Mother’s Day; Little Girls to Women

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I have been madly, ferociously in love with my children since the moment I held their soft sweet bodies against mine. Their powdery smell and clingy limbs filled my every organic need for a very long time.

Fast forward and they are beautiful adults. I still long for their embrace and miss their smells. I know I could go blind and know them immediately by scent alone. Or by the sound of them moving through a space. One is so quiet and the other is quite the opposite.

For many years, my favorite humans felt excitement at creating a special Mother’s Day gift for me. These are the one’s I long for. They told me that I was their favorite person on the planet and that they spent so much precious time working out the best gift they could co-create. Whether it was an inedible breakfast or a hike I would rather have napped through, each gift made me so happy and I knew I was blessed beyond what I deserved to have these precious, perfect humans create in their imaginations what would make me happiest; from snuggle time, age appropriately once and forever more called nuggle time, to culinary delights made by their sweet and probably dirty hands. I ate them all up, every meal, hike, and nuggle. I am sure I let them know that each gift they presented was a treasure to me, because it was.

As they’ve grown and found their own lives that no longer revolve around their Mommy, I can’t help but feel some sadness and loss. I miss those Mother’s Days so much. Even the ones when their dad gave me an hanging fuchsia basket because that was what my mom always wanted when I grew up. The girls always presented them like they were baskets of gold, and that’s all I wanted, was to make them feel good about giving a gift of such value to someone they loved. That was the gift I wanted to give them. To give them confidence and unconditional love. They could have brought me a mop and I would have been as happy with them..maybe not with their dad!

I have been a little sad this Mother’s Day because I felt forgotten, but as I recall the past holidays, I know how blessed I really am. I have known the love of having my children give me rocks that might has well have been diamonds, and what more could I ever want?

Loudest Silence you Ever Heard

I have been sitting in silence as of late, making patterns and correlations in my frontal lobe. The word that keeps arising in present day life connecting to the past is Silence. Silence, the lack of sound.

Meditation is about silence and sweeping the mind. The silence is lessened distraction to let your mind perceive the wholeness of life. I tried to meditate. I practice meditation, and I realize my mind is never clean. I have so many connections with my synapses firing that sitting still for 5 minutes is incredibly difficult. I also recognize I am fried as a human being, I am overwhelmed, and my body and reactions are dictating more stress upon stress. I need some silence without the rumination. This silence is positive, which is counter to learned experiences of silence within my past dictation.

“You are being too loud and everyone is looking at you.”
“Why do you always have to be so loud? Why do you need that attention?”
“Your Aunt _____ is always loud and you are just like her. It’s like you are not even my daughter.”

My mom has issue with loud noises, and I saw my shine in being enthusiastic. She did not agree, she felt it was embarrassing to joke and be seen. Someone silenced my mom too. She passed this along to me, who felt in-congruence within silence. In order to keep my emotions silent, at the age of 13, I began smoking cigarettes. The emotions I feared that would be expressed loudly would trigger my mom to shame me, and through this shame I learned that it was better to be silent and strong than express the emotions I felt and learn appropriate channeling. Someone showed my mom this way of life.

I found a guitar, while being grounded for a year, under my parents bed. It was my father’s 1969 Framus from his time spent in Germany in the armed forces. I played it quietly, and when my parents would go out for a few hours, I cranked the stereo amp to 11 and played as loud as I wanted too. I felt the first taste of acceptance in this freedom for myself.

I loved singing, since I was a small child, and I used my insanely strong and loud voice in songs I learned from the radio. I overheard my father tell my mother that I actually had a pretty good voice, and smiling. This was pride and acceptance, not intended for me to hear, but still a moment in my life where I felt like my dad saw and heard me.

I was Led Zeppelins Going to California character of the woman who plays guitar and cries as she sings. I felt this connection so deeply. The times when I was singing loudly correlated with the absence of cigarettes. I felt heard, I felt proud, I felt like nothing and nobody could ever shake me. I did not let the silence envelope me and I won my life! The feeling was indescribable.
I have always been a multi tasker, something I also learned from my mom. She could start a business from nothing, work full time and still make sure the gardens were tended too and the house was manageably clean. She never sat in silence, she moved in silence. This was her way of being seen, not heard. She gave me the ability to do all the same things.

She supported my ideal of graduating high school a year early. I was in a college program, and I doubled up on courses in order to escape high school as quickly as possible, and thus escape my home town. I was 16, and my mom took me to a professional photographer to have my senior portraits done. She met with this man, who had an in home photo studio and came recommended. He said it would take a few hours, and if she wanted to leave she could. My mom left, and normal photo poses took place. I assumed from the hour and 6 outfit changes I had brought that we were done by the 6th outfit, but my mom wouldn’t be back for an hour, and he suggested I look through the outfits he had in the closet near the bathroom.

The outfits he had did not have much cloth to them, and there were not many choices. I declined and said I wasn’t comfortable in those outfits, they were too small for me. He said he would pick 2 outfits and I should just try them for a few photos. He handed me a bustier and a white lacy top, and said I didn’t need pants, he would just shoot the upper half in romantic poses. You know, flowers and lace and mirrors. He said women should embrace their femininity. I refused to take off my levis, which actually belonged to my dad, and put the two tops on. The photo shoot ensued and when he was done with these two outfits, he tried to convince me I should put on a lingerie piece meant for a woman. Again, I was 16. I said no. I already felt shame and sick to my stomach and I demanded to call my mom. (This was a time of house phones, no cell phones.) And I left a message on the answering machine and then walked up the road with all my stuff.

My mom picked me up and asked how it went and I said “Fine.” And was silent.
I began smoking again immediately, I had to keep the emotions inside, but I also needed something for the panic I was feeling. The photos would be back in two weeks, and my mom would see them. She would hate me forever for those final two outfits, and I kept silent the entire 2 weeks. I never told my friends, and I couldn’t tell her. I lost my real smile and found a people-pleasing smile that could fool everyone, but I kept that cigarette between me and my emotions and the people who would cause me pain. I would burn their eyes out. I was tough, I was the Marlboro Man and smoking was the flag I came up with to create distance from harm. Smoking bitches don’t get fucked with. We will attack and prevail.
The day came when the photos were in and I was not tough, I was extremely panicked. As we pulled into the photographers driveway, I started crying. I told my mom I had taken photos in these little outfits because he told me to. I told her I didn’t know why I did it. I told her I was ashamed and never wanted to hurt her. She soothed me by saying we would take a look and if it was inappropriate we would deal with it then. I walked into the studio with a glaring hatred and anger towards the photographer.

He showed us the photos, one each of each outfit. I never saw the other poses. We left and my mom purchased the prints presented, and she told me it wasn’t that bad, but let’s not tell your dad or he will be angry and we don’t want your dad to be upset.

So I told no one. Until now.

These are the photos. I would like to take a moment to point out my smile and eyes. Do a quick comparison. What do you see? I see an excited young woman, thinking about her future through all the hard work she had done. I see teeth, and shining eyes.
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In these photos that smile is dangerous. The seduction is not the danger I am referring to. What you see here in these eyes is anger, fear, and panic. They are saying “Is this really happening? Why are you frozen???? Get out now!!” My smile is murder. I wanted to murder this man. I wanted to kill his soul the way I thought maybe in my naïve still a virgin brain felt he was murdering my soul. My past sexual abuse and lack of coping skills made me an ideal target for every creep out there. That smile says “I will do what you say, but someday when I am strong, I will come for you in retribution.”
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I shaved my head shortly after this happened.

This was only my first time, it would happen throughout my life in presentation, but I only ever posed again in revealing clothing as an empowerment and I knew I could say no to anything too far beyond my comfort-ability, with a photographer I trusted. They were not nudes, but they were sexy and feminine and I forgot about that first pervert photographer. I put those photos onto Myspace and showed my people I was fiercest when happy and could be sexy too. I was 28, not 16.

I snapped just as I turned 17. I began listening to the angriest punk rock music, loud and fast, and I began playing that music as well. I was in bands, singing and playing guitar and writing all my anger into words. At 36, I no longer wanted to focus on the anger, and I quit playing live music. The part I miss the most was being loud, the opposite of silence.

As I drove out to the river in my hometown yesterday to meet a friend for coffee, I played my loud music. I sang at the top of my lungs. I felt that wonderful untouchable feeling that only that sound could produce. I was breathing deeply, holding notes. I realized my voice is for shit now, because I have been in silence, practicing meditation through smoking. I realized when I drive and sing, I do not smoke. I realize smoking is my negative silencing tool to keep myself in check in order to keep other people pleased. Cigarettes are my Ursula the Sea Witch. They take all my good qualities that I suppress thinking they are not good qualities because they make others feel emotion. I am killing myself slowly, I am losing my voice, to be fake strong and tough because I fear loss of my people.

I have always been the woman who freaks out when someone walks out on her in anger. This creates a depth of panic I cannot describe. The woman I want to be ideally is loved and nurtured by her people, whether silent or loud. When panic sets in, my body reacts by engaging in fight or flight, defense. I get louder. Please hear me! Please see my pain! Please understand my pain! Please love me in spite of my reactions. And every day, I walk away from myself for a cigarette, so I can be a “good” woman for the day. The emotions are safely tucked within the plumes of smoke. My solution is to silence my voice forever?

Life is not a clean process. People like that photographer, manipulating through intent in choice, exist. My mom exists, and her silencing was not meant in harm. She, like myself, panicked and coped by using silence.
Information and knowledge determine outcome. If I know I am silencing myself, and I know I want to love myself in that wholesome complete ideal way, then why do I continue to perpetuate the cycle?

Control. I want control. A friend of mine said to me her new mantra was ‘I don’t know’. I don’t know what is going to happen, and within that idea of being accountable for myself while knowing I don’t know, I have found comfort.
It takes 3 days for the chemicals to leave the body, for the poison to drain. My vocals will be better at 1 month, and strong and healthy by 6 months.
I will no longer silence myself in any way. I will be the true unique loving woman I am. Towards myself and others. I will practice this meditation. I will become.

Thank you for allowing my written sound to be heard. Thank you for not leaving me in my silence.

Taking Solace in the Void

It’s taken me a long time to find the comfort and grace to be at ease in my own company, to sit with no one but myself and my own thoughts. I’m not talking about just a few minutes before having to placate my mind with some distraction. I am talking about hours on end. The long drives to dad’s beach, nights spent after the divorce laying in the dark alone for the first time and after each breakup.

This has been one of my biggest lessons in that last few years, it’s not an easy one to digest because it means I have had to learn to be absolutely comfortable with myself. Which is fucking difficult. You have to be ready to face the nitty gritty parts of your mind, the dark places of your heart that are broken and bruised, you have to be ready to face your pain and work through it. It’s a messy process and hard, and leaves you feeling raw and at times empty.

But I am starting to savor it as its becoming my independence and my way of clearing the negative out of my life. I value and love my independence and ability to do what I want when I want, I am so tired of holding myself back for others, like little bits of me are not fully able to show. I came close this last time to being fully me, I only had a few guards up. Yet I am less broken and hurt than I have ever been. I feel happier and more free than ever before.

I see this time as a chance to push myself to grow, to show myself more love and kindness. To show more forgiveness and kindness to those around me. To calm the ripple effect of the negative that seems to just grow. If I show love and send it out it will reflect back. I want to fully love this void and in-between. I have come to realize that for me when I hop from relationship to relationship whether it’ long term or just a few months of dating I leave an open wound that is never fully healed and that leaching effect just keeps going and it drains me of my essence and makes it hard for me to fully give to my lover’s which is unfair to both parties.

This last time I waited till I felt ready to step into the vast expanse of dating again, when I did I did it with pure intentions and made sure that my wounds from the past were not bleeding into my unknown future. It was an incredible experience and fuck I am so thankful for it, it was a lesson that I needed to learn and feel.

Now as I take this time again to heal it’s not a massive damage in anyway, while still a heartache of a different kind it’s one that I can give utter thanks to. It’s one that leaves a bitter sweet smile on my face. For its left my heart open to whatever may come with a light that I can’t explain. Yes the void and the dark nights are still very much around and I feel them but I am able to embrace them like an old lover and take solace in it.

This void is my growth, its my murky waters where I filter out the bullshit and crap, its where I continue to push the negative out of my head and show myself more love, it’s where I show the people in and around my life more compassion and grace. Its reconnecting with me and letting it all flow. It’s a lesson in closing old wounds and true healing. It’s making sure that I don’t continue the ripple effect of negativity and making sure that not only am I really ready and wanting someone in my life but having a healed and whole heart and soul to give them.

I think as humans sometimes we are so afraid of being alone that we never fully understand the peace and healing that comes from that alone time. That void and loneliness is a hard place to be and to digest but think of the possibilities that could happen if we as humans take those moments and heal to stop the ripple effect. How many extra wounded hearts and people would we avoid hurting by doing that.

Maybe that is the lesson here, I know it has been mine so far. I’m stopping the ripple from my wounded heart. I want to pass on kindness and gratitude, my past has taught me so very much even from the ones who taught me the deepest pain to the one that showed me the brightest light. There is always room for gratitude and kindness.

Acceptance of the void and loneliness, the loving of one’s true and authentic self. Be brave enough to show your bright light to the world and don’t ever hold yourself back for fear of rejection. You as a beautiful human and soul are enough and are loved. Don’t fear the void and the loneliness for its temporary and merely a state of mind.

Let that murky muddy water filter the bullshit out of your head, be like the Lotus and bloom in the middle of the dirty water.

Blessed Be.

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Dancing Naked in the Full Moon

I’m going to dance naked in the full moonlight next to the ocean worshiping all that is me and the beauty that I have blossomed into. I will wear my battle worn heart out in the open for my lovers to see.I will have no shame in the scars of my past for they have shaped me into the graceful lover that I am today. I will love,I will forgive easy. I will be authentically me.

The last ten years have taught me so much growth, and the best has been in the last year for me. I am finally learning to live as my authentic self, no apologies, no holding back, to speak my mind freely and not filter my feeling and emotions for fear of how the other person might react. I am stepping into my full worth and potential as a woman the one that I have always known was deep inside and has been climbing her way out of the smolder fire for so very long.

It is an amazing feeling to finally be at peace with being on my own, knowing that I am amazing and at ease walking this planet with just me and my friends and family. I don’t require or need a partner to complete my being, I know that I already accomplish whatever I want in my life quite well by myself and will continue to do so, it’s realizing that if I choose to have a partner in my life it’s not because I need them, it’s because I actually finally want someone in my life to include them and be apart of their lives but not be consumed by them..

I have become consumed by my past partners, abusive relationships have a tendency to do that to people, until the one they are abusing wakes up and starts making some changes. It took me a long time to finally make the changes but I did, Once I did and started to change my own inner story and loving myself and knowing my worth this funny and fucking incredible thing happened to me.

I finally got a taste of how I have always wanted a relationship to form and feel like, every bit of it including whom I was with was a massive breathe of fresh air for me, it wasn’t perfect but it was so damn in close for me that even though it ended to soon ( my opinion) I am walking away from it with so much hope for whatever is yet to come. The simple ease of slowly getting to know someone. To that random moment you look over at the way they are talking to their kid and you realize how much you care about them.

There is no way to express how grateful I am for this last relationship it has left such a positive mark on my heart and in my life, after so many years of hurt and heartache to have even just a few short months of just the ability to freely express myself, to be authentically myself with someone, to be comfortable enough to let down my walls, with someone and have it leave me feeling so full of happiness. I loved being able to be freely me and to be able to express my feelings so freely no matter if they were returned or not was freeing

I know now that I will never settle for anything less than something like that ever again, that small taste gives me so much hope of whatever is yet to come in my life, whenever that may be. For now I am going to settle into just being me. Being free to be and to dance naked in the full moonlight if I choose, to play in mud and crawl under barbed wire, have wild times with my girlfriends, teach my daughter to be brave and free and let what will be will be in the matters of the heart, as mine is in a good place right now.

See that is how I know I don’t need partner in my life, I am back on my own and while it hurts and yes I definitely wanted to see that last relationship go entirely a different way as it was ( again my opinion) pretty fucking amazing, chill and dam that man made me happy and and knew how to make me smile in way I can’t explain. I am just fine and life is still absolutely amazing. That is the beauty of year’s growth, wisdom, change and maybe just maybe that’s what they truly mean when the say if you love someone set them free, including yourself set yourself free to love.

*Editors Note- Lisa-Anne is an incredible inspiration to us all. Her personal journey to be who she wants to become has enlightened us all with the struggle and success. This woman is a warrior. I included these photos as a small visual to the work she has put into her life, and the continuing rewards she shares with us all.
Peggy

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Mirrors for Awareness

Mirror Neurons are best explained in example form.
Have you ever looked at a person who was yawning, and then yawed yourself? Have you ever witnessed a person crying and began crying too? Have you ever heard a person vomit, and then vomit yourself? Have you ever looked at a person and witnessed their happiness and felt happiness for yourself? You have experienced mirror neurons activating in your pre-frontal cortex.
This phenomenon that occurs in empathy is created neurologically by mirror neurons. Before humans acted intelligently, we acted as primates. The primal defense system using mirror neurons is the same for humans as it is for animals. Mirror neurons are neurons that mirror action of another based on perception. A dog with his hackles raised is telling you they are uncomfortable, which for some people may create a mirror neuron of standing in a defensive body posture. If we apply this to human relationships, we can see this pattern everywhere and mirror neurons are the key to understanding social interaction.

“Mirror neurons represent a distinctive class of neurons that discharge both when an individual executes a motor act and when he observes another individual performing the same or a similar motor act. These neurons were first discovered in monkey’s brain. In humans, brain activity consistent with that of mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area, the primary somatosensory cortex, and the inferior parietal cortex [Figure 1].” (Acharya, 2012)

I highly recommend you read this study to know more. Today I want to talk about the mirror part of the mirror neurons.

If we understand that mirror neurons not only are produced in reaction, but also activated in the same way through our own actions, it’s sort of like tossing out a net and seeing if your is stronger than someone else’s, which leads to conflict if your focus is on distrust and any learned behavior from previous paradigms. This sounds like testing boundaries for reactions. Infants develop mirror neurons about 12 months of age and use the social cues to gauge how their environment reacts. As adults, we become very intelligent and secure the ability to rationalize. This can create an imbalance.

Body language plays a large part in social interactions and mirrors within our environment. In my current employment I am assisting in the end of life. The fear, the pain, the nostalgia and the depression becomes my fear of death, pain, missing loved ones and regrets. I am mirroring her pain in life, which makes work very stressful. My solution is what I perceive as mindful mirroring. She stoops, I stoop. I stand tall, she stands tall. I breathe deep, one thing at a time, and action. She does the same. I am responsible for leading. I see the same mirror in my relationship at home with my husband and daughter. In order to lead, I must understand what I am projecting in my body language as well as in my actions. These actions are unconscious, which leads to the opening of the universe and asking yourself “what other stupid shit have you been doing unconsciously?” If I know, I can see and be mindful.

Death is a funny thing. We die to make room for the next generation. We die out of control, we do not get to pick and choose when and where in a natural death. Death tells us when it is our time, and the end of our life, which is relatively short in comparison to our environment, is over and we have no answers on what is to come so we can control it. The lack of control produces fear. I read somewhere that Religion was invented to assist humans in coping with the psychological fear of death. The beauty in this is that if it does help, you will believe in it and be freed, no matter your choice in religion or appreciation of life.
As a caregiver for a dynamic woman who is on her last hike up the mountain, I can say I have been fortunate to experience the journey by her side. Even when she wakes me up at 3 am to ask me to pull up one of her socks, that hasn’t actually fallen down. She is asking for a new mirror, she is asking me to lead through social attachment from me, a stranger as of last year, to her, a woman who is the mentor to me. I guide her, she guides me. This equal mirror provides the healing for us both.

Oh mirror neurons, look what we have stirred up now.

Within this process of awareness over the last few days, I have come to my purpose in life. I cannot summarize it yet, but I can tell you it has a few parts that correlate with this blog.
The main points are need based. We need people. We need our people. We need social attachment.

We currently live detached, disengaged, and isolated, overwhelmed and anxious.
Social attachment and relation cures the loneliness of suffering by attaching, engaging and practicing healthy isolated self-care balanced with social needs being met.

In order to heal others, we must be healed. This is a continual cycle throughout each life span of beginning, middle, end. We will cycle between happiness and suffering, but we can effectively reduce our suffering into small manageable portions that we can maneuver through. Once we learn the process, we become the teacher, the mentor. The mentor shows how they healed, engages in validation of being heard (the release of suffering)and tells the story. The reader takes over and relates and wants the same outcome of less suffering. The reader is now also a part of the story. The reader relates and is inspired to suffer less, becoming the mentored. They learn, they mentor others.
The mentor begins maintenance healing, a healthy process of grieving in memorializing of the loss. The mentor learns of inspired stories from the truthful release of their story original story.

This perpetual mirroring of each other does not need to be defense inspired. We make a difference in each of our stages of the trauma suffering cycle and the maintenance healing cycle.

Ultimately, we build on top of these ideas of lessening suffering through truth, building trust and social attachment and feeding our focus the positive outcome that begins in the middle of the eye.

We are building together. I see the purpose.

More on this very soon. My head space is full and I wrote 37 handwritten pages of working this purpose out. I think I have it.

Acharya, S., & Shukla, S. (2012). Mirror neurons: Enigma of the metaphysical modular brain. Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine, 3(2), 118–124. http://doi.org/10I .4103/0976-9668.101878

Lessons from the Universe

Life has a way of turning you upside down in an instant. Your happiness, or what seems like your truth of momentary happiness, gets pulled out from under you like a rug by the universe in a way that shakes you to your core and forces you to continue to peel back your layers of bullshit and clear your path so that you can move forward.

It can be a simple doctors appointment that turns your week on its heels, when you ignore your body for months because you think it’s just a side effect of your birth control and deal with it until it becomes utterly annoying and you find out that it’s actually something that requires a referral and surgery… yeah okay thank you universe round one goes to you. Lesson learned listen to your body. The constant fatigue was not just from being super busy, constant periods are not normal side effects… ect. Gotcha!

Then there’s the endings of relationships whether mutual, or not. In friendship or romance there comes a time where you have to make a decision on how you handle it. You demand respect face to face, you don’t hide behind the keys of a device. Be kind and gentle with your words, you’re dealing with a human heart and there is no need to ever be cruel no matter your reason. Speak your unapologetic truth, own your feelings, be honest, be real but always, always be kind. Walk away leaving that other human with your final words being ones of kindness, there’s enough bitterness and hate in this world.

I read some words today in an article about the upcoming Full Moon this month and in it is spoke of love and it’s power that it has. I believe with all my heart that showing someone that you care is the most powerful gift you can give them. Being capable to love after you have been broken and hurt is one of the most difficult things to do, so when you can get through someone’s walls and guards and they show you their soft side, even for a moment, cherish it, for they are giving you so much. I am so thankful to the ones who have given me these moments, and I am blessed to have had moments like that with someone.

Loving even though you have been hurt.
Loving even though you have lost.
Loving even though you have witnessed and seen terrible heartache
And destruction is the most powerful thing a human can do
And is the deepest purpose of all of us.
Despite being hurt, or abused, or torn,
We can still love, and this is where we
Find our true power.
This is where we find our true enlightenment.

Ahhhhh Universe I see you are at it again well played. I bow my head in humble grace to you now, you have yet again humbled and surprised me. Unapologetic yet kind and gracious heart lesson, does this mean I am getting somewhere?

Wait you had one more for me universe I forgot… it’s the working so much that you push your body too far and ignore it ( i.e lesson one),to exhaustion and your family thinks that you live for your jobs so on the eve of you leaving your second job the first two lessons slap you so hard in the gut and soul that you are not sure if you need to call a timeout from the universe or ask for a rewind on the last two and a half weeks just so you can figure out where in the fuck it all went sideways. Golf clapping for you now universe, I am humble at your feet now.

So as I sit here writing this pondering my next step as my physical health has me putting training and a few races on hold and honestly has me a bit scared and nervous and my heart is shaken from an unexpected twist that has hurt it in a way that I never in a million years expected, I am able to smile because I know I spoke my honest truth and was pure in my intentions. I think that I am going to remind myself to remember to always choose Love. Love myself and the unapologetic authentic woman I am becoming, to honor the love that I have so freely given as its true and mine to freely give. No matter how it’s taken, to love my body better for I have an incredible one that is not only physically strong but it is beautifully sexy inside and out.

Oh You’re really funny Universe….lesson number four Self Love, that all important lesson. Check Mate.

Port Angeles 1969

By Kristina Rasmussen

The girl is only 18. She wears a borrowed pink sweater that’s too tight across the chest. Poverty, humiliation, acne, peroxide, abandonment, and abuse have damaged her. Still, she is young enough to feel hopeful that this will be her last first date with a sailor on leave. The young men who serve at the naval base like to visit this port town before going overseas, and the girl and her only friend dress up tirelessly for the dance, waiting for their own ship to come in. She has faced humiliation at school for wearing hand me down rags, and believes no local boy would want her. She can be whoever she wants on these nights, but self doubt keeps her quiet. While the girl and her friend apply shared pasty-pink lipstick and powder in the backseat of the ‘67 Nova, the boy in front watches in the rearview mirror. She catches him spying and wonders if he is the one, but doesn’t realize how plainly the question shows in her eyes. She’s surprised when he doesn’t look away first. She thinks she’s found her answer.

***

The boy believes this girl has the prettiest eyes he’s ever seen. They’re almost black, like his mother’s. Her teeth are crooked, but whiter than the snow back home, and if she covers them again with her gloved hand when he smiles at her, he’s afraid he might turn around and pull her hand off her face. They’ve only met this afternoon, but he’s learned enough about her to know that in a few hours, she’ll pack her few belongings and quietly leave her foster home where her time is up, anyway. He sees her eyes searching his when she catches him staring. In this game of chicken, he doesn’t look away first. He intends to answer every question in her innocent eyes because he knows he has finally found the reason he survived two tours of duty on a riverboat in Vietnam. If there is ever going to be redemption for him, it is through this girl.

***

Later, after dropping off the girl’s loud, horse-toothed friend, the sailor and the girl walk on the beach and sip whiskey from his flask. Not used to drinking alcohol, the girl throws up. The boy kneels beside her and gently holds her hair out of her face. He doesn’t mind. The boy has futilely held his best friend’s guts in place while waiting for the medics. He’s not squeamish. He gently rubs small circles on her lower back and tells her he’d like to take care of her.

***

As he drives to the motel that will be their first home together, the girl slumps, exhausted, against his shoulder. They check into a room under a married alias. He sees the makeup wash away, leaving a clean, bright faced girl in a soft, worn ivory flannel nightgown. In the blackest night, she holds the sobbing boy with phantom wounds, huddled on the floor in the corner. For two days they whisper, dream, and cry in room six, leaving occasionally for long meals at the café, until the courthouse doors open Monday morning at nine o’clock. Then, purged of their pasts, they move to the honeymoon suite for one night, where their futures begin.

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