Now I know how Eve felt, I had to have that apple…

I witnessed something very odd yesterday. A loose line of women, standing outside the door of a small shack-like building, waiting patiently while holding a previously on-line acquired entry ticket — permission to step foot over the threshold — talking quietly, like they were in a sacred place, comparing past purchases which they fondled lovingly on their wrists.

Hell I didn’t just witness it. I experienced it. I was one of them. Standing in line. Waiting. Growing anxious with anticipation hearing the stories of the women who had come before me as they exposed their wrists, stacked full by years of making the trek to purchase the latest Cape Cod Bracelet. I tried to sneak a peak into the wooden building, able to see only a few glass cases with shining objects calling to me across the distance. Patricia…PatriCIA…PATRICIA…I was intrigued and caught in the spell.

As Debbie and I made it to the threshold we were told to wait there, no craning our necks to get closer to the holy grail. The woman behind us, who was a seasoned veteran at this, quietly warned us about the keepers of the gate, the centennials of the hand made bobbles. “The sales women,” she said, “are not very nice.”

So there I stood. Part of me chomping at the bit to be permitted permission to enter the garden of Eden — the stores name is…wait for it…. East of Eden. Each hand made piece is stamped EDEN. That is how you decipher original Cape Cod Bracelets from their imitation counter parts.

The other part of me was amazed at myself and my fellow women. We were begging to spend our money, cajoling the Knights of Templar to show us the gold and silver. We had to have it. I mused with Debbie, then and for several days later, the marketing masterpiece they had concocted. Tickets to enter the store where grouchy women make you feel grateful for their attention. How did they do this?

I found out about this place earlier in the week while renting kayaks. The young woman at the counter had on a great bracelet. It was a fish. I admired it. She then introduced me to the phenomenon of East of Eden. “Get a ticket,” she said, “You can’t get in without one.” Of course I went home and googled the store, read the website explaining the need to obtain a ticket at least 2 weeks prior to visiting. The tickets for this season, however, were gone. Huh. Doesn’t that make me want it more? Brilliant.

I told Deb about the fish bracelet I had seen, knowing she would love it and to find out if she knew anything about this place. She didn’t, but suggested that tomorrow, while Tom and Jamie were golfing, we head up there. Sure, why not? I had to see this place.

We map quested the address and after some pulling into wrong driveways we found it. No signage on the road. I guess the Garden of Eden needs no advertising.

We slunk our way up to the woman standing in the front lawn, obviously in charge with her note pad and pencil. With our eyes averted we humbly explained we had no ticket and we understood if we needed to leave but we had heard so much about this place that we had to come.

She sighed a heavy sigh, looked us up and down, and said since the line was not too long we could join the others.

We had been granted access to EDEN.

It looks a bit like a serpent in this picture...hmmm

It looks a bit like a serpent in this picture…hmmm

We each bought a piece. After all that how could we not? I bought the fish bracelet with an onyx eye. Debbie a fish ring, a traditional Cape Cod ball ring and a pair of earrings for her sister’s birthday.

The rest of the week we admired each others acquisitions as well as our own. We had succumbed to masterful marketing, entered the Garden of Eden, ate of the fruit and returned triumphant with treasures.

 

waxseal2

 


 

 

 

 

 

(pretty much)

I never thought to ask my mother to go away together for a weekend, and, likewise, my mom never thought to ask me. Perhaps we just didn’t want to…

So when Jena called, shaken from a dream that I had died, we decided we needed to spend some time together. We had both been suffering from the changes caused by the  empty nest created when she left home this past December. Jena faces flying solo (pretty much.) I face watching her solo voyage, saying very little (pretty much) and praying a lot.

UnknownSo with some internet searching we decided on Rocky Gap State Park, Resort and Spa in Maryland. It turned out to be much more State Park and much less Resort and Spa, but at least we were together.

We checked out the pool and hot tub. They were inviting, except for the hoards of screaming, splashing kids. I remembered the chlorine-soaked-hotel-pool-evenings of Jena and Landon’s youth. The intention was to water log them so they would go to sleep early and easily. Unfortunately it was usually their dad and I that fell asleep. As I was strolling down nostalgia lane, Jena remarked that she was not interested in swimming with all those noisy kids. I didn’t blame her. Who really does? I joked with her that she sounded old.

We ate dinner in the resort dining room that over looked a sparkling lake surrounded by hills. The meal was mediocre, ending with Jena finding a fly in her almost all eaten salad. The waitress was dutifully concerned, offering a new salad, which Jena declined due to her slight nausea. The waitress, I think in an attempt to comfort us, told the story of another customer who had ordered a caesar salad and was upset to find a fish (anchovy) in her salad. We didn’t bother to explain the difference.

The dinner bread, however, was delicious. Warm. Crusty. Hearty. We ate it all and asked for more. I wrapped the left over bread in a napkin to take back to the room. I knew stuffing bread in my purse was a sign of age. I did it anyway.

We also learned that the annual polar bear plunge to raise money for special needs kids was scheduled the next morning. Jena hopped on board, always ready for the next adventure. She tried to sell me on the idea, saying, “Let’s do it together Mom, you know a Mother-Daughter thing.”  Usually I cannot resist this kind of not-so-subtle manipulation, except when it comes to voluntarily submerging myself in a lake that was frozen-over two days ago. I negotiated my contribution to the mother-daughter bonding would be the $50 entrance fee needed to submerge her 23-year-old body.

So Saturday morning, Jena, along with over 700 other plungers, ran full speed into the icy lake, while snow fell on those of us that were staying dry. I tried, without success, to findimages Jena in the sea of shamrock green charity t-shirts. As I held my iPhone in place, making sure the video light was on so I could capture her heroics, I worried that she would get sick-and it would be my fault.  “What kind of a mom would let her daughter do such a thing?” I reprimanded myself. I had time traveled back to my parenting responsibilities of her pre-eighteen years, when what I said mattered (pretty much).

Jena ran out of the frosty water, and into my outstretched arms holding dry hotel towels, with a smile that radiated heat. I held her as though she was still my little girl, while enjoying the young woman in my arms. I was proud of her. I was proud the us we were forging.

That night we went to the quieter, late-evening pool with a bottle of champagne and paper cups to celebrate Jena’s college diploma and teaching certificate. She told me her life IMG_0937plans, as much as she knew at this point. She told me about her new love and how safe she feels with him. How smart and protective he is. About the practical jokes they play on one another. I got the sense she loved talking about him — as new love does — and that she really wanted me to know what he means to her. I mostly listened. Sometimes I threw in some motherly advise, along with some concerns I wanted her to consider. I realized that she may or may not appreciate my opinion, but our morphing relationship seemed to allowed for it in the moment. We talked easily for a long time.

I felt a new mutuality developing between us. Jena wanted to know about me; about the safe place I went to in the mediation we did earlier; about my writing class as she edited my assignment with thoughtful, insightful suggestions. I softened into her interest. It felt like a door into our future. She was becoming interested in me in a way saved for adult children. Our mother-daughter norms seemed to be maturing. I warmed to it, feeling my historical uber-mother vigilance relax.

I realize, looking over the three generations between my mom, Jena and me, Jena and I are lucky. Not everyone likes their mom or their daughter. I don’t think my mom liked me – I was too much. And she never really knew me. It was my job to know and please her. So I did. Until I didn’t.

Jena and I have something special. I love being her mom and I think she loves having me as a mom (pretty much). She told me that no matter where she is living, when she decides to have children, she is returning to live within an hour of me…because I am home.

With Love,
waxseal2

 

 

 

It’s Not Polite to Stare

Yesterday as I drove down a residential city street, a man in a white pick up truck pulled out of his parking place headed in my direction. I noticed that instead of looking out of his windshield, as is suggested and preferable, he was intently peering out of his passenger side window at something on the sidewalk. As a result of his wayward stare his oversized truck was headed down the middle of the street-straight toward me.

 

“What are you looking at?” I yelled as I looked to the sidewalk. The answer. A sweet young girl walking down the sidewalk in her summer skirt and t-shirt. “Really?” I impotently yelled through closed windows, “You are old enough to be her dad-first of all, you are going run into me or another parked car-second of all, and have a little respect-third of all.” (Is there a third of all?)

 

This morning on my way to work while I waited at a stop light, another man in a pick up truck-what is it with men and pick ups-had his head stuck out of his window to ogle a girl walking past. When he couldn’t twist his neck any further he used his rear view mirror to lock on. I began yelling again, this time hoping to catch his eye letting him know I saw him being a lech.

I get the attraction. I look at men and women too. I am attracted for many reasons. I think they are beautiful. I like their outfit. I don’t like their outfit. I like their dog. There are many reasons to look at one another.  But when guys are looking only at boobs and butts, as if the woman is on the side walk is there for their pleasure, it is time to teach them some manners. I wanted to slap their faces.

 

When my daughter, Jena, turned 21 we took her out to celebrate. My son’s fiance was singing at a local club so it was a perfect celebration. As we sipped our drinks, Jena her first legal one, I perused the room. My eyes caught a 50-60 something year old man, slight build, polyester suit, talking with many different women. I noticed when the woman turned her back his eyes went straight to her rear end. When she turned back toward him it was her boobs he zeroed in on. I felt a hot flash coming on.

 

Then, to my surprise, he was next to me and walked right up to Jena. He stood way too close to her and said, “Don’t you look sparkly tonight.”

 

I couldn’t help myself. My body moved into action before my brain was even consulted. I put my body between Jena and this lounge lizard. After his gaze left my breasts to meet my eyes, I squared off with him, “I am her mother. You need to back off!”

 

“Oh mama bear. I was just telling her she is sparkly,” he said, his reptilian tongue striking the air between us. “Back off,” I growled, puffing myself up to stand a good bit taller than him.

 

He walked away.

 

The kids were amazed, both that I intimidated him to leave and that what he did bothered me. Perhaps you have to be in your 50’s and menopausal (make my day) to be intolerant of one more man’s bad manners. Maybe you have to be a mom of a young woman to feel the fury that moved my body between them. Regardless, Jena gave me a hug and thanked me. She got it..it’s impolite to stare. I had her back.

 

 

The story doesn’t end here…this creep circled back. He wound his way around the bar to where we stood. He stopped in front of my husband. “You have one uptight wife,” he pronounced.

 

Tom held his gaze, man to slime ball and like waving a fly away from your food said “Go away.”

 

He did.

Living in Oblivion

On the plane home from Tybee, I noticed a young woman sitting several seats in front of me and on the other side of the plane. I noticed her because she was flinging her long dirty blonde hair (it may have been dirty blond or it may just have been dirty, I couldn’t quite tell) over the back of her seat into the seat behind her.

 

“Surely this was a mistake. She doesn’t really mean to have her hair hanging in someone else’s very limited seat space, does she?” I wondered to myself. Now some women never touch their hair, some women play with their hair every once in a while (I am one of those) and some women touch their hair A LOT. This woman was the latter. So after the third or fourth time she adjusted and readjusted her hair, she always ended throwing it over the back of her seat.

 

She was oblivious to the guy sitting behind her and her infringement on his personal space. I decided I didn’t like her.

 

Driving to work the other day I sensed the woman driving in the car beside me wanted to move into my lane. I usually know this because drivers will unconsciously start to ease toward the line when they decide they want to switch lanes. When I feel this float to the center, I don’t wait for blinker, I adjust myself to make room ahead or behind me, which ever makes safe sense. In this case I slowed down to make room for her. As I predicted her blinker came on and into my lane she moved. I waited for the thank you wave in the mirror. None came (Not only am I a defensive driver, like Mr Anderson taught me, I am a polite driver. I wave my thank you’s. Sometimes I wave another part of my hand, but that is another story.)

 

Further down the road this happened again with the same driver. This time I had to slow down quickly because she was switching lanes regardless of where I was.

 

She was oblivious and a rude, bad driver. I didn’t like her either.

 

I began to think about these two events and get interested in my attention to them. “Out of all the possible things to notice on a plane, and while driving, why did I notice these?What is it about me that I observe and have a strong negative reaction to oblivion?” I wondered.

 

It didn’t take long for me to get my answer.

 

I never let myself be oblivious!

 

I learned at an early age to be hyper vigilance of other peoples needs. I can walk into a room and tell you who is thirsty. I am always considering my effect on the personal space, needs, wants, desires of the other person. For gods sake, I know when a driver wants to pull into my lane before they do. Sometimes I am exhausted making sure I don’t step on anyones toes.

 

Okay, I got it. Again. This is certainly not the first time life presented me the opportunity to learn this lesson. These two women were my mirrors, reflecting back to me my lopsided sense of responsibility for others. My lesson is to learn to be more oblivious. To not notice as much. To not care as often.

 

Anyone with me on this? Want to pay less attention? Care less, relax more?

 

I just noticed as I was writing this last paragraph I mindlessly made a hand held ponytail in my hair and flipped it over the back of my chair. Granted my hair is not that long and there is no one sitting in a seat behind me, but I’ve gotta start someplace…

Body Image and Beliefs

Last night Jena was in a production at Slippery Rock University.

Am I Pretty Now

A potent, graphic monologue written by  Jennifer M. Reeher, an SRU student.

Jennifers message?

How unhappy women are with their bodies.

She moves from the benign to the extreme measures women inflict on themselves to be considered beautiful by society. The production is infused with the quiet knowledge that internal pain can not be healed through external alterations.

The wisdom, tenderness and poignancy of this young woman’s offering to rethink beauty is moving.

Stay tuned for my series on Body Image and Beliefs