Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 31st 2015

Hi, it’s Christina –

Good Morning! Today’s blog is completely personal. It has NOTHING to do with writing, marketing, books, Tweets, there won’t even be a writing challenge today. So, if you want to stop reading now, I totally understand.

(The photos are not quite synced up to the paragraphs, but you'll get the idea.)

Yup, these were like mine - not that I
would be photographed in them.
Picture if you will, it’s 1978, the height of loud bands, lava lamps, psychedelic posters, and “what was I thinking?” fashion. Now imagine a twelve year old girl with rose tinted coke-bottle glasses, frizzy dark red hair, not the clearest skin, and a big mouth, trying to navigate her first day of middle school in a brand new town.

My glasses are in my lap.
If you look close you can
see the dents from them on
my nose.
Got the image? Not overly appealing is it? Fast forward to ninth period, the last period of the never-ending school day, and it’s gym class. Gym class where for the very first time you were required to change clothes, in a locker room, in front of roughly forty, not so nice, cliquey girls who have all known each other since pre-school. (Back then you were born and raised in our small town, and if someone new moved in, they must have been an alien from outer space.)

Not really my gym class, but you get
the picture
Thanks to thirty second changing abilities as the rest of the girls made their way to the gymnasium, I was able to survive the ordeal without having to crawl under a rock. So there I was, sporting terry cloth short-shorts, a matching (fabric wise if not color wise) shirt, knee high tube sock – complete with three stripes (two weren’t cool), and brand spanking new, could be seen from space, white Keds (we couldn't afford Adidas). Yup, I was the fashion plate.

I manage to make it to where everyone else was seated, thankfully without tripping and landing on my coke-bottles, and sat – slightly off to the side because of course no one would make room for the new girl by them – and I observed the class. My first thought was, wow some of these kids are big. Little did I know at the time, we were the only mixed grade gym class.

The gym teacher voice boomed through the room, causing a burning behind my eyes. I had never in my life seen such a large, frightening woman. She reminded me of Bela Karolyi in drag. I prayed the gym floor would open up and swallow me whole.

Then, because I was too busy being terrified, I completely missed what the Amazon said, and had to scramble to catch up with the class. Thank God she hadn’t scared my deductive reasoning abilities out of me, and I was able to properly line up with the other girls on the north wall of the gym. The boys were line up on the south.

The lines began to move eastward along the walls, then turned toward the middle where each boy and girl was paired up. As I shuffled forward, I kept eyeing the door on the east wall, and wondering if anyone would notice if I slipped out, but a move so bold would have required courage, and after the day I’d already endured, bravery was in short supply.

As luck would have it, the string of boys my age ended a few girls before me, and I was paired up with one of the ninth grade boys. He was taller than me, which wasn’t a difficult thing to be, I believe the proper word back then was husky, and was turning several shades of red. Okay, he may be older, but he wasn’t liking this any better than I was, so at least I had someone to hopefully commiserate with.

Next the Amazon with the megaphone voice started barking more orders and I began to wonder if they spoke a different type of English from my previous New Jersey town. My confusion must have shown on my face, because the guy next to me, mumbled something. As much as I hated to, I had to ask him to repeat what he said. For a nanosecond, he looked me in the eye, blurted “Square Dancing” then looked away.
Cheri took this picture of us

Mother of God! This is gym class! We’re supposed to be playing kick ball or dodge ball or having scooter races, not square dancing. What kind of cockamamie town did my mother move me to? That door along the east wall was looking better and better.

We were herded into groups of eight, and told to square off. Obviously I was the only one in the room who had absolutely no clue what I was supposed to be doing. My only consolation was none of the other kids looked all that happy about having to dance.

One of many parties at my 1st
The music began, the Amazon began to squawk out commands, and everyone obeyed, except me. My partner took pity on me and dragged me along through the steps. When the time came to promenade, and I had to take his hands, I was met a with sweaty, clammy, mess. As nervous, and as embarrassed as my painfully shy partner was, he was still trying to help me.

Well, we made it through that God awful day, and the next three weeks of square dancing. By the end of it, we had become friends. He would look in my eyes when we spoke to each other, and his hands were dry when we needed to promenade.

Since he was in 9th grade, and I was in 7th, that 9th period gym class was the only time I would get to see him. Then June came, school was out, and the next year he was going to the high school. I would probably never see my first friend in my new town ever again.

Fast forward to August the following year, to the summer between 8th and 9th grade. I have made a very best friend, Cheri, and she played a saxophone, and was going to be in the high school marching band. Since the two of us were inseparable, I went with her to band camp at the high school. I sat on the sidelines, watched, and fell in love. Yup, I’m a total dork, but I thought marching band was the coolest thing in the world.

Believe it or not, this picture was taken
right before I got ready for the date.
Check out our wallpaper...
The only problem was, I didn’t know how to play an instrument, I couldn’t read music, and I was fairly certain I had some form of impairment because right & left confused me to no end. The band director didn’t have an issue with all my shortcomings, and even helped me to decide on an instrument. So my entire freshman year, I went to every band practice, every game, and every competition, even though I was just learning how to play the flute, and everyone else in the band had been playing since 4th grade. I had some serious catching up to do.

Our engagement picture
Back to August and band camp. Yup, you guessed it, my square dance partner, was in the band. He played trumpet. The friendship proved fortuitous, because whenever the freshmen were told to do any of the grunt work, he, an upperclassman, would say "not you two" to my best friend and me, and we’d be able to avoid the abuse.

Over the next few years, we were in the same circle of friends, so we were together quite often. His best friend, Kevin, “adopted” me as his little sister, and me, an only child loved having a big brother. Kevin and I were inseparable as well. We were best buds, but that was all, just best buds.

March 31, 1990
June of 1982 rolled around, and Kevin and my square dance partner, Paul, graduated high school. Kevin went off to the Marines, and my partner went to community college. Kevin would write me every day, and come to visit whenever he was on leave. During one of those leaves, my friend Lisa confessed to me she had a huge crush on Kevin, and begged me to set them up. Being a good friend, I did.

BUT, my “brother” had a stipulation. He would only go out with Lisa if we went on a double date, with Paul. I loved Lisa dearly, and I loved my “big brother”, and I KNEW they would be perfect together, but there was no way in H.E. double hockey sticks I was going on a date with Paul. Paul, my “brother’s” best friend, Paul the trumpet player, Paul, my square dance partner; he was a friend and nothing more, and I had seen him exactly once since he graduated high school.
Our 1st addition - PJ

Lisa’s tears had me relenting, but believe me, she got an earful the whole time we were getting ready. Whatever, I could live through a movie and then getting some ice cream at Bricken’s afterwards, but that was it. Deal done. Obligation complete. Lisa and Kevin would be together, and I could go on my merry way.

What do they say about best-laid plans?
St. Maartin - our 1st "Why the heck
did we get married?" weekend.

Well, twenty-five years ago today, I married Paul. Paul, my “brother’s” best friend, Paul the trumpet player in the marching band, Paul, who with the aid of my “brother”, dragged me, kicking and screaming, into the back (3rd) practice room in the band room and proceeded to give my sixteen spanks on my 16th birthday, Paul, my 7th grade square dance partner.
Our family grew...

Over the past thirty-seven years, we have had good times and bad. We’ve laughed, cried, and fought – it gets real ugly around here when the Giants play the Cowboys. We moved from an apartment to a condo to a house, and we managed without killing each other. We survived raising three children. He puts up with my strong personality, my less than June Cleaver housekeeping skills, and my harebrained ideas.

... and grew
We are still polar opposites, and we don’t see eye to eye on much, yet somehow we’re making it work. I give full credit to our “Why the heck did we get married?” weekends. Every 12 – 18 months, since our son, our first born, was two, Paul and I spend a long weekend away, just the two of us. Our friends and family teased us about this, but now, twenty-five years later, most of them understand how important those “us” times were.

Now, as our last little chick starts to prepare to leave the nest, we know when she’s gone, we’ll still be okay. We will find things to do together, because even after all these years, we still like each other, we laugh together, and we still enjoy each other’s company. A rare and beautiful gift for sure, and with God’s grace, I will be able to do this same type of blog post when we are celebrating our 50th Anniversary.

Our 1st WtHDWGM? weekend
Okay, just to tie up some loose ends for you, before I go. 1) “The Amazon” – actually turned out to be one of the nicest people, and now as an adult I realize she’s not all that large – 5’9” perhaps. 2) Square dancing ended up being one of my favorite gym activities, though they no longer have it as part of the school curriculum. 3) Although I don’t get to see her ever, I’m still friends with Cheri, and she was even one of the bridesmaids at our wedding. 4) Lisa and Kevin ended up getting married, but unfortunately it didn’t work out, but they have two beautiful daughters and they remain good friends. 5) Our next “Why the heck did we get married?” weekend is going to be the first week in June, a cruise to Bermuda, an anniversary gift from my mother.