Though I questioned our tight-lipped instructor’s teaching methods, I recognized the wisdom of her mini-lecture.
Why did you sit next to me?
My pretty friend Linda tucked a strand of blonde hair behind her ear and said, “There are too many options; I can’t make myself commit.” She wasn’t talking about choosing an ideal mate, finding her dream home or planning the perfect vacation. She was buying a vacuum. And I understood her frustration.
In early 2015, an online hubbub erupted over a researcher’s claim that 36 specific questions, answered seriously, could create intimacy and cause two people to fall in love. It’s that easy? I must have wasted my time entertaining butterflies in my stomach, losing my ability to concentrate and feeling insanely happy. Silly me. I could have skipped periods of bliss and moments of uncertainty of by answering 36 questions and listening to a possible partner do the same.
I should quit thumbing through the magazines in doctors’ waiting rooms. The out-of-date publications harbor germs from sneezing, sick people and tempt me to read stuff I’d ignore if I weren’t trying to distract myself from the reason I’m in a doctor’s office.
I exited the meeting for new teachers with the words of the dictatorial principal, Mr. Bailey, ringing in my ears: “Remember no gum, no slacks, no mini-skirts. Never be late for recess or lunch duty. And I will check your lesson plans every Friday for their adherence to your grade-level curriculum.”
The Christmas homes of my childhood and adolescence were never the glossy homes of Christmas advertising: imposing structures lit by evenly-spaced lights filled with artistically decorated rooms inhabited by smiling families with color-coordinated clothing and perfect teeth.
My mother sometimes asked her children to express gratitude for something meaningful before they indulged their Thanksgiving appetites. If I had mentioned my gratitude for the raisins she put in her homemade cinnamon rolls, she would have looked at me with disapproval. But, to me, a cinnamon roll without raisins wasn’t worth chewing. I know many folks disagree, but I’ve never met a raisin I didn’t like, and I’m grateful for them.
Growing up in a rural area in the years following World War II, my friends and I quickly absorbed the behaviors deemed appropriate for boys and girls; behaviors we learned from picture books, movies, parents, peers and siblings.
Last summer, during one of my Sunday morning walks, a power outage undid my husband, Joel. When I arrived home, I found him in the alley, looking beleaguered and whacking a hedge. With waving shears, he beckoned me near and then began a tale of woe: “You won’t believe what happened. When I started to fix my breakfast, the power went out, so no bacon and eggs. Then my coffee was cold, so I thought I’d reheat it. Nope. No microwave. I couldn’t even defrost blueberries to eat with cereal.”