Someone made a joke about blow jobs and I turned red. Looked out the arcade and wondered when issues like that would be a part of my reality.
I could see the rosebushes through the windows if I looked hard enough. No matter how hard I tried, however, I could not see my future. It was cloudy. I had no idea. I didn’t know about blow jobs. Didn’t know much about boys. I knew even less about my destiny.
I knew I wanted to make them proud. Sister Fran and Sister Peggy Ann were my standards.
I would close my ears to the gossip and try as hard as I could to study, to lead, to be the woman they wanted me to be. Because after all, girls like me, growing up on the border between Bloomfield and Newark, didn’t end up with chances like this.
Blow jobs were so irrelevant. The questions and interest was so irrelevant to me. I just didn’t want to blow (poor choice of words perhaps) my one chance of, perhaps, getting out of Bloomfield.
I realize now I loved Bloomfield. I missed Jenny a lot. I was just so tired of being bad. There’s a point. I had reached it in 8th grade. I didn’t want to smoke. I didn’t want to tease my hair and pretend to not be afraid of physical fights. I didn’t even want boys.
I just wanted a chance to not be bad anymore. I wanted to be something better than BAD. Lord knows I was bad in middle school.
And I went and I was scared and I wouldn’t let myself look back. I needed to make this my new home. Looking back would just confuse me.
Fast forward and here I am, presenting at career day twenty some-odd years later. My fellow sisters do incredible things. Shara is an organic farmer and does such hard work that is never lauded because of her humility. And then there are doctors and performers and esteemed politicians.
I looked around amazed at the company I was in. You never think of that girls. When you are young and telling a BJ joke, remember that the girl you are speaking to may just be the president someday. Just a thought. I never thought of that until twenty years later when I went back for career day.
We connected on Facebook and it wasn’t until the loss of her father that I found myself sending her a private message.
The depth of her despair and the capacity for her to LOVE was immense. We became friends from that. BUT, I didn’t know what she did.
I don’t like it when people start friendships that way anyway. I suppose if you were a pimp it would matter. But status? I don’t need to know your status to know if I want to be your friend.
I need to know your capacity to love. If it’s within, I will instantaneously love you back. If it is not, I will try to lead by example and show you God loves you, so you should love you.
Meghan is some fancy prosecutor in SVU that focus on getting pedophiles and sexual assault predators off the streets. She talked about her dad. The loss. The loss of her marriage. This woman who has seen some of the most heinous crimes imaginable, only cried once during her speech as a keynote speaker—when she spoke of her lawyer father’s passing.
I had to go back the next day and get my lap top cord and I stared out the arcade window and thought of her, and my mind kept going back to the girl giving me the stank eye from the back while I was presenting. Dark hair. Pouty. Kind of looked like me, only I had an idea of the gifts in front of me then. I would have been in the front row.
Why was she there? She could have gone anywhere depending on what she wanted to be? Why did she come to my presentation? Or, if she didn’t want to be at the school, I will ask again-why was she there-wasting such a gift?
Beg your parents to give your seat to a kid like the kind I taught. Pregnant beside me in middle school. Raped. Giving them baby clothes. Kids losing their lives walking to school, or coming early for breakfast because they hadn’t eaten since lunch the day before.
What they would do to have her seat.
I can’t get Meghan out of my head. And I can’t get that girl’s look. She had an acne-riddled side-kick who laughed when she mumbled under her breath. And I felt pity, but anger too.
And I wanted to just let it out-tell me why you are so unhappy? Is this coming from home? I just told you about the chances of quadriplegia and you giggled. Why? It’s a sad day when that is what I remember.
You are not entitled to a $15k a year high-school experience. You are not entitled to a long life. You are not entitled to a home or babies. You are not exempt from breast cancer, ovarian cancer, bladder cancer, follicular cancer, whatever cancer, MS, ALS, herpes, or the clap (if that is still around).
You are not granted a love of your life. You may spend most of your life alone. You will lose parents and loved ones and walk the earth with these gaping holes where people used to be. Where love once lived. And it hurts, but it is life. Do not waste your scowls now because those holes hurt like a moe foe and THAT is when you have permission to use those scowls.
You are not entitled to a skill. Nothing. We are nothing. Entitled to nothing. You are entitled to my prayers and love as they were freely given to me by Christ and, subsequently, the sisters.
But that grin, I want to know why. I want you to sit with my children and tell them why you giggled at the possibility of this disease leaving me quadriplegic. Look at my children and tell them what was so funny.
My children, I know them well, and I can say this. No matter what you said, or how hard you laughed at what may happen to me, my children would tilt their lovely little noggins and look at you with a deep compassion. Zoe would suggest we pray for you, and then she'd ask if you want to see her room.
I pray you learn from my 9 year-old.
Something in me, wishes I was more like them because all I keep thinking about is the arcade, and that you are not worthy of that view. I will pray my heart softens and I will pray yours does too. In the midst of this prayer, I will pray that God delivers a message to Mr. Doyle, a thanks of sorts for Meghan, who changed my view from the window of the arcade, from the podium, from her heart.
Please tell him where I once saw a gaping hole, the hole he left when he passed, I now see instead, a tremendous capacity for LOVE.
I can choose Stank-Eye, or Meghan. I choose Meghan. I choose love. Side note: Meghan never scowls, but she has my permission.