Tuesday, February 23, 2010

JUST LIKE A MAN

There are six strong, fairly-independent women in my family; the family I was sent to by the maker of my soul. The strength came from a mixture of genes and environment. The independence came from necessity. I wonder what kind of shift in personality-balance would appear in my mom if her mother had not died when Mom was an adolescent; had her father not remarried a woman who was herself a teenager and didn’t want to take care of another woman’s kids; if she had not lost her steady place and had not been forced to move from house to house through her teenage years. What if she had married men of integrity? What if there had not been a big ugly war that took her new husband away so that when he returned they did not know each other any more? We are all just recipes: a list of ingredients combined with a process, and sometimes we are delicious and sometimes not so yummy. Like a batch of buttermilk biscuits, the ones we learned to make in Jr High Home Ec, sometimes things get a little overworked in the “process” and the final result is maybe a little tough in texture. Only, unlike buttermilk biscuits, there is a tender spot in the very center that will never turn hard. That’s mom.

Her five daughters learned how to deal with tough. At least in the “men” category. We passed through the birth canal of rejection at young ages, mostly thanks to our fathers. Mom had two husbands. Both betrayed their promises. I am not saying everything is one sided, I know its not. After all, she was already an independent woman when they met her. But in the end, at the very end of the story of our family, there is still a mother with her children gathered around her and the father is gone.

So we women-of-the-woman have “men” issues.

Even with the most perfect of possible husbands sharing my table and my bed and my messy garage, I fight the tendency to think women are superior by nature. I’m not even sure if that is the correct way to put it into words. It’s more that we fight the slight expectation of disappointment in male behavior. That’s it, I think. Sadly, we are still a little surprised when a man actually does what he says he’s going to do. I do not think this is accessing our divine feminine nature. I am hoping to rise above this as I get closer to heaven.
But we are still earth bound. Sometimes our heavy feet are stuck in the earthy mire, so to speak. Poor David serves as a missionary for maleness in our family. He’s hanging in there, hoping to convert us eventually. Our brothers, by the way, are excluded from any of this insane analysis since they got the same rejection we girls did, if not more.

My oldest sister, Sherry, is the tender soul who learned independence of necessity. In the way-back-memory of my heart I can see her lifting me from my crib and patting my back. She was the oldest of the seven of us kids. I was child #6. She was the only child of the father-gone-to-war for a few years, and she was doted over and adored by her very-young independent mother. Then these other kids came. Sherry's her nature is to nurture, and she cared for and loved us all like a mother hen. She made me feel secure. Our mom worked full time, so Sherry was truly our nurturer. When I was five years old we moved from our little house in a little Idaho town to the big city of Pittsburgh PA. I remember walking up the steps to the airplane and looking back. I remember the heart ache and the tears as I pressed my nose against the window of the plane and watched my oldest sister become smaller and smaller, her arm waving fiercely, until she disappeared in a cloud. She was old enough for college then, so she remained in Idaho and paid her own way through college…alone. It makes me weep to think of it, her young heart separated from those who adored her and needed her.
Through the years I thought of Sherry as the woman who had it all. She was beautiful. She was smart. She had a good job and she did it well. She ended up as a Speech Language Pathologist in the San Francisco area. She lived in glamorous apartments and condos. We loved going to visit in the summers, after our trips to Idaho. Swimming in the apartment pool on MacArthur Drive, visiting the Nut Tree, buying fresh crab and hot sour dough bread on the Wharf, the barking of the seals laying a deep resonant bass line to the chorus of people speaking varying languages near the docks. I loved visiting Cost Plus. It was perhaps my first love, in the category of bargain shopping, and I can still see the colors and smell the smells of those large warehouse buildings in my memory. We boiled ramen noodles years before they were available on grocery store shelves. We hung beads from our bedroom doors and wrapped presents in groovy oriental Cost Plus paper. Oh I loved visiting my sister! When I was 18 and a freshman at BYU I took my boyfriend to her condo in Alameda for Thanksgiving. It overlooked the beach. It was there that the boy asked me to marry him. We walked along the beach that night, the waves lapping over our feet as they made their way back out to the sea, lost in the magic of young love and a large empty canvas of future. I did not think of him as a man, not in the painful-man-memories way. He was innocent and pure hearted and, while he was very masculine, he was my “boy”. Like I said…we have “man” issues.
Sheesh…talk about true confessions in blogging!
Anyway, my sister Sherry finally came upon a man to whom she thought she could give her heart. We all celebrated this. David baptized him in the waters of an Idaho river one summer day and we all thought this was heaven-sent and magical. But, it turns out, he could only keep up appearances for so long. Our strong, independent sister had exposed that tiny soft spot deep in the center of her heart.
He crushed it.
JUST LIKE A MAN was written for this sister I love. An attempt to feel what she might have felt.
It’s not a typical song for me. When I released it on my second album people were not super receptive. “Who is this person?” they must have thought, “and what is this bitterness?”
I’m not so sure it is bitterness.
It’s hurt.
Repeated.

JUST LIKE A MAN
She wrapped her love like a ribbon ‘round
her heart
And gave it to him
And he took the love she had given, tore it
apart
Ain’t itjust lik e a man


And she took the fall like a woman
Down in her
heart and soul
And he took in all of her loving
Then he let her go
He’ll find another
Ain’t it just like a man

He made a game
of her feelin
She put her ace in his hand
Then he walked away without dealin
Oh, ain’t it just like a man

She spends the evening alone now
Finding herself a friend
And he
has another to hold now
Fooling himself again
Look at who’s lonely
Ain’t it just like a man

He looks at love like a ribbon won for a prize
Ain’t it just like a man

Life is long. And life is short. Depends on which end you are standing in. From the backside, a life lived in peace with oneself makes for a gentler place to exist. It’s nice to have someone to count on. Sometimes that someone you can count on is yourself.

You can hear JUST LIKE A MAN by scrolling down to the Music Player with the album title OUT OF THE BLUE. Click on the song.

2 comments:

  1. How on earth did I suddenly get six of these behind? Something has happened, and I can see that I am going to have to travel through it all backward. I think that men are throttled - you know, the way the internet throttles uploads? Handicapped, as in horse racing. Their bodies have such a strong natural man program installed at birth, they are almost blind to what women walk in as the real world - connection, attachment, self-sacrifice. Men think that the world should please them. Women walk into it wondering how they can change things to please the people they love. Generalities, I know - but I have only known so many men. And that's kind of the pattern I've seen. It makes me sad for them - so much color, and they often just can't see it -

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  2. Ok, I have good memories of the Nut Tree, too! Thanks for bringing that one to the front of my brain.
    A good man is hard to find. You helped me to feel very grateful today.

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