Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Fabulous Friend

Once upon a time (I just have to start it with a fairy tale beginning), there was a boy with flaming red hair and his hair matched his soul. He had the spirit that exuberated happiness with just about everyone he came in contact with. He would sing show tunes on cue and would perform dramatic clips of his favorite TV series on a whim. I grew up with this boy. I didn’t realize until later in life how much of a gift it was for me to have had him as part of my childhood.

There was this level of unconditional love and happiness that came from him and was evident in most everything that he did. Not to say that he wasn’t ever the typical kid. He hated having to stop playing to go take a shower and he hated having to clean his bedroom or weed the garden. He was the typical kid in those respects. He’d roll his eyes when his mother would call from the next block “John Henry, come home and take a shower!” He’d quickly say to me at that moment, “don’t forget, tonight at 8:00, meet me by the tree and we’ll run away!” The plan was that I would climb out my second story window, onto the tree that was near it, climb down and meet him. There was almost always some drama and a level of excitement that was present. Of course, we never did meet at the tree at 8:00 but we’d plan it again and again.

So this young boy, John Henry, would get me to do things that were above and beyond any games that I played with my other friends, boys or girls. This is a boy that would say “Oh my gawd! I have an idea! Let’s put on your mother’s bras on and my mother’s wigs!” At the tender age of about 9 we’d be putting on my mother’s “Double D” sized bras (which we thought were hysterical and couldn’t believe anyone’s boobs were that big) and wear his mother’s wigs. We’d strut our stuff around the neighborhood like it was no ones business! (I can’t believe we didn’t get in trouble for that….I wonder if they ever knew.)

Saying that John Henry was a creative and unique person to have had in my life, is an understatement. From the first day that I met him at the age of 5, I can still remember that I wasn’t sure what to make of him….I was almost afraid of him. I was this shy and quiet little girl. He was this excited boy with bright red hair that seemed to be larger than life. I think I was shocked!

I can still see him jumping up and down, his large feet, gangly arms, freckled face and fire engine red hair. John Henry had me awestruck. But, we very quickly became friends and it seems that there isn’t a day in my childhood that went by that didn’t include him in it. We were like siblings. We’d have sleepovers at his house and we’d stay up late talking and giggling. Also, making concoctions in his mother’s kitchen with ice cream, milk, juice, whatever we could get our hands on. One of those made me so sick one night that I woke up throwing up all over his head. In later years, at one of his fabulous parties you could see him running through his NYC apartment with me in his arms cutting people and opening the bathroom door after having drank too much champagne. Some things never change I guess.

Through the years this boy was my doorway to happiness in life. But, I didn’t know it until I was older. I couldn’t possibly appreciate the gift that he was back then. While my little sister and I were dodging our parents that were trying to somehow keep it all together, John Henry was thinking up ways to get to meet Gill Girard and how we would move to Hollywood, California. His mother would give us 10 cents to weed her garden (big money back then) and John Henry would tell me that I should have him hold onto it for our trip to California. Of course, I did so.

This is a kid that loved doing my hair, had dreams of being a star and made my life interesting and fun.

He taught me how to use a curling iron. He was excited for me when I got my first bra and when I finally got my period he was the first to know. He shared in the excitement when I had my first boyfriend and gave me a condom to use just incase we had sex.

Back then, I didn’t really think of him as my best friend….we were more like siblings and we knew that we’d always be there for one another. I wish I was there for him more than I was back then. He really needed me more than I thought. Little did I know how bad the bullying really was for him until he was an adult and he shared with me how awful it had been.

Through those childhood years, John Henry didn’t have it easy but he always beamed with happiness. I knew that he was different than anyone else that I had known. But he was berated by some peers for being different. I wonder now how those people feel about how they treated him. Because John Henry was a little boy that would look for a specific song in a table juke box in a NJ diner and then once he found it he would be so excited and ready to put on a show that he would stand up in the booth we were seated in and belt out the words to Xanadu, with Olivia Newton John singing in the background. He was on stage for the first time, in his diner booth to his fans, the people eating lunch in this diner. He’d received a round of applause for that too and he took his bows. John Henry was the only boy I knew that would do such a thing. I remember thinking at the time how I could never have done anything like that. To this day I still sing Xanadu and it makes me smile.

But, even then I didn’t think to myself that he was gay. Which makes me laugh, because being gay is what I loved about him. Only I didn’t know that’s what it was. He was who he was because he was gay. And those things about him I cherished.

It wasn’t talked about in my home though and I didn’t know that “gay” existed until I was probably about 12. I new that he wasn’t like other boys and I knew that he got along better with girls than anyone else. He liked the same things that most girls liked only up a couple of notches. He didn’t play with the boys much and when he did he was just going through the motions, he didn’t really enjoy himself. His heart wasn’t in it like when we played with all the girls in the neighborhood. I didn’t question this though. I didn’t care. We had fun.

But, he was getting bullied every day. We grew up in a blue collar town with 82 square miles of lakes & woods. Being gay was not an option in that town when we were kids. It wasn’t accepted. There were many kids in elementary school that were friendly toward him, but there were others that made fun of him and even beat him up every day after we got off the bus. They would call him a “fairy” and other names. His mother made him take Karate classes which he didn’t like taking. He suffered greatly though the years and it wasn’t until years later that I found out when we were in High School that the bullying had continued. He told me that in High School the bullying was so bad that he had attempted to take his own life.

I was shocked. I felt I had let him down. I told him that I was sorry that I wasn’t there for him. That he didn’t feel he could come to me. He was in that much pain to want to take his own life because of these idiots that had nothing better to do than to make a person feel horrible about himself. And it wasn’t just guys that were bullying him. There was one female in particular that played her part in pushing him over the edge. I was surprised to learn of this from him. I wonder if those people are sorry that they treated him this way. I wonder if they are better people today that teach their kids tolerance or if they are the type that continues the cycle of bullying with their kids. I really wish that I was there for him more than I was.

I hear about these kids and young adults getting bullied still in today’s society. It saddens me and makes me wonder when this will change. I believe that it all starts with how we raise our children. My daughters know that I will love them no matter who they are in life. They will always have my support. They also know that there are many different types of people in the world. There are different cultures, religious views, races and sexual orientations. The more we talk about these differences we have with most everyone in the world, the more open minded they become. My daughters ask me questions and I answer them honestly.

Peace begins with how we choose to live our lives.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rambling on...

"I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship." Louisa May Alcott

I am learning to sail my ship through life while gathering experiences, knowledge and wisdom. There are times in life when I’ve applied these things to my life really well and other times when they all went right out the window. But, that’s part of being human in some ways. I guess we all just do the best we can in certain situations and hope we are morally and ethically being the best we can in life.

Teaching our children along the way and hope they will become the adults we are trying to raise them to be. I always have told my girls to “follow the golden rule. Do unto other’s as you’d have done to you.” It’s a very simple rule. It’s straight forward and seemingly easy enough to do. But, we all screw up at times. That’s when I believe that I have to look at those instances and at the very least learn from them.

This reminds me of something that happened last night. My 10 year old was upset because she forgot to bring home a homework paper from school. Now, this isn’t the first time this has happened. Usually my husband will bring her back to the school and get what she needs. But, this time he was unable to do so. I believe that it turned out to be a good life lesson. Without these experiences we won’t grow to make better choices each time we come across a situation or an issue unless we have learned to do things differently.

I'm a pretty strong believer in that we live what we learn in life. If I teach my daughter that every time she forgets her homework that we'll bring her to school to get it I will have taken away a lesson for her in life. Lesson being to be able to independently take care of her things. To feel secure enough to know she can handle it. This is just one small thing, but it's a lesson. Now, I'm not saying that I should never get her homework for her but I do believe there is a balance that needs to exist.

This is something small but it is still a lesson that will prepare her for her future. I have had times in
my life when I thought that I could not handle a situation that I was in. There were times when it seemed utterly hopeless. I didn’t know how I would find the strength or courage to move forward. But, what choice did I have? I had to move forward. We all do. That’s the only option. So, when I was at a very low point in my life and wondering how the hell I would ever get through this, the weight of the world on my shoulders, a friend said to me “Erin, God doesn’t give you anything that you can’t handle. If it’s in your lap that means God knows you can handle it.”

Although, things didn’t change drastically for me in the situation I was in, I was able to hold on to faith. To think that if something greater than me such as God knew that I could handle this, then I had to believe it too. I was able to really change the way that I was seeing things in life. I was able to enjoy life, my attitude changed and I was able to live, not just survive.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Path

We all have a journey that we are on. The path seems clearly laid out for some of us. Some of us are planners and we know what direction life should be taking us. There are challenges but being ready for them is what it’s all about. We’re great problem solvers and the ability to look at an obstacle as an opportunity is what helps us to grow in new and better directions.

There are those of us that are going with the flow of life. Those that take life as it comes and meld ourselves to whatever may lay ahead. There may be obstacles but those that look at life this way have faith that all will be well in the long run. We may have to get through a tough situation but have the faith that things will change in time. We have knowledge that although a situation may not be great right now, that things will get better.

Then there are those of us that try to plan, but things seem to often take a different turn than what we think should be happening. Those of us that believe that life isn’t handing us what we deserve. Or at least hasn’t for a while. What we have worked hard for doesn’t seem to be paying off. But, we keep on giving it out best shot. We grow tired of the way life is going but we know that life doesn't stay the same. It is always changing and hell...we just might win the lottery!

This is portraying three type's of people or maybe just three different situations that any given person could be in at any given time in life. All of these paths have been ones that I have experienced. I am pretty sure most of you have experienced too.

A friend of mine likes to say "times are tough" jokingly to his wife. But the truth is that times really are tough for a lot of us.

I have been through some challenging times in life and I do know one thing to be true…I always got through those times.

There's that old saying that time heals. Well, time also changes things. We go about our every day lives and things change. Life never stays the same. At times it is more challenging than others. It was in the strength that I gained through experiences that enabled me to grow and look at life a bit differently each time.

It is through hearing other peoples words of wisdom or experiences that I can understand how much we all could benefit from each other's experiences. Feel free to post.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I started writing when I was about 12 about my life in my Garfield journal. I saw some excerpts from it when we were unpacking from our move a few years ago. It was mainly what I had for dinner. That my sister was a brat and that I had so much fun that day playing with this kid or that one. It wasn't very deep at all. It wasn't what I remembered it must have been like for me at that age. For gods sake, I had lived all that and now get to read, "I had steak for dinner....I love drinking the juice. It's so good!" Or we played C.H.I.P.'s on our bikes or we ran away from my sister calling her "Smelly Kelly".
I guess in that regard I was your average 12 year old kid that wasn't thinking to herself about getting really into expressing myself in a journal about anything more than what I did that day other than that things were good in my life. I suppose that is a tribute to who I really was at that age. Someone who saw what was good in life. Not the crappy things that happened. I'm actually (for the first time) understanding that I must have been writing authentically. That was what made me feel good. Those were the things in life that made me happy.
Writing had always been an outlet for me though and as I grew older I relied on it more. I knew I always had that to count on. It also made me feel that I was leaving a "footprint" on my journey though life (even if I was the only one reading what I wrote). It was also something that I could do to keep myself feeling grounded (even when I didn't know that's what it was doing for me).
Writing has been a part of my existence through my life. I have created short stories of beginnings with no endings. Written about my own experiences on certain things that I felt passionate about and ones that I NEEDED to get off my chest. I've stayed up late nights writing and writing. Like I am doing right now. There have been instances in my life that were painful to write about. Also, about times that have brought me more joy than I ever could have imagined would have been possible to have experienced in life.
I felt faith and hope while writing. I've gained knowledge in figuring out who I am and what made me become who I am. Why I think what I think and also where it all stemmed from. It was always important to me to try to "figure it all out".
It's not as important to me as it used to be.....maybe I've figured it all out. Well, I do know that's ridiculous. I know I will never have it all figured out. But to be satisfied in life is truly a great place to be in.
Knowing that I may share this blog means that I have opened myself to the public. Not too sure on how I feel about that. I've always been a very private person. But, like all experiences, you never really know how it feels until you give it a shot. I do go on facebook and share thoughts and opinions but this blogging thing is as easy as writing in a private journal but then I post this and it goes out to the public. This is a bit different.
One of the things that made me go ahead and make this blog public was that my youngest daughter has expressed that she would like to start a blog. I believe hers will be about life through a 10 year olds eyes (since she is only 10).
She doesn't have a facebook page or even an email address. But she loves to write and express herself. All my girls do. They always have written and I have always taken great pride in that they must have gotten the writing bug from me. I know how it feels to have it all in your mind and it to flow from your being to the ends of your finger tips. It's a relief to write and a real satisfaction when I like what I've written.
I've toyed with the fantasy through my life that I might write a book. I have enough stuff to put in one that even a reality show would love to get their hands on! But, boy is that tough to do. When I finish a handful of pages I am exhausted. Emotionally drained. I get frustrated with myself that I can't continue and sometimes it takes me a very long time to get back into it.
Maybe I'm not meant to do exactly that or maybe it's not supposed to be about what I think it should be. Maybe I think way too much! Haha!! No way!
I recently heard a celebrity being asked in an interview if she'll be doing a memoir about her life. She replied "why the hell would I want to relive all of that?"
Maybe I'll just blog.