Saturday, 20th of August, 2016
Elisa texted me early wanting to know if I was awake and if it was too early for breakfast? I was excited to see her text, it reminded me it was Saturday morning and that we had a date. We had made the date two weeks ago, as part of our goodbyes, and when I saw the text I thought, “Wow, it is the 20th already, that came around so quickly.” Out of bed, I showered and pondered what to wear. Then I put on what I always wear for a special outing in Summer. The skirt and top I sewed myself.
On my way to meet Elisa I was thinking about all the things I wanted to talk about with her, she has been such a good friend. She was the first friend I made in Montclair and our moments together have always involved laughter. I could not wait to tell her how happy I was feeling today and as I walked down the street, with my full length skirt billowing in the breeze and a smile on my face, I just new, that happiness was all around me. My inner chatter was as such;
“I feel so happy, and I will be, until an alternate reality disrupts me!”
Look, I know, I am kooky, I try to contain it, but the reality is that no matter how much happiness I hold, at any moment happiness can dissolve. I think if you know that, and breath into it, it will always come back around again. No-one is happy all the time.
When I arrived to the cafe Elisa was already there. When we saw each other we hugged, a really big hug, full of love. Then we started talking right away, I mean we are serious non stop talkers. I am the most talkative and I interject continuously as is my bad habit. Elisa knows me and does not think me rude because I interject pertinent things. Every time she tries to speak, I think of something I must say, but then I am always good about going back and picking up her thread.
“Ok, ok, I will be quiet now, now you tell me.” I say, patting her on the hand, grateful she is so giving.
A few minutes after we sat down, I remembered my new resolve and I stopped her mid sentence.“Oh, before you say another thing, I need to tell you, whatever we talk about here, this morning, I might write about. Just so you know.”
Elisa inhaled, filling her chest and tipping back in the chair. A smile spread across her face. “Hasn’t it always been like that?” She said, with a twinkle in her eye. I was so happy to have her as my friend. “Well, yes, but no, but yes! Now it is really happening.” I said. Elisa has known I have been trying to break through my own barriers and she was happy for me. She is brave, and trusts me and she knows what the world needs, truth from real people, and people embracing their real truth.
“I want to talk about Evie and puberty especially.” I said. “I think you are handling it so well.”
My respect for her was large in this moment, and Elisa looked rightly proud, and confident. I wanted to hug her for the way she accepts her life with such grace. More than that though, I wanted to celebrate her. Life is good, but life is not always easy.
A few months ago, Evie started growing breasts, and it all happened so quickly, she literally bloomed overnight, and by the time she turned six, it was clear she was going through puberty. Her little body took on a womanly shape, pubic hair grew exactly where it is supposed to, and now, simultaneous of loosing teeth, her body is preparing to release an egg. When I first noticed, I found myself glancing sideways, wondering if I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. I was concerned or perplexed and given my direct nature, it was not long until Elisa explained to me that Evie had hereditary precocious puberty. To start with my inner voice was “Oh no.” Then this is what happened. Oh no, became, “Wow, that is really interesting.” I wanted to support my friend, and her daughter with this rare occurence in the most beautiful way possible. I wanted to honor her path. So that is what I did. I fortified in my soul that Evie as an amazing child, that helps us expand our minds, and the more I though about it, the more symbolic it became. In another time and place and culture, she would have been considered a sign of fertility, a good luck omen. I gift from the gods.
Most of our conversations about this took place at the pool. As the girls played in the water, I could see the longer hairs growing under Evie’s armpits. I looked at Elisa and smiled.
“She has little hairs now!”
Elisa nodded, and told me that she and Evie had a conversation about it when they noticed the hair growing and Evie wanted to know why Elisa did not have hairs under her armpits? Children are so great like that. Elisa had to explain that she shaved them off and she found herself in a funny position of trying to rationalise the process of hair removal and simultaneously let her daughter know it was natural and ok to have hair under her arms. She said she thought of me and my acceptance of armpit hair and how I let the hairs exist for anyone to see. Elisa explained to Evie that she did not have to shave her armpits. I mean, why would anyone have a six year old girl shave her armpits? It is an interesting scenario right? They ways in which society sculpts and molds, contains and controls us? It might make you wonder about a few things you do yourself. When Elisa told me all of this I was delighted. I felt validated even further for being the women I am. Girls need a role model that is fundamentally happy to not altering their body in any way.
Later in the day I made a point to overtly display my armpits to Evie, so she could catch a glimpse of my natural form, and see that I was like her. I wanted to reaffirm to her that hair under the armpits is ok, and good whether you are 6 or 40. Elisa tells me I can get away with it because I am cute, but I know for certain, she loves that I put myself out there, as an example, cute or not.
For the record, Cam does not think it is cute.
Then Elisa was telling me another story, which was just the sweetest and made my heart ache with the value of innocence. Elisa had thoroughly explained to Evie what was happening to her body but it was so much information to take in that Evie became a little confused. One day they were talking to someone and Evie proudly announced, “I am going to get my puberty soon!” Such innocence is something to bottle. Elisa had to explain that it was her period she was going to get soon, because she is going through puberty.
It is a lot for a six year old to digest, when it is actually happening in that very moment. It is one thing to know it will happen one day, but when one day is the next week, well, you can imagine. The best part about all of this though, is that Evie was excited, she was excited, and she was sharing the news with ease and joy, like it was no different from loosing a tooth. She felt she could tell anyone, I mean why couldn’t she? Evie had no concept of how society in the past has cloaked menstruation making it a thing of secrecy. For some it was a chore, a hinderance, and a curse. I mean gosh, when you see a six-year-old excited and proud that she is going to get her period soon, you go, wow! It is an honor, it is a privilege, it is a right of passage. Then you wonder, what happens to stop the good feelings and excitement for others?
So that is what Elisa and I were talking about this morning, about loving womanhood, and it being a gift.
At this point, I wish you could be all in the restaurant with us, because the most brilliant thing imaginable happened. With a slight pause in this womanly conversation, I took a sip of water. As I was doing so I felt a shift. A familiar slide. My existence paused, my eyes got wide. My heart skipped a beat. I knew. My inner voice frayed. “Oh gosh, I thought I was finished bleeding!” I looked at Elisa, with astonishment.
“I just felt myself bleed, and I think it is all over my skirt.”
Then together we peered down under the table, and sure enough, there was a brilliant red dash on the back of my skirt. My body had painted a mark at the most timely moment. Elisa cracked up laughing. It was funny.
“There you go, now wear that blood proudly sister.” she said.
“Oh my gosh, can you believe it?” I said incredulously.“Here I was talking about how we get shamed into think menstruation is something to hide, and now I am in a restaurant in a light cotton voile skirt with blood on it, wondering what to do?”
Elisa threw her head back laughing, just so delighted by me and the universe. I was getting the proof right there. Should I be embarrassed? I felt the confusion rise up, yikes! It was amazing, it was hilarious. Life was putting me on the spot. Can I get up and walk through this restaurant with bright red bleed on my skirt I wondered? Do I have that in me? Then in a more refined thoughtful, practical manner I spoke out loud.
“Well, I don’t want my skirt to have a stain!” I said. “I guess I will get up and go wash it out.”
Elisa agreed and so that is what I did. I went into the bathroom, and I washed the blood out of the fabric with cold water. It came out as easy as can be, because the blood was still fresh and not yet dried.
Back at the table conversation continued. We calmed our selves over the gift I had been given. Then I thought to tell Elisa about the Moon Diary Starr was going to send. “My friend has written a book, a moon journal, to write in about menstruation. It is designed like a calendar with a moon phase on each page. She is going to send me 2017.” Elisa thought is sounded great and I considered at that moment, on arrival I would gift the journal to Evie, in celebration of her unique and special journey into womanhood.
Conversations meandered into family dynamics, and how her husband’s parents favor one sister financially. I nodded with understanding. It is the usual stuff many of us try to deal with in a mindful way. Then after a bit I found myself asking about her other daughter Jaz. I just love Jaz. I mean LOVE, but in that moment I was overcome with a serious reflection. Reaching out, I took Elisa’s hand.
“Can I ask you something?” I spoke lightly, because I felt it was pressing my throat. It had been on my mind since were last together and I needed it out.”Did you put Jaz on medication?” I said with as much heart as possible.
Elisa knows I respect her. Her eyes turned serious too, and she began to shake her head indicating no. I felt relieved, but I would have kept loving regardless, and she knew that. It was one of those very hard moments, that while the answer did not matter, it sort of did matter because it represented something important to me, a mother’s acceptance of their child for who they are, and a willingness to grow through the difficulties. There is a pharmaceutical line these day that families with unique children question, and I always felt Jaz, as I know her, should stay on the medication free side of it. I could see though too, how she could hover so precariously close depending on what box someone tried to put her in. In fact I know there are children less unique than her, receiving a daily dose of drugs, and for reasons beyond myself, it pains me. Life is tricky like that. But here is what happened. Elisa knew exactly why I asked.
“You noticed the change in her?” Elisa said.
“Yes, I did, I noticed a change in her and I wondered if you had put her on medication? I mean, you had thought of it once?” I said gently.
Wise parents question all options to help a child thrive, and my inquiry came from a place of love support. That is when Elisa got a sad look in her eyes. “It is school.” She said in a resigning way. “Summer vacation has been so good for her. It is school that changes her.” I was so proud of Elisa for saying this out loud, it was an intense truth to bear, I held her hand as she continued. “She is already anxious about going into 4th grade.”
For a long time I had intuitvely felt the public school system was not the place for Jaz, and I had encouraged Elisa to homeschool. There was another boy in our homeschool group who was enough like Jaz I could see a common code. Super creative, super intelligent. Super light and sensitive, with a very clear, but unique path that needed specific support. There was always so many things coming up for Elisa about why she felt she could not homeschool, and they were all valid, the same reasons as everyone. Money, work, emotions, relationships, community, structure, and I understood it all, but still, I just kept wanting to encourage her to help Jaz be free. We both knew it, we both knew it was right that she should have more freedom for self directed occupation and less pressure, but how to break through that? How to get to the other side?
“If I can not inspire you, then who can?” I asked with an enormous smile. “I am just going to shower you in light!” and then I put my hands up and sprinkled make-believe sparkles all around her. “I am going to help you.” I declared. “If you can not homeschool then you have to make the system more accommodating to Jaz’s needs.” I encouraged. “Maybe she could just go half days?” I questioned. “Or not do homework!”
Then I knew what I was going to do to, I was going to take some of my storage boxes, and organizational skills down to their house and help set up an art space for Jaz. I see her as an amazing artist over and over, she just needs the opportunity, and a lot of it all day, every day. I wanted a world with all day art school for her.
We kept eating our breakfast and talking.
“Thank you so much for my scarf.” I said feeling so grateful.
When I first sat down the table, Elisa had a present waiting for me. Sitting wrapped in lovely orange paper with a blue ribbon, was a hand knitted cowl in the most suiting green possible. It was a wool alpaca blend, so soft and nicely done. Also, there was a card that said:
Well, I will miss you terribly. I have loved getting to know you and being creative with you and being inspired by your creative force. I hope we can continue to connect despite our distance. I made this for you. I actually started it 4 or 5 times. Each time I removed a level of complexity until it was thoroughly simple – but it should also be thoroughly warm. YOU”LL NEED IT IN MAINE!
Lots of love to you – E
This came as a meaningful punctuation to a relationship that has been a blessing to us alike. Elisa accepted my eccentricities over and over listening to my fandangle ideas and theories. I had been telling her we were moving for three years, the first of which I remember clearly, sitting at our kitchen bench in 2013, where she burst into tears at hearing I was going to leave town. I was taken back by her visceral show of emotion. My heart wrenched, for being careless with her feelings, because we did not end up moving for three more years. It delighted me yesterday that I had somehow seasoned her to my personality, and that she had been willing to ride the waves, and that she would come and stay.
After we finished breakfast, which took a very long time because we talked so much, we went for a walk to a craft fair. There was a women making some fabric zip pouches hand embroidered with phrases. I picked up one that said. “Diabetes Shit.” This is the times we live in. People are both liberated and encumbered.
The day was hot and when I arrived home from my outing with Elisa, Cam was getting ready to go to the pool. Both girls were being smeared with sunblock. Maya asked about my date and in a verbose manner I told her that I bled on my skirt and had to go to the bathroom and wash it. I saw fear spring to Maya’s face, like it was a social horror. “It is no big deal Maya, if you get blood on your clothes you just wash it off. And if you can not wash it off, well then that is ok too. It is nothing to be embarrassed about, it can happen to anyone.” I said. Maya seems to be able to drop the fear pretty quickly if I support her to be calm and sensible.
They went to the pool and I stayed at home taking care of moving business. I had listed some things on Craigslist and people were texting me. There was a women named Molly who wrote, and she was interested in our sofa. It is a quality American made sofa but we were keen to sell it. She wrote with a lot of questions, explaining she was out of state and not able to come and see it in person. I felt she must have just wanted a detached purchase to quickly fill a holiday house or something. She was familiar with the brand and I was happy to answer everything she wanted to know. I took more detailed photos in order to help her be thorough. After a few hours of texting back and forth she said she would take it, and would transfer money via PayPal.
In the meanwhile I went down to the pool myself and swam laps. As I was pulling myself through the water, I started getting an anxious feeling that the way in which I share in the world still was not right. There I was swimming, with my head, thinking, thinking, thinking. I tried to out swim the fear, but on our walk back home I began to talk about it with Maya.
“I wrote a blog post yesterday, and now today I am worried that people are going to think I am weird.” Maya is always so funny and smart. “Well, you know what my opinion is of you, you are weird. But what did you say? She said with a lilt to her voice that indicated she might be worried too. Then with perfect timing he added, “Just how weird were you?” I smiled, because it made me realize I actually was not that weird at all. I was just being insecure.
“I was writing about how important it is to feel safe with people. It is important to be able to trust that they have your best interest in heart.” When I said it like that out loud, it did not sound weird at all, in fact, it sounded like my purpose was just right. “You know, I want to appear strong, which I am, but the thing is, sometimes I get hurt, and for all my strength, sometimes I feel vulnerable and sense someone might take advantage of me, or not respect me.” I said to Maya. “So I find myself looking for women friends I can trust. I have to ask myself, do I trust that person? I wish I did not ever have to ask, but that is how it is.”
Maya listened quietly. I knew she was learning, and while saying all of this, I hoped in my mama heart that her future relationships feel safe. Teenage years can be challenging. I want to lead her into it wisely.
Not long after arriving back to the house I received a text from Molly saying she had transferred the funds for the sofa into Cam’s PayPal account, and that we should see the email receipt and to please let her know how to proceed.
Together Cam and I sat on the couch, the one that Molly had just bought. “The receipt came through.” He said with the email open in front of him. “Why did she send $1050?” He asked. It was more than we had listed the sofa for. “Maybe she included shipping?” I said. Together we peered at the details of the PayPal receipt. As is the case when something is amiss, it clicked. There in fine print, was a catch. “It is a scam.” Cam said, reading the email aloud, which was telling us to pay $400 shipping, after which we would be paid in full. It was presented as a buyer protection process. All we had to do was click a button. Cam, being the cyber security person he is, went into the backend of the email and could see right away, despite it appearing to be from PayPal, it was in fact not a PayPal email. It was a hoax. Had we clicked on the button, even out of curiosity, it would have hijacked our computer. “It in the business it is called a fishing scam.” Cam said, expertly. “Yep, Daddy saves the day!” he said, feeling proud of his role.
I sat in silence, letting it sink in. I had just spent my afternoon interacting with a liar. Some people are desperate and dishonest. They hurt others to get what they want. “Would you have clicked on that?” Cam asked, wondering if I would have been gullible were I on my own. “Well, I think I would have gotten confused and asked more questions.” I said honestly. “I do not think I would have, but I might have?” I said, wondering myself. A protective fire burned inside as I started thinking about my mother, who is alone, and so trusting and giving. I felt for all of those that get taken advantage of, and it made me feel righteous.
This women Molly, who clearly was not Molly at all, was a swindler. “Wow.” I thought shaking my head. It was uncanny that only moments ago, I was worried about being weird for trying to explain that feeling safe is important. Feeling safe with those one shares this life with is very important.
Thank you for reading Magnesium Blue