We lived in the upper level and rented out the basement to Tech School students. I didn’t have the words for mortgage, or need even. I just thought it was something people did. I suppose everything is normal if you are living it.
They were always boys. I had a banana seat bike and an unbroken trust. (I would outgrow both in a matter of a few years.) He was enrolled in the class that was building a canoe. We had a small second gravel drive path next to the basement entrance. He had the shell set up on saw horses. I was curious. I started asking questions. I didn’t know what my 6 year old self would need with this knowledge, but I desired it just the same. I didn’t know what insulation was, nor what it looked like. I can’t explain the why of what happened next. Maybe I was an annoying little girl. But I was a little girl. I asked him what it was. I didn’t notice his gloves and long sleeves. He said go ahead and touch it. It’s nice. Really, go ahead, rub your arm against it. I did. My arm burned with a million little cuts. I was horrified. Why would he do that? It perhaps stung even more than my arm. And you better not tell anyone, he yelled. I ran off in horror. But what horrifies me now is that I didn’t — tell anyone.
Are we preconditioned to “not make a fuss.” Don’t make any trouble. Where did this come from?
I had a hair appointment with a new woman last evening. She was lovely. When she said, let’s step over to the sink to wash your hair, I told her, calmly and honestly, “I don’t like this part. I actually hate it.” She smiled, and then realized, oh, you really do. “Yes,” I said, “You’re lovely, but I hate the position. It’s so uncomfortable. Always has been.” “No problem,” she said. “I’ll be fast. I don’t really like it either.” It was said. Survived. Forgotten. Nothing.
I told my friend afterwards. She said she struggles with it too. It hurts her neck and arm, but has never said anything. It’s crazy, but we were both amazed that I said something. Why did you say it today? “It was just enough already.” We both smiled. And the relief. She said she would do the same on her next appointment.
These are baby steps for sure. But steps are steps. And we take them. No need for fanfare, just doing better for ourselves and for each other. We speak our truths without apologies. Strong and beautiful, we decide the normals we want to live in. Tell everyone!