Tag Archives: something I wrote

Late night TV

Staying up past my ‘bedtime’ has been a way of life, all of my life. As much as I love sleep, I happen to like having my sleep start late.

I couldn’t tell you if nature or nurture made me a night owl. My father in particular, loves to stay up late and when I’m in Rehoboth with my family or back home in Scranton, I am shocked if I find my father has gone to sleep before me.

Even in my earliest memories, I exist as a night owl.

When I was a little kid, Dad worked second shift so I spent most nights with Mom and Nana. While Nana would often retreat to her bedroom in the early evening, my goal was to stay downstairs in the den with my TV-watching Mom as late as possible.

I was a good pretender

I was a good pretender

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In Dreams

She comes to me in dreams sometimes.

Aunt Mar is in the kitchen of her old apartment of Parsippany. She greets me cheerfully, casually, as if only a few weeks without seeing each other have passed. If she’s at all surprised to see me, it doesn’t show.

Aunt Mar is making eggplant parmesan. Without looking, I know there’s one portion made with chicken already in the oven because she knows I don’t like eggplant. It is always made clear to me that I am her favorite, just as she is mine.

I am overjoyed to see her, but also confused. Hurt. Angry. Why had she had left me? I was only sixteen. I needed her so badly.

I want to scream “you died! How are you here?” But would speaking the words aloud pierce the veil and make my happy dream evaporate? I am afraid.

What do you think of me? Of this person I’ve become?

Do you still love me? I hope I haven’t let you down. 

Where did you go? Please don’t leave again. I still need you.

I’ll be OK. I just love you so much.

I say nothing. I let her hold me in her arms like the child I used to be.

She comes to me in dreams sometimes. Just not nearly as often as I wish.

Aunt Mar and Jen

Picky eater scars

“Come over. I’ll make us brunch. With bacon!”

As much as I love bacon, my friend’s offer made me shudder. I was glad the invitation came via text, not a phone chat, so I could hide my revulsion.

“I want French toast. :-(” I texted back like a spoiled brat.

Via FreeWilliamsburg.com and bexheartsyou

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Been Caught Stealing

Once. When I was five.

Actually I’m not sure if I was five or six or whatever. I just know that I was little.

young Jen

One day I went up the street to play with my neighbor friend Sherry. I left empty-handed and returned with Sherry’s rosary. When I returned home, I was so excited about my new possession that I didn’t bother hiding it.

Mom, of course, marched me right back up to Sherry’s to return the rosary and apologize.

Bummer.

Learn from my mistake, would-be shoplifters and thieves. Hide your loot.

Why did I steal a rosary of all things? Because I wanted to be Catholic, damn it!

I am the product of a mixed marriage. My father was (is?) Catholic. My mother was raised Baptist. When they tried to get married in her Baptist church, they were denied. No Catholic church would even consider it. A United Methodist church agreed to marry them so that’s the church my mother has attended ever since.

I was raised United Methodist in a small town where most people were Catholic. When I heard that their church had kneeling and something called genuflecting, I felt cheated and definitely wanted to quit my church to become Catholic. It was all so dramatic and mysterious. I mean, some of my friends even left school early periodically for something called CCD!

While my mother scoffed at the notion of my father taking over management of my religious life*, she indulged me by buying me something I could hang from my bed like Sherry did with her rosary. I was appeased, mostly.

And I never stole again.

I can’t help but wonder, though: had Mom looked into the future and realized her daughter would eventually identify as an atheist, would she have handled the situation any differently?

*Dad really enjoyed the opportunity to sleep late on Sundays when Mom, Nana and I went to church. Can you blame him?

A memory in every corner

I remember the first time my parents traveled to Rehoboth Beach. Fresh out of college, I had just started my first real job in New York City so there would be no vacation for me that year.

RB

Mom and Dad’s friends had finally persuaded them to use their Delaware beach house instead of driving the eight hours to Nags Head. The end of a tradition established before I was born upset me even more than the lack of a vacation.

“You have never in your life seen so many good-looking men,” Mom said when she called. “Next year, you have to join us.”

I was uncertain, hoping they’d hate Rehoboth and return to the Outer Banks. We had made so many memories there.

*    *    *

I remember pulling into a parking space on crowded Rehoboth Avenue one night, searching for my parents in the sea of faces. They hopped into my rental car to direct me to the house for the first time.

The lights and the noise and the people were nothing like Nags Head. I was tired.

Vacation didn’t begin in earnest until the next morning when I peered out my bedroom window at the private pool beneath.

Later Mom and I walked on the beach toward where she had seen all of the men last summer. She cautioned me, though, not to get my hopes up.

“It’s a gay beach. Your father seems to think he’s very popular when we walk by.”

I assured Mom that my hopes remained very much in check.

*    *    *

I remember the year the air conditioning didn’t work and my parents and their friends bought just two box fans, one each for their bedrooms but none for my friend and me.

*    *    *

I remember riding around Rehoboth in a big old convertible with a British DJ named Joker driving and my friend Geraldine in the back seat.

*    *    *

I remember sitting by the pool, alternating between tears and shell shocked silence.

Just a week prior, I had been laid off by the company for which I had toiled for four years. As a young professional that seemed like a really long time, damn it.

So what if the job in e-commerce had been horrid, to the extent that I required prescription antacids. So what if I had been actively interviewing for other jobs. The job broke up with me before I could leave it. I was crushed, embarrassed to face my family–but not too chagrined to consider not going to Rehoboth on my annual free family vacation.

*    *    *    

I remember the summer when Mark, the guy I liked for a long time, surprised me by showing up in Rehoboth after telling me that he couldn’t make it due to work. Mark and I were just friends. Well, aside from kissing sometimes, and holding hands, and me sitting on his lap once in a while.

He had come to know my family quite well and had traveled to the beach with my family and me once before. This time, he had seemingly taken planes, trains and automobiles to get to us.

I was excited to see him until I saw the massive hickeys on his neck.

*    *    *

I remember the first time he joined me in Rehoboth. He had to work and couldn’t leave when I wanted so my friend Joanne and I drove out from DC ourselves, getting a speeding ticket on Route 50.

I braced myself for disappointment again, but he did in fact show up. It was wonderful.

My mother expected me to share a room with Joanne, not him. My father turned a blind eye.

He liked Rehoboth enough to join us again the following summer.

*    *    *

I remember the first time I returned to Rehoboth without him. For some reason, I thought it would be good to bring my married friends Victoria and Chad. They watched me fall apart. 

*    *    *

I remember the nights sharing this bed with him. I remember my worries about how he’d get along with my crazy family evaporating. Sometimes he got along better with my mother than I did.

*    *    *

Today I spent much of the day in the pool, swimming like the kid I used to be. I can still swim underwater end-to-end, and do forward and backward somersaults in the deep end–doubles actually. I come up for air a little dizzy, but I remember how to do it. 

I remember all of these things.