Thursday, September 24, 2009
See this picture? Besides the painful/obvious evidence that this was the year that America fell in love with Dorothy Hamill and her wonky haircut, there's something else going on in that frame.
That's me, in the white blouse, trying incredibly hard to look brave. And if you look hard enough, it's evident that I'm sorta failing. This is my first day of 2nd grade, in a new state, at a new school, at an awkward time in the school calendar. It's hard enough to be new at the start of school, but when your family moves in the middle of the year, it sucks the big one. You aren't just the "new kid." You are the only "new kid." Translation: Dana is fresh meat.
My sister next to me? She's got a completely different look in her eye. My sister truly didn't mind moving as often as we did. She sort of thought it was exciting to get a fresh start, in a new place. By the end of the first week, she'd have made fast friends with several classmates and be out playing Kick the Can in the evenings.
Me, not so much. Not at all, actually. I didn't have her gift of gab, her tenacity, her ability to blend into a new landscape with ease.
You see, as much as Mama insisted growing up that I was a very brave girl, I wasn't. Most childhood pictures of me look like this:
New things, new people, new anything terrify me. Have since birth and alas, still do. I am a coward of the first water. In fact, the difficulty I had with the move mentioned above...Well, let's just say that when, several months later, we got transferred to Pittsburgh...Mama made Daddy get a new job.
A girl can only be broken so many times.
And no, if you look at that top picture again, that isn't a big black cockroach on my shirt. It's a pin. A pin in the shape of a porcupine, to be exact. A trinket that Mama pinned on my shoulder that first day of school, because it was a lucky porcupine. A porcupine that would keep me safe and okay and able to keep my shit together until I got home from school, wobbling and wrecked with anxiety.
She's a smart woman, my Mama.
But the lucky porcupine pin did not keep me safe. Nothing could. Because kids, even the little ones, can smell fear like nobody's business. And if a kid cowers and cries at the least provocation, it's pay dirt.
I was bullied relentlessly that year, but I still insisted on wearing that porcupine pin every day. Because Mama's don't lie and she said that thing was lucky, so it had to be true....maybe it was taking a little longer for the luck to kick in than I wanted, but I believed.
I believed so much that poor old "porky" got run through the washing machine a lot (my carelessness) and Mama had to stitch the poor dude back together constantly. By the end of the year, that pin was the most motley, moth-eaten thing you've ever seen.
But Mama kept mending it. To keep me safe. At least safe enough to wait for the bell, hit the door running and hi-tail it the 4 blocks home, where Mama was waiting, front door already open, with a fierce hug and a delicious snack.
Home was never sweeter.
makes 1 loaf
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 large or 4 small over-ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups+2 tablespoons flour
Mix in order given and bake at 350 degrees for an hour. If desired, 1/2 cup nuts or mini-chocolate chips can be stirred in before baking. Best kept wrapped in foil and stored in the refrigerator.
*I know, right? A recipe from the White Trash MotherLode book that isn't revolting! This was my favorite baked treat, and Mama baked it religiously for me during tough times.
P.S. Thanks, Mama, for trying so hard to help me be brave. Alas, I'm 40 and still looking under the bed for monsters. But you did your best.