There were certain things in her childhood she could always depend on staying the same. One of these being the Sunday evening ritual of Banquet Pot Pies and ice cream for supper before rushing off to yet another church service to finish out the weekend. In this quaint home of home cooked meals and not a store bought cookie in sight, this had become quite a treat for the little wavy haired girl. Her favorite was chicken pot pie, the perfectly diced vegetables and processed chicken surrounded by salty light brown gravy beneath a toasty golden crust. She looked forward to this meal each weekend, a taste of store bought goodness and a foray into a life long addiction to comfort food. This tasty meal was the predecessor to yet another treat that would be known as ice cream Sunday, the only day of the week that desert took on the form of creamy cold vanilla or chocolate goodness. These two things made Sunday and all the hushed sitting in church and memorizing of Bible verses a little more tolerable to this young girl who usually spent her days on the go, an energized whirl of action and destruction left in her wake.
It was one such Sunday evening when her world was suddenly turned upside down without any notice. She saddled up to the green Formica table, licking her small rose bud lips in anticipation of her much loved meal, her silver fork perched over the steaming golden crust in it's shiny miniature tin pan. After a quick simple blessing, she dug into her supper, but was surprised and shocked when she was met not by a golden gravy center, but a dark brown liquid surrounding her tiny peas and perfectly square cut carrots.
"This isn't chicken?" she exclaimed in her squeaky Smurfett voice.
"No, that one is beef," her mother gently explained.
"But I don't LIKE beef, I LIKE chicken," she said, her eyes crinkled up in a confused stare.
"I only have two chicken pot pies, tonight you're having beef," her mother rationalized, "you always have chicken, tonight you can try beef."
She felt the tears begin to well up in her dark almond shaped eyes, her gaze falling upon her older brother's plate, his chicken pot pie already naked of it's flaky pastry top.
"Why can't I have Ethan's pot pie, he has chicken... I LIKE chicken..." she spoke softly, more to herself then to someone else, having not yet learned to filter her thoughts before voicing them at her young age.
"Josie, you can try beef tonight. Next week you can have chicken again," her father interjected in a calm, but firm baritone voice.
It was more then she could take, her small heart beating faster and faster as her tear stained face transformed into a grimace and then a frown.
"If I can't have a chicken pot pie, then I'm running away!" she declared in a shrill demanding tone.
Her always calm father put down his fork and turned slowly toward her. "Fine, if you're going to run away, then you better go pack."
With this said, she flung herself away from the table, tears of rage and frustration falling down her rose blushed cheeks. Bounding out of the kitchen, she pounded up the stairs, making sure she was extra careful to make as much noise as possible on the orange and brown shag carpet. She kicked the white painted door shut with her foot and scurried toward her closet, reaching deep into the back to retrieve the bright floral miniature suitcase that she used when she went on family vacations to Gramma's farm.
Into the polyester lined rectangle, she put her most prized possessions... her brown teddy bear with the orange glass eyes she had named Pumpkin, a hair brush with what she assumed was a real ivory handle and her fake patent leather Mary Jane dress shoes with the little heels that tip tapped along the sidewalk when she would run off to the Sunday school building.
"Now where can I run away to?" she pondered, before coming up with the perfect idea. Of course, the front hall closet was perfect, they wouldn't be able to find her behind all the winter coats and stacks of boots. Zipping the suitcase shut with a relish and a evil pint-size grin, Josie tip toed down the entryway staircase and quietly opened the closet door. She peered in at the surroundings and found a small nook near the back and nestled in for the chaos of what would surely be the frantic search for the dear beloved young princess.
She sat and waited....the smell of the hot fragrant meat pies making their way to her hiding spot. "Maybe beef would be good?" she thought, and then shook her head in disbelief that she could or would give in that easily. "No, I like chicken!" she reminded herself. She sat, one arm perched on her suitcase, the other placed firmly in a tight fist beneath her chin.
It is said that it was mere minutes after her disappearance into the closet, but for her, it seemed an eternity, when suddenly the door squeaked open and she looked up to see her older brother's tousled dark hair.
"Josie, you can have my chicken pot pie...." he sighed, the look in his eyes one of disbelief of how one such incident could put his baby sister into such a tizzy and yet still a glimpse of true brotherly kindness.
"Really, I can have yours?" she perked up immediately, a look of triumph on her sweet small devilish face.
"Sure," Ethan agreed, "Mom said I get the last of the chocolate ice cream for desert," he proudly announced.
Josie's eyes widened in amazement of such a statement, "Wait a minute! I LIKE chocolate ice cream...."
My dear sweet mother will be the first one to tell you, "Josie has always been her own woman, feisty and stubborn and willing to tell you when she doesn't like what's up!"
I know this to be too true. And while there are times when I have incredible patience and tolerance, I have found that there is an invisible line that once crossed can never be rewritten in the sand. I will be your best friend, or your worst enemy...or much worse in my mind, I have no thought either way of your existence in the world in which I live. This may come off as rather harsh. Is there no in between, you may ask? Not for me. I have lived what seems to be a thousand years trying to be the peacemaker, the one who will tolerate anything in order to be liked and admired. And what has this gotten me? Stepped on and pushed aside, made to feel inadequte and under appreciated, that's what it has gotten me.
Not to say that I am inconsiderate or even a bitch when it comes to my relationships. Don't get me wrong on this statement. I have found that I have an incredibly large loving and kind heart when it comes to my friendships. I find immense joy in helping those in need, lending a nonjudgmental ear, a warm hug or a hot home cooked meal. I just expect that in return. My love and respect are hard to earn, but given free reign one taken until I sense the feelings are not reciprocated in a kind and loving manner to which I now realize I deserve.
I believe my long lasting friendships, some over the entire span of my life, are a testament to my devotion to those close to my heart. And yet there are a few people, relatives included that I have put not only in a recycle box of the inventory of bad and unhealthy relationships, but have also emotionally shipped off to Switzerland, the land of neutrality, as I find I have no emotional ties to these people.
I have discovered over the last few years that my life is too short to spend unnecessary emotional energy on those who cannot or will not bring their best light to my life. Perhaps it is a matter of an ill fitted, one sided relationship that I find so disturbing. I just know that I am a giver of my heart, my mind, my soul, my time and energy and rather then harbor ill feelings when I feel I'm not given the same in return, I use my recycle method to rid my life of those I don't find complementary to my needs or desires.
I have found the lifting of the emotional burden amazing and thus I can go forward and give my all to those special people in my life that truly enliven and enrich my life in so many blessed ways.
Those close to me already know this about me. I was quickly reminded of that when I was told, "the first day I met you at playgroup, I could tell you were someone I wanted to know... but I also knew that you weren't one to mess with... if I was going to be your friend, I would have to go all in!" And I am delighted to say that after years of ill timing, we finally did find the courage and energy to seek each other out on a more personal level and this wonderfully insightful woman is one of my closest and most cherished friends.
As for the temper issue of the girl of my youth, I think that age and experience has softened me somewhat. I must be honest and admit that at times, I can fly off the handle into the utmost irrational behavior if I don't monitor myself. God's cheap thrill in it all is that he gave me a daughter with the same vibrant attitude as my own. There is plenty of shrill tearful moments to remind me of my former self and I feel as if I need to apologize to my mother on a daily basis for some of the hysterical antics of my youth. Who the hell did I think I was to be so demanding when I was given every opportunity and blessing in my life. I do not want the legacy of such an attitude to be handed down to Minnie Me. Fortunately I am still young enough with a almost "Ripley's Believe it or Not'" type of memory of such times that I can find tolerance and patience to explain in a loving way how such behavior is unnecessary and unflattering to my beautiful, truly kind hearted daughter.
And it is the wee ones around the house that remind me to tone back my speech, as my sailor mouth can sometimes get the best of me.
"Mommy, that's a bad word!" Teeny will exclaim in faked comical horror if I slip up and start ranting.
Or better yet, Mr. Whitestrips will grimace his small handsome GQ face at me from the back seat of the car as we arrive at MacDonalds and I take an extra moment digging in my purse for my wallet and innocently exclaim, "Come on Mom, quit fuckin' around and let's go!"