Day 11 - Something people seem to compliment you the most on.

Photo Credit: Kym Shumsky (Relishing.ca)My first thought when I saw this prompt?

My hair.

I don’t complain about my hair. It’s the one part of me that I really like. I don’t necessarily do much to make it good - I just landed some good genes.

From a pretty early age, my mom would express her envy over my thick locks. The only thing she ever “complained” about with my hair was that it wasn’t red. She almost believed that if she hoped hard enough it would actually happen. Alas, my hair stayed blonde, then turned a darker blonde as I got older. Any hint of red these days comes from a bottle.

My hair is thick and grows fast. So fast that as a very young girl, Mom got tired of trying to maintain my bangs and grew them out. Sometime around the time I turned eight, I remember starting a campaign to have my bangs cut. It only took me four years to convince her to let me. By that time, I’d developed a steady habit of cutting my hair off to a shoulder-length bob for the summer and growing it out through the school year. So, when I finally got those bangs I’d begged for, I got the bob done and my very first body wave.

Mom was so nervous. She had thin, fine hair that would take a perm easily. She had no idea how mine would respond. She was right to worry. Every time I tried to perm my hair, which really wasn’t as much as it sounds like, I ended up with a fried frizzy mop. God only knows why I kept trying. It was just before the end of my 8th grade year when I did the very last perm for a very long time (not long enough to tell the truth). This one thoroughly ruin the bottom half of my hair, which, after growing throughout the school year, was halfway down my back.

I had so much damaged hair that I needed to take drastic action. So, I got my shortest haircut yet. A chin-length bob this time. It was cute. I loved it so much, but I had a plan too. No more perms. Minimal cuts so the ends would look okay and no more bobs. I was going to grow my hair out until I was done with high school. I remember the day in 10th grade when one of the cutest, most popular guys told me my hair looked good. I made a mental note of what I’d done and tried to replicate it every day, until I got bored and decided to try a new experiment.

What else do you do when you have that much hair? Experiments were the BEST!

I wore foam curlers at night to get my hair really, really curly and it almost always lasted at least until lunch, provided I remembered to put gel or mousse in. My boldest experiment was my most successful until it became a spectacular failure and forever became known as Karen’s bad hair day - well, to my best friend and I. It took hours to do, but I braided small pieces all over my head, then rolled each individual piece/braid into a foam roller. I had the right idea. Every time I had a body wave done, my hair was easier to curl. By braiding it then rolling it, I was basically doing the same thing. And, oh the curls I had that day! Then I panicked. This was ultra-big-hair and I got really scared. So, I eyed the lineup of hair products on my dresser and chose the one I thought would “calm” the curl. Spray gel.

It was a disaster. Half my hair stayed ultra curly and the other half fell completely flat. And I was late to school with no choice but to walk the halls with hair that looked like it couldn’t decide what it wanted to do. My best friend told me several times in the years after that day, “Karen, your hair always looks good. Well, except for that one day.”

I never wavered from my plan to grow my hair out, unless you count the six inches I cut off in December prior to graduation. My hair was down to my waist at it’s longest. But I forgot to mention the second part of my plan. The part that scared the stylist I’d gone to for all those years I’d been growing it out. I wanted a drastic cut. Not a bob. No, I wanted the 1996 version of Heather Armstrong’s short do. It only took me 3 visits to my stylist to get her to go as short as I wanted it, which at the time included the use of clippers. People I’d known for years didn’t even recognize me.

Since that time, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with my hair, but I’ve never grown it out for long and I’m not sure I ever will again. Frankly, it takes too long and the in-between stages aren’t all that fun. I’ve gotten impatient in my old age. :)

Recently, I decided it was time for another haircut. I walked in to a new salon on a friend’s recommendation planning to get the exact same haircut I’d gotten six months ago. I told the stylist what I wanted with every question she asked and she asked a lot of questions - she was very conscientious. And the end result was something FAR shorter than I originally intended, but she did exactly what I said to do, so I have only myself to blame for the change.

I guess it’s a good thing I like the new do! I’m even thinking of going a tad bit shorter next time. What do you think?

Day 10 - Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.

Photo Credit: Kym Shumsky (Relishing.ca)When I first decided to pursue this meme, I knew I was going to hit on some difficult subjects. Some of them are subjects I have to really think about to pin down what I would say. This is one of those difficult subjects.

When I read the prompt, “someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know”, my initial interpretation was a toxic or annoying friend/family member. With that being my first interpretation of the prompt, I find myself at a loss. First and foremost, I don’t currently have anyone in my life that I feel this way about. Even if I did, I’m not sure I could open up and write about it in this context. It’s a harsh sentiment and if it was found and they put two and two together, it’s creating the potential for unnecessary hurt. There may be very justifiable reasons for the feelings toward such an indiviual, but I’m uncomfortable putting it out on the Web for public consumption.

On the other hand, I came up with an alternate interpretation of someone drifting apart, moving away or dying - both hard situations if you’re close to someone and aren’t ready to let them go. I don’t feel like this applies to me either. I still (and always will) grieve the loss of my mom, though not in an unhealthy way.

Would you write about “someone you wish you didn’t know” in a public forum, such as a blog?

Day 09 - Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.

Photo Credit: Kym Shumsky (Relishing.ca)Throughout my life, my closest friends have always been females. Although there are certainly exceptions, I think this is fairly typical of people in general - you build more intimate friendships with other people of the same sex.

I have personally had one exception to this.

I began talking with TM on a bike ride we both went on with our youth group. He was the new guy. The trail we were riding was 16 miles. (St. Marks Trail if you’re familiar with the Tallahassee/North Florida area.)

It was summertime. Recent rain had made the paved trail wet and muddy in spots. I was wearing my grubby clothes in anticipation of getting hot and sweaty. Not being an experienced cyclist, I didn’t realize how dirty we would get. TM spent a great deal of time bemoaning the streak of mud that was growing thicker on his back.

His complaints were amusing to me and I teased him mercilessly. For years we talked about that day, because we bonded with each other over our handlebars as we rode the trail.

TM was the oldest of four in a devout Christian family. He played piano and practiced hours and hours every day. He and his siblings were homeschooled, which allowed him to devote a great deal of time to his music. His knowledge of music was always impressive to me. He inspired me to expand my own horizons.

We went to church together for a few years and then ended up attending Florida State University’s School of Music together. He was a music performance major and I was music education. When I needed to find an accompanist for voice lessons, TM was the only person I asked.

Though we spent more time together at school, TM became increasingly reserved. The reason became clear when a mutual friend of ours told me that TM was gay. For about half a second I was shocked, until I came to my senses. How had I missed this and why didn’t he tell me? Oh, yeah…we went to church together where this would not go over well at all.

I think he knew that I knew his secret, but he never specifically discussed it with me. I let him take the lead on that decision and now I wish I hadn’t. Maybe if I had talked with him openly about it we wouldn’t have drifted. Or maybe we still would have - almost all of his friendships drifted over time.

We never fought. We never disagreed. Life simply took us in different directions and we lost touch.

I still miss TM and think about him regularly. I hope that wherever he is, he’s happy. And I hope, even if it seems unlikely, that our paths cross again someday.

Day 08 - Someone who made your life hell, or treated you badly.

Photo Credit: Kym Shumsky (Relishing.ca)I’ve had a handful of people in my life who could fall into this category. I feel fortunate that I don’t remember many times that I’ve had difficulty with people.

When I read the prompt, I thought of three separate people. Two were supervisors - one of which I’ve already written about. The third was a classmate. And to this day, I cannot understand what motivated her hatred.

That’s a strong word: hate. I’m not being overly dramatic. This girl actually said she hated me, both in actions and words. 

I met her when I was 8 years old and we were in the same class. My family had just moved to Tallahassee over the summer and I was starting out at a brand new school. We moved from a small town in central Florida to Tallahassee (which isn’t exactly a sprawling metropolis, but it was a lot bigger than I was used to). I can remember only one black person in my 2nd grade class in central Florida. I never noticed that she had trouble fitting in and I didn’t see her differently, but I wonder if those issues were there.

When I moved to Tallahassee, the elementary school I was zoned for had a student population that was well over 50% black. It was also situated in a fairly poor area of town. I did notice the number of black students because it was such a huge change from the last school I’d attended. But, I had been brought up by parents who believed that all people are equal regardless of race or any other distinguishing factor.

I was painfully shy before I ever started at my new school. I didn’t make friends easily, but I was lucky enough to have a class with a very understanding teacher and kids who generally accepted me regardless of the differences between us.

Yes, everyone accepted me, except for one person.

This young girl, who I’ll call Tonya, hated me without even knowing me. She hated me without provocation. I wouldn’t say she made my life hell, but she had a mean streak and wasn’t afraid to verbally tell you what she thought. She never got physical and I wouldn’t call her a bully, but as the years went by, her attitude got bigger and her anger got stronger.

At one point, I walked up to a group of girls - all friends of mine, except for Tonya - and just as I was walking up to the group, I heard Tonya say to the group at large (which also happened to be all black girls), “I hate white people.” 

She knew I could hear her. There was an awkward pause as the rest of the group wondered how I’d react. I pretended it didn’t bother me and one of the girls in the group - who also happened to have the same name as my tormenter - diffused the situation by changing the subject.

Tonya and I went to the same schools until we both graduated high school. Her father was a school bus driver that I got to know because he drove my routes and/or field trips for several years. He was such a nice man to all the kids who rode his bus and I couldn’t understand how his daughter had gotten to be so angry and full of hate.

I still think about Tonya and wonder how her life has turned out. I learned early on to give her space and as the years went by, our paths eventually stopped crossing. I always hoped that she somehow got past her anger.

Have you ever had to deal with someone who made your life hell or treated you badly? How do you feel about that person today?

*****

This post is all about truth - Day 8 of my 30 Days of Truth. I’m not the only one, so here are others if you’re interested in getting to know other bloggers.

Day 07 - Someone who has made your life worth living for.

Photo Credit: Kym Shumsky (Relishing.ca)

I don’t believe in letting another person become so vital that you can say they make your life worth living for. I see that as a dangerous thing since people are fallible and have a limitless ability to disappoint - intent notwithstanding.

At the same time, when someone is in your life in a way that grows a deep attachment, it’s hard not to be influenced by them - particularly in a positive way if that’s the nature of the relationship.

I used to look at this concept as a signal of unhealthy dependency on another individual for happiness and contentment. 

But I have a different take now - spurred on by my son’s birth. He’s the first person I would have said this about. Because he truly is worth living for and I recognize, through this change in my perspective, that I feel exactly the same about my husband. 

Their presence in my life makes me want to live my life to the fullest. To experience the things I enjoy about life and take risks that will help me be fulfilled and - hopefully - become a better person. In fact, I can’t limit this feeling to Matt and Brandon. It’s how I feel about all of my family. 

What better gift can you give the people you love the most than a well-rounded, content and fulfilled self to share with them?