Jodi Hills

So this is who I am – a writer that paints, a painter that writes…

Leave a comment

Something beautiful.

Certainly they had more money than we did, the women who owned BonJos — an upscale dress shop for the women of Alexandria, Minnesota. They probably had big houses. Nice cars. But when I saw my mom pull back the curtain and step out of the elevated dressing room at the Viking Plaza mall, I knew what class meant. And it was beautiful. 

This is not to say that others didn’t have it. People all around us did. At all levels. But what my mother taught me, standing tall above her height and pay grade, was that elegance, grace, true beauty, came from within. And she wore it better than anyone. 

And of course she aged. It happens to all of us. But what’s remarkable, I only ever saw that woman — that woman coming out from behind the curtain, daring the town and the mirror to really see her. That woman who never thought she was brave, but dared to extend her height with heels from Herberger’s. I saw her with smiling breath held. And it wasn’t just me, I saw the owners catch themselves in approval. BonJos was lit brighter than the fluorescent of any mall. 

Some will tell you that love is blind. I don’t agree. Maybe love is the only thing that truly sees. Maybe love is the reason even well into her 80’s this beauty remained. 

Here’s how I see it. I hope we all can see it this way — Youth will fade. Real beauty never does.



I spend a good percentage of my life lost in translation. That seems reasonable, living in another country, but it has actually been the case for most of my life.

And I don’t mean this in a bad way. Maybe because my mother was so different from her siblings and not only survived, but thrived, it made it all seem possible. She spoke a language of fashion and make-up, of poetry and romance. A language I understood. A connection so familiar that it turned this “other” into something spectacular. I didn’t need to be understood by everyone, because I was understood by her. A safety net I count on still.

Perhaps it was this security that set me free.

This French that I think I’m speaking, is mostly understood by my husband. I often hear him repeat to others the very thing I heard myself saying. And I could let that bother me, or I can choose to see it for how special it actually is, to have this one human really understand me.

I stumble upon new words every day. Not ones I hear in conversation. No, those are rare. So often when I ask what does that mean, I get the response, “it really doesn’t translate.” And I must admit that is a lonely feeling. To be left hanging, alone, with no connecting words. But the other day, I found one. Such a gorgeous word. Chamade. Even without knowing, it sounded familiar. I looked up the meaning. Chamade — a wildly beating heart. It was my “jimbly.” My racing, excited, almost nervous, anticipating, open, risking, love-filled heart. Inside this word, these beautiful letters, I was not lost in translation, but found.

I shared my glorious discovery with my husband. He smiled and said that his mother loved that word. I was, am, connected, still and again. My heart beats wildly!