I know it’s been a long, long, long time since I’ve blogged, so I’ll just dive right in. Have you ever felt like the world was collapsing around you? As though things weren’t perfect but it wasn’t in your control. You had no choice. You were stuck. My stories may not seem like much, but it’s the circumstances that make the tale. It’s the emotional weight it carries for me, I suppose, that matters. So, here’s we go.
First story: I love cookie dough ice-cream, and so does my cousin and so do my nieces. The funny thing is this. My cousin, likes the ice-cream, but she will leave the cookie dough out. Don’t ask. She just does. The rest of us save the cookie dough to the end and eat all the cookie dough together. Again, don’t ask! I think one of my nieces (niece A) had a whole bunch of cookie dough left, and I guess just didn’t feel like eating it. I asked for it and she decided to not share with me. She gave it all to my other niece (niece B) who would not split the extra cookie dough with me. My parents (their grandparents) thought it only fair that niece B get the whole bunch of extra cookie dough. After all, she was younger than me, and she was a child. Something about children getting away with anything! I can’t remember the details. Have you heard about how it’s not about what people do for you but how they make you feel? Well, I felt insignificant. Very obviously the nieces were far more important that me. I was a nobody there and this was my parent’s home. I should have as much clout as anyone else but Niece B being the youngest in the family had cookie dough seniority. So, she got to have all the extra dough. We could have shared it. But no.
My parents would say, “why are you fighting with the kids?” It’s not that. It’s just the principle of it. In my family, there’s a lot of child spoiling. So, there was niece B eating her glorious extra cookie dough because grampa/grandma could not dream of us sharing it equally. After a while, no matter how old you are, you start feeling like your parents who had always preferred you, don’t think of you as that important anymore. You cannot compete with the grandkids for their love. It’s worse if you are the youngest and have always gotten your way and suddenly you are the one it’s done to. Again, that’s another story.
I was done with my cookie dough and sat with my cousin who was also eating her ice-cream, while I watched niece B eat all those extra pieces gleefully. I don’t know why, but I felt pushed under the rug. There I was older and had to grow up, but it just wasn’t fair. Just then, things changed. My cousin who was sitting next to me, had several pieces of her cookie dough and watching the exchange, called to me quietly, and gave me her ice-cream bowl with just the cookie dough. Now I had an extra bowl of cookie dough also.
Retribution? No. Just recognition and love where it was due! That made me feel special. I was above the precious and preferred little ones. My cousin would stick up for me. In days when I feel like no one sticks up for me, I think back at that. The truth is this. I’m old now. I will not have anyone stick up for me compared to the others. Everyone will prefer their own child or grandchild or sister or kid (any kid) over me. The cookie dough story may not seem like much to all of you, but to me, even today it means the world to me. There was someone out there who was paying attention and caring about me and making me feel as though I’m an equal part of a family that had maybe started to overlook me.
Story 2 happened almost 15 years ago. I was out with my then husband (my ex) and his nephew. The details of this story are more fuzzy than the cookie dough story. I remember we were in a book store. Landmark. It’s sad that the store went out of business but that’s a different time, different story. My story again. We were browsing books at Landmark and I cannot recall but I got into some sort of an argument with my ex. All I know is that he made me feel so low, like I didn’t exist or at least didn’t deserve to. It was the thing he did any chance he got for no reason whatsoever and I fell victim to it every time. So, I tried to hide my tears and get back home in time while keeping my head up high, pretending like nothing happened. If you’ve ever had to do that, you know how hard it is. I think the difficult part of being yelled at by your husband for some irrational reason is being in front of someone in his family whom you value. You wonder if that person will look at you differently. It’s embarrassing, not to mention hurtful. I tried to avoid eye contact with my nephew because I didn’t want to see the look of disdain or disappointment. My ex had just made such a scene and made me look like a horrible person. How was I supposed to face my nephew again?
We browsed the store some more, and I tried to just browse on my own. I didn’t want my nephew to suffer being with the worst person in the world. My ex, I could care less. Anyway, this went on for a bit. Finally, it was time to go. We left the store, got to the car. I still avoided eye contact with my nephew, and I continued to look dazed and distant. I just wanted to be alone and by myself. I was still processing my thoughts. Besides who would want to be with me? Absentmindedly, I opened the back seat of the car to where I normally sit. I would have sat down but my eyes brought me back to reality. In that spot was a gift. Yes, a beautiful wrapped gift with a ribbon on it and all. I looked at my nephew who sat at the back with me. This was the first time since the mess back at Landmark that we made eye contact and he smiled. I asked, “What is this?” He just smiled. “Open it!” It was a CD of this group that he wanted me to listen to. He had told me about them earlier.
I have received gifts in my life before but no gift has meant as much to me as the gift that day that uplifted me and told me that I too belonged in this world and I too was worth it, and one person’s attempt at tainting my character would not work.
I think the moral of this story is not about getting gifts but it’s about being singled out and elevated and being told, while you are in the midst of a situation where you are oppressed and have no control, that you are a beautiful human being worthy of attention and love. It’s also the silent recognition of the situation. It the unspoken words that are transmitted at frequencies that only you can hear. “I know what you are going through.”
I have a lot of fond memories of great times with family and friends. A lot. I am truly blessed. We all have our crazy moments within our own families. However, when someone stands up against the injustice done to you, whether it’s as simple as the amount of cookie dough you got or making you human again when you’ve been put down for no reason, it makes them your angel.
I really think if you have ONE such memory, you are gifted. For those of you close to me who are reading this, please know that my 2 memories do not diminish all the wonderful gifts you all have maybe given me through the years. It’s just that these 2 were like the salmon swimming upstream.