WTF Family Photos

In honor of my mother’s birthday yesterday, I thought I’d share my WTF Family Photos post for this week’s #fbf. Enjoy looking at some noob stranger’s family photos. But, really, you might find that they’re symbolic of your collection of weird family pictures before the advent of Instagram and other social media. You know, before everyone had hundreds of pictures of their lunch on their phone. Ah, the good ol’ days! 

In looking through some old family photo albums for pictures of my mom for my last post, Rein It In, I found some completely random, hilarious, and just plain WTF pictures. I took pictures of old pictures for hours, like a total noob, just so I could share them with all of you. 

I’m sure you are just thrilled to look at some random blogger’s family photos, but too bad. They were too good to just keep hidden in dusty books, never to be seen. 

I’d love it if some of you would share your most favorite WTF family photo. Let’s keep it weird. 

When showing this photo of my grandpa with a thong cake to my mom, she said, “We also made him a boob cake and my dog, Sadie, ate one of the tits. Just wow.

Every single person in this picture looks positively stunning, except for my uncle, who, apparently, thought it was a chance for a glamour shot #stunna

My uncle’s favorite part of Christmas was forgetting it was Christmas by taking a nap during most of it. 

My cousin played the part of “devil” far too well. If that’s not the face of up-to-no-good, I don’t know what is. Also, my mom said she made his costume out of an old bathrobe. My mom had skillz. 

Too cool for school. Crazy eyes really made my Spock hair pop. 

I love how, instead of rescuing their son/nephew/grandson from an evil goose chasing him, they instead took a photo for memory’s sake. 

This was my “whoa” face. You can read about it here. 

Another example of how ridiculous my family was. Apparently, capturing on film your darling child being attacked by the family dog was more important than saving her. Actually, our psycho dog was trying to eat the face off my doll. Regardless, my mom felt this a momentous enough event for this pic to have a place in a photo album. 

“Mom, are you watching me? I’m practically Mary Lou Retton!” as the dog is barfing in the background…

There were about 82 pictures of my dad’s sleep face. I’m not sure if that’s a VHS box or a box of chocolates. Either way, not one thing has changed today. 

Either my dad liked to wear his hats perched ever-so-slightly on the tippy top of his hair, or we now know where I got my immensely tall head. 

I can’t even right now with the glasses 😂😂😂

And my dad couldn’t even either. The joys of parenting, as can be read on his face. 

I wonder which asshole took this? Now ya’ll know being obnoxious with the camera is a learned trait. 

My mom: “I always felt I needed to have my hair as big as my body.”

Yup. 

Can you see the want in my eyes for alcohol? Where it all started. 

My mom said that I escaped to the kitchen and told everyone to leave me, “Boot”, and “Oonie” alone.  

“Dudes, who’s the beast using my head so she can stand? Who is allowing this?”

Here she is again. What the fuck?



I don’t even know. 

There were approximately twelve family members stuffed into this beauty. That’s how we rolled (barely). 

Look at how insanely thrilled my grandma was to get a toaster oven for Christmas. 

I shared this in my previous post, but what I didn’t divulge was that that hairy creature sitting on the bookshelf, looking all innocent, had a dick and balls. His girlfriend (not pictured) had you-know-whats. The most disturbing part about all of this was that my grandma and second cousin, Bonnie made them



Remember Doris and the tack-in-the-butt incident? This is Doris! You can see the murder in her eyes in this picture. 

I was always quite the fashionista. 

And, a family photo album is just not complete without a photo of the family dog taking the inaugural shit on the new grass. 

Rein It In 

My childhood was filled with wonderful experiences. Yes, I was an asshole, but I was a lucky one with involved parents who read to me every night, made holidays and birthdays magical, and they always made it a point to take us on trips whenever possible. My parents also taught me how to be a decent human being. Part of their parenting included teaching us manners, etiquette, and decorum. 

Decorum-it looks a lot like this

A huge part of decorum is knowing when and how to use “bad” words. Especially ‘fuck’. 

Knowing this is an important part of being a decent human being. 

Growing up in an era where car seats were optional, and spanking your child wasn’t deemed child abuse, hearing adults say, “Dammit, I locked the shitting keys in the car again!” or “Shit! I burned the Hamburger Helper!” was old news. 

A fucking balloon for each of you

It wasn’t a big deal, because we were taught that those were adult words, reserved only for adults when they stubbed their toes, lost their garage door opener, or got a snag in their two-shades-darker pantyhose. 

My parents never cussed at us, only cussed when appropriate-as in not in the middle of a Ross, and never once did I ever hear the mother of all cuss words-fuck. 

That word was just too naughty for the late 80’s and early 90’s. 

It was a time of innocence. I think the first bad word I ever said was when I was five and it was ‘stupid’.  I felt guilty until I was at least 10. 

It was always a mystery where I got my salty-bastard-mouth, as I just don’t recall my childhood being filled with foul-mouthed moments. 

The mystery has been solved, though, folks! 

The propensity for using bad language is genetic

My mom has a saltier mouth than me.

In the last few years, as the aches and pains of growing elderly have set in, my mom has replaced her ‘dammits’ with ‘fuck me’s’. 

It’s practically her favorite word. 

It’s almost embarrassing. 

She looks more like a teacher than I do, with her holiday-themed pins and crocheted vests. Yet, behind the sweet-matchy-pants-set-facade, she’s a true salty bastard to the core. 

My mom was a real trooper, a true wonder for being able to never use ‘fuck’ in front of us when we were growing up (as a teacher, I know how hard it is to refrain from screaming, “What the actual fuck?!” on those really bad days). 

The very first time I heard my mom say ‘fuck’ was right before we almost died. 

When I was 15.

When I had my learner’s permit. 

When my mom let me drive home from Marshall’s. 

She guided me on one of her “long cuts” (she swears they are short cuts, but they are in fact, a ruse to go on a longer car ride) through Midtown. 

Everything was going splendidly until I didn’t see the boat of a car that just motored on through the stop sign. My mom was struck momentarily mute from the realization that she was most certainly going to die, and the last thing she’d hear is her daughter’s tone deaf sing along to Britney Spears. 

Her wild seizure-like hand gestures eventually led way to her renewed ability to speak and this is what she said:

“Put on the breaks! Break! Break! You’re going to hit that fucking ocean liner! Fucking break!” 

I was positively appalled. Never mind the fact that we had almost died, my mom had said the big one. 

I don’t think you truly know your parents as adults, though, until you hear them say ‘fuck‘. 

It’s true.

The other day, my mom, aunt, and I were discussing my darling mother’s use of her favorite word (it might have been an intervention) and she was adamant that she has been using much less ‘fucks’ lately. 

She spent most of this past summer with the littles in our family at the cabin on Coeur’d’Alene Lake in Idaho. She obviously knew she’d have to watch her mouth, and she swore that she was practically cured. 

She proudly announced, “After this summer, I was practically ‘fuck’ free!”

Despite the natural way the naughty word  flows from my mother’s mouth, she’s always incredibly appalled and almost surprised when it comes out. 

So, at the end of our intervention, she said, “Well, I guess I’ll just have to rein in the fucks again!”

I think there’s very little hope. 

Zero fucks given

I Was An Asshole 

“Mom, are you watching me do this really cool thing?!”


I was a strange, precocious child. I was the kid that makes every teacher silently mouth, “What the fuck” several times a day. I never stopped talking. I also did weird, inquisitive things, and I said, probably, thirty times a day, “Mom, watch me do this!” I was annoying with a capital unbearable. 

I recently shared a memory on Facebook about a time when I was envious of the dog’s dinner. I’ll just share a screenshot:


If it was ever any wonder where I got my random weirdness from, I think the mystery has been solved. When I shared this memory the other day with my mom, this is what she said:

“Oh, I thought canned dog food looked really good, too. In fact, back when I was a kid, they put barley in it and it looked almost exactly like beef and barley soup, before the water was added. So, um, I would eat it.”

Along with salivating over the disgusting can of wet dog food, I would also sneak butter. Half of the stick of butter would be missing from the butter dish all the time. I would escape to the hall closet with my prize, and it was usually blamed on my dad. Win!

I think this is a testament as to why I’m weird and fat. 

So, this random smell-induced memory led me on a nostalgic trip down memory lane about all of the weird things I did as a kid. 

Care to hitch a ride? 

1. I was fascinated by penises at an early age. 

I was quickly barred from bathing with my boy cousin when we were just innocent babes, because whenever they put us together in a bathtub, I thought his little member must have been a fun pull toy. His little face would be in agony and his eyes big as saucers, and they’d realize pervy baby Katie had her fist clenched over his pee pee again. 

My dad stopped taking me places solo, because inevitably I’d have to go to the bathroom (I used to have to visit the bathroom at every single place we went to-creepy, random gas station and all), and, obviously, he couldn’t let a young child go in the restroom by themselves. So, I’d have to accompany him in the mens’ room. That was a recipe for disaster from the get-go. 

After I did my thing, he needed to use the restroom too. He told me to stand in one place, where he could see my feet as he was in the stall. Almost immediately after he closed the stall door, my feet disappeared. 

Where did he find me? 

On hands and knees, under the urinals, staring up at the men using them. 

To this day, I still pray they just didn’t see the little girl with stark black pigtails under the urinal when they unleashed their no-nos. 

That was my first adult penis, I just didn’t know it at the time. 

My dad was appalled and stopped taking me anywhere, other than the drive thru, by himself from that day forward. 

2. I was way too interested in urinals (obviously). 

When I was a toddler, up until I started Kindergarten, I went to a daycare called, Thumpers. When it was potty time, they would line up the boys and girls in separate lines. Even then, at such young ages, the girls took twice as long as the boys. As such, they would have to let the girls start going in the boys’ bathroom, or the girls would be in the line for the restroom all day. I always volunteered, or I would push myself to the front of the line, so I could go to the boys’ bathroom. I was always so jealous that they got to stand up to pee, and use such a strange apparatus to do so. 

Well, one day, a kid pooped in the urinal. Since I had pushed my way into the boys’ bathroom that day, I got to see the offending excrement with my own two eyes. I immediately ratted out my cousin (the same poor kid who almost got his weiner ripped off by yours truly). 

I had no obvious proof, but it had to be him. 

Still, to this day, I swear it was him, only now he punches me and holds me on the ground with his giant Popeye arms. It’s kind of scary. I never learn. 

3. I had really fun bad ideas. 

Speaking of Thumpers, it was there that I did the only truly naughty thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. 

One of my favorite teachers was this older lady named, Doris. She was so nice and fair. I really don’t know why I chose her as my victim.  

One day, as she was putting my lunchbox in the refrigerator and I was just standing there, right behind her, twirling a thumbtack between my thumb and pointer finger, I did it. 
Let me explain a little better. I was following her a little too closely, and when she bent to squeeze my lunchbox into the fridge, her ass was just millimeters from my face. And I had a tack.

 So, I did it. 

I stuck the tack deep into her rump. 

I really don’t know why I felt that was a good idea, because I spent literally all day in time out. It was then that I realized being bad did not pay off. 

They see me rollin’.


4. I had a loud speaking voice.

My mom’s second favorite story to tell about me involves penises (again), my favorite soda, and KFC. 

I was pretty young when this happened, so it’s still thought of as a cute, kids-will-say-the-darnedest-things-outburst. 

We went out for a special dinner at the local KFC (we didn’t go out much. Not because we were super poor, but because it wasn’t the thing back then to eat out all the time). I was very adamant about making sure I got what I wanted all the time, especially when we ate out. I think I told my mom thirty times that I wanted Dr. Pepper, but I was still afraid she maybe missed hearing me somehow. 

As my mom went up to the counter to order, from across the busy, family-filled restaurant, came my booming voice, because I had to make sure… 

“Mom, I’ll have a Dr. Pecker!!” 

I couldn’t properly pronounce “pepper” and due to the urgency of the matter (she might have accidentally gotten me water-gasp), that’s how it came out. 

I’m always sure to embarrass, still to this day. 

“I’ll have the penis soda!”


5. My surprised reaction was (is) a loud, “whoa!

As we’ve learned, it was always a crap shoot taking me anywhere. I might shout “penis!” in a quiet library, or maybe I’d be lost and then found on the ground of a restroom, staring up at a man’s taint. You never knew, and I think that was the real danger that was being around me as a child. 

Around the same time that the “Dr. Pecker” incident occurred, I struck again. Why my parents took me anywhere was beyond me. 

I was never shy about pointing out painfully embarrassing things about people and things. I was a real asshole. So, the fact that the #1 embarrassing Katie story occurred at a buffet, is almost too obvious. It’s almost like my parents wanted me to shout to someone random, clear across the room, “Why do you have red dots all over your face?!”

After nervously scouting the entire restaurant, my mom was cautiously optimistic about where we were seated. It appeared there was no one around us that stood out in any real, obvious way. 

She was able to relax for precisely two minutes.

Then, of course, I needed to use the restroom, which was obviously on the opposite side of the restaurant. 

The trip to the bathroom was uneventful. Then, my mom saw them. 

They were immense. I want to say they took up several chairs between the two of them. My mom knew her jerk of a kid would say something mortifying. 

She did everything she could to keep my attention away from them during the trip back, but I turned to look behind me. 

And, just like that, all of my mom’s efforts were in vain. 

“WHOA!”

It reverberated off the ceramic dishes and cheap metal cutlery. It made a ripple effect in the lumpy gravy at the buffet stand. A tacky reproduction of The Birth of Venus fell off the wall. It was heard by the entire restaurant. 

I’ll just skip to the part where I had to apologize to the couple, even though I didn’t know what I had done wrong. My mother’s only wish was that they thought my “whoa” was in reaction to their oxygen tanks, and not their behemoth size. 

I think these stories of what an utter embarrassment and pain in the ass I was is likely why I don’t think I want kids. I know my karma comes in the form of a deceptively cute, but terrifyingly mortifying child. I’ll just pass on that, thanks. 

I was so cute, being the center of attention-always…

My London

I have been reading so many travel blogs lately. I am such as masochist, because doing so only makes me long, deep inside, to be traveling. Since my last big trip was the one I took to the U.K. and Ireland, now five years ago, it is what I obsessively refer to when I talk about my “travels”. The only thing I really want in this life is to experience new places, people, culture, and rich experiences. Since my bank account prohibits any such fanciful dreams, I can only live vicariously through my own memories.

I am re-blogging a post I did years ago on my old site. It is about why I loved London so much. Enjoy!

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I Get It From My Mama

In honor of Mother’s Day here in America, I thought it would be fitting to re-blog a post I did about my mother on my old site, Big City Betty. Enjoy!

mama3

My mother is a phenomenal woman. My mother is the person who keeps me grounded and helps me to get my head out of the clouds and… out of my ass. She is the rational voice in my head telling me what the right thing to do is. She taught me that when you commit to something, you do it. No going back. She taught me that to have a friend, you must be one first. She taught me how to properly set a table and how to fold a fitted sheet (OK, she TRIED to teach me how to fold a fitted sheet. Don’t tell her that I just ball it up, throw it in the closet, and that is as good as it gets). She taught me that Christmas is truly magical and is best spent with family and lots of Chocolate Crinkles and egg nog. She taught me to always R.S.V.P and to say ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’. She taught me how to be crafty and how to tie the perfect bow. She taught me that a spoon full of PB and J in the middle of the night cures all nightmares and worries. My mother is my best friend and I honestly do not know what in the world I would do without her. It is funny how all girls go through stages with their mothers. When you are little she is the only one who can calm you down when you are upset and she knows just what makes you feel good when you are sick. When you are about 10 she drives you crazy, telling you how to dress and no matter what you say, you still have to wear the poodle sweater. When you are a teenager you butt heads with her and promise yourself you will never be like her when you grow up. When you are a young adult you begin to realize that your mother is actually your friend and confidante. You realize that you can laugh together about life and that you actually relate to one another. You realize that you can laugh and laugh and talk and talk for hours, days. Forever. You realize that you want to be just like her.

As I have mentioned before, I moved away from my life in Reno to come to Elko. With that move, I left so many things and, I left my mother. I loved my shopping, my apartment and my friends, and was so very sad to leave all of that, but to leave my mother…well, that was a whole different story. Without a doubt, leaving my mother was the saddest thing I have ever had to do. When I moved out on my own for the first time it was a piece of cake. I never looked back, but only because I knew my mother was 10 minutes away if it all came crashing down. I talk to my mom as much as I can and I cherish the time I get to spend with her when I come to visit. We sit and laugh for hours and it seems it is never enough. I have so many fond memories of my mother. As I have grown from a teenager into an adult, we have definitely butt heads, but boy have we had a good time, too.

I was always notorious for borrowing my mother’s deodorant, socks, etc. without ever putting what I “borrowed” back. My mom would get irate with me when she would go to put on her pit potion and it was not there. She would curse under her breath and tell me if I did it one more time she was gonna…yeah, you know how moms sound. Well, one morning, I guess she had had it. It was early and I was getting ready for school. I don’t even think I was fully functioning yet, and had only one eye open when there was a knock on my door. Wait, no, it was not a knock it was more of a “BANG, BANG!” and an, “OPEN THIS DOOR RIGHT NOW!” Oh shit, I knew what she was looking for! I clumsily stumbled to, and unlocked the door and before I could even open the thing, it flung wide open and there was my mom in full glory, buck naked and wild eyed. She bellowed, “Give me my deodorant, NOW!” I was pretty much scared for my life… and subsequently blind, so I happily obliged. When I handed her the borrowed item, all she said (and very sweetly mind you) was, “Thank you and have a nice day”. I have never “borrowed” a thing from her since that day.

When I was around 22, my mother and I somehow got into a conversation about clothing sizes. Since the days of her dressing me in stirrup pants and hideous Christmas sweaters were over, she was unaware of what size I wore. She was convinced that she wore a smaller size than me. I was aghast! Of course she didn’t wear my size! No way. But, she was persistent. She knew she could fit into my size and that there would be excess fabric at that. I was also very sure of myself. I suggested she try on some of my clothing. “Bring it!”, she said. I remember her confidence was practically through the roof and out in space somewhere. I grabbed a skirt and a shirt that didn’t have much stretch (stretch would be cheating). She got the shirt on, but the seams were bulging. She was slightly disheartened, but still confident. She knew the skirt would fit, she was sure of it. As she is old-fashioned, she put the skirt on over her head (big mistake). It was about boob level, but some was still over her head, when it got stuck. And when I say stuck, I mean she had her hands fixed above her head and was sweating and starting to swear. She was still not giving up, however. Beside the fact that she was standing in the middle of the living room, in her shoes and underwear with garments stuck on her boobs and over her head, she didn’t give up. She said, “They will fit, watch!”. I was pretty much losing it at this point. Through fits of laughter and tears streaming down my face, I somehow said that I was most definitely watching and inquired if she would like to record her upcoming win on the video camera. The squirming, sweating and swearing seemed to go on forever, until she said, “OK, OK, it doesn’t fit, OK? Help me!” I have to admit I stood there just laughing and pointing for a few more minutes until I helped her out of my clothes. She couldn’t deny that the entire thing was a riot and was laughing hysterically at this point, as well. She grudgingly admitted that I do, in fact, wear a smaller size than her. I was pleased, but more so from the amazing show. She put her clothes back on and said, “I need a stiff drink”.

 

Here’s to my amazing mama! Happy Mother’s Day!

mama2

This Is Elko 

I just got home from visiting Elko after nearly five years since I fled. I left Elko after a very nasty, unexpected, but much-needed breakup.  It had taken the almost four years that I lived there to grow to love the place. For the first few months I lived in Elko, I ate my sadness through the entire McDonald’s menu (because that’s all I found acceptable to eat). Every moment my brain was free to recall that I was permanently situated in a tiny cow town in Nevada, I was depressed. I devised every possible flight plan to get myself out of my living hell while I double fisted Oreos and everything ever made by the Keebler Elves. It took months for me to finally accept that if I wanted to see a movie, I would have to sit on a rickety, bodily fluid-soaked chair in their ancient theater. Whenever I got the opportunity to make it back home, I spent long hours wandering the posh isles of Target, lamenting how Elko was too ass backward to ever understand how beautiful a Target would be up on the hill instead of the nasty Kmart. What I didn’t realize until I looked up, out of my KFC Bucket of Shame, was that Elko was more than a Target. More than a comfortable movie seat. More than what you see at first glance. Before I knew it, I had established a very comfortable, happy life in Elko, enjoying the beauty that can be found when you open your heart and clear your mind of any preconceived notions. 

I was going to list the things that I love about Elko, but instead, I will just leave you with the following pictures. A few of you asked, about my previous post, “What is Elko?” Well, this is Elko. 

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  


 
 
 
 
 
 
A lot the first pics are actually of Lamoille and Lamoille Canyon, but those places still mean Elko to me.   

Catharsis

Elko 2

It can’t be explained by one key event or moment. It was a series of moments, feelings, awakenings. It was carried by the electrically charged breeze during a thunderstorm. It was kicked up and then settled, into the cracks and crannies of my brain, like the dirt from the road. It came to me, pungent, in through the window, smelling of wet sagebrush and desert. It was changing oak leaves in the fall. The smell of coffee and wet pavement. It was the green hills in the spring. The thick, silent snowflakes in the winter. It was stillness. Jack rabbits. The moon and the stars. It was fresh, plump grapes. Fried chicken and biscuits. It was peace. Sleep. Renewal. It was faraway, twinkling lights, signaling home. It was something, somewhere, everything, always. It was Elko.

Memories

 

Holly

One of the crazy bishes I lived and loved with. Also, back before I shaved my man arms!

“Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose” The Wonder Years

We all remember our first taste of freedom-that time in your life when the tight grip of the metaphorical fist loosens up and you break free. The time in your life when you feel no fear in saying goodbye, because what awaits you is too exciting to feel homesick. I remember that time vividly, and wish I could relive it on a daily basis. It was a time of momentous change in my life. I was single for the first time in years. and my life was decidedly going to be all about me for once. I was young, carefree and I no longer had to hear my father say 100 times a day, “Rinse your dish when you are done.” If I didn’t want to rinse my dish, guess what? I didn’t have to (I did, however, come to find that a sink full of dirty dishes pretty much smells like death, so I ended up just rinsing the damn dish). It was an indescribable feeling to be on my own for once. I don’t think I could properly explain in words the way it felt, but you all know. You know.

My first roommates were my two best friends. The first night in our apartment was spent drinking vodka straight out of the bottle while we watched Santa Clause 2. Oh yes, we knew how to party. The next night was spent drinking half a bottle of watermelon Pucker, because the other half I spilled on the carpet. Best friend number dos made her famous waffles and poached eggs for dinner. We ate A LOT of waffles and poached eggs. I am 100% certain it was not because waffle ingredients and eggs were cheap; it was because those were the only two things in the world she could make (pretty impressive if you ask me. I still have to read the macaroni and cheese box for instructions). To this day, I do not know how we survived on our diet. The only liquid in our apartment was the alcoholic variety and the only food found in the fridge was an odd jar of pickles and some butter. Nutritious, yeah? The third night in our first place I found out that a whole roll of toilet paper generally does not flush well. I also found out that if Daddy and his plunger aren’t there, you have to do it yourself. Also, an over-flowing toilet travels fast…The fourth night in our apartment we broke our dryer. Let me tell you, a panty chandelier is quite the conversation piece.

Oh and…we thought we were so damn cool. We found a convenience store that would sell us booze and then we would go home with our prize and play drunk Skipbo. We would drag main in my ‘86 Mazda 626, with purple tinted windows, blaring Adam Sandler’s “Piece of Shit Car”. We thought we were hilarious. We would blast music and dance half naked on the coffee table (Poor coffee table, RIP). We would get in huge fights, throw clothes, keyboards and play mariachi music to piss each other off, and then the next day we would laugh at our stupidity. We would forget to pay the bills and rack up the credit cards. We were young and stupid, but we were wild and liberated. Yes, I still feel the brunt of my young stupidity, but, damn, was it the time of my life.

As I said before, I was single and ready to mingle. I met new love interests and had fun going on myriad dates. I began to feel like a new, sexier version of me. I developed a swagger that said, “Yeah, you can’t touch this!”  I got inked and pierced and said, “How do you like this?” to people who told me I couldn’t be me. I rebelled. I danced. I lived.

I recall, vividly, a walk around the marina on an early spring day, a few months after day 1 of freedom. The air was cool and crisp, but the sun was warm. I was recalling all the good times spent with my new self, my friends-my roommates, and I felt this overwhelming feeling of complete, total, utter, unadulterated happiness. So, this is what it feels like to be independent and fancy-free!

I can thank my wild ways during this time for being a college graduate at the ripe old age of 27, but with no regrets. It was worth it. I still love the girls I shared that time with. They belong to a time in my life that has a special place in my heart, right up on the shelf full of “never forgets”. I still can’t help laughing whenever I hear “Everybody in the Club Gettin’Tipsy”  by Chingy, and think of how we would shake our bums to that song in our socks and panties, with twinkling eyes, full of big dreams.

Linda 

She ordered a plain hamburger, no bun, no cheese, with a pickle on the side. I glanced at the greasy chicken strips and fries, steaming in front of me, and felt instantly self-conscious. She smiled at me politely, but her arms, at her sides, were rigid, telling. Her watery blue eyes were judging when they scanned over my lip ring and tattooed skin. The mint-colored cashmere sweater hung on her tiny, strong body like a throw, lazily flung over the side of a worn chair. Expensive, but without much thought. Her dry hands shook slightly, and I instantly softened. She was nervous. She was more scared of me than I was of her. I knew then that she loved her son, and didn’t want to let him go to just anyone. I would have to prove I wasn’t just anyone. 

I look back on that first meeting with my ex’s mom with amusement… and regret, because that tiny woman, sitting so resolutely, in a sticky vinyl booth, in Chili’s, quite simply terrified me. I regarded her as someone who I would never connect with, but simply deal with as a necessary evil. How utterly wrong I was. Had I known that day what she would soon mean to me, my 20 year-old wannabe-a-bad-ass-attitude would have cooled it’s jets. Had I known how much I’d love her, I would have been more humble, forgiving.

She stayed up far past her bedtime to greet us. Her hair was matted to one side of her head, but her eyes were awake, alert. She had a skip in her step as she brought plate and bowl after plate and bowl of delicious dips, cookies, huge, plump grapes, and meats and cheeses to the table. She wanted to know everything. How was our trip over? How was school going? Along with the many questions asked and answered, were the ones unspoken: Who are you? Who is my son now? Am I losing him? 

In no time at all, visiting Elko and her, grew to be my most cherished moments. Over time, we grew to be friends, comrades, working towards one thing: loving one man. The way she treated me, you would think I were the Queen of England. She regarded me as her only son’s true love, beautiful, strong, intelligent, someone with so much potential. Her faith in me is the one driving force that contributed to my present success. Had she not been there, rooting for me, I don’t know where I’d be.

Tears filled my eyes as I drove the dusty highway further and further from my family, my friends, my life. As the miles grew longer from all that I had left, the only thing that kept my foot on the gas was her. Her warm, comfortable, shabby love. It would be okay when I saw her. 

Sure enough, she was there, bouncing out to greet us, arms open, eyes smiling. Her boy was home. Her favorite girl was with him. It was her happiest day. Only briefly did she question her decision to welcome her son and his girlfriend into her home. Of course, that was when her son hauled a refrigerator-sized box filled with shoes into her humble abode. 

The almost four years that I lived in Elko were some of the most life-altering, ugly, inspiring, beautiful, and memorable years I’ll ever have. Some days I wanted to drive off, in my beat-up Saturn, back home. Some days, ‘home’ was where she made fried chicken and biscuits, and always had a bowl of fresh fruit waiting.

Every first day, every accomplishment, and many times “just because”, she had flowers waiting. Cards praising my hard work, with gift cards for dinner or new clothes were a common show of love and pride. She kept me going. She was my biggest fan, always cheering me on. Always.

We laughed. We had engaging debates long into the night. We enjoyed discussing her son, my hopes and dreams, and the future. But…we also didn’t care much for each other some days. I think she had no clue what to do with a girly-girl, and I didn’t know how to relate to someone who wore tennis shoes with a skirt. We were polar opposites in so many ways.

Many of the days I endured living in her home were spent positively hating her. She wouldn’t buy a swamp cooler, so I was hot all summer. She was cheap, so I spent the winters freezing, wearing a ski mask inside, so my nose wouldn’t snap right off. She didn’t understand why it was necessary to take 20 minute showers. She didn’t use her dishwasher, so my hands got pruney. She was a pain in the ass. I was a pain in the ass. I was the biggest ass. I hang my head in shame over my ungratefulness, still.

Only when I thought I would lose her, did I realize the error of my ways. There are not enough days left in her life, nor mine to pay her back. To thank her. To have her.

When I drove that dusty highway away from Elko, this time, tears streamed down my face. I was leaving home. I never said ‘goodbye’ to her, too scared that she took his side, that she would reject me. I also was embarrassed, terrified I would cry, or look weak in front of her. So, I just left. Heartbreak is one thing, but nothing prepares you for the loss of family you grew to love. Nothing.

About a month after leaving Elko, a 7 year relationship, and my second mother, I received a package in the mail from her. It answered all of the questions I still had. Did she remember me? Did she still love me? Had I lost her too? 

 

No. She was still there. She still loved me. I left, but she never did.

We never spoke of what happened, only of the future. Whenever I was at my wits end, frustrated with the teaching job search, she was there to vent to. Her belief in me was unwavering. She didn’t think I would succeed, she knew. She knows.

Anyone who has ever loved, knows it comes and it goes. Stronger and more meaningful are the relationships you build, unknowingly, while you think nothing is more sacred than the love you feel for your partner. Who is there forever are the people who loved you, quietly, in the background.

Two years after leaving Elko, we finally met while she was on a school trip in Reno.

Her thin gray curls shone like a beacon in the sun. I knew it was her. The familiar gait, the pantyhose and tennis shoes, the open smile, the light in her eyes. 

She was there. She will always be there. So will I, repaying her with my love. How else can I show her how much she means to me?

My two most favorite people in the world