Thursday, August 13, 2009

Enter The Dragon...Lady


Seventeen was a goal age for me since I was ten. I vowed to myself that I would be a successful child writing prodigy by the age of seventeen. I saw myself sitting in front of Matt Lauer, being interviewed about my latest book. This is why I wrote so many poems and stories until my mother died when I was fifteen. Although my circumstances changed drastically, seventeen became the age I made a resolve not to be anyone’s punching bag anymore.

My grandmother continued my mother’s over-protective spirit so I was hardly outside of the house. I was seventeen living in New York City and I hadn’t even ridden the train by myself. I made up my mind to get on the train for the first time alone. My destination? Newark, N.J. where a Jehovah’s Witness family that I knew lived. When I told my grandmother, she had a conniption. She stood by the kitchen door that led to the backyard and started yelling at me, asking me if I was crazy. I told her that I’m going to see my friends regardless if she likes it or not. My step-grandfather, as he sat in his sad memory foam, egged her on. Then, as I can remember crystal clear as day, my grandmother screamed, “Then I hope a train runs over you!” I can’t say that I couldn’t believe what my ears were hearing. The words just made no sense but they cut me but not deep enough to stop me from venturing beyond the house. I wanted to travel to Newark even more so. I told her that was a very horrible thing to say, then I left.

Reading subway maps and signs, I learned, is not difficult. On the train ride I thought about my grandmother's remark, "I hope a train runs over you", and I walowed in the pain that I felt. Losing my parents and being criticized and called names by the people who were supposed to love me, hurt me so much. the emotional pain became physical pain. This is how you know you are being subjected to too much. When the emotional pain passes that thresh hold and grips your bones and joints and affects your breathing. Stress is a hell of a thing.

I wallowed so much in my own pain as an adolescent that I forgot the pain that my grandmother must have been going through to. Her doctor prescribed her sleeping pills because she couldn't sleep at night on her own since her first daughter was killed. As I look back, I realize that she blamed me for her daughter's death because my father wasn't there to vent out her anger to. She picked at me and criticized me alot because she was in pain and needed someone to transfer that pain to. I don't think my grandmother meant any harm. She was just caught up in the un-naturalness of it all. She was also from the old school which was a bit rougher, so even before my mom died, when she would babysit me as a young child, I could feel the love from her beyond the abrasiveness. I think she couldn't believe that she allowed, "I hope a train runs over you", to slip out of her mouth so she had to lie to herself so she could believe she never said it. When she told me that I was the reason my mom died, she had tears in her eyes. It was the pain talking. And pain, anger, grief and hurt is not articulate.

Anyway, I found my way to my friend’s house, stayed a couple of hours and made my way back home. When I returned late that evening, I got a call from one of the Borg. “Why did you go to New Jersey without permission and why did you come back so late?” I explained that I was seventeen and I didn’t see anything wrong with taking the train to visit friends. Then I told my aunt, in front of my grandmother and step-grandfather, “Do you know that she told me that she wishes a train ran over me?” At that my grandmother was up in arms. “Nooooo! I never said that! She’s a liar!” My aunt on the line then asked me why I was lying on my grandmother. I kept on insisting I wasn’t lying. I even asked the step-grandfather, “You were right here. Didn’t you hear her say that a train should run over me?” He coyly turned his head away from me. If ever I didn’t think I was alone in this world, this was the moment that I did.

After that, I spent alot of time away from the stresses of the house. I got closer to the Jehovah's Witness woman who was assigned to study the Bible with me. She came from an abusive home in the West Indies and thus moved to the U.S. with a Jehovah's Witness couple to escape it. Although I didn't experience sexual abuse as she did, abuse is abuse nonetheless so we had alot in common. For circumstances that I will describe later, she moved out from her "adopted parent's" home and found an apartment for rent. She needed a second signer so when she asked me for help I said, "Sure!" This was all new to me. I was a sheltered bird struggling to make my way out of the nest. But the freedom felt good. I spent alot of time at the apartment for peace of mind, even having sleepovers now and again. Of course my grandmother was livid. She already stamped me as "moved out" although all of my things were still there. So not too long after that, one of my aunts, Aunt Eileen, who, the night my mom died said to me, “I’m going to make you guys rich”, decided to move back into my grandmother’s house to “help her”. Now that I am older and able to see these times in hindsight, I realize that my aunt didn’t come to the house to be Sally Peacemaker. She came to do quite the opposite.

Eileen is my mother’s youngest sister. At this time she was thirty some-odd years old and she was a literal rolling stone. Every time she moved out and tried to make it on her own, she would find her way back to mommy’s house. At least she always had a cushion to fall on. Her downfall is that she is a “Keeper Upper of the Jones’”. She always lives beyond her means, buying the most expensive clothes, taking the most expensive trips just so she could fit in with the upper crustaceans. She always has to live rich and even if she didn’t have a dime, she would still pretend to be rich. Back then I didn’t know that she, as well as other family members, only saw my siblings and I as cash cows. So, enter the Dragon...Lady.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh boy I could just imagine to crap she started

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