Tuesday, September 25, 2012

when you find your self in the face of bonnie (redux)......

 


sorry to do a repost - terri's post about "girl crushes" made me think about this.....


i have always been someone who has wondered who i'm supposed to be. i watch others in awe as they effortlessly waltz to a song that i have never heard. for the most part, people really have everything figured out. they don't have to think about creating an identity - apparently they came with one. i feel compelled to try on other people's personalities like sweaters, attempting to feel what its like to know who you are and where you're going. i just have never quite accomplished this without people wondering what the hell was wrong with me.

my first attempt to build a better me came shortly after my 5th birthday. on my first day of school i encountered bonnie and the die was cast. she was everything i was not. i was, at this point in my life described as awkward. my hands and feet were too big for me and i was forever covered in iodine and bandaids from stumbling over myself. mum would say "god, can't you see where you're going"?
(side note - in the 3rd grade my eyes were tested and i was found to be quite near-sighted. so apparently mum, i couldn't see where i was going.)

right before school started, my mum made the decision to have my hair taken back. she had had enough of my long curly hair.  mom had this idea that my curls would not come back if my hair was cut close to my scalp and against the curl.  her friend joyce carried out her big plan. i must tell you that against the curl  and close to the scalp was not my best look. my near military cut was accented with cow licks. not quite enough to form a pattern, just a enough to make people think i was unkempt.  but enough about me - bonnie on the other hand was petite and perfect. her limbs matched the rest of her body. she had long pale yellow hair that was rod straight . she had sweater sets and cotton skirts and was shod in penny loafers. i dressed almost exclusively in a blue, slightly too small, snoopy sweatshirt and a tartan kilt held together with a giant safety pin - my massive feet crammed in sneakers. bonnie was quiet and sweet and she never spoke out of turn.  but without question her most enviable quality was her delicate nature. she seemed to be constantly in peril and she quickly became the focal point of my little world. it wasn't just me, everybody  fretted over bonnie. does bonnie have her mittens? don't show bonnie your cut because she'll faint. the dear little thing also needed a rest after lunch. we all hushed as bonnie lay quietly on the cot at the back of the classroom. how i loved that cot - it was metal and had a grey blanket with red stripes. i longed to stretch out upon it. i tried inventing and carrying out various scenarios that would end with me reposing there and being the object of everyones' pity and concern. sadly, a strong constitution and a lack of acting ability stood in my way. mrs teacher would step over my twitching body as i feigned a nervous spell. she'd be heading to her desk to get the strap. i guess she figured a few quick smacks would bring me around a lot quicker than any old cot.

i tried to be bonnie countless times, i could not be deterred by a strap or the frank bewilderment of my classmates. dammit, i would will myself delicate. my performances reached a fever pitch when bonnie returned to school after having her tonsils out. she practically lived on that cot - with teacher running back and forth with sips of cold water and cool cloths. we all sat on pins and needles wondering if she would live. at recess we would gather to express our concerns and stand crying at the thought of losing our bonnie. i was as worked up as anybody else but at the same time i thought - what an opportunity. imagine all that love and attention. i begged my mother to have my tonsils removed. i tried to fake cough them out. i would repeat, loudly, over and over all day how bad my throat hurt. i would collapse, often and unexpectedly into a careful heap of woe. i made a fool of myself on a daily basis for over a month. bonnie did it so effortlessly and gracefully, during cot visiting hours she could lift up her tiny hand for you to hold and she would tear up when you discussed her impending death.

eventually, the school year ended and bonnie was forgotten but.... as luck would have it on the very first day of school the following year i met janice, a foul mouth, tomboy whose father was in the airforce. new grade, new me.

 apparently, these were just the beginning of my near infinite number of lessons on how to find yourself. i can't tell you how many times over the years i have made a fool of myself, suffered public humiliation and made my people wonder "what the hell". bonnie began my quest to evolve through mimicry. i really owe her a lot - although i never achieved my initial objective i did end up with the spotlight shinning brightly on me.... and really, that's all that mattered.

bev

ps i have left bonnie name uncapitalized to preserve her anonymity

29 comments:

  1. I'm glad you turned out the way you did (and at least your girl crush was when you were a child).

    Lots of stuff to love here, Bev:

    "she had long pale yellow hair that was rod straight . she had sweater sets and cotton skirts and was shod in penny loafers. i dressed almost exclusively in a blue, slightly too small, snoopy sweatshirt and a tartan kilt held together with a giant safety pin - my massive feet crammed in sneakers. bonnie was quiet and sweet and she never spoke out of turn. but without question her most enviable quality was her delicate nature. she seemed to be constantly in peril and she quickly became the focal point of my little world."

    I see her perfectly. I can feel her delicate hand in mine, as I join the younger you, attempting to comfort her.

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  2. thank you baby. i can not tell you how vivid and clear these memories are. we were bused a long way from our community for school and i can tell you, i had never seen the likes of her before. and...
    i was comforting her but at the same time i was telling her she was probably going to die soon..
    i was strapped almost everyday for my first year of school. i could not learn not to talk out of turn. i had quite a few opinions about how the classroom should be run. my mother said once about my strappings "well they can't hurt that bad, they haven't shut you up".

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    1. remind me sometime to tell you of the time i organized an easter egg hunt for the jehovah witness children at recess. it became my first major offense. outsiders had to be called in with my crime. 3rd grade and already a felon

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    2. somehow i'm not surprised ... i would have got strapped at school but California law, in the 70s, was starting to change. Rumor held that our principal had a board with holes cut in it to increase wind-speed velocity.

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    3. I'll see your eggs and raise you the careful placement (via tape) of upside- down staples in the cracks of my 4th grade teacher's chair.

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  3. Bev, wonderful post! I relate - I think I went through most of my childhood imitating other people. Terri's right - there is some beautiful writing here! I can picture every detail!

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    1. thank you baby.
      i'm sorry i have been neglecting you lately. i hope your dad is doing ok. i must tell you i like to save and read 2 or 3 of your posts together. i make a big cup of tea and enjoy my kate book. you really rock.

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    2. Thanks Bev! I don't feel ignored! I do like it when you stop by, though! You always have such funny and enlightening things to say. :-)

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  4. Dear Bev, the question of your identity . . . of who you are . . . is probably a never-ending one for all of us. But I can tell you something about yourself after following your blog for a few months: you are a survivor. You have a wonderful sense of the ridiculous. You have the ability to poke fun at yourself and to observe yourself quite dispassionately. You have an honesty that appeals to me profoundly. Summed up? I would say you are a strong women with strong views who looks with a clear eye at her past and present and shares it with us with great understanding. You're not a Bonnie, but you are a bonnie human being! Thank you. Peace.

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    1. dee, i could run right over to missouri and kiss you on the mouth. thank you so much.
      i have always felt like i'm in a huge stage production. one minute i'm watching other people to see to how i should act. a few minutes later i'm on a bullhorn telling people my vision of their upcoming performance.
      bonnie went on to marry and birth around 5 little fishermen. so i guess she was tougher than she looked

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  5. Bev,

    If you think almost everyone has it together except you, trust me, they don't. Even if they did, they couldn't write as well as you.

    Also, I didn't get notifications of your last couple of posts. I've missed your blog and don't want you to think I forgot about you! I also can't seem to get you by email (address not found??) and find it hard to leave comments, as it won't accept my open ID. Ugh.

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    1. june baby, this post was from a couple of years ago. back when just the wind and lonely sighs echoed through this blog. i'm going to dust a few older posts off. maybe even run check and clean them up i may post a few during the fall. for the last 2 weeks i have been so sick with a headcold/allergies. all the dust from the field and gravel road has left me gasping and grasping my puffer.
      xx
      ps i think we should cut up your jeans and make evelopes. denim envelopes are hot, well, felt envelopes are hotter but we must work with what we have. i am a bass ass envelope maker.

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    2. ok i'm not a bass ass. i meant to say "bad ass"
      i just googled bass ass and it is condition caused from consuming to much ale. people suffering with bass ass pass very powerful farts. powerful enough in fact to cause the anus to resemble a bass mouth. doesn't this just prove that fact trumps fiction

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  6. During my school years I just faded into the background I wasn't anyone people took notice of I was very shy and didn't make friends easy and would just try and stay out of peoples way. I would love to say that as an adult that changed but hell not so much althoug since entering my 40's I have found my voice and my own style and can say that I like me............

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    1. hello jo-anne. my biggest problem was i loved myself and everyone else too much. well that,and the fact nobody could shut me the hell up. i would wake up in the morning thinking "i will be quiet today, i will not interupt teacher, i will not tell people my opion. i will keep my lips together. that would last until the school bus door opened to pick me up and i would ask the kids "why are you kids not where i decided we were all going to sit yesterday........ pretty sure if 5 year old me showed up for school now, i'd be medicated pretty quick and my mom would go along with it. she'd say, yes, yes for christ's sake shove a pill down her throat and if one doesn't work shove another one down there if were lucky it'll knock her out

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  7. Love, LOVE, Love this post!! I think I have spent the majority of my life trying to figure out who I am and who I want to be. I always end up feeling as if I am clumping around in somebody elses shoes though.
    From what I have seen of your blog writings, you are funny as hell (having a sense of humor is muy importante to me), intelligent and compassionate. You also have a charming way with the self deprication that makes you very human, approachable, and I bet a lot of fun to hang out with to boot. Thanks for writing this post!!:-)

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    1. thank you sweet amy.
      well, it's nice to find a fellow shape-shifter. i would always have this complete moment of clarity surrounding the issue. i would think "that's it, from now on i'm going to be just like bonnie, joan, susan, sheila ...... it would always make perfect sense to me at the time

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  8. That photo sure brings back memories. I remember giving a girl my crayons when I was in the second grade so she'd be my friend. It wasn't until my 40s that I really hit my stride and now, in my 60s, I'm the bad ass I always wanted to be. Lovely writing, Bev. I'm so glad we've connected.

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    1. thank you jayne. i'm very excited you dropped by. i know the mechanics of my writing are poor but i do love to do it. you know you rock, don't ya.

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  9. If you were me yesterday you would have been dressed in your wall painting clothes; angry as hell because your husband wouldn't "fix" the downspout in a rain storm; driving like a demon in a shakey van headed for Meat Cove where you were gonna jump off. Thankfully, 1.5 hours later Walmart called your name and you stopped and shopped for 3 meditative hours buying a new pair of size 18 pants and a bath mat.

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    1. there, now you can't tell me that money doesn't solve everything. your van shakes but they may be from a unequal distribution of duck tape. the next time your heading for meat cove call me on the cell, i'll talk you down.
      xxx
      ps. just returned from rug hooking class. i sucked but covered it up by asking all the other women what they call their lady bits. it is great being 50

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  10. I believe I had me some Bonnie envy, as well - but *I* wanted that tartan skirt held with a big safety pin, the curly hair... I was blessed (?) with that Johnson's baby Shampoo fine blonde hair, and all I wanted was thick dark curly hair like the Montoya girls down the street, lol!

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    1. thank you lovely. trust me, you would not envy my look, i forgot to add that i was very heavy footed and according to my mother stomped everywhere. bonnie moved about with the lightness of a fairy.

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  11. I was the same growing up, right into my twenties I was trying to figure out who I was and copying other styles. I think it's only over the past few years, after some therapy, I've really felt comfortable with who I actually am.

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    1. dear rhi thank you for visiting and commenting you sweet young thing
      but truly it is not possible to fit the amount of therapy i need into this lifetime.

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  12. My dear, dear woman. You are a friggin comedy genious! I am so THANKFUL for Bonnie and the blog fodder she provided.
    Please, don't ever change!

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    1. thank you so much sweetie. i can't change now, i've become inflexible

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  13. Bev,
    I nominated you for a major award. Check out this post for details.

    http://nested1.blogspot.com/2012/10/its-major-award-i-tell-you-and-i-won-it.html

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    1. thank you so much. how major is major?

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