science bored me to death. Science reminded me of dirty toenails and dry conversation. No sense of humor with science. I wasn’t a fan of science at 19 years of age.

I loved the dorms; although I hated how little the rooms were.

The first day I got there, I had gone door to door and suggested we all meet each other. I remember the number of girls inside that hallway increased until we were all standing in the hall talking.

I remember my first roommate. I didn’t stay in the same room with her long because I asked for a room re-assignment. It is something that has always weighed heavy on my heart.

I wish I had given her a chance.

I wish I had not been uncomfortable with people that were different than me.

This is regret.

This is an ‘I wish I would’ve done something different’.

I didn’t dwell on it, but I tried to learn from it.

Acknowledging and understanding regrets in some ways symbolizes growth to me.

It breaks cycles. It breaks patterns. It breaks statistics.

It may not be the only way, but it is one way. A lesson too many learn, too late in life. And sadly, some never learn.

I wish I had given it a chance to room with her.

I will always wonder what it would have been like.

Did we have to look the same to get along? Did we have to dress the same?

I wish I had given her a chance.

I moved in with my new roommate shortly after arriving at Edinboro. Our room was two doors down and across the hall from my old roommate.

My new roommate was a lot of fun. She knew a lot of people at Edinboro.

She wanted me to go with her to the frat parties. I went a few times. After a few visits, the ‘brothers’ asked us to be their ‘little sisters’. There were a few girls on our floor that had begun the process.

There were a lot of parties at the frat house. I wasn’t really a fan.

The initiation scared me and honestly, I wasn’t willing to get that drunk. I knew there could be consequences that I wasn’t willing to let happen to me again.

I said no. She said yes.

She got very involved with that fraternity and she was gone a lot at night. I met a quiet, funny guy from the same floor, but different wing of our dorm. I don’t remember his name, but I remember his nickname; Ski. He loved to ski.

I hung out with him a lot while I was there at Edinboro.

I remember skipping class to play Tetris with him. I loved that game and it was so much more interesting than Biology in a lecture hall with 300 kids at 8 a.m. in the morning.

At one point our relationship seemed to become semi-serious; at least to him. He spoke of the future. I broke up with him.

Friends of ours got very upset with me for breaking up with him.

Around this time, it was mid-terms of the first semester. I had missed my Biology mid-term because I over-slept the first time. I had called the professor personally and asked for a re-take. He was gracious and offered me a re-take exam. I missed that one too.

There was a lot of freedom of choice at Edinboro. I didn’t always make good choices.

After I missed my make-up exam, I started to question if I wanted to be a teacher. I started to question if I wanted to be there.

I knew I didn’t want to call my Dad and tell him. He had laughed at me when I told him I wanted to go to college the first time. Calling him and telling him would make his laughter mean something. I avoided him instead.

I called my Mom. I told her I wanted to come there for a while until I figured it out.

Honestly, I don’t remember how I got from Pennsylvania to Virginia. I think my Mom may have picked me up.

I didn’t stay at Mom’s house too long. My Dad found out before I figured it out. It didn’t go over too well. He got very angry at me.

He had called my dorm room and asked my roommate to speak to me. The first few times he called, she lied for me and told him I wasn’t available. Eventually, he figured it out.

He called Mom. He found me. I remember questioning him why he was so angry when he had laughed when I told him I wanted to go to college.

“I’m not angry that you quit college. I’m angry that you didn’t tell me yourself.”

He wasn’t really angry that I had left. I think he was more hurt because I avoided telling him and went to Mom’s house instead to figure it out.

I had called a friend of mine back home in New York. I remember she sent her brother and one of our friends to pick me up in Virginia to bring me back to New York. There was no reason to avoid New York anymore; Dad was aware that I had quit. I stopped running. I knew I could go back to New York and figure it out.

Quitting college the first time is one of my regrets.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I remember the pressure. I hated the feeling of letting people down. I remember I thought of my Principle. I never saw her again. I was so ashamed that I had let her down; she had really believed in me.

I felt like I had let a lot of people down, but mostly myself. I needed to figure out where I was going, what I wanted and who I was.

It took me a long time to make it back to college….

 

© LifeasChristine, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teach your son how to use a plunger….

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Okay, all you parents out there, especially you ‘mothers’, listen up. These are words of wisdom. I believe this.

I say that because I wish someone had suggested this to me; prior to learning the hard way.

I guess I never thought of it. I mean, how many times do you actually USE the plunger?

I potty trained them quickly.

Those 4 kids were potty training CHAMPIONS! No really! They got this done quickly and young!

My oldest learned the coolest way! We were in the backyard of that little house by the railroad tracks located in Southern Louisiana. He was picking flowers for me. I was trying to potty train him inside up to that point. All of a sudden he started peeing on the flowers.

HOLY COW – HE CAN DO IT!!

I remember I told him to aim for different flowers. Within a week, he had potty training down – in a toilet! All thanks to a little pee on a daisy…. Sometimes you just got to roll with what they give you because they all learn a different way. If you have multiple children, you probably understand this.

Yes, these extremely bright children, I forgot to teach how to use a plunger…. Until that day!

I have a bad habit of not turning on the bathroom light in the small bathroom.

You know when you’ve lived in a house for so long that you know where everything is located and you just don’t really need the light?

Okay, well if not, then that’s where I’m at.

It was night. I had to pee. I went to the half bathroom. I sat down quickly. I really had to pee.

I JUMPED off that toilet seat and almost broke my neck in surprise; and quickly realizing the magnitude of the situation I just sat in.

Honestly, I was not very happy. I yelled that day. I yelled loud. I think I yelled a name. I knew who the culprit was.

I was right.

Mother’s often know these kinds of things; we have a gift, most of us.

I had a flurry of things going through my mind.

For one, I was grossed out beyond imagination!

And weighing more heavily on my mind was the repercussions of this little ‘oops, I forgot to teach them how to use a plunger’.

I knew then. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew. I know my body very well.

I knew that I was going to upset the Ph balance.

UGH!

I don’t want to go to the gynos!

I have a few stories about them. I’m not a fan. I mentioned it briefly in “When the sun came up, I finally peed…”, but I have more stories.

Sure enough.. I knew my body.

Ph is ruined.

I had to make that call. Damn kids – Damn overflowing poopy water!

I owned it though.

When I went to the gyno he had no idea what was going to come out of my mouth.

He gave me his normal gyno nervous  ‘Hello, how are you today?”

Well this time, I was honest.

I remember the first words out of my mouth.

“Do you have children?”

He looked puzzled and said he did.

“Do you have boys?”

He lightened up, suddenly becoming interested in where I was going with this.

He confirmed he did.

I advised him, “Perhaps you should teach them how to use a plunger!”

I proceeded to tell him exactly why I was visiting him today; no details left undone. He tried hard not to laugh. He didn’t do so well.

He made a suggestion as he burst out in laughter, “Or you could just turn on the light”.

Moral of the story: Teach your children how to use a plunger and use light at your own risk.

© LifeasChristine, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actually, I used fingernail clippers…

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I became a registered donor of bone marrow yesterday. I’m not quite sure what that all entails. I have heard that is a painful procedure; a painful recovery.

I get it though; I understand.

There is a flip side; not just that view.

A woman, an old neighbor of mine for a few years while I was growing up, has been diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia. She needs a bone marrow transplant.

Her daughter is pleading.
Her daughter is desperate.

I understand this. I lost a Mom to a rare disease. I get it. I volunteered for a mouth swab.

I went to talk to her as I sealed my envelope that contained my cheek swab.

I gave her a hug. From there we started chatting. Her husband sat next to her on one side. There were two people on the other side. I think they were relatives of hers, but I’m not sure.
She asked me about my kids. From there the conversation shifted. She remembered and brought up the braces story. She started explaining to the people sitting next to her.

I didn’t realize how far that story had spread.

For some reason, this story has occasionally made people’s mouths drop in shock.

As she was telling the story, she paused, looked at me and asked, “with wire cutters?”

Actually, no I didn’t have wire cutters.

When I was 15, I removed my braces myself with fingernail clippers.

My family loves to tell this story; too often. It is usually a one sided story.

There was a lot of confusion in my life at 15; this is honest. I think I have mentioned that before, but I am trying to prepare you or maybe trying to prepare myself to be honest with you.

At 15, I left New York and went to live in Virginia.
Virginia meant no orthodontist appointments. I knew this going into it. I had contemplated this.
I thought about this before I left;  when they gave me that choice.
I knew what that meant. I knew because I was familiar with braces by this point. I had had them on for about a year.

If you knew me when I was little, you would know that I had very crooked teeth.

I was a thumb sucker; for a long time. I carried a blanket too. I used to roll up the corners of the satin edges of the blanket and stick a rolled corner up my nose; and suck my thumb. I found comfort where I could; it wasn’t always pretty.

I said goodbye to my blanket long before I said goodbye to my thumb. My thumb unfortunately made an impression on my teeth.

This is why I needed braces.

I took a giant risk with my teeth. I know this. My teeth have held up very well; I am thankful for this.

I was down in Virginia. I had just gotten there. I was scared as hell. I didn’t know what this would entail. I knew what it was like last time I lived with him. I didn’t trust him.
But the truth is, I didn’t trust where I had just come from either.

So I gave it another chance. I didn’t know what else to do, honestly.

I think it was my first week there.
I had met the neighbors across the street. They had small children. We introduced ourselves. I had babysat back in New York. They hired me.

It was late at night. Their children were sleeping. I was bored.
I remembered my braces dilemma; no orthodontist in Virginia.

I knew they weren’t covered by insurance. Even back then, they weren’t cheap.

I knew the situation; the reality.

I went into their bathroom. I opened their medicine cabinet. I saw the fingernail clippers. I found peroxide.

I was very careful not to touch my mouth with those clippers.

I clipped the wires first.

This was actually more difficult than I anticipated. I didn’t realize then that the Ortho had wrapped the wires around the back molars; special brackets that engulfed my back teeth.
The wire got stuck at one point. It was awkward. I tried looking in the mirror to see which direction the wire spun around.
Once I got the wires removed, I started pinching and pulling at the brackets glued to my teeth.
When I got to the back molars, I forgot that they wrapped around the tooth. The first one hurt because I tried to yank it off. I only made that mistake once.
The worst part was the glue. I couldn’t leave the glue on there. I found a brand new nail file. I filed the glue off my teeth.

I smiled at my old neighbor when she asked if I used wire cutters and answered her question, “Actually, I used fingernail clippers”.

© LifeasChristine, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

She looked like Punky Brewster…

punky-brewster2

I often remember where I was in life by the number of children that I had at that present time. At the time when I had two children, I was young. I had gotten married at 19 and had my first child by 21. The second one came 16 months later.

At that time we had returned to Louisiana (two children and I), I had chosen to return to Eric. We had just been separated for 9 months; the longest up to that point.

Life felt good. Life felt normal. It was a very happy time in my life; in our lives.

We lived in a small two bedroom house located in New Iberia, Louisiana. It wasn’t much, but I liked it. It had a small front porch. It had an old, swinging door between the kitchen and the living room. It was in an old section of the city.

Although, I hated the railroad tracks behind the house. They were so close; and I had toddlers. I remember the day that a horrible smell came from the railroad tracks. Eric investigated. It was a cat. Someone had tied a cat to the railroad tracks. Eric had a weak stomach. I heard him gag. I heard him throw up. He untied the cat and buried it.

There were things that occurred there in that city that I didn’t always understand.

Our little house was behind another house. There was a house across from ours; also behind a house. It was slightly crowded.

Our neighbors across from us were a young couple. They were very young. I remember her son. He couldn’t walk. He crawled; I think with his elbows. He got yelled at a lot. I remember hearing them screaming at him. It always broke my heart.

They had a lot of friends over; often. One of those days that they had friends over, I met one.

She became a friend of mine. She had three children. I remember one day she asked me to babysit her daughter while she visited my neighbor.

We had a blast. She was about six years old.

She looked like Punky Brewster. She had a lively spirit. She was sometimes a little fire cracker.

She made us laugh. We grew to love Punky; Eric, I, and the boys.

We took her for ice cream. We watched Disney movies with the boys and her. She spent the night with us from time to time. She became an extension of our family. We grew to love that little girl.

I remember the night she had a nightmare. When she spent the night, she camped out in the living room; on the couch. My bedroom was off the living room. I heard her screaming. I ran to where she was.

“Run Momma, Run!!”

I will never forget those words.

I remember trying to wake her gently. I wanted to tell her that this time, it was only a dream. I had never seen anyone have nightmares; not like this. It took her a while to wake up. I gave her a hug and a drink. She went back to sleep.

I knew then that there was more to her story. I knew there was more to her Momma’s story. I didn’t judge. I opened my heart.

We didn’t stay in that little house too long. I soon became pregnant for the third time. We had to move to a bigger house. We moved to Jeanerette, Louisiana. She visited us there too. We stayed in Louisiana for baby #3 and baby #4. Soon after the youngest was born; our journey took us back to New York. We said goodbye to Punky and her Mom.

Years passed and life happened within those years.

Around the time she was 15, she went through a lot of struggles. I understood this.

Her mom called me one day. I remember she was crying. I remember her telling me she didn’t know what to do. I respected her honesty. I had no idea what to do either.

She had run away. She was at a hotel. She had a male companion with her.

Her mom asked, “What do I do?”

I thought of Punky.

I remember I told her to go get her.

There was a lot of chaos within that time frame of her life; or what appeared to be chaos.

Punky got kicked out of school. She was made to attend ‘alternative’ school. She hated that school. She hated the way that school made her feel. She never said this; this is only what I believe.

She attempted suicide. I remember that phone call.

That was a cry for help. I remember feeling that very strongly.

I didn’t know why she had been brought into my life. I didn’t know why our paths had crossed, but I loved that little girl.

Not many people understood this. They couldn’t see past the chaos.

The path of my life had many curves and forks in the road, since the last time I had seen Punky. At the time of her attempted suicide, I had returned to New York. I had been married, separated, widowed and remarried.

My current husband did not know Punky. He had strong reservations regarding my proposal. I understood his concerns. I have always loved his honesty.

He was not close-minded though. He voiced his concerns and his reservations, but at the close of our discussion he chose to give Punky a chance. I love that he sees the color that others miss; for not everything is black & white.

I called her mom; my friend. I suggested a change of scenery. I suggested a new school; where nobody knew her name.

A place I hoped would give her a chance.

Her mom agreed to give it a try. She loved her enough to let her come to New York. I can imagine how difficult that was for her.

I spoke to Punky on the phone. I remember asking her what was going on. I remember she broke down crying. I remember asking her if she would like to come visit us and stay with us for a while. A change of scenery. She said yes.

We bought her plane ticket from Louisiana to New York. I remember when I picked her up at the airport.

She had crazy hair.

She didn’t look like Punky.

She looked like she had known a lot of life; the not-so-good parts of life.

She ran to me in the airport that day. She gave me a huge hug.

I saw Punky.

She was more than wild hair, alternative school attendee, and suicide attempts. I quickly learned that not everyone would see past that.

After settling in, she school-shopped. In our district, the adolescents have a choice of high schools. We live in a rural area and our local high school had closed years before.

I gave her this choice. She needed this choice.

After choosing her school, I went to our local school to have her enrolled.

I have to admit that nothing bothers me more than educated idiots. Perhaps that is a little rough, but I’m not sure how else to word it.

It was a man in charge of the rural school. Not that I have anything against men running rural schools; just educated idiots.

I remember going to his office. He thought he held a lot of power. He tried to assert his power; his authority.

I tried being polite at first.

I tried to negotiate.

It finally came down to a battle of belief.

A battle of hope.

A battle of seeing the color.

I won that one, but not without standing up to him.

He didn’t want to let her in. He tried to fight me on this.

He asked a lot of questions; I was okay with that. He was very condescending; I was not okay with that. He saw the world through lenses of black & white. There was not much color in his view.

He called me a dreamer. He called me naïve. He told me I couldn’t save them all. He brought up the statistics.

I got very angry.

“I’m not trying to save them all!! I’m just trying to give her a chance. Who are you to say whether she gets that chance? If you fight me on this, I will hire an attorney. (I couldn’t afford an attorney, but I didn’t tell him this) I will fight you on this one!” I said one more thing as I stood up.

“And one more thing!! She is more than a statistic!! Her name is Brittany!!”

He didn’t really like me. I didn’t really care.

I walked out of that office very irritated and ready to fight for those that needed someone to fight for them. I became her pitch hitter. I went to bat for her.

He made it difficult. He told me he wanted custody papers before he would allow her to go to school. Our school has to pay for each child that attends high school. They have to pay tuition for each child from 9th grade to 12th grade. He didn’t feel that she was worth the tuition.

Getting custody papers would be an uphill battle. I knew this. She was a non-relative adolescent that was sole custody of her mother; who resided in Louisiana. I wasn’t sure how this would go over.

I remember making phone calls to get advice on this. I didn’t know if legally I needed this. I needed to know more.

In the end, I received temporary custody through means of a letter that her mother had written and had gotten signed by a notary. It was enough to get her enrolled.

A lot of people thought I was crazy. I didn’t care.

I did what I felt was right.

I heard a lot of sarcasm. I didn’t care.

I heard a lot of doubt. I didn’t care.

I had no idea what to do with her. I had no idea how to help. I just followed my heart most of the time. I hoped that I was planting seeds.

She wanted to dance. I paid for her to take dance classes.

She wanted to cheerlead. I drove her to practice and bought her cheer shoes.

I loved her like my own. I set rules for her. I tried to wipe the slate clean and make New York a fresh start. But, I also gave her some room to grow. I gave her room to learn.

She blossomed.

It wasn’t all peaches and cream. She drove me nuts sometimes. I’m being honest. I hated when she tried to hide things from me. I felt she could be honest. I couldn’t understand why she just couldn’t be honest. It hurt sometimes. I later learned that she didn’t want to disappoint me. That broke my heart. And yet, it told me that she loved me in return.

She stayed with our family about a year and a half. I remember when she left.

It was a very difficult time for me.

She was going back to Louisiana for a visit. I think it was Spring Break. She had brought a friend with her to see Louisiana for the first time.

Her friend returned. She did not.

She never called me. She ignored my phone calls. She had chosen to stay in Louisiana. It took her months before she finally called me to tell me.

I was sad, but I let her go.

I didn’t see her again for years.

She did a lot of growing up in those years. She saw a lot of life. She knew a lot of life.

Years later, when she was older, she called me again. This time she asked me for help.

Circumstances had changed. Life had changed. Our kids were all teenagers at this time. She had three small children now.

I hesitated for a while. I remember this. My husband hesitated too.

In the end, we chose to open our home to her again.

This confused some.

This made some angry.

I remember some said that I didn’t have any business taking care of her when I had my own children to care for.

Some looked at only the money factor.

Some looked at her past choices.

One laughed and asked if I thought I was Mother Theresa. I laughed and mulled.

I’m not Catholic, but she was a wise woman; Mother Theresa. She understood love; perhaps more than most of us.

Some of my family relationships became strained by this choice. I know this. I am sorry that this happened. This was never my intention.

But, I believed in this one. I believed in her. I saw something in her that often she didn’t see herself; that many did not see.

We held a family meeting before we moved forward. It was important that the children understood all that this would entail.

It would not be like last time. She was older now. With her, now came three small children; three small children that had already seen more in their short life than most. It wasn’t going to be easy. This I knew.

It was much more complicated; second time around. Second chances often are; aren’t they?

I have another story about her second time in New York, but I will save that for another day.

A few weeks ago, she sent me a message. “U saved my life”.

I remember thinking I wasn’t good enough to save her life. And yet, I wasn’t really trying to save her life; I didn’t know how. I just wanted to give her a chance.

There were times when I had no idea what to do or how to handle situations. There was a lot of complexity. I doubted myself a lot and my seed planting. But I also gave it everything I had. I let her go when she needed to go. I listened to her when she needed to talk. And I don’t know.. I just loved her; the best I could….

© LifeasChristine, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.