I’m White. He’s Not.

The summer sunshine reminds me of a time, long ago when the shade of our skin was one of a few times color defined Rudy and I.

We made plans to spend the day at Huntington Beach in southern CA. We gathered a few what we thought of as necessary items to enjoy the day: a radio, towels, an ice chest full of snacks and drinks, magazines, and baby oil.

Baby oil?! Seriously, baby oil?!

Well, I’m telling you, at the time it made perfect sense. A quick way to color the skin.

A BIG MISTAKE, to say the least.

For me, anyway.

You see, Rudy has lovely brown skin. I am glow-stick white.

There we were, slathering that oil on, all over our exposed skin. Both of us looking nice and shiny. Feeling satisfied, we horizontally positioned ourselves, side-by-side, each on our own colorful towel, relaxing, to the point of snoozing under that hot sun.

Rudy noticed I was turning pink, said as much, but let the issue go when I said, “Oh, it’s okay. I’m fine. I’m getting a tan!”

As mid-afternoon approached, in the heat of the blazing sun shining brightly in my eyes, it was hard to tell if I managed more than a slight coloring. I felt I should continue to sunbath, just a bit more sun, a bit more color but, it was time to leave. So we did. Plus, we were hot, and tired.

We stopped at a mini-mart on our way home. A cold ICEE, Cocoa-Cola flavor, please! was in order. As I stepped out of the car, my skin – especially behind my knees – hurt. Not too bad. Just a slight irritation.

My reflection spoke to me from the glass of the store window. “Oh, wow, you did get some color. Definitely!”

I looked towards Rudy and noted that he had tanned nicely. He looked all chocolatey-brown, not milk-chocolate but rather dark-chocolate, like Hershey’s Special Dark. He was looking good, real good!

Cold drink in hand, I eased myself back into the car. I could feel the sun soaking in, doing its job of coloring me.

Ah, what a soon-to-be joke!

When we returned home I asked Rudy if he wanted to go to the pool, to cool off before we headed to our little abode, our own personal space. “Sounds good to me!” he said with interest.

The pool was somewhat crowded with other residents living in the apartment complex. The water felt good, soothing. It seemed people didn’t want to look our way, but they did. “Hum, am I looking good with some sun on my lilly-whites, or what?” I modestly questioned under my breath.

Or what? was the answer to my ridiculous thought!

30, maybe forty, minutes later, when we entered our place I immediately walked to the bathroom to shower off the day’s debris. “Oh. My. Gosh!” I sort-of yelled as I glanced at my reflection in the mirror. “I am so red! My face looks like a cherry tomato!”

“You are red. Really red.” Mr. Good-Looking-Dark-Chocolate-Brown casually stated. “Seriously red.”

I’m Red. He’s Not.

Teach Me Teach

IMG_7089

I was sitting behind the reception desk, filing papers, answering the phone, and rubbing my pregnant belly when I decided to leave the workforce and return to school. Without consulting Rudy, I walked into the head-honcho’s office and verbally resigned, giving him two weeks to find my replacement.

Back then, I had allowed myself to somewhat give up on my education because combining a fulltime job and being a fulltime student had become overwhelming. Rudy and I needed me to work more than I needed school, so I temporarily dropped out.

Which meant, I soon discovered, that I was working for the sake of working. Simply showing up day-after-day, earning a bi-weekly paycheck. What I really was seeking, besides a monetary compensation, was the feeling of making a positive difference in someone’s life. I was six months pregnant, with our first child, when I quit the receptionist job, and found myself joyfully walking onto the local university’s campus, ready to fulfill my goals of earning a Bachelor’s of Arts degree.

My daughter was born the day after my first semester ended and on occasion, she continued to tag along, sitting in on lectures with me, quietly coloring or pretending to take notes, absorbing the value of an education. As a transfer student, it should have taken me two years to meet my goal but, being a new mother, I needed to balance my homelife with my academic one, so I cut back on my courseload, in order to accommodate both.

Ironically, after graduating, Rudy and I decided I needed to, once again, return to work. More focused, and determined not to give up, or give in, I found employment working with young children, which filled my days with satisfaction. Fulfilling my dreams of working with impressionable youth.

After three years of involving myself with preschool children, I once again gave my resignation notice, knowing that once-and-for-all I was going to complete the necessary steps it took to earn a Clear Professional Teaching Credential. I returned, to a different college campus, with my second-born, a son, holding my hand, as I walked him to the onsite children’s center, while his sister attended second grade at the near our home local public school.

A year of daytime, and nighttime classes, resulted in my receiving a credential. Finally, I would be able to structure a classroom not only filled with academics, but also a safe haven to instill a belief in all children that they are valuable.

Several years later, I became a student once again. Yet, this time, I was a student simply enhancing my skills as an educator. I had another personal goal to meet. I earned a Masters of Science degree, while attending to not only child 1 and child 2, but also while caring for my third, and final, child.

Not only am I happy that I pursued, and met, three major educational goals for myself, my hope is that I have instilled in my children to never let any obstacles block their way and that they live life the way they choose, regardless.

the love couple

IMG_0996Rudy and I are sitting at the dining room table, talking. Talking about the ups and downs of a relationship. The hard knocks. The soothing moments. The tension, and the good times.

He’s holding the ceramic statue of a man and a woman embracing. Rudy holds the Kish Sculpture while telling me how important the symbolism of the Love Couple is, for them.

This African art piece symbolizes commitment to each other at all times, he reads off the still-tied-on description-label.

The Love Couple is leaning into each other. Their bodies do not touch, the woman’s and the man’s right cheeks gently, yet firmly, press into each other, heads slightly bowed. Their arms cross at the elbow, on both sides of their bodies, each of them resting their hands on the other’s hips. The couple is standing toe-to-toe.

I relate to the stance of the statue. Rudy and I have embraced in a similar connection – time, and again.

I had bought him the sculpture, as a truce, to get over an unnecessary argument we had had seven-plus years ago.

Now, much later, as we sit at the table, I peer at the few cracks the statue owns. Cracks from an unexpected fall.

I reminisce about how after I had given it to Rudy he placed the Love Couple in the bay window, in our kitchen. A focal point. A simple, yet important gesture.

Several days later, as he was reaching for the cord to open the white slated blinds, his wrist grazed the sculpture, knocking it over, breaking off and chipping the top portion – namely, their heads. Rudy handed it to me, his eyes wide. But, I didn’t panic.  I simply glued the pieces back together, as streamlined as possible.

“Even the cracks are us, you and me, our relationship. Nothing is perfect. All we can do is move forward, fractures and all,” Rudy said as he looked at the Love Couple, at the hairline fissures it endured.

I nod, knowing that’s all we can do. Move forward.

valuable values

i value my parents, and how they modeled what it means to be a good person

i value love, patience, understanding
happiness, health

family, friendships, relationships

diversity, freedom, independence

nature

warmth
kindness
smiling faces

children and cats

i value simplicity
living like there is no tomorrow
teachable moments
making a difference in someone’s life

i value laughter, loud cheerful laughter

i value quietness

i value rudy, liz, roberto, and brad

i value me, the mirrored me
public and private

i value honesty
open-mindedness
concern for humanity

kisses
caresses
and hugs

i value life

the beach

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the beach

spiritual
calm, soothing, serene

the beach

warm sandy surf blending with cool ocean blue

the beach

fresh, salty air
pristine sun-soaked sky

the beach

mind, body, and soul
renewed

 

Moving In… Together.

me and rud

There was no reason for Rudy and I to move in together, long ago. We just did. It wasn’t out of necessity. It was simply an opportunity. Rudy had a roommate. I lived at home. His roommate met a girl and moved in with her. Rudy didn’t need a roommate, nor did I need a new room. Yet, one day as we were walking around the apartment complex he was living in we simultaneously wondered, “Why not?”

By the following month, we had signed a rental agreement for a one bedroom, one bath apartment, top floor.

“Why?” my mom wondered.

“Why?” Rudy’s mom questioned.

“What’s the point?” my mom inquired.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Rudy’s mom stated.

It didn’t need to make sense, we both thought, to anyone but us. We just knew it was what we wanted to do. Live together, before marriage.

The Mask of Unhappiness

Rudy and I went through some difficult times, emotionally, during the three years he did not work, after being laid off from a going to retire from job. Our days were filled with a constant flow of ups but, mostly downs. We weren’t feeling too happy. With each other. With our situation. We argued. A lot. Daily.

One of those days…

I was trying to read. Take my mind off the bad feeling outside my bedroom door. Yet, my head hurt. From a throbbing headache. I could hear Rudy walking my way, down the hall, along the wooden floor boards. I was in the bed, under five layers of blankets. In pain. Unhappy.

“Do you need the light on?” he asked. As politely as he could manage. “Yes!” I said rudely. Bitchlike. “I just thought you didn’t need it!” he raised his voice. I held up the book I was attempting to focus on. Rudy walked back out the door. Slamming it shut. I followed him back out into the kitchen. Feeling I owed him some kind of apology. Rudy didn’t bother to listen to what I had to say. He walked away. Into the garage. Into his man-cave.

My head hurt. More. I walked. Or stomped back to my bedroom. Mumbling angrily to myself. I crawled back under the blankets in the now no lights on dark room. I sighed. Heavily. Under all that weight. I could hear Rudy. Walking my way. Again. He opened the door. “The beef stew is done,” he told me in a flat tone. I ignored him. He walked away. Five minutes later he returned. He flipped on the light. With anger. Stood there. I assumed. I couldn’t see him but I could hear him as he grumbled. Made angry sounds. I did not move. My head hurt. Badly. And, even though I was under a pile of blankets, I felt so cold. He flipped off the light. Slammed the door, and walked away, for a second time.

Again. I crawled out of my haven. Walked slowly back to the kitchen. To Rudy. “My head hurts. I don’t feel well,” I told him. “Everything is falling apart!” he yelled in my direction.
I cried. Uncontrollably. We yelled. At each other. Until neither of us could take it anymore. Rudy stomped back into the garage. I returned, once again, to my room. My headache only got worse. I took a deep breath. Found my spot under the blankets. Didn’t move. Not until the next morning.