Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hey Jude

I know this is a question that has been plaguing the minds of my readers since I first began blogging, so I have graciously decided to address it. My first kiss. Yes, a romantic like me, it's got to be good right? Quite right, quite right. Twas good, for such a long ago affair. Let me bring you back.
The year was... around, wait let me do some mental math. Okay, I used a calculator. The year was 1994. I was stationed along with the rest of the Sturos brood, not being such a big brood at that time, but no matter, at the quaint old palace on Railroad Street. Er. Duplex if you must know. We had the bottom half, and our neighbors with a whole slew of boys lived above us. Naturally from the moment they had moved in--as families were always moving in and moving out, while we stayed put below--I had had my eye on a certain fella in the family. Let's call him Jude as his older brother never stopped singing off-key we all live in a yellow submarine, producing a hatred of the Beatles for me and most of my childhood.
But, Jude, he was everything I wanted in a boy. He was tall (taller than me at least) dark and handsome--as far as fourth grade boys go. He was akin to someone I would have dreamed up while sitting in the trees lining my driveway concocting imaginary boyfriends and what qualities I most admired. Okay, if truth be told I sometimes also pretended the trees were my boyfriends, but I think that's a mere testament to how darn imaginative I was and not at all a creepy thing that would require my parents investing in a shrink. Alright moving on.
The day Jude moved in I remember pulling up the driveway with my dad and getting out of the car to hear that we had new neighbors! My eyes shot straight to the the second story window that I knew to be a bedroom from playing upstairs with previous neighbors and there he was, looking back at me. I smiled and waved. He grinned and then disappeared from the window. Sure enough he came outside to introduce himself. It was enough, I knew before I had even seen him in person that he would be my first love. I just knew, like girls know.
We became instant friends, but I was aware even at a young age that boys weren't meant for mere friendship, holding your jump rope and gabbing about Barbies. No, no they were meant for much more: holding hands, kissing and one day marrying, and this girl was not going to slack on snagging a man. I'd had many a conversation with my tree boyfriends and. wait ahem my other girl friends and I knew the rules of the game.
Speaking of other girl friends. I did have them. One girl, we'll call her Libby (my supposed best friend) knew I was playing basketball with Jude that day and basically following him around every second like a magnet. She had the audacity to tell me she was going to ask him to be her boyfriend! Some nerve! She even said it with a powerful glint in her eye, as if the fact that she had long blonde hair and an evil streak meant she could get any guy she wanted (I would later learn this does indeed get you guys).
Well I was having none of that. I marched home not without stopping and wishing on a dried up dandelion first that Jude would see I was the only girl for him. Lucky for me all the seeds blew off the stem and floated into the air. I pounded on Judes door not seconds later with purpose. He opened it with a wry smile most likely sensing my urgency and the seeds of fate working their way into his mind as I began to speak.
I got straight to the point.
So you're my friend right?
, he nodded casually still smiling.
And you're a boy, I stated.
Yes, he was starting to look at me funny now. Wasn't that much obvious?
So... technically that makes you my boyfriend...?
His eyes got large like he had just been duped. But as he pondered it, I could see that he too saw my logic and it made sense.
Yeah, sure, he shrugged.
Locked in, Libby! Who's boyfriend is he now?
Great! See you later!
I bolted for Libby's to break the news. I mean she had to know he was off the market right?

A few days later Jude and I sat on the railing of our shared back porch talking and playing Dare. I brazenly stated that no dare was out of my league. You couldn't scare me off. He nodded and pondered. And as he mused I stared at his sweet smiling face and wished for him to kiss me.
I dare you to kiss me he blurted out with sudden inspiration. My jaw dropped. If I had known wishes were this easy I would've been wishing for a horse a lot sooner!
Before I leapt into his arms I considered a lesson from my life coach, my aunt Lacey. I remembered her telling me to play hard to get. No man wants an Easy Edith. I couldn't just act excited about kissing him, it'd make him take me for granted or run into Libby's arms for heaven's sake!
So I pretended to mull it over like it was a matter of the state. I hemmed. I hawwed. I tapped my fingers to my lips like it was just so delicate a thing. And then I calmly said, yes I suppose I could kiss you. But not here where people can see. Let's go behind the shed.
We scurried to the far reaches of the yard and stopped once behind the safety of the rusted white metal.
I told him he had to close his eyes and he agreed because that's just how kisses were done right and proper. I leaned in and placed my small pink lips against his. I didn't do much of anything other than lean in, press, and then pull back while promptly getting a rosey flush. When he opened his eyes, he let out a sigh and said, that was great!
My heart did funny things like an Irish jig and a two-step and then maybe a rousing tango for good measure.
So, I said nonchalantly. Since you dared me to kiss you it's only fair that well, you have to kiss me now.
He agreed with no hesitation. I think he was onto my little game.
As soon as my eyelids fluttered down, awaiting his kiss, I desperately thought that life couldn't be any sweeter than my dear Jude approaching with his lips about to touch mine. And when they did, for just an instant, like my kiss to him, just lips touching lips, I felt pink. And giddy. Just as light and buoyant as a lost balloon drifting up, up and away. My eyes opened and he was smiling at me.
Later after swooning in my bed, he would knock on my window and ask me to go to the carnival with him and feeling cocky, I retorted, oh you just want to kiss me again, to which he smiled and ran off to get in the car with his waiting parents.
What ultimately brought this story into my head was confidence. What an alluring and golden thing it is. How back in the fourth grade, nothing could've steered me away from getting Jude. And now, the slightest breeze knocks me off kilter and has me questioning all my dreams, wishes and wants. I doubt that I've got it and when I make wishes now, I wonder achingly if they'll ever come true.
Something about youth and thinking dandelion seeds will come through for you is really the cusp of it all. If back then I could have faith in seeds flying in the wind to make boys turn into boyfriends, then what's stopping me when I have all the resources for making it on my own, right here at my fingertips? What's stopping me is somewhere along the line I lost that sureness in myself and have been struggling to find it ever since.
But all it took was the memory of my first kiss and how I was really the one who made it happen, to make me wonder if there's something to what I've got after all.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Every year I struggle in vain to find a card for my mother which will put into words what I find so difficult to say or even write myself, but this year I wanted to try and articulate what my mom means to me.
This past week I have been sick: a sore throat, it sounds measly, but it's been pretty grotesque and hideously painful. Naturally the eight-year-old in me comes out when I feel even the slightest bit unwell and I call my mom crying at four a.m. that I can't swallow or sleep and she patiently and lovingly tells me what to do. As if, I, a grown woman, can't figure it out on my own. It doesn't matter. I can figure it out on my own, but there's something about my mother's calm support and words of sympathy that are like a sweet cherry cough drop to my throbbing throat.
But that's a given you say, any good mother worth her salt takes care of her sick children. True. So I shall press on. This memory came into my head the other day while driving. Somewhere in time around the fifth grade, I had woken up in the night certain there was an intruder in my bedroom trying to kidnap me. It was probably my overactive imagination combined with a nightmare, but it was enough to send me peeling for my parents bedroom. In a fit of hysteria I shook my mom up telling her about my frightful encounter. She nodded bleary-eyed and patted the middle of the bed in between her and my dad. In I climbed, tucked safely between them. Sure I slept with my arms crossed tightly to my chest just to be safe, but I knew with certainty that if there actually had been an intruder trying to get to me, that no-gooder would've had to deal with a very protective mama bear who doesn't take kindly to anyone messing with her little cubs!
So your mom let you sleep in her bed when you were scared too? Fine, I can see that. But wait. Does your mom ask you simple little favors every once in awhile, like would you be willing to help me write this paragraph for a contest I'm entering? or if you wouldn't mind looking up this piece of information and getting back to me? And being a scatty daughter you put it on a mental list with the likes of: you really outta back up your computer files and get an oil change sometime in the next six months. And what does my fine mother do when you never get to that paragraph or keep forgetting to find the information she needed? She doesn't scold or get annoyed or say that she's done hundreds of thousands of beautiful, thoughtful things for you over the years. Or even bring up the not so beautiful things like how she tirelessly cleaned up your vomit when you were four, five, six, eight and would knock on her door, tell her somberly that you puked but somehow missed the toilet and then trudge back to bed, knowing full well she'd take care of it. Or how about listening to you sob hysterically over a break-up and although she might not have known what to do with you, she held you anyway and told you you'd be okay. And what about the times she'd take you to get your fillings when you didn't listen and floss your teeth like the dentist said, or she'd watch white knuckled in the passenger seat while you attempted your first parallel park. And still, she doesn't hoard that over you and say, "All I asked you to do was write that one little paragraph!" Nope. She forgives your thoughtlessness and still is there for you when you cry or hurt or don't really listen to her problems because you're overwhelmed with your own. But does she ever give you a taste of your own medicine? No of course not. Never.
Maybe your mom too has done all these things and is also an exceptional woman. I can believe it. There are lots of great mothers out there, but hey maybe I'm partial, but I don't think they can hold a candle to my mom. My mom who has recently been told on numerous occasions how homesick I am (maybe because I wail about it every time I call her) sent me this video on Mother's Day. Her day. The day honoring all she does for every single one of her children, 365 days a year, for going on twenty-four years now.

Wishing You Were Home

I am not sure if you can see now, why I find I fall short every year in thanking my mother for all she does for me, in telling her I love her so much more than, me, a writer could ever put into the most exquisite of words, because she is just too mesmerizing and astounding for me to come close to knowing what to say. But I tried, mom. Even though you deserve more than one day of recognition for all that you do, and I've spent countless days not showing you the appreciation you so richly deserve, I still want to attempt to say thank you. And Happy Mother's Day Mom. I would be nothing without you.

Friday, May 7, 2010


So, a friend of mine suggested I write something about desperation and despair. Me?! Desperation and despair? That's like asking Lady Gaga to be seen in a pair of simple slacks and a sweater. It ain't gonna happen. This is not to say I don't feel these emotions. Every human being has felt their share of these two dastardly diddies, however, I have made it good practice to show as little of it as possible, and if I'm going to show it, it's only to the people I feel won't judge my imperfections or failures.
In fact sometimes I get so adept at holding in my feelings of fear or inadequacy that I find myself in a state of hiding. Pushing everything so far inside that no one can know, and if I must break down, well maybe quietly under the covers at night when I'm pretty sure no one will know my secrets. That I am sad, or lonely, or sick of the mere sight of myself, or the fact that people tell me I'm strong but I feel so weak.
These maybe are a couple things I have been feeling this past week and would rather not carry on about, because it just doesn't jive with my glass is half full approach to life. I have to press on in the mindset that this is a mere bump in the road and things will right themselves soon enough, otherwise I really might have a meltdown.
As I have always been prone to dramatic flair, anytime life doesn't go my way my immediate idea is: run away. Those of you who aren't familiar with my attempt at running away as a child, well I'll retell that sordid tale.
The particulars are fuzzy now as I was a wee lil thing. Okay like fourteen, but still. As I remember it, I was feeling the pressures of being the oldest in an extensive family and felt neglected. I know my mom wasn't home that day because, honestly if I ran away when my mom was home, not only would she notice, but become royally pissed for such shennanigans like wasting a good Saturday of cleaning on crass theatrics like attempted runaway.
So I pulled this little stunt when my dad was home. Thinking the outcome was two-fold. He'd miss me terribly and grovel with tears in his eyes when I returned, saying how worried he'd been and that I could never be overlooked again. And that I'd get the respect I rightly deserved. In all reality I am certain I knew neither of these outcomes would be the case, as I could've probably burst into the house with a gouging blood-wound on my head and my dad would say, "Well honestly, why'd you go and do that? Go lay down until your mom gets home, I'm sure she'll want to take you to the E.R. or some nonsense for that piddly scrape," (haha just teasing dad).
Anyway, I digress. But well, I love to digress, but seriously, anyway. I hopped on my two speed Huffy, appropriately named for the only times when I'd get on that damn thing. In a huff. As I did that day, spitting gravel down the driveway and promptly heading for the trail running parallel to the railroad tracks near our house. Yes, you can't have a proper runaway tale without railroad tracks, so kudos to me. I pedaled furiously until I reached the next street down (um like a quarter of a mile away). As soon as I came to a stop to potentially cross, I thought, what are you doing you loon? This is lame, you're already exhausted and where are you even going with no food or money? It'd probably been a mere half an hour since I last ate and the prospect of holding out near a swamp for hours without food was worse a fate than admitting defeat on my bold statement to my parents. So I turned around hoping that it had been sufficient time for my dad to come to his senses. As I cruised back to the house prepared for my dad to ask where have you been, I saw upon my return that all was as I'd left it. Some youngin's playing in the yard, someone (let's just say Jordan) avoiding his chores, and my dad watching sports. I came in heaving and indignant and looked pointedly waiting. Waiting. Waiting..... "Dad!"
"Did you finish your chores yet?"
"Forget it!" I most likely squealed with tears ready on the brink of my lashes.
This was my first and last attempt at running away. However, when the going gets tough it is never far from my mind, as a viable option to solving all of life's problems. But, alas it doesn't take much to bring me back to that day and the futility of my efforts. Running away doesn't solve any of your problems. It pretty much just makes you feel stupid and leaves you breathless with exhaustion.
So I guess I'm staying put.