Plague 4th

There are more pops and cracks and fireworks flying here on the south side of YO tonight that what the city would set off downtown had Youngstown not canceled their annual event. Music in the background? Mandolin Rain.

Yeah, I’m in a mood… have been ever since a couple nights ago when the Vet sent me a link to an anniversary song, adding a note that he knows it’s not our anniversary but every day is… BULL, he just sent it to the wrong woman. We broke up two years ago on the 4th of July because he came in, tossed his keys on the kitchen table, asked me to warm up some BBQ and crawled into bed. So, I was messing in the kitchen and a glint caught my eye… whoa, how could I not notice a shiny new freshly cut house key next to mine on his key chain? Of course, I asked about it… he couldn’t think fast enough to tell me whose door it opened, so I took the key to my house off.

I told him that song made me sad… reminds me that 4th of July makes two years since I woke up next to him. No reply, just Messenger stickers… hugs and hearts, sweet dreams and love yous.

He STILL will not admit to anything. He likes to keep up delusions, pretends I don’t know, but he knows that I know everything as I have not minced any words and truth always rises, just like cream. The nearest he will come is to tell me that he sees life as a game, that to make it in this world, you have to play the game to get what you need.

So, he talks about her, calls her his “buddy” as if she’s some guy… that’s his buddy’s car, with plates that expire in her birth month. And his buddy does the same type of work that she does? Yeah, tell me another… he’s a poor man, a disable vet just barely getting by, income so low that there’s no way he could ever afford to pay rent and buy a car at the same time. And, here’s this woman offering wheels… an “old friend” who has had a crush on him since grade school, they grew up together, she’s knows his family, her twin was his brother’s best friend… blah, blah, blah… sad thing is she thinks, or so she posted, he’s the “love of mine life” and you know what? Maybe he is.

So, where does that leave me?

Home alone, making just two homemade tortillas for a couple leftover meat stuffed fajitas on a holiday. They turned out pretty good. At least, not too bad for a first try… never made tortillas before.

Truth be, we never were compatible enough to make a go of living together and even though the last couple years has been a journey of heartache laced with his lies, I have no regrets. We weren’t soul mates, not meant to last… plus we are much better as friends now even though he maintains the charade. He’s been my rock, too, during this plaque as no one else, not even my daughter, takes me anywhere. Yeah, I know that’s her car he’s driving when he takes me to the store to buy cigs or whatever I need but cannot get via some delivery service, but oh well… she knew about me before I knew about her, had absolutely no respect for me so OH WELL.

Meeting the Vet, hooking up, giving it a go was not a mistake, even though it was doomed from the get-go. I learned a lot about me… he saw things that no one else noticed, called me out on my BS, like asking me why I come out so strong and then tamp myself down. Always done that to make myself more acceptable to men, socially conditioned to hide part of myself away. He was the first man to ever notice how strong I am inside, to encourage me to just be myself, my full self, and that still blows my mind.

He also accepted me as I am, flaws and all… erasing all inhibitions and body memories. He doesn’t know about that. I never told him that I was sexually abused as a child. He knows a little, asked about a little scar. I answered briefly… cigarette burn, don’t worry about it.

A part of me will always love him… just as I still love every man I ever truly loved, but there comes a time when you have to bury love with the memories in a corner of your heart, untangle emotions and move on.

It’s been two years… rough go for awhile, but still good years with self discovery and personal growth. I’m more at ease and at peace with myself now than ever. What comes next? I’m pushing 60, have no desire to ever live with anyone, but it might be nice to find someone to date. Yeah, just date… as in go places and do things after this plaque ends. But not all the time, just once in awhile… go to an art opening or community thing, maybe out to dinner or something. Even as friends each paying their own way.

Maybe I’m nuts. Thanks for reading!

Kitchen Memories

Fire up the barbecue, mama’s in the kitchen…

We cooked for the holiday weekend. I made potato salad, macaroni salad, baked beans, yeast rolls, and my special homemade barbecue sauce.  For dessert, I baked a strawberry cake and put together a fresh pineapple and cantaloupe fruit dish. He manned two grills: chicken, ribs, burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, and sausages.

Two of the girls stopped by and made plates to take home. The other two might pop in wanting plates tomorrow, but even so, we might be eating leftovers halfway into June.

I didn’t cook anything green… oh well, we can eat veggies and leafy green salads with leftovers.

Memorial Day is the day we are supposed to remember slain soldiers who fought for our freedom, but it is women in kitchens that cross my mind in remembrance… Grandma Goldie cooking up a storm, Aunt Ethel shelling peas on the porch, Grandma Blackburn baking pies… women who endured wars fought for pins and ribbons, just causes, and the ever restricted illusion we know as freedom.

Thanks for reading!


Grand Mothers

I was born with six grandmothers still living, although memories of the two great-grandmothers are scattered images etched on my mind, grandma Davis as an ancient old woman confined to a hospital bed and grandma Blackburn from the knees down, heavy stockings under long skirts and orthopedic shoes. With her, other senses recorded the memories. Her home smelled like love, peace, and fresh baked pies.

We were blessed with extra grandmas because our parents both came from homes “broken” in the 1940s and each grandparent had remarried long before I was born. Grandfathers chose second wives who were different than their first wives, so the sharp contrasts between grandmothers was obvious, even to a small child.

For example, both paternal grandmothers played piano, but they sure did not sound the same. One was an accomplished classical pianist hitting every perfect note of some Bach or whatever composition and the other played honky-tonk with such energy, the whole house shook. The classical pianist gave up her job as a writer of the woman’s page in the “Farm & Dairy” weekly newspaper to fully embrace the role of homemaker after marriage, although she continued to write poetry and had several books locally published. The other worked in the shops during WWII, tended bar, took in stray people, and ran the Igloo, a restaurant set up by the Youngstown mob as a front for a gambling establishment near Salem, Ohio,until it was raided and closed in the late 1960s.

As for my maternal grandmothers, one was a refined, soft spoken southern lady with a gentle spirit and a warm smile, the other was a “steel magnolia” kind of woman who took her secrets to the grave.

As different as they all were, the advice each gave young women were surprisingly simular: hold your head up and go on, never hang your head over something a man has done, sometimes you just have to step out of your underwear and go on, never hide money in your bra as that is the first place a man will look… okay, not all advice followed the same theme.

Each of these four women – grandmas Ruth, Goldie, Evelyn, and Junie Belle – seasoned our lives, each with their own unique blend of spices.

Some I knew better than others, partly because of geography, and partly because of time. Grandma Goldie died when I was… oh, 13 or 14, but there are times when I walk into my home and it smells like hers. As an adult, I felt closest to grandma Ruth because we talked often and understood each other. Her laughter is etched in my audio memories so just out of the blue sometimes, I hear her laugh. She was the steel magnolia.

Happy Mother’s Day!