It is easy to think you’re fancy when you live in a house with an ocean view. Every once in a while, glass of wine in hand and Pacific Coast sunset in view I can feel like hot stuff. Then I remember. That one time. Oh, and that time too. Dang it.
I am reminded that it is a good thing we aren’t the individual stories from our past but a furtive collection of their sum. I don’t come from much. I still don’t have much (besides that ocean view). For years I tried to accumulate in an attempt to fill the void you have in your heart when you don’t come from much. That didn’t work.
I spent some summers of my youth hanging out at my grandma’s mobile home park. I thought it was awesome for a while, then I was kind of embarrassed by it. You can guess about what age I began to be embarrassed.
One summer, I was about 13, I met a boy there. Dear goodness this story just gets better. So he was the nephew of the couple that managed the mobile home park. I remember their names were Connie and Rick. I think they were later fired for embezzlement. Rick was on disability and Connie drove a golf cart very authoritatively around the park looking for code violations. She also had a nose that looked decidedly like a bird beak. Anyway, their wayward nephew came to spend some time with them because his mother was at wits end and needed a break. Well hello Fate, nice to meet you.
We were the only two kids in the park that summer. It was hot, over a hundred degrees every day. I would sleep in, listen to 80’s music on my Sony walkman and lay out by the pool. In the evenings, my Grammy and I would pay gin rummy and eat ice cream sundaes. When the wayward nephew showed up, I found reasons to hang out by the clubhouse. I would linger by the used romance books available for check out, watch the old men play pool and sneak popsicles from the common refrigerator. All hoping he would see me. Silly girl.
So the boy and I started hanging out. We would watch MTV and listen to music. Paula Abdul was a favorite, specifically “Rush, Rush”. Oh yeah, the video with Keanu Reeves was a real teen girl swoon inducer. One night, when we were both supposed to be back at our respective trailers (stay classy Jenn), we kissed. He was a little older than I and even at 13 I had a sense he was a bad idea. He kissed me for a moment and then moved his lips quickly to my neck. What happened next has either been shut out because of post traumatic stress or selective memory reduction, either way, thinking about it now keeps me humble.
By the light of the deep summer moon, the smell of a freshly chlorinated pool and sporting my favorite rolled up jean shorts, I received my first and only hickey. Oh. My. Gawd.
When the vampire session concluded, I ran back to my grandma’s and looked in the mirror. I was shocked and a little upset at wayward nephew boy. I didn’t bargain for a physical reminder of my teenage curiosity, but there it was, all red and angry on my neck. It might have been the first time I felt real shame. I knew that I shouldn’t have been alone with this boy and now I had proof that my intuition was right. Grammy was going to freak out (or as I would have explained it then, “totally spaz”).
The boy left a few days later and thanks to my fashionable sleeveless mock turtleneck I was able to hide the evidence from everyone but Connie and her beak. She sniffed out the trouble and pulled me aside to say that even she knew her nephew wasn’t a good idea for me.
Looking back on that 20 year old memory, I can’t help but think I’ve come a long way. Yet, I am sure I am often just a few bad decisions away from those vulnerable, childlike moments where giving in seems better than walking away. Maybe I’ve learned better than to make decisions that leave trails of physical evidence but I can’t say that some of my decisions haven’t left red, angry marks on my soul.
Whether 13 or 33, all I can hope for is a little grace from a big God. I am pretty sure that just like that turtleneck did all those years ago, God’s grace covers my bad decisions and gives me time to heal. I just have to put it on and be patient.Read More