Daily Prompt: Life Line

Daily Prompt: Life Line

You’re on a long flight, and a palm reader sitting next to you insists she reads your palm. You hesitate, but agree. What does she tell you?

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I’m nothing short of bursting at the seams with excitement as I sit and wait as patiently as one with “ants in their pants” could possibly wait. I chatter continuously at my husband, as has always been my custom when I’m filled with sheer elation at the prospect of a joyous event that has finally been set in motion. He responds by playing the latest game that he’s downloaded to his cell phone, never bothering to glance in my direction, but often throwing in the occasional “uh huh” or “me too, dear” as I ramble on, as has become his custom over the years. I don’t allow his lack of interest to tarnish the silver lining surrounding the cloud on which I’m currently riding. I’ve been looking forward to this trip for far too long, and nothing can curb my highly elevated enthusiasm at this point.

It has always been a dream of ours to visit Ireland. So much so, that it’s one of the 3 things that I can now contentedly cross off my miniscule bucket list. I have yet to find buried treasure or learn to drive a stick-shift automobile. I likely never will. I consider this for a moment. Well, 1 out of 3 isn’t terrible, I muse, and I’m about to embark on an adventure of such epic proportions  that the other 2 list options can just fade off into oblivion as far as I’m concerned.

Ah, Ireland. The rolling hills, the beautiful countryside, the sheep in the fields, the castles, the food…oh my goodness, the incredible Irish dishes, yes please! The quaint little pubs with local elderly gentlemen regaling visiting foreign folk with fantastically spun tales of wild Irish youth and love gone by, in thick Gaelic accents. I want to drink in the sweet nectar of all this and more.

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The calling of the first class passengers and those needing special assistance snaps me back to reality from somewhere inside my grand daydream. “I still can’t believe it’s finally happening!” I exclaim to my husband for quite possibly the 50th time today. He just smiles and nods as he continues to busily work his fingers over his phone screen.

The kids are finally grown and gone, and we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in January. We’ve had our hardships over the years, but we made it through all of them and we deserve this special treat to celebrate how far we’ve come. To celebrate us.  We’ve managed to painstakingly pinch every last penny until Lincoln screams in pain to make this trip possible. I lean over and give my husband a peck on the cheek, before resting my head on his shoulder for a moment. He presses his cheek against the top of my head. I’m proud of us both for finally turning this amazing dream into reality.

I check the time on my phone and fidget in my seat, before deciding to make sure that my passport, I.D., and boarding pass are at the ready for the thousandth time today as I wait for our seat assignments to be called. It’s hard to say if this newfound ritual is compliments of my OCD, or the adrenaline fueled excitement that I’m currently running on. Likely a little bit of both, I surmise.

They finally get around to calling rows 20 through 25. I nudge my husband with my elbow and say, “that’s us.” We proceed to gather up our belongings and head toward the quickly lengthening boarding line.

We finally reach the robotically jovial stewardess at the front of the line, who looks over our boarding passes with an obviously overworked smile. She repeats our seat assignments to us as though we are feeble minded and couldn’t possibly read them on our own, and wishes us a safe and pleasant trip through her gleaming pearly whites.

We make our way down the long gangway, my husband whistling a Christmas tune the entire way as has been his habit for the 20 years that we’ve now been married. It’s July. I stopped bothering to point this fact out to him years ago, and now I just smile and shake my head.

We are greeted by yet another methodically friendly set of flight personnel at the door to the airplane, who welcome us aboard and once again wish us a pleasant journey.

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We inch our way toward the back of the aircraft from among the throng of inconsiderate individuals stopping in the middle of the aisle to fight with overhead bins or argue with other passengers and flight attendants over confused seat assignments. I can see frustration growing on my husband’s face as we shuffle along. Finally, we arrive at seats 24 B and C. I feel a little pang of sadness as I realize that neither of them are a window seat. Ah, well, you get what you pay for I suppose, and we did our best to cut traveling expenses as much as possible so that we could fully enjoy our 2 weeks exploring the lush green land for which we are about to embark. I hand my carry on over to my husband, and he makes quick work of shoving it into the overhead compartment, before we settle into our seats. My husband has Closterphobia issues, so I know he’ll want to sit in the aisle seat. He always does in crowded places.  So I grab the middle seat and proceed to try and get as comfortable as possible, not really paying much attention to the person that already occupies the window seat.

I barely get myself situated before I hear a strong, cheerful, feminine voice  from my left announce, “Hi, I’m Anna.” This boisterous greeting is accompanied by a slim fingered hand boasting pale pink polished nails and 3 over-sized silver cocktail rings extended in front of me. I turn slightly in my seat so that I may comfortably surrender my right hand in acceptance of her handshake.  We make eye contact for a moment and I take in Anna’s friendly features while quickly looking her over.

She’s perhaps 50, Caucasian, taller than I by a good 6 inches, and fit. Her long, frizzy, grayish blond waves are held back from her face by a pink, orange, and black oriental flowered silk scarf wrapped around her head and tied at the nape of her neck. She has a wide pink-lipped smile accompanied by a beautiful set of large, dark grey eyes with soft creases gently nipping at the corners. I take note of her clothing; a bright pink tank top under a thin white cotton off-the-shoulder shirt, with small pink, orange, and yellow flowers embroidered along the neckline. This was tucked into a matching, floor length, gypsy-style skirt held securely around her waist by a tied woven hemp belt. She had kicked off her silver-beaded leather sandals that are now shoved partially under the seat in front of her, and I can just barely make out her perfectly pedicured and pale pink polished toes peeking out from under her the hem of her skirt. In truth, she looks somewhat like she just stepped out of the 1970’s.

I smile and introduce myself in return. I then point to my husband next to me, and introduce him as well. He leans over me and offers a hand for her to shake. After the proper introductions have been made, I point to her skirt and tell her, “My daughter would absolutely love your outfit.” She flashes her brilliant smile once again and says, “Your daughter sounds like my kind of girl.”

The next words out of her mouth admittedly catch me off-guard. “You’re very short,” she proclaims. “Excuse me?” I say. While this is an all too true observation, I’ve yet to have a practical stranger make that assessment so boldly.  I wasn’t quite sure I had even heard her right. She laughs off the expression of shock that must be noticeably written on my face. “I mean your life line; I was noticing that it’s quite short and shallow.” She must have then noticed my expression change to concern because she goes on to quickly add, “Oh no, no. It’s nothing to be concerned about. It doesn’t mean that you have a shortened life-span; it simply means that you have a tendency to be controlled by people and situations.” She extends her hand once again, palm side up, and says, “Here, let me see your hand. I’d be happy to give you a full reading…”

She had misread my cause for concern. The words, “Oh, no thank you, I don’t…” barely escape my lips before my husband, who had, to my surprise, been listening to the exchange over his phone follies, interjects with, “We’re Christians. We don’t have anything to do with astrology or palm reading or any of that sort of thing.”

“Ah, okay,” she rather impatiently snaps, and proceeds to pull out and open a thick paperback novel that she had apparently jammed between her thigh and the armrest before we sat down.

That’s it. The conversation has been called to an abrupt halt. I could read a lot into her tone and half smirk though, which said, “I’ve dealt with you closed minded freaks before, and I’m not about to travel this road again.”

I look at my husband. He peeks over my head at Anna leaning her forehead against the window, now quietly and rather quickly engrossed in her novel. He then looks back at me and shrugs as he shakes his head no.

I knew exactly what he was thinking. Though my husband has been known to dive into a religious debate with all of the passion and fervor of an Olympic gold medalist, he wouldn’t be pressing Anna in further conversation. It was clear that she stood firm in her convictions and had closed off any further exchanges at that point. My husband and I both knew that pressing people that were not at all open to hearing what you had to say would just push them further away from wanting anything to do with God and those that serve Him.

I close my eyes and lean my head back. It’s going to be a long flight. I silently say a prayer for our safety during this flight, and for Anna. May she have a life filled with peace and perhaps, someday, be receptive enough to at least listen to a Christian point of view.

Closed minds comes in many different packages, after all.

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Note from the author: This story is completely fictional but has several truthful ideals and undertones. Though I understood that the point of this prompt was to accept the offer a palm reading and write about what my future may hold therein, for certain obvious reasons, I could not.  I chose to take my story in a different direction, and I hope that those of you that are spiritual and non-spiritual alike are still able to enjoy my story and accept it…open mindedly. 

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Tales From The Thrift Store: Full Moon Rising.

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When we last left our heroine (not the drug, people, the Superhero Thrift Store Manager, otherwise known as me) it was a thousand and fifty degrees in the shade and yours truly had come the closest I’ve ever been to melting into a big, fleshy puddle on the ancient cracked tile. I think maybe I actually did melt a little; one leg seems to be slightly shorter than the other and my face feels somewhat…droopier.

Needless to say I’ve been finding ways to keep cool in the store now, like keeping the air conditioner running despite the fact that most of it escapes out the huge roll up door, or setting a box fan under the desk. Sometimes I’ll go back into the kitchen for a few minutes when there’s a break in customer traffic, and sprawl across the packages of frozen English muffins, Italian sausages, and lunch meat in the large chest freezer. Global warming, folks; a girls gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Not all days at the store are completely off the charts when it comes to the heat…or the level of crazy in the customers brought about by the heat.  This Friday happened to be rainy off and on, and the slightly cool rain and breeze that would roll in with it brought a welcome respite from the sweltering temperatures that I had suffered through the past few weekends. There was no relief from the insanity, though. There seemed to be an abundance of that.

Now, I never actually did any research into the matter, but I have it on pretty good authority that we can expect to see a full moon within the next day or so. Due to the fact that it wasn’t as hot as usual, I can only surmise that the promise of this lunar delight right around the corner is what led to one of those weekends…you know, the kind that leaves you sitting there wondering if the level of erratic behavior that you just witnessed really happened, or was it merely a figment of your imagination?

Let’s start out with a small level of nuttiness, such as my first customer of the day on Friday. Then we’ll work our way into the grand finale of madness as my Twilight Zone of a day wore on.

I sat at my desk in the corner as usual, laptop open in front of me, fervently typing up the next dose of whatever babbling drivel I deemed worthy of serving up to my adoring fans (yes, this means you, the ones basking in the glow of your ultraviolet monitor lights as you read the newest installment of my raving absurdity), when in walks a fairly normal looking woman of about 60. She pokes around a bit and comments on how clean and well organized the store is. I have OCD, silly, of course it’s clean and well organized. I omit this fact, though, and simply say, “Thank you. It keeps me busy.”

She suddenly spies my impeccably displayed rack of die cast collectibles, complete with sign above it explaining that they are, in fact, limited edition collector’s items and are priced accordingly, and sign on the front of the display that reads, “pricing available upon request.” There was some question on my part as to whether or not grams could actually read, though. She plops a mint condish 2001 limited edition #5 Terry Labonte Monsters Inc. car still in its unmarked, unbent original packing down on the desk in front of me, and proceeds to pull a couple of wadded up dollar bills out of her change purse.  I give her a quick raised eyebrow glance and say, “Alright, give me just a moment to pull up my pricing guide,” to which she replies, “Pricing guide?  Aren’t these a couple of bucks in Walmart?” Friends, Amazon lists this very car for $24.99. “Well you see, ma’am, this is a collector’s edition. It’s already 12 years old, and if kept in its original packaging, the value will keep increasing.”   “Oh I don’t care about all that,” she says “it’s just for my grandson to play with.” She plans to tear it open. Rip it right out of the pristinely preserved packaging… along with my heart. I die just a little on the inside. After a few more minutes of haggling, I wearily concede and let granny walk out the door with the deal of the day for 2 bucks.  Meh, I have another one in the stock closet anyway. I replace the doomed collectible and go back to my blogging.

An hour or so later, enter the stocky young gent with the fiery red “Flock of Seagulls” hairdo. You may think I’m exaggerating, but I found myself hoping that my jaw hadn’t visibly dropped when I saw it, it was that strikingly sculpted.  Had a unicorn walked by in front of me at that very same moment, I don’t think that it would have struck me as even half as amazing as this guy’s hair. He and his cohort, a thin, muscular, manly woman with closely cropped hair and glazed over eyes, start perusing the belt rack. From where I’m sitting at least 15 feet away, I can smell the reason for G.I Jane’s glassy eyed stare. I was getting a contact high just from their closeness in proximity. Seagull man selects a studded leather belt from among the 30 or so prominently displayed on the hooks in front of him, wraps it around his hand several times, points to the 10 or so inches on the end without studs, and says, “Now if we cut off this section here,” …he gives me a quick sideways glance… “It’ll be perfect for what we need.” Whoa there. Okay. I discreetly grab hold of my phone placed several inches away on the top of the desk , pull it closer, and load the numbers 9-1-1 up on the display screen…just in case.

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After a few more minutes of wandering around the store picking up and commenting on random items, they head to the desk to make their 50 cent belt purchase. Seagull man hands me a dollar, and waits for his change, as his partner in crime points to an old patch of dried up paint splatter on the floor and says, “Hey look, its Lady Gaga.” I give her a puzzled and slightly nervous look as Seagull man says, “Hey, yeah, wow. Look at that, that’s way cool.” He then looks at me and says, “Come here, you gotta see this.” Ummm…I do? Not in the least bit out of curiosity but for the sake of my own safety, I grip my phone just a little tighter, get up, and walk around the desk to see just what the daft duo is going on about. They point to the paint spot in unison and say, “See, look. It’s a flaming high heeled shoe just like Lady Gaga’s.” I’m completely lost. All I see is faded paint splatter, but I feign enthusiasm and exclaim, “Oh yeah! Look at that! I can’t believe I didn’t notice it before!” They both smile and nod, and after a few more moments of staring mesmerized at the paint spot and paying silent, reverent homage to the floor tile, they decide to make their departure. Phew. I relax a bit and go back to typing.

I could not make this stuff up, folks. I’m neither imaginative nor mentally unstable enough to think up madness of this magnitude on my own.

Sometime shortly after lunch, a woman and a girl of about 7 or 8 walk in, exchange pleasantries with me, and proceed toward the housewares section in the far back corner of the store. Fifteen minutes pass…then 20. They finally emerge with armloads of random dishes, plop them down on the desk, and smile as I proceed to ring up the pile of discount goodies.

We interrupt this purchase to issue a public service announcement.  Having OCD while managing a store comes with a nice mental rolodex feature, in which you’re able to store every little detail of all merchandise incoming and outgoing, what price you put on that merchandise, when it came in, where it came from, and even whether or not the price tag is in your own writing.    

We now return you to your regularly scheduled purchase…

As I start to add up the items, I immediately notice that something is off. Take the nice, unscratched Teflon pot with the glass lid for example. Just that morning I had priced that pot at 3 dollars. A little on the cheap side for the condition it was in, but hey, every dollar made is a dollar more than we had before. It now had a sticker on it for $1.25, a sticker that I recognized as being from a half missing set of Rubbermaid storage containers. I dig a little deeper and notice a few other gently peeled and reapplied price tags that were cheaper than the original prices on some other items, too. I have to admit, she did a good swapping job. No wonder she was back there so long.

I try to explain to her that these aren’t the right prices for some of the things that she’s handed me, to which she responds by pretending she doesn’t speak a word of English, even though she seemed to speak it pretty well when she greeted me as she came in. Crafty, this one. But even the most linguistically lacking folks when it comes to the English language know the word, ‘no’, and fortunately, I know enough words in Spanish to communicate on the level of a Kindergartener. So, I would point at a wrongly marked item, say something along the lines of, “No. Tres”, and shove it aside to ring up something that still sported the right price tag. She would respond with, “Oh” and then quietly say something to her daughter in Spanish. In the end, I was not willing to fall for her trick, and she seemed to want the items badly enough, so she pulled out her wallet and reluctantly paid the original prices for the items in question. Now, I’m more than willing to negotiate prices, if you just ask, but don’t try to play dirty pool with me. I don’t enjoy that game.

The cherry on top of my lunacy Sundae came about 20 minutes before closing time, when in walks a woman trailing 2 young offspring behind her. She heads straight for the desk, all the while stuffing handfuls of potato chips into her mouth from the Ruffles bag in her left hand, occasionally dropping one or 2 on the floor as she walks. Maybe she’s leaving a trail so she can find her way back out? I’m no psychic, but I sense a broom and dustpan in my future. She looks at me, sitting behind the desk all by my lonesome, without another person in sight, and says, “You the manager?” Oh boy. I’d better buckle my seatbelt.  This promises to be a bumpy ride.

Now, had my 11 year old son been at the store with me that day as he usually is, it might have crossed my mind to point at him and say, “No. He is.” No such luck today, however. I was flying solo on this trip. “Yes ma’am, what can I do for you?” I ask. She says, “Well, I’m fixin’ to have a yard sale this weekend and I was wondering if I could have it right outside your store in the parking lot.” I quickly stifled the urge to laugh out loud. I’ve been down this road before, and the idea was vetoed fairly quickly. If we open up that world of possibility to one person, we’d have to do it for everyone, and before you know it, our parking lot will have turned into a circus sideshow.  No. Thank you for the offer, but I think I’ll have to pass.

She didn’t appreciate hearing ‘no’ as an answer, though, and after the words, “I’m sorry ma’am, we can’t do that” came out of my mouth, a barrage of distasteful dialogue came out of hers. I was called a few choice names and told that I was stupid for not wanting to make the extra money that her extraordinary event would have brought into the store, before she finally gathered up her offspring and made a hasty retreat.

I ran my hand over my exhausted face and looked at the clock. It was 10 minutes before closing time. I closed anyway as a reward for surviving this deranged day…and to sweep the crushed potato chips up off the floor, too.

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Until next time, readers…stay sane.

The Friendship Pill in the Hate-Proof Bottle

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Gather around, folks, and let me tell you a story…

It’s a story of love. It’s a story of heartbreak. It’s a story of healing. Best of all, though; it’s a story of how the cosmos aligned to bring 2 people together in a way that would ultimately form a bond that should, with any luck, last for a lifetime.

Once upon a time…

There it is. Trite, I know, but in retrospect, the strange turn of events that created the dynamic duo that would come to be known as… us…we…partners in crime…’S squared’… seems so far in the past that life before then is a hazy memory at best and impossible to recall at worst.

I was merely trying to get through each day without breaking back then. I was recently divorced, and it had hit me hard. When I say hard, I mean sledgehammered heart in so many jagged shards that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men would not dare attempt to reassemble it hard. I mean soggy puddle of continuously sobbing mess that was just trying to do what seemed impossible at the time; scrape myself up off the ground and move in a forward direction hard.

He and I had a child together that we traded parenting time with week to week, and she was ALL that kept my head above water as I bobbed along in my lake of despair. It was hard enough to trudge through my hurt even with her there, but the weeks that she spent with her father made it all the more difficult to bear because I was left hopelessly and stiflingly alone. Sure, I tried “dating”, which often meant jumping into bed with men I barely even knew, because in my grief, I saw physical contact as a salve to rub into my emotional wounds. In truth, though, I was more alone while tangled in some forgettable set of masculine limbs than I would have been if left to curl up and cry myself to sleep with nothing but my pillow to wrap my arms around. Try not to judge; I was a different person back then.

The worst part of it all, the part that made it impossible to move past the pain and misery of the whole ordeal and actually start the restoration process, was the fact that we worked in the same building. In fact, that’s how we’d met. I now had to punch a time clock every day just to see his smugly handsome face wearing its cold, hard expression of extreme…indifference. Okay, in all honesty maybe that wasn’t quite the worst part. The real punch in the face, kick in the teeth, knife to the kidneys came when he got a new girlfriend, and insisted upon parading her around the lunch room at our place of employ for everyone to see. Everyone that knew our history. Everyone that watched me gradually fall apart every day between the hours of 7am and 3pm. Everyone that looked at me with pitying eyes as I hunched over whatever vending machine fodder I had been trying to nonchalantly choke down.

She was a cute little thing, I have to admit; prancing around the cafeteria in her miniskirts and talking in her ‘straight off the boat from England’ accent, which he, of course, raved about and made sure to play up in front of everyone present, including…me.

I can scarcely recall my hatred for this woman now, but I do know that I did indeed hate her. She had everything that I didn’t, everything that I had lost… his devotion, his attention, his desire, his embrace…his heart. I didn’t even truly know her, but I wanted to be her, and for that, I despised her.

They eventually moved into a quaint little upstairs apartment a few streets over from my own humble abode, and even though I was in a relationship of my own by that time, I found myself always looking over my shoulder in public places, hoping that I wouldn’t bump into them …at the bank…at the grocery store… at a stoplight. The time I spent away from work where they couldn’t flaunt their cutesy, giggly, sickening bliss was MINE, and the thought that my glorious oblivion could be ripped out from under me at any given moment seemed so… unfair. I was unreasonably and unrealistically angry for this egregious affront to my fragile state of mind.

So angry, in fact, that I remember storming over to their apartment one day and confronting her with hackles and voice raised because I had found out that she had taken my child to her parent teacher conference, since he was out of town on a hunting trip. I was livid. How dare she? That wasn’t her child. Why didn’t someone tell me about this conference? I would have happily done my parental duty and taken her myself. Oh no, no, no, no …no. I was going over there, and I was giving this woman, this usurper, this replacement for me… a rage-fueled and not so well thought out piece of my mind. In hindsight, I looked like an idiot. It wasn’t her fault; she was just doing what he had asked of her. You couldn’t have convinced me at the time, though. She had become my arch nemesis in my pain distorted mind, and I had declared war.

Eventually, he was let go from our place of employ, and without his ever-existing presence around to remind me that I now had a failed marriage complete with child under my belt, I started to do an amazing thing; I started to heal. After a few weeks without his larger than life shadow looming over me, sucking away my emotional stability like a vampiric cloud, I could get through my days without breaking down. After a few months, the bitterness started to melt away like an ice cube on blacktop. After a few years, well…enter the man that currently holds my now fully restored heart in the palm of his loving, giving, and slightly callused hand.

It was a short courtship for my beloved and I, but as I’ve mentioned before, when you just know, you know. You know? I fell head over heels, hook, line, and sinker almost immediately. He whisked me away like a knight in blue jean and cotton blend armor; 1,200 miles from the place I was born and raised, to be exact. We said ‘I do’ in a small, intimate ceremony on a Florida beach in the freezing cold month of January. We said ‘I do’ surrounded by close friends and loved ones. Sadly, though, we said ‘I do’…without the presence of my child.

I had tried. Lord help me, I had really tried. In the end, though, a judge ruled that my little red haired ray of sunshine was best left in familiar surroundings, with familiar people, and the measure of stability that she had come to know… right where she was. At that point, I had to make quite possibly the hardest decision I have ever faced in my entire life; follow my heart vs. motherly duty. I opted for the purely selfish, but what I knew would be a better life for me, and for the son that I had given birth to between divorce and recourse. I left my old life behind me to the tune of  ‘how could you?’ … ‘what kind of mother are you?’…’what kind of person are you?’ It was hard, of course….so very hard to walk away, especially with a mind full of ‘what ifs’. What if she thinks I don’t love her because I made this decision? What if she grows to resent me? What if we lose touch completely? In my mind, though, I knew that even amid the hurt of walking away from her, she’d be in good hands with her father. He was a good daddy, and he loved her. Time heals all wounds, and it would heal hers.

I went off to my new life, and the world still turned. It turned for me…it turned for him…and it turned for my baby girl. We kept in contact as often as possible. We’d webcam, draw pictures together on our favorite online chat program, and I’d sometimes read her bedtime stories over the phone. She’d come to see me for several weeks every summer, and I’d go back to see her at Christmas time.

My relationship with my arch nemesis had turned to civility in the time that followed my departure. Actually, truth be told, she had become the biggest supporter of my relationship with my child. She’d email me pictures, encourage my daughter to write me letters and create cards and pictures for me which she would send along with some really lovely scrapbook pages that they’d put together with photos of my growing baby girl…and her life without mom. She would make sure my daughter called me regularly, and she would even allow her to use her own computer when we wanted to spend our virtual time together. She had become a Godsend, and I found myself truly thankful that she was part of my daughter’s life in my absence.

Let’s fast forward a few years, to a fateful day set in motion by a distressed phone call. On the other end of the line was a very upset little girl that I would do anything in the world for if it if it was within my power, and if it meant that I could take away her hurt. I wished that I could comfort her in her grief, wrap my arms around her and hold her tight, but the distance between us made it impossible to do anything but listen, and assure her that everything would be alright.

Cue tragic breakup scene. The scene that I had found myself wishing for years earlier but now felt guilty for willing into existence, considering our newfound respect for one another on the common ground that was the role we both played as mother to a sassy little ball of freckles and French braids. I felt bad for her, I really did. I had been her , once, and I thought back to the time when I had walked in her shoes through a world of emotional turmoil with nothing and no one to lean on except my own  convoluted thoughts.

I decided to make a move that would change both of our lives from that moment forward…I reached out to her. It was online that I reached out, but it was probably easier for both of us not to have to speak in person at that point. That way she could feel me out and make sure that I didn’t have ulterior motives other than sheer concern, and I could gauge whether or not she even wanted my help. I asked her if she was alright, to which she admitted that no, she in fact, wasn’t. She had devoted seven years to a relationship that was seemingly gone in the blink of an eye. “Alright” was the farthest thing from what she was.

She moved out of their home and in with the first in a long string of bad attempts at friendship with women that would do her wrong and further beat her down emotionally. Our online chats turned into frequent phone calls. I was giving her what no one was able to give me when I needed it most; a shoulder to cry on from someone that had been exactly where she was now. I was getting to know the woman that she really was without jealousy clouding my vision, and I found that we had a lot in common.  A scary amount in common, in fact.

Things quickly went south for her in her new living situation and I received a call one day from a very upset ex enemy whose psychotic roommate was having what could only be surmised as a bipolar meltdown aimed in her direction. I told her I was on my way without even having to think twice. I gathered my resources, packed a bag, and began the 1,200 mile pilgrimage to retrieve my broken new friend.

I arrived just in time the next day as the frenzied she-devil that she had previously shared a dwelling with was pitching the remainder of her personal, and in some cases extremely breakable belongings out the door and down the long flight of unforgiving cement steps.  I hugged her, gathered up what was salvageable, loaded it into the van, and off into the sunset we went toward home…my home, and toward a new life that included each other.

I’d like to say that the rest is just history, but it’s been a pretty rich history. She stayed with us for a few months and in that time we grew as close as any sisters could ever be. We talked together, cried together… had a few too many one night and fell out of our desk chairs laughing together. With me by her side, she started the long trek down that same path that I had to walk many years before her…the road to restoration.

She eventually got a job offer through an acquaintance of hers in Minnesota, loaded up her car and left a very sad me behind missing her, but we always stayed in touch. That adventure ended in another crazy roommate, and another trip back to Florida, this time to live with her father a few hours south of where I reside. She still lives in Florida today. We find a way to visit each other as often as possible, and we talk almost every night.

She admitted to me when we were reminiscing several weeks ago that she wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for me “saving” her. I never realized how far down the rabbit hole she had actually fallen back then, but to me, the decision that I had made was a no-brainer, especially now. Being an only child, she’s the closest thing to a sister I have, and even though she likes to give me undue credit for picking her up and dusting her off, her friendship has saved me from time to time over the years, too.

Our ex doesn’t come up much anymore in conversation except in a random, “haha, remember when?” moment. I know that they haven’t spoken since, and they really have no reason too. There’s nothing tying them together, they can lead separate lives. She gets to see the child that she helped raise for seven years and remain a part of her life, and my daughter enjoys that fact tremendously.  I think that we’re all doing just fine.

As for my relationship with him, I can now call him friend, and completely mean it. I love him in a healthy way. The way that we should all love our friends and neighbors. As a matter of fact, our relationship is the best it’s ever been. He’s found someone that he cares about, and I have my special someone, and though we may not talk often, we can talk, and it’s always good. He supports me in decisions I make regarding our daughter, who has lived with me now for the past 4 years after he fell prey to economic crisis for a short time.

As a fitting ending to this story, I’m taking my ‘bestie’ on a cruise in 90 days. Call it a tribute to sisterhood. Call it a reward for being survivors of heartache. Call it whatever you like, just don’t call us. We’ll be living it up ocean style, and loving life…together.

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Daily Prompt: Singular Sensation

If one experience or life change results from you writing your blog, what would you like it to be?

Enable Daydream Sequence as I sit with my cheek in my hand and a half crooked smile…

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I step out of my pink stretch limo and tell my driver once again how amazing he is as he stands holding the door open for me. “Oh Roberto, you’re such a gem, I don’t know what I’d do without you” I say, and flash him a gleaming pearly white and impeccably capped smile. With a sly wink I slip him 2 or 3 Ben Franklins, as has become our usual routine because I’ve become wealthier than Bill Gates. I adjust my Vivian Westwood halter dress, don my favorite bejeweled Prada sunglasses, and place my hand atop my oversized Gucci hat to keep it from blowing off my head in the gentle summer breeze. I look up at the gloriously blue California sky. Helicopters circle overhead carrying reporters and photographers trying to catch a glimpse of the scene laid out below.

It’s another marvelous day to be alive and to be…well…me.

My husband exits the vehicle and makes his way around to where I’m standing. He extracts my bulky Chanel bag from the back of the limo and holds open the straps as I slide my arm though. It’s naturally the latest edition, barely off the line. I’ve placed my small, nervous Teacup Pomeranian, Chloe, inside. She blinks repeatedly and trembles for a moment before repositioning herself atop the pile of silk scarves that I carry for her personal comfort. After she’s adjusted herself to her satisfaction, she pokes her freshly groomed head out of the top of the oversized purse. We survey the scene around us.

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It’s hard to believe that it all started with one little blog, and now here I am, attending the dedication ceremony as I receive my own Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I strike a pose and flash the same brilliant smile that I had given Roberto just a moment ago, this time directed at the gaggle of assembled paparazzi. I am looking fabulous after all, thanks to my personal trainer, Jacques, and my nutritionist and food prep guru, Alfonze. Why not flaunt it a little?

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Chloe and I then start to make our way toward the cordoned off section of sidewalk that now bears my name, surrounded by a handful of my personal security team, and my darling husband. He’s such a peach. So supportive. Then again, I’m sure that the new showroom that I had built for him and the acquisition of a dozen ‘mint condish’ classic sports cars helps maintain a level of support that he wouldn’t otherwise display while being drug to these events.

I sign a few autographed pictures of myself along the way for my adoring fans that have amassed in droves to celebrate this great honor with me, as my security team continuously pushes a pathway through the forceful crowd. It’s quite a turnout today. Then again, I’ve come to expect no less in recent years as my fame has grown impressively larger than the Duggar family’s offspring count.

I finally find myself standing in front of the grand display and reason that I’ve come here today. Ah, there it is…my own personalized shrine of stardom, in all its glory. I stoop to touch the gleaming section of walkway. “This will make a stunning picture for the cover of people” I think, as I try not to make my signature duck face at the eager camera wielders.

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After sufficient photos have been snapped and a short speech has been made thanking my wonderful fans for their amazing support, my entourage and I begin the pilgrimage back to the waiting limo. We’re finally able to slip inside after struggling with the enormous crowd of spectators once again. Roberto climbs in behind the wheel and proceeds to whisk hubby, Chloe, and I off into the sunset toward Spago for a deliciously prepared meal of…

A customer at the Thrift Store counter snaps me back to reality. I ring up their 2 dollar and 50 cent purchase of used clothing and wish them a wonderful afternoon. I heave a sigh and scratch at one of my mosquito bites. I bet that celebrities don’t get bug bites. I wonder if I should have Ramen or Macaroni and Cheese for dinner tonight? Someday Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail…someday.  It’ll be a date.

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My Response to Daily Prompt: Singular Sensation

Daily Prompt: Earworm

Write whatever you normally write about, and weave in a book quote, film quote, or song lyric that’s been sticking with you this week.-

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 When A Good Yankee Goes South.  

Song, Song of the south
Sweet potato pie, and I shut my mouth
Gone, gone with the wind
There aint nobody looking back again” – Alabama

I pulled up to a red light the other day and surveyed the scene in the car next to me. A puff of blue hair poked up over the dashboard, attached to a hunched elderly woman just barely tall enough to reach the pedals. In the passenger seat next to her, suddenly illuminated by a beam of Heavenly light as the clouds broke open and a choir of a thousand angels burst into Hallelujah chorus, was quite possibly the most majestic silver mullet that I’ve ever had the pleasure of beholding. The bearer of this marvelously commanding coif slowly turned in my direction and we locked eyes for a moment. He gave me a small, knowing nod and flashed me an equally glorious 2 toothed grin.

I was awestruck and unable to move for a moment until the sound of the horn behind me broke my trance. The light had turned green, and I was about to lose sight of this amazing creature forever. I was deeply saddened and gave a little wave goodbye as I watched Mulletman and his lady love putter off into the sunset in a ‘Grease’ finale sort of fashion.

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“Where had such a stunning creature come from?” I thought to myself. It took no longer than a moment to snap back to reality and realize that such a wonder should not come as all that grand a shock to me anymore. I was, after all, in the Deep South now.

I was born and raised a purebred Yankee on the distant shores of a land where the locals refer to soda as “pop”, and the tea only comes in one variety; unsweetened…with lemon. There, the grass is lush, full, and real. In this distant land, Hill folk only exist in fairy tales and Baptists are as mythical as Leprechauns and Unicorns.

Then, one fateful day I found love in the arms of a handsome stranger and before I could even say “I do”, I was whisked away to a new and unusual place called “The South”, where the world and the people in it seem to move and talk slower and smoother than a spoonful of chilled molasses.  If you cut them, they will surely bleed red beans and rice, grits, and barbeque. They’ll ask what land I hail from, and the only way to properly communicate the place of my origin is to hold up my flattened right hand with thumb extended and point to a spot somewhere in the vicinity of my lifeline.

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As I settled in and became adjusted to my new surroundings, I never even noticed that I’d been afflicted with a reddening neck as the south seeped into my veins and threatened to take over my body. Then one day, I caught myself turning to my ill-behaving children and proclaiming, “I’m fixin’ to whoop up on ya’ll.” That’s when I realized that I had officially become one of them, like infected prey eventually becomes a zombie after being bitten.

“You’d best be gettin’ used to the ideer of bein’ a Southerner now ‘cuz there aint no cure” I thought to myself. I had become well versed in their language, using phrases like “I’m gonna set fer a spell”, and “Would ya just lookit the size of that varmint”, which is usually directed at the possum or raccoon helping himself to a trash can buffet. I’ll frequently find myself looking up at the mid-day sun while wiping the sweat from my brow and blurting out, “Hoo-wee. It sure is a hot one, aint it?” I’ve also become quite adept at fighting off the giant, man eating cockroaches that still manage to find a way into my humble abode, and threaten to  “carry off them youngins” in the middle of the night.

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The years will continue to drag on and the days will pass, and sometimes in the still of the night I’ll find myself lying awake and feel the battle raging inside of me as I struggle to hold on to the Yankee heritage that is slowly slipping away. I’ll always have fond memories of snow forts and 10 cent refunds on “pop” cans, though, and that’s something that the South can’t take away.

 

Daily Promt: Earworm

Tales From The Thrift Store: Step Into The Sauna

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If you’ve been following the saga that is my life, you’ll remember my mention of the fact that I run a thrift store on the weekends out of the church I attend. As promised, I have come to regale you with tales of the awkwardness that comes with the job thanks to some slightly (okay… majorly) unhinged people. I call them my regulars. As my tall, practically glow-in-the-dark (because she’s just so white), ethnically challenged teenage daughter might say, “people be actin’ cray-cray.” That’s ghetto slang for, “pardon me, sir, but the local Homo sapiens seem to have become rather unpredictable in terms of their mental capacity and ability to soundly reason.”

Anyway, this thrift store happens to be in an unsavory area. Okay, in the interest of full disclosure…it’s in ‘the hood’. What qualifies as ‘the hood’ you ask? Well, it’s a place where you wouldn’t care to be after dark while carrying a wallet, if that helps at all.

It’s Saturday. I’ve been sitting here for 4 hours now. Four down, two to go. If I make it out alive, I want ice cream. Not to eat, just to roll around in like a wallowing pig. It’s hotter than Satan’s Spandex in here. The heat index today is probably not helping the instability level of the locals. I’m suddenly inspired by ‘The Little Engine That Could’. I think I can, I think I can…

Sue is here today. Sue was here yesterday, too. Sue is the homeless lady that I met last Sunday when she came to our church service and stayed for the potluck dinner. Sue picked a good Sunday to come to church. Every time there’s a 5th Sunday in a month, we all bring a dish to pass and converge upon the cafeteria like a pack of starving wolves as soon as the offering envelopes hit the collection plate. Hey, who doesn’t love a free home-cooked meal, right?

Somehow, out of the few dozen people that attended church that day, it was me that Sue talked into giving her a ride downtown to the homeless shelter afterward. Not a terrible or impossible request in theory, but I spent the entirety of my Sunday afternoon stuck in bumper to bumper  traffic moving either at a slow crawl or not at all thanks to the fender-bender on the interstate. I don’t blame Sue for this. I blame the maniacs that don’t know how to drive in this town.

This act of kindness seems to have earned me a new bi-polar best friend. At least, I think she’s bi-polar. I have a tendency to dabble in psychiatry as a hobby by diagnosing other people’s mental disorders. Needless to say, I can’t seem to follow along with Sue anymore; she’s all over the page. One minute I think she’s asleep, then the next she’s crying, and then the next she’s on the phone yelling at some random person on the other end of the line. From what I can make of the conversations, I think that it’s her mental health specialists that she keeps calling and yelling at. Should I be concerned? This is after she’s greeted each new customer Wal-Mart style and formerly introduced herself with her full given name and a hearty handshake. My last customer scooted out of here so fast that she created the first breeze I’ve felt all day.

Sue has settled herself onto one of the couches that I’m trying to sell, along with a book that I’m also trying to sell. I guess I can always tell the customers that it’s a “live demonstration”, right? She’s falling asleep and is starting to drool on the pleather. Please, Lord, not the pleather. I can see the value of the 10 dollar couch rapidly depreciating. Do drool and sweat stain?

She’ll sit here until closing time and then ask me to drive her somewhere. Yesterday it was Wal-mart. I don’t know exactly when my free chauffer service opened for business, but lately, business has been booming. Ah well … it’s my job to serve. I have the gas, I have the time, and I couldn’t very well say, “no, I have to get home” without knowing that it’s just an excuse. Excuse is a fancy deep fried and rolled in sugar term for big, fat, stinky LIE. I’ve heard it through the grapevine that God doesn’t like those.

I see a lot of homeless people in the store during the summer months. Mostly men. They usually slur their words and struggle to stay upright all the while smelling strongly of whatever cheap adult beverage they’ve spent the rest of their money on and most of the afternoon consuming. My nostrils continue to burn even after they’re gone. Apparently, there’s a flashing neon sign in the window that says “Drunken people welcome.”  I can’t see it, but they can, like the Emperor’s New Clothes. I give them a free can of food and a clean outfit when they come in. I guess one could argue that it’s my own fault for “feeding the strays”, but what can I say? As I believe I’ve already mentioned, it’s my job to serve. This isn’t without its rewards, though. There are a few people that come in that are in genuine need. It’s those people that make sitting here in this sauna all summer long worthwhile.

Sue isn’t the nuttiest person that I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing company with during a day at the thrift store. Not by a long shot.

I once had a mother and her young son come into the store. Now, understand that in the building that houses the store, there are 4 separate bathrooms. That’s four distinct opportunities to properly relieve one’s self, including 8 individual toilets. Mom of the year didn’t let that fact deter her, though. After ignoring the pleas to ‘potty’ from her tiny charge who had been systematically destroying the store one item at a time up until now, her young offspring of maybe 5 or 6 years of age proceeded to pull down his pants, and happily urinate on the floor in front of the toy rack.

At this point, as a mother myself, my face would have turned about 50 shades of red, I would have apologized profusely to the manager (hey, that’s me!)…and asked if I could help clean up the mess, all the while eyeing the door wishing I could slink away with whatever dignity I could still manage to muster.  Not ‘Ironmom’, though, with her nerves of steel. She proceeded to step over the puddle with disdain as if she was actually offended that I would allow it to remain there, and continued shopping. If I recall, she ended up spending 75 cents in the end. This didn’t even begin to cover the trauma inflicted upon my fragile psyche as I proceeded to clean up the ‘boy spill’ on aisle 3.

Trust me, all of this nonsense is completely true. The stuff that seems to happen to me on a regular basis is far wackier than anything I could ever make up.

I think the heat is finally starting to get to me. My pants are too tight. I should lose a few…several…50 some odd pounds. I have a heat rash that I can’t scratch. Not now, anyway, I have a customer.  Don’t ask me where it is. Sunlight doesn’t venture there; your mind shouldn’t, either.

There’s a deaf guy that comes in every weekend. Let’s call him Dave…he looks like a Dave. I like him. He grunts and points. I nod and smile. Then I think to myself, “Now this is a level of communication I can handle.” Dave bought a box of nails yesterday. This led me to wonder…if Dave hits his thumb with a hammer by accident when he’s pounding those nails, would he keep quiet or would he scream or perhaps shout some form of distorted expletive even though he wouldn’t be able to hear it?  That’s one of those ‘If a tree falls in the woods’ type of queries. The world may never know. Good old Dave. I wish him luck with his nails.

Husband number 2 breezes in from time to time and promptly disappears elsewhere in the building. Can’t say I blame him. Why should he sit here and bathe in his own sweat if he doesn’t have to? I can’t bother with the air conditioning when it’s just going to escape out the roll up garage door that serves as the shop entrance.  It’s probably 175 degrees give or take half a degree behind this desk. Of course, the Hubster does suffer from A.D.D. He wouldn’t be able to sit still anyway. I diagnosed him myself. Saved us a medical bill. I made this assessment based on the fact that he tends to…oh look, a squirrel.

Hallelujah…would you look at that. Closing time already and it only took a decade to get here. I might just wander down the street to Wal-mart and stick my smoldering head in with the frozen vegetables for a few minutes before I make the pilgrimage home.

Until next time, readers….stay cool.

Daily Prompt: Tables Turned

Are you as comfortable in front of a camera as behind one? Being written about, as well as writing?

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I recently found out the answer to this question. Well, the part where I ended up victim of a photo shoot that came out of nowhere and mowed me down like a speeding party bus, anyway.

Not too long ago, I worked a short stint (6-7 months) as the Media Director, Contributing Writer, Personal Assistant, Trained Circus Monkey…for a Bridal Beauty Magazine.

Part of my job entailed helping out at one of the Editorial Shoots. Okay, great. Sounds like fun. I can zip these tall, statuesque, mannequin-like women (you know, the kind that us cellulite-laden, housewifely, bon-bon eating, pushing 40 types envy and try to live vicariously though) into big, sparkly dresses. It’ll be like the Barbie dress up days of old…back before she had 5 kids and destroyed her dreams of becoming a world famous swimsuit model due to the complex system of stretch marks and extra flab that now runs across her stomach and thighs.

Okay, little off track there. Back to the story at hand.

The photo shoot went well. The models were stunning. It really was fun playing dress up with live Barbies, too. Five girls, 3 dresses per girl. One of the gorgeous models happened to be my tall, thin, beautiful, red haired daughter. (Yes, I’m boasting..because, well, I can.) She’s got a body and face that were made to model. I have to wonder if she’s really my child sometimes.

After we wrapped up for the day, our Editor In Chief had this brilliant plan to go back to the site of the shoot the next day and take high fashion photos of our team for the website…and the magazine. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ve got it all taken care of. Hair, make-up, glam dresses already picked out and ordered for the occasion, just be there and leave the rest to me.” Well now.  This promises to actually be…fun. I can’t remember the last time I felt pampered and…pretty.

So I show up at her house the next day to get my hair and make-up ‘did’ and try my dress on before we head off to the site. Someone failed to mention that I’d be squeezing my chunky caboose into a wide-necked, hideous, teal sequined number (I hate sequins) with no definitive waistline that made me look like 10 pounds of fertilizer stuffed in a 5 pound bag.

Strike one. I’m slightly less excited about the day’s prospects already.

It also could have been mentioned that I needed a strapless bra for this little adventure, as it was the only type that would work with this sequined sack of unsightly. For lack of a better idea, I was crammed into this borrowed corset bra with WAY more room up top than I could have even wished for. How much more room, you ask? Well, when my husband saw the picture, he exclaimed, “Holy Cow, Where did you get THOSE?!”

Strike 2. My discouragement grows.

I sit quietly in my freakish frock (its itchy, too) and await my turn for some serious hair and makeup attention. After all, this tragedy I’m wearing might not be so bad with some decent cosmetic care. So I wait. And I wait. Tick tock, tick tock. Time drags by while everyone else gets taken care of before the person that was actually FIRST to arrive that day. Namely…me. We’re losing daylight here. Can’t worry about finishing up now, gotta head to the site. “Don’t worry”, says our EIC and glam guru. I’ll pack up my make-up bag and finish you up when we get there.

Strike 3. If the game of beauty were played like baseball, someone would have been called out by now.

When we arrive at the site, she pulls down the tailgate of someone’s pick-up truck and has me plop down for “my turn to shine”. Alright, then, it’s about time. I should interject at this point that the only make up I usually wear is a little bit of eyeliner and occasionally some foundation. So, maybe my perception of how I thought I should look was already a bit skewed when my “face” happened. I ended up with this thickly slathered mask on my mug that I thought made me look like the Bride of Frankenstein. Or maybe the Bride of Bozo. Either way, a spider took one look at me and scurried off at warp speed.

Strike 4. The hair. There’s still the hair. I’m clinging to a slowly dying spark of faith that this could still turn out alright.

Tick tock…tick tock…still losing daylight. We have 45 minutes tops before sunset.  Oh yeah. You still need your hair done. Why yes, yes I do, thank you for noticing. What springs forth from my follicles over the course of the next rushed minute and a half, is a ratted up, hair-spray caked, poofy concoction that Peggy Bundy would have been proud of.

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Strike 5. That’s it. It’s gone. I’ve officially lost all hope. Please, for the love of humanity, just don’t get near my head with a lighter.

We take our places for picture time. The photographer encourages me to smile…BIGGER…with teeth. I give her a grin that flashes the enormous gap between my 2 front teeth in all its glory from having a molar pulled a couple years back thus making my teeth shift due to their new found space. Yeah. Never mind. Close your mouth. Can you at least tighten up your neck muscles enough to hide your double chin? Okay. That’ll have to do as is. Snap.

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to slink away with the small amount of dignit…nope, nevermind. No dignity left. I just want to go home, have a hot shower, and try not to scare my family before I get a chance to wash off the day’s events.

To conclude this story, NO. Never again. I’ll stay on the business end of any photographic artistry from now on, thank you very much. Leave the modeling jobs to those who are better suited for it…the models.

As for writing, I’d personally prefer making the jokes at my own expense, and everyone else’s, of course, as opposed to reading what others may think of me. Then again, I don’t see how anyone could ever be harder on me than I already am. I happen to be my own worst critic. My own worst enemy at times, too.

My Response to Daily Prompt: Tables Turned