Tag Archives: Cultural

Get Another One

31 Jul

Yesterday I took a hike up to Baldpate Mountain on the western side of Trenton, New Jersey with my dogs, Gem and Hank. On the way up to the first durable footing of this not very big mountain, but in the heat and with suffering humidity, that mountain is big enough. On the first level Gem meets two women and eagerly sends them a good hello with a wagging tail. The first woman calls out, “What a beautiful dog!” I hear this from ten paces below, and then she sees my face as I traverse the jagged rocks, mindful to let my walking stick help me as I push my weight up to where they’re standing. “Yes, thanks, and this is Hank, he’s a white lab,” I tell her in a relaxed manner, knowing that it’s important to be even more polite on a mountain where three people and two dogs are sharing  a six-foot expanse of rock.

The second woman, tagging behind the first, says “I used to have an Australian Sheppard. What is your dog?”

“Border Collie.”

“Really? Well, she’s beautiful.”

“She’s a good girl. Loves to climb and she’s good at it, too.”

“I loved my Aussie, I had him for years.”

We started shifting, them going down, us going up, Gem, leading the way.  “Get another one!” I said, “Dogs are great!”

In thinking of this exchange, as I walked, the walk taking nearly ninety minutes in the heat, where I had to stop twice to wipe the sweat now pouring onto my back, a sleeveless tee-short now soaked with sweat; the dogs were panting hard and we broke for a watery deliverance. My voice parched and I could barely call for Hank who had wandered off into the tall grass. I looked to see a big cast of blue sky with the sun high, I knew it was too early to bring out the dogs and should have waited for the sun to relax and instead, hiked closer to 4 o’clock, but I’d endure it with a head bandana, and a piece of fruit, and lots of water and try to find a running stream for the dogs to wet their pads.

***

You can’t do that with people you love. They don’t come back. People die and you don’t see them for a long time. They say you will see the ones you love when you die. I don’t know that. Maybe I’ll know it when I die. They say death is a mystery. I believe that. My own death is a dragon I must slay by facing it with bravery. In some ways I’m afraid of what I’ll find. What will I see? Will I go through a tunnel, a field, a valley, a gravesite? Will I see the devil? Is there a devil? Will I go to hell?

My friend leaves her job as a nurse to become a caretaker to her terminally ill mother. It all happened very fast. Illness breeds superficially and then it manifests itself becoming a fire-eating dragon, breaking out loose, and you watch it without preparation because it’s stunning and it catches you off guard, until you grasp the tools and make them your own – for you must play offense so that you don’t get swallowed by the dragon.

So she faces death, it’s looming over her, its coming for her; the daughter plays a significant role in her life: feeding, preparing, comforting, she does this for her mother, putting her life on hold. She barely sleeps, finding only fractured sleep. But this is your mother and you do what you have to. You lose your mother, you lose your womb. Your life goes oddly empty when your mother leaves. She knows this, so keeps her close for however long she can, for however long her mother’s heart can beat.

The aftermath is the hardest, it’s when others stop calling, people disperse, their advice doesn’t come, and they leave you alone to get along. A scattered card, lost in the mail, is delivered several weeks after the death of your loved one and you read it, but you put it back in the envelope and don’t display it. You are not needed, so you sit and you wonder and then you begin to cry. You cry from the bowels of your stomach, your heart is broken, shattered in a million pieces, and you catch your breath, and you hold back the tears and you wash your face and you look in the mirror and you say, “I miss you mom!”  You gulp at Mother’s Day, and you face it somehow. And then you visit the cemetery and you see your mother’s name engraved and the dates she lived, and you kneel down, talking to the headstone and you cry. You cry without pretense, not caring if anyone sees you when they drive by.

This is the aftermath. No one can tell you how long it will take; no one should tell you that “It’s time you got over it.” You take however long you want to heal the empty feeling, having lost your mother’s womb.

I think of my calling out to the woman, “Get another one!”  Referring that dogs are great, but you can’t replace the ones who leave you; you can only find survival strategies to live without them.

© of Terry Rachel, 2011

The New Jersey Girl Clique

23 Jul

The New Jersey Girl Clique

IN the summer of 2010, Libra Chilton attends a party in Eatontown, New Jersey by a woman named Dinn, a cherub-faced woman with a quick smile and bright eyes, she’s new to the gay scene – a late bloomer, with children now grown and a marriage coming to an end, it’s Dinn’s time to celebrate as a woman with a new-found freedom, she’s looking to have some fun, dating here and there, and now a party – a party to validate her coming out.  Like Dinn, Libra Chilton, has returned to school to follow her undergrad degree – “better late than never” she would say, having postponed her education to raise a family, she too, has a new-found freedom, and when the open invitation on a local community board for Dinn’s party hits Libra’s email, she decides to go. And even though she goes by herself, she is affable and more than willing to meet everyone in attendance.

At the party, Dinn greets her guests with a warm smile, making her guests feel comfortable.  Libra speaks to a few women she’s never met before and they exchange numbers and Facebook handles. A couple of other women Libra recognizes and joins their table to make small talk.  But Libra really doesn’t speak more than a few sentences to Dinn or anyone else in Dinn’s group, because Dinn has centered on her circle, her safety zone, and Libra’s not part of that circle.

In Dinn’s circle there’s  one big dragon head of a young woman by the name of Flavia  Mannia, brutish and awkward in motion, she’s not quite thirty-five, and she tends to drape herself around the necks of women much older than herself – a real “mommy problem” that one, she spies you with a jealous glean.  Dinn defers to her often – and later this will be to Dinn’s detriment, but for now Dinn doesn’t know how dangerous Flavia is.  Flavia is subtle, smiling to your face; she’ll cut you broadside when you turn.  An endless well of cruel and unfounded gossip, speaking as if she knows all one could possibly know about your background and character, basing her lies on untruths and on things she’s not privy to, she will perpetuate her stories, snowballing them recklessly so that everyone in her group will be castrated if they don’t agree with her opinion of the person she’s victimizing, so everyone else bases their opinion on the opinion of what Flavia deems as truth.  Flavia, with the gap between her teeth and her broad shoulders rubbing against Dinn, overpowering Dinn like a standing bull, she’s aloof to everyone including Libra.

Also in this circle is Chastain, a puppet on a string who plays second-banana for Flavia. If Chastain had any sense she would realize that Flavia’s presence is boorish and tiring.  They look idiotic standing there together, as Flavia goes “Whooop, whoop!” her hands ringing a circle in the air, and then a fist pump –  she’s just on when “her song” comes on, while Chastain follows her like a bad dress.  Onto Mary. Mary, oh, Mary, with the elephant ears and the nose the size of a coffee cup, another wet noodle embracing the opinion of Flavia, the brute. Mary doesn’t go outside the group either, as she cries at one point in the night, sobbing, looking ridiculous, clamoring over a woman who use to be her lover. The ex-lover tries to settle her down, “Stop, get a grip, we’re at a party,” she says, but Mary cries on. Flavia rolls her eyes, unsympathetic, because she’s gotta’ dance, gotta’ groove, she’s on.

As Flavia begs for attention, Chastain follows, and Mary cries, and Dinn smiles, in comes Tracy – always late, bouncy, racy, Tracy. Tracy knows everything – she’s about as reliable as a paper plate, and Flavia is her cheerleader. Tracy says “Oprah!” and Flavia says “Oprah!”  When Tracy says “Dr. Phil!” Flavia says “Dr. Phil!” and then behind them comes Dinn, Mary and Chastain licking their behinds. They all look alike – shaped like thumbs on stubby fingers, they think alike, too and they laugh at the same things.

Poor Dinn, always ruled by a husband who protected her and told her how to do things, will go everywhere  with these four other women, never giving anyone else a chance. At the party she doesn’t say goodbye to Libra.

“This is the clique,”  Libra says, when she sees the dynamics, and shakes her head in disillusionment.

Libra walks into the kitchen – there’s plenty of food, food that’s been untouched, but she only nibbles at the cheese and crackers on the counter. She opens the cooler and see that the bottle of wine she brought sits in the same position she placed it in two hours before. She takes one last look around and smiles at a couple making out on the living room couch. On the ride home she takes a detour, stopping at McDonald’s to pick up a chocolate parfait. While eating it she realizes she must have missed when the dessert was served.

© of Terry Rachel, 2011

Doctor, I Have a Bad Case of Indiscretion

17 Jun

There isn’t anything I will do that may compromise my self-respect.

Does this sound confusing? If you think so, and it’s not quite sitting right, that’s exactly my point.

Guarding one’s values is a constant battle as we struggle and search to define lines of what’s right and wrong.

There isn’t anything I will do that may compromise my self-respect. This simply means that I don’t care how popular the notion is, I am not doing it if it doesn’t feel right.

What else does it mean? It could mean that I’m dating you and I’m enjoying it, but I’m not disclosing that I’m dating someone else. Okay. So you find out through another person – “the grapevine” – the “rumor mill” – and then you also have the third person with the hard-line gossip, which is always defeating, that the person you thought was nice, is actually not so nice and somewhat dishonest.

When this occurs it says so much about the person who you thought was honest, and it says so much about the people who have become the beneficiary of your news (and they’re never sweet about it). They’re now connected to you in some creepy way.

The Lesbian Scene seems to be a circular path. It’s the push and pull, the in and out of relationships that leaves you feeling with the distrust. The distrust churns away in a whirling blender mixed with deceit and depravity, where suddenly “X” knows you’re broken up and they know, too, “X” is going with “Y”.

Why can’t women simply take a long breath and chill out, and maximize this time to heal the internal emotion? Instead they’re restless. They jump in and out of transient relationships, dating, bedding, with no thoughts of their self-worth because they did not take the time to be alone.

The Lesbian Scene is a transient lifestyle where women bend over backwards for reasons other than to lend you a hand. They think of nothing of betraying a friendship and suddenly, through that darn grapevine, here comes your confidence that you thought was a secret.  Ooops. How uncomfortable.

It is remarkable how quickly a week goes by in a lesbian’s life. There is no consistency – it would be sheer boredom for a lesbian to stay and be silent, you know, just chill. It’s torture. They must go. They’ll go anywhere. They go in and out a revolving door – and not just any door but preferably, a popular door. Their search never ends.

The lesbian will run if they encounter someone with too much baggage; they run from “drama”. They don’t like drama. But they are the first to start the drama and the ugly gossip with spite and aggression and find countless ways to perpetuate the very thing they boast to themselves and friends they try to avoid.

I wonder how these behaviors manifest themselves. Are they learned in childhood? Are they? I’m unsure about this one. Or maybe it’s that women who continue to get smacked down come out fighting? Maybe this leads to their drama.

But the Digital Age captures your personal life and it’s out there for the world to see. So its good practice to hone your skills on self-respect and the mastery of this is to have the foresight to be discreet.

Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath when they graduate which espouses this creed, Primum Non Nocere, which translates to “First, do no harm.”

Some lesbians need to go back to school.