Kellie Elmore, FWF. TRUST

Trust (Low album)

Trust (Low album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t trust anyone, anymore. Nobody. What, you expect me to? What the hell do you want from me. If you can’t trust your own parents then who can you trust?  My old shrink told me I have

Don't Trust Anyone But Us

Don’t Trust Anyone But Us (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“trust issues.” No shit, bitch. I could have told you that first.

I trusted people when I was a kid, I was happy before I knew it was all bullshit. I used to laugh a lot too. I was innocent, maybe stupid. I played with my little brother Stevie and our dog Ginger.

Turns out my whole life was fake because I was living on a whole bunch of lies. I hate liars and I hated my parents. I was caught up in their friggin drama, those lying pieces of shit, crack heads, dealers.

Strangers started coming to our house, they looked scary, but mom and dad just told us to stay upstairs and shut our doors so they could be with their “friends.”

Our parents looked funny sometimes, it’s hard to explain. They slept during the day and were awake all night. I thought parents were supposed to protect us kids but it didn’t feel that way. My brother and I would make up stories about death,  knives with bloody edges, the sound of gunshots exploding, holes in people’s heads, murders and mysteries. I don’t really know why.

Finally, their friend Bobby told me all about the drug scam and why we had the money we did. He trusted ME and told me things, he became my friend, not theirs.  He used to play with my hair and call me pretty.

I was fifteen when I ran away with him because he said I was special. I wanted to bring Stevie but he said “No way” so I left home with him, promised Steve I’d come back for him and left in the middle of the night.

A year or so later I heard that our “parents”were busted and were in prison for grand theft, possession of drugs and drug running and I didn’t blink one eye, much less two. Let those bastards rot in hell is what I thought.

But, I cried for Stevie and the dog, all alone somewhere.
I stayed with Bobby for about a year but I knew Bobby was no good either. One night when Bobby was out of I escaped. I didn’t even care about Bobby and I just wanted to go home. I needed to go home. I knew my parents were in lock up because I sure didn’t want to see them. Not once.

When I got home I went to the court-house, trying to find my brother but they had no records. I was eighteen working at a local restaurant as a waitress, every night and taking a business class during the day.

After working there for almost a year,  I had adopted a new dog  called her Ginger 2 and was renting a room over the restaurant. I didn’t believe in happy or unhappy anymore, I didn’t bother anybody and they didn’t bother me.

I was working one night around 7:30  when a customer walked in. He took a seat at a booth and I was too tired to tell him booths were for two people or more. I went over to him to him to take his order his head buried in the menu.

Finally, looking  up at me were the same blue eyes and long eyelashes that I knew so well. We stared at each other for a few seconds in total silence. Then, we both burst into tears and hugged. We called each others name not letting go and sobbing. It was my baby brother all grown up.

Sure, I made a lot of mistakes in my life but the one, good thing I did was to keep my promise. Me and Stevie were together again, he trusted me, he knew that I would find him and I did.

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Free Writing Friday: Kellie Elmore: Abandoned

Little Fingers!

Little Fingers! (Photo credit: jmccauli)

Abandonment is like a second skin, it rolls up slowly on my arms like old-fashioned gloves, soft, sleek, black, elbow length. My teeth sink into the word “abandoned’ and “insecure” as if I was in the middle of eating a piece of double- layer chocolate cake. I not only taste but feel the delicious, sweet frosting rolling around my lips; it lives there, it feels at home. I was always a scared child, anxious, what was I picking that up that no one else was? I was always called “over-sensitive” by my mother but I fought hard, independently for everyone to hear my voice. When I was young my voice was low, I was always the good girl, after my father died, the dynamics all changed.

It was the first time my parents had been to a party; my mother borrowed a maternity outfit from her friend Ann. When they got to the party, six weeks before my due date my mother wasn’t feeling well. Her friend Claire made her sit down, she timed the contractions. “It couldn’t be, it’s too early” but sure enough, they called the doctor and he said he would meet them in the hospital. Claire drove my mother and my Uncle Teddy drove my father, I don’t know why, either does my mother, the last survivor of the four of them.

When I was born hours later my mother looked at me and said I looked “like a plucked chicken.” My father said to Teddy” How cute can you get?” Since I was born six weeks pre-mature and only weighed 4 lbs and 6 ounces I was not allowed to leave the hospital. I was in an incubator until I could reach 5 lbs. I was in the hospital for 4 weeks. Back in the 50’s they didn’t the knowledge they have now; I’m sure no one held me except the doctors and the nurses. There were no advanced techniques back then. Moms and Dads weren’t even allowed to enter the room much less caress their little one’s tiny hands. I knew my father had visited every day, after work, he knocked on the glass that separated us, and smiled. My mother’s story has changed a little over time, she had my older sister to contend with and she felt “there was nothing she could do.” I think the error in judgment was telling me the story. What purpose did it serve?

My parents traveled a lot when I was a teenager leaving me alone in the apartment building. I would cry when they left and cry when I saw them wait outside for their taxi but as soon as their taxi left, I felt fine and strong. Being left is not one of my favorite things; I’m better at leaving. Even now, when my children, age 18 and 20 leave for college, I still cry.

When I was a child, every night, I would ask my father questions “Will anyone go to the hospital?” “Will there be a fire?” and plenty more. I needed that nightly repetition of answers to feel safe. That lasted until I was in the third grade when my mom did have to go to the hospital for a small surgery. I was hysterical. I remember pounding the blankets with my fists and screaming “We can’t play the question game because one of the answers is yes!”

When my dad died, eleven years ago, my greatest fear came true, he left me, he left us all forever. I had a very tough time letting go, he and I were so close but I got through it, no one really has a choice and with the slow passage of time I healed very slowly and it took a long time.I grieved openly, never one to hide my feelings. My children were very young, 7 and 9, years later my son confessed he thought I would always be that way, crying endlessly and being sad. I felt terrible and guilty but there was no way that overwhelming grief could have been hidden. He also got to watch me heal and recover, a life lesson.

Life is all about leaving, my children will constantly leave as they grow up, even their first step, as toddlers grinning proudly, they show us they need to leave and it is our job as parents to encourage them. They will leave me or we will leave them. It’s life, and death, sadness and happiness, insecurity and hope. Abandonment feels so familiar, like a dress, perfectly fitted to my body. I know love, I know pain, but abandonment is not only familiar, it feels like my skin.

Carry On Tuesday – Time To Say Good-Bye

Broken Heart symbol

Broken Heart symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those of you who subscribe to Carry On Tuesday know we don’t pick the prompt, but I would be personally devastated if this WAS the last prompt. The prompt also comes at a very appropriate and hard time for me which makes me feel like my heart is breaking, smashing into little crystal shards that can’t be put back together.  My flesh is being torn apart yet my soul is comfortable and relaxed, knowing I can’t take any more. This break has been coming for a very long time, I know it has, and my feeble attempts before were useless, flimsy, like the shreds that are left on my overused red, silk robe. “I’m sorry” I whisper to my sister silently but I can’t live this way a moment longer. I know you don’t understand me, I know you feel like I act like the victim all the time but, in my heart, I have been the victim. The fact that you can’t see that shows how far apart we really are.

I know I have hurt you too and I am sorry but I feel that my abusive barbs are reactions to your lack of emotions and actions. Can’t you see that? Actually, you probably can’t. I never, in a million years, thought I could be part of a family that was broken, broken with glass shards that gouge and make us both bleed. It can’t go on like this; I know it’s time to say good-bye.

I needed you so many times, when we were teenagers and adults and you adamantly just said “no.” Why? Because you didn’t feel like it or you didn’t want to, it didn’t fit in your schedule, it was always just about you. It was cute when you were little, our parents joking about your mirror that said “It’s all about ME!” but growing up it grew less funny and more hurtful.

I know you hate it when I write about you in my blog so trust me to say this will be the last blog post. I won’t mention you again in a negative way at all. There is a tiny part of me that prays for a miraculous reconciliation but deep down I know that people don’t change. I need to accept my status as an “only child” and again use my friends as my family. I do apologize for telling you out loud that “I wouldn’t pick you as a friend” although it was true, it was hurtful. I need nurturing people in my life, people I can trust to be there for me when I need them; people I can depend on: this was never your strong suit. Not when the window washer abused me when I was a child and I tried to wake you up or when I was mugged and asked you to walk me home, both times you didn’t want to be bothered. That is not okay with me, how could it be?

When I had a lump removed from my breast in my early twenties you did come up to help me with the bandages but only after Mom and Dad forced you to come, they told me. While you came to my college graduation you didn’t ride in the car with Mom or Dad, you insisted on flying so that when they called my name up to the podium, cum laude, you were on your way back to the airport to leave.

When I was in the Emergency Room countless times with Mom or Dad, alone, I called you ONCE because I was very worried. I asked you to come FOR ME, you only lived half an hour away and it was early evening. You said “no” because you didn’t want to: that’s not a good enough reason for me. You question if I hate you? Yes, part of me does.

I still love you as my sister, but it’s not love that is strong enough to keep us together to have a relationship. It’s an obligatory love because you are part of a family we used to have. Just because it is time for me to say good-bye does not make it any easier at all. If there was a way to work on this relationship, I would but you won’t. You are too filled with your own hatred and anger and defense mechanisms you can’t see yourself as others do. I have always loved you, I probably always will. This love hurts way too much for us to be connected. I wish you love, good health and peace; I just can’t be part of it anymore; not the way it has existed for me for all these years. No. That’s not to say that I don’t think this is incredibly, horrifically, sad. I do.

Carry On Tuesday: When As A Child I Laughed And Wept

Little Girl Feet

Little Girl Feet (Photo credit: mtsofan)

As a child I laughed and wept, but nobody heard me. I lived in my own world of stuffed animals and dolls and they were my friends. Once, when I was about five years old, my mother, from another room, asked me who I was talking to, I replied ” my friend.” There was not another child in the house.

My mother said I “could always occupy myself” unlike my older sister who always had to be entertained. “Play with me” she would whine to our mother and so my mother would play with her. Was it out of default that I didn’t even try or was I really happy in my own little world? I can’t say for sure but I think it was a combination of both. I’d wager a guess that I was never big on competing,  sure I would fail. My confidence level was always low; a loving gift from my mother. I knew she never meant to give me low expectations but her fear and worry overwhelmed her and so she thought she was protecting me when in fact she was holding me back, making stress and anxiety my constant companions.

At night, every night, my father would sit at my bedside and I would ask him the same series of questions. Would anyone go to the hospital? Would there be a fire? Would the birds come? (We had bats once) Will the boys come (My sister once had rowdy boys come on Halloween, banging on the door relentlessly and I was terrified) and a few more I don’t remember anymore. It was a ritual, a scared girl, needing momentary comfort every night, while the orange light from the hall beamed.

When I was told that my mother had to go to the hospital for a hysterectomy I remember sobbing that night when I asked my father the questions. I told him that the answer to the hospital question would be “yes” and I was inconsolable. The order of the routine was changed, the answer to one of the danger questions was wrong and I was filled with fear and doubt.

I never wanted to try anything new, I was scared and I always made excuses to get out of doing new things, fear held me in it’s vise-like grip until I could only choke-out syllables of lies. It was a long time before I could be honest and the first time I was honest was with my sister, on the telephone and it was such a relief. She told me step by step what to do and how to get to her house by subway and I got there, for the first time in many years feeling brave. What gave me the strength to tell her then, with my mother on the other line, I have no idea. Maybe I was just sick of being sick and holding all my fear inside me.

Eventually, I became more and more honest with people, telling them my fears or my utter lack of sense of direction. I felt safer in the world by becoming stronger as a person. It was okay to have shortcomings because apparently everybody did; I wasn’t the only person that was weak, everyone was weak in some way, I just didn’t know it. Now, I consider myself a very strong person, realizing my strengths way before my weaknesses and yet having weaknesses made me sensitive to others and to how they feel. I can read someone’s feelings just by looking at their face, I can see what someone is feeling instinctively, whether they are ready to acknowledge it or not.

I get messages from the deceased, I have a sixth sense, I knew that when I was in third grade, learning it as I walked down a street in my home town. My parents always called me “over-sensitive” as if I were to blame for feeling hurt, the truth of the matter was yes, I was sensitive, but looking back, they were not.

Top Albums I Listened to While Growing Up

We Listen To The Same Music Now…

Sexy Boys

I started listening to my older sister’s music: The Mama’s and the Papa’s and Chad and Jeremy (does anyone else remember them?) When I was in high school I listened to John Denver, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel, Carole King, Carly Simon and Cat Stevens. I still listen to all of them with the exception of Chad and Jeremy, but I am going to listen to them now, because whatever was old can still be new. Enjoy.

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Dedicated to my sister, Emma

Someone I Wish I Were Closer To

Two Sisters

Image via Wikipedia

*”She Rides In The Front Seat, She’s My Older Sister”

* song by Carly Simon

I didn’t have to think long for an answer; the question was already answered in my mind and in my heart before I stopped reading the prompt. Who would I pick?  My sister. We look nothing alike but many people say we sound exactly alike, especially on the phone. Sounding identical on the phone came in very handy for practical jokes when she grew tired of talking to a guy or a girlfriend and handed the receiver over to me; I joyfully took over. No one ever knew, we laughed about that a lot, it is still a funny memory. We tricked our dad all the time he could never tell us apart on the phone, tricking mom was a challenge but we even got her once or twice.

We may be connected by blood but we don’t really have a lot in common. Our mother and father used to call us Day and Night, probably not a good thing to encourage a warm, trusting, sibling relationship but they were right. You probably could not find two more dissimilar sisters if you tried.

We are opposite in most everything. If I love a movie (Ferris Bueller) she will hate it. If she recommends a Doctor (she did) I hated him on sight. We have no preconceived notions it’s just that are tastes are so different. When she picks out a present for someone she buys what she would love to have; when I buy a present I think of what the person will like based on who they are.

Our hearts must be wired differently as well as our personalities. I’m trying so hard, so deliberately NOT to push buttons or start a fight. We have the same issues for each other yet with different circumstances. I feel like I walk on eggshells when I talk to her and she feels the same way about me. There are dangerous, hidden explosive mines that should probably all be detonated by now but I’m afraid they are not. They explode a few times a year and I’m being conservative.

I always wanted a Hallmark sister, I longed to buy one of those cards that said “To My Sister And Best Friend” but I couldn’t. I wanted us to be the two sisters in the photograph above, loving, sweet, bound by an indescribable connection. I wanted an older sister to play with me, someone I could rely on for support and warmth. Someone that would teach me things about boys and make-up but our five and a half-year difference and our different styles made it hard if not impossible. She probably wanted another person like herself, more adventurous and wild but we can’t seem to meet half way on anything.

I love my sister, I wish we weren’t that different but we are. Understanding each other will never happen; now we are trying for acceptance but that’s really hard too. I wish my sister was my friend, I wish she was my best friend but she isn’t. I wish we didn’t have the complicated emotional history we have; we’re the Yankees vs the Red Sox, the chocolate to vanilla, our pet names for each other were “stupid” and “ugly” and that just sounds so wrong. But, we were also “tuna fish” as we said good-night to each other through a fake wall partition and “peanut butter,” and that exchange usually lasted a good ten or fifteen minutes or more. Until one of us started to get tired and then we would ask good-naturedly “What time is it?” just to prolong our simple game.

My most favorite memories when we were older and our parents would still be sleeping but she and I would wake up and gather around the kitchen’s white formica table and sip coffee together and talk. In the end, she is my only sibling and when our mother dies we will have our history and memories to link us together. Maybe then, we will be able to put away our differences and cling to what we have left: each other.

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Happy Birthday Daddy

Wiener Schnitzel

Image via Wikipedia

November 13th is my dad’s birthday, he would have been 88. He passed away almost 9 years ago but the pain on holidays, birthdays, Father’s Day, is the same raw pain as the day he died.  It’s a pain that is hard to describe for people who have never lost a parent. Believe me, I know.

Instead of wallowing in depression this year I am going to try to remember and honor the man I loved so dearly. His blue-gray eyes, child-like qualities, generosity, pep-talks and his warmth. I miss the soft yet sturdy hugs as if a limb of my own had been amputated. I miss the familiar smell of his after-shave cologne that he sprayed with enthusiasm. My dad and I were very similar; he and I had an amazing connection and a strong emotional bond. We thought alike and we completely understood each other. The day he died, my heart was gauged with intense pain, my heart missing an essential beat.

My dad and I had so much fun together when I was younger. We traveled to  Vienna, Austria, where my grandparents lived. We ate sugary-sweet meringues that were shaped like delicate white swans and sipped hot chocolate with “schlag”  (whipped cream). We ate exploding red-berry sweet and sour tarts in Viennese cafes. My grandmother would fry up her famous wiener schnitzel,  served with plump lemon wedges every single night.

I was in first grade when my mom couldn’t come to open school day but my dad came. I think he was the only father in the class and I was so proud, so happy that he was there. I remember sharing my milk and cookies with him and I felt so important. At a shared birthday party with a friend he surprised me by coming home from work early, sneaking into the party like a secret surprise. It was a joy so innocent and so intense that I remember the feeling to this day. I was shocked and delighted as I wrapped my arms around his tall legs like a clinging, furry animal. Back then dads’ weren’t as involved in their children’s’ lives as they are today but he always had time for me; his little one, his mouse, his baby.

We had adventures, the two of us. My mother worked a great deal, she traveled the world being a tour director and translator. One night my father and I went out to a Spanish restaurant and sipped sangria, with glistening, beaming chunks of bright oranges and green apples bobbing in the rich, red wine. We toasted people we knew with every sip we took. The more we sipped the stranger the toasts were. I remember we toasted a wall -paper hanger guy that never showed up to our house, people we barely knew and random people from the past.

We went to the bagel store together, early on a Sunday morning and the store was closed. However, the fresh, warm, doughy bagels had already been delivered to the store in huge paper sacks. My dad happily took some and we left, an experience a teenager doesn’t forget! We would go grocery shopping at a huge Pathmark store with my mom and he and I would find the biggest size jars of silly things: three-pound troughs of peanut butter and dill pickles, tubs of mandarin oranges and hide them in the cart as a joke. My mother would roll her eyes and shake her head, clearly not amused, but my dad and I would laugh hysterically. Often, there would be open boxes of cookies or candy and we would help ourselves to free samples. Back then, we weren’t worried about poison or germs or anthrax.

My father spent his entire life working for TWA,  getting free airline tickets for our family.  My father, mother, older sister and I flew to: France, Greece, Portugal, Israel, Switzerland and Germany. First class seats were a mere eight dollars extra but that was a lot of money years ago and a very special treat.

This Saturday on my dad’s birthday my husband and I are going to visit my mom and take her out for lunch, we don’t want her to be alone. I know that spending the day with my mom would make my dad very happy.  He loved my mom more than anyone else in the world. Later, that night, my kids and I will remember him with his own, signature and messy concoction, “Papa’s game”: a “mixture” containing  little bits of everything that is leftover on our plates and in our glasses, swirled together with a spoon and a smile. This year, I will toast to his memory.

Ferris Bueller ROCKS!

Carly Simon wrote a song called “My Older Sister” the first line being: “She rides in the front seat, she’s my older sister..she knows her power over me.” That has been the anthem of my life but it took me years not only to appreciate that I have an older sister but to embrace it. I am the 53-year-old “baby” of the family and I have an older sister who is 59.  For siblings, that’s a HUGE difference in age, it’s like we were born two separate, only, children.

When I was born she had no use for me and especially as she got older, I was just in the way. A nagging little sister who wanted someone to play with her. When we sang together she sang vocals, and I sang back-up.  Always. I became the little sister to one of her friends, who loved me and played with me. “I wish Mickey was my sister” was said by me more than a few times. She didn’t seem to care. To this day, I am closer to Mickey (Michal) than she is, that bond never broke.

When my sister and I were growing up our parents referred to us as night and day, sun and moon. There are no two siblings that were more different than us. Even our appearances are completely different, I have a very pale complexion (known in the family as cream cheese) and she is robust and ruddy, as if she is sunburned all year round, white vs red.  The only thing that we have in common is our voice, we sound exactly alike on the phone and often used to fool people  by pretending to be each other. When my sister was bored talking to one of her friends she would ask me to take over and I would,  them being none the wiser. We still laugh about it. We could always fool our father, that was easy, but taking mom down was much tougher; I think in all the years we tried she only fell for it once or twice. She prides herself on that.

That which separated us before, brings us together now, with humor. When my sister loves a certain Dr. and swears up and down that I will love him, I will go but sure enough I will see him and hate him. I did that two months ago, I hated his cold, brusque demeanor, his rapid (and painful) examination, the smirk on his face.  After her exuberant description, when he walked into the room I thought it was another Dr. that had just borrowed his white coat. That’s how strongly I felt against him; this is my sister’s favorite Dr;. she looks forward to seeing him. Different people, different siblings.

Restaurants are tricky too, the Asian -Fusion place I adore, she thinks is only mediocre, if that. We do agree on the delicious tuna sandwiches at the Thornwood Diner and the sandwiches at Lange’s Deli.  The book I have loved, the tv show I hated, all opposite opinions. It’s so unpredictable that it is indeed predictable. It’s the bond of opposites.

Movies were the first thing that showed us how different we really were; that truly separated us. When I saw the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” I called her excitedly and told her it was the best movie I had ever seen. It was witty and sharp, cute and funny; to this day I love that movie. She saw the movie and called the next day asking if I was “on drugs and questioning my sanity?”  She absolutely HATED the movie, every second of it; she may have even walked out. Game on.

What used to divide us, now brings us closer together. Now she calls me plum and I call her sugar; she calls me Ferris and I call her Bueller. For years before we went to bed we would say good-night to each other through the fake wall divider and say: “Goodnight  peanut butter, Goodnight tuna. Goodnight shrimp, goodnight applesauce. The Waltons had nothing on us! It was a vast improvement of our early names for each other which were “stupid” and “ugly.” And, when all was said and done and we tried to settle into sleep, I would inevitably ask “what time is it?” and she would always fall for it and tell me and then we continued to laugh.

If WE could find a middle ground, anyone can. After many years, two extremely different people,  have somehow settled on this newly paved path of love, understanding, friendship and respect. Our mother always said “the most important thing is that you have each other” and it is true. We are each others piece of history, without which we would be very much alone. If we were dark vs light before, we’ve arrived at a long overdue acceptance, a mixture of colors, bright red, muted yellows, lilac and florescent green; bold and subtle, and very, very warm.

dedicated to my sister, Emma.