I was born on a Tuesday…no, wait….a Thursday. Well I guess at my age now, it really doesn’t matter. Hi, my name is Anne, and I’m 74 years young. I used to not say things like that because my mind wasn’t right. Well, not in a mentally disordered sense, but just my way of thinking. My only regret, is that I didn’t learn about thinking better, sooner. Would have made a lot of different decisions if I had. I know you didn’t come here to hear about my problems. But I’ll share a piece of my life with you. Maybe it’ll help some youngins get it together before their bones turn brittle.
When I was a little girl, we lived in a small clapboard house. Nothing special. Two bedrooms, a tiny bathroom, and an even tinier kitchen. I know this was the best Mama and Daddy could do, but I used to be ashamed. You see, the kids I went to school with lived in pretty brick homes near town. They never made fun of me or nothing, but I just didn’t feel like we were the same. There were many other things we didn’t have in common like clothes, race, or things that happened inside the home. So I withdrew. Well, not totally. Had one friend in grade school, but her family moved away by the time we were in high school.
I used to tell myself that I wasn’t as good as other people. I spent years in a shell. Seemed like only a few could penetrate – usually men. Somehow they were my outlet. Truth be told, they should have been let out. Anyway, I didn’t feel comfortable talking to women regardless of my age or theirs. I felt judged or looked over like produce in the market. Instead, men would tell me all the things that I needed to hear. The bad thing is that I thought they were genuine. They only said those things to get what they wanted. Had more heartache than I care to remember or re-feel.
I finally got it together around my mid-thirties. Met a nice man named John. We got married not long after we met. John was the opposite of me, had no experiences like me, though he understood me perfectly. We didn’t have any children. Lord knows we tried. We had ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade them for nothing. We spent a lot of time together – mostly traveling and church. When you saw one, it was a guarantee that you’d see the other.
Sitting here in the park today has me watching the life that I didn’t lead. Couples walking their dogs and stopping for a moment to chat with other dog lovers about their pets or the beauty of the weather. Kids playing touch football, inviting other kids to play though they don’t know them. And they’re getting along fine. Looking left and right, I see people. And they’re interacting with one another. Looks like their comfortable doing it too.
See, my withdrawing from people all those years ago, and thinking myself less than others put me in a space where I was uncomfortable in my own skin. Nobody put that expectation on me, but me. So I had to be the one to remove it.
One day I went to the drugstore to pick up my prescriptions. The young cashier greeted me nicely, like I’m sure she does each customer. When she gave my total, I noticed that it was an even amount – $8.00. Now yesterday when I went to the store my total came to $13.00. Something in me said BINGO. I made a comment to her about this being the second day in a row that I had even amounts for my purchases. Then I said something about playing the lottery. She laughed, and then said to remember her if I win. I smiled, and then took my bag. Not without wishing her a good day.
As I walked to the car, I realized something. I had never done that before. I usually go in and come out without speaking to a soul. But this, this felt good. So good that I started chit-chatting with folks at church and in my neighborhood. That all happened over a year ago. And can you believe that at my age now, I actually made friends? I think Betty’s grandson called us a clique. He’s a nice boy. Very funny, but intelligent. He comes around sometimes to check on me. Make sure I haven’t fallen, and can’t get up.
Funny how God will open a window when you think all the doors are closed. The only one who hadn’t accepted me, was me. After John died, I thought my life would be lonely and full of silence. Church was my only social event. And like I said before, I kept to myself. But now I have friends and a life. More importantly, I finally feel comfortable in my own skin.
XOXO, Melanie Dawnn
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