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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/1020206-Polite-Conversation
Rated: ASR · Book · Biographical · #2260833
Blog attempt 1.
#1020206 added October 26, 2021 at 9:00pm
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Polite Conversation
Hmm. Interesting direction the weather took. Damn global warming! What is left to discuss? I can’t remember the other topic acceptable in polite company. It will probably come to me… for now… Politics. I already tangentially covered religion...so politics. I am a registered republican, when I manage to register. That is the only proper christian party according to how I was raised. Even so I don’t agree with their philosophy. If religion doesn’t belong in government how can government comment on the activity of our bedrooms? Why should the government care if men love men or women love women? Were you aware that at one time the activities of same sex couples were entirely illegal? A man could rape his own wife and that was fine, heck she was even in the wrong for not providing him the proper outlet, but two consenting adults could not express their love for each other. Yeah that makes sense. Fortunately lawmakers have woken up a bit, rape is rape and love is love. Of course there was a time when people could own other people based on the color of their skin so what can I really expect from government.

Back to religion. Specifically, I want to address the christian movement dedicated to the defense of the family. The defense of marriage act, where they wanted to define marriage strictly as a union between a man and a woman. That is defending marriage. Never mind that married couples below the poverty line were regularly counseled by their social workers to divorce so they could receive enough aid to survive, whether or not they had children. I know of a lovingly married couple, he was dying of heart failure she was his sole care giver. Health and human services told them to get legally separated so he would qualify for better care which might extend his life. He decided he would rather die than even go through a sham of the action of saying they didn’t belong together for life and beyond. But god forbid we let the gays marry! Defense of marriage my ass! It was more like defense of their intolerantly bigoted world view. Didn’t their holy books imply children needed a mother and father? Didn’t most churches glare down their noses at divorcees? Weren’t formerly married couples looked down upon by congregations as failures? But gays and lesbians could not, should not, will not marry if they can help it. There I polished up the soap box I firmly stood upon even when my feelings were utterly irreversibly wrong.

Was that politics? Or religion? Let’s be real people, despite our country’s protestations to the contrary, they tend to end up pretty much the same thing! The separation of church is and state is not just a historical fallacy it is humanly impossible. Government is the codification of right and wrong, ultimately it defines what is and is not acceptable behavior for its citizens. You can not expect human being to walk into an organization intent on drawing those lines to suddenly shed the ideas of right and wrong their clergy have browbeaten into them on the authority of god. “In God We Trust” is printed and engraved on our money. The ten commandments are stationed on many a courthouse lawn. I am not saying it is unacceptable to base government on the morality we share. As long as enough of us still share that morality. Government needs to be quicker to adapt. When the majority of the population decided it was immoral to own another person, the slaves were freed. When the people accepted women weren’t actually too illogical to make political decisions we gained the right to vote.

I am not arguing a special interest group should have the right to veto everyone else though. Atheists shouldn’t be able to try to wipe god completely from the government, on the basis of the separation of church and state. It just isn’t real. If everyone were atheistic okay, take god from the schools! But if you are the solitary atheist parent you should be allowed to request your child not participate in prayers or mention of god. It’s like Jehovah’s Witnesses can request their children not participate in holiday celebrations. Don’t steal the holidays from the majority because of a minority, but do not force them on the minority either. It isn’t like the Jewish parents force Hanukkah on everyone else. The atheists don’t have that right either.

We need more tolerance, religious, racial, political, sexual. That is not to say that the special interest groups should be dictating the morality or laws. The point is that when it comes down to it the majority is just as much a special interest group. Some kind of reasonable accommodation should be made. Allow homosexuals to marry, but do not force individuals to go against their consciences to aid them. Allow the act but do not force it. Allow people to divorce one another but do not economically force it. Couples on disability benefits lose one fourth of their income if they marry. Marriage is hard enough. Just because you’re married it does not mean your costs are any less. You both still eat, shower and use the same amount of electricity. Money should not be the deciding factor in love. How can a morality that believes that the unwed are living in sin not just allow, but support a system that requires it? Hypocrisy, and the sure safe knowledge that it doesn’t apply to them, until the day it does. A loving couple with a five bedroom home can be a car accident away from a homeless shelter and facing the choice of surviving or divorce. Everyone should remember that.

Except it doesn’t really matter what people with a two, four or even five bedroom house remember. They aren’t the ones who make the laws. It is for the most part the idle rich with their set mostly inflexible and intolerant world views that do the actual lawmaking. Them and the literally soulless corporations that have no sense of morality at all save the positive knowledge that profit is king. Not a one of them has ever wondered not what they would have for dinner, or if they would have anything at all. I think one of the requirements of public office should be living in a slum and surviving on a budget just below the poverty level for a month. Then the budget would be balanced, and the money would go where it was needed not into mysterious pockets somewhere. The president wouldn’t be writing dumbass tweets or arguing out of both sides of his ass. And just maybe the crime rate would go down because people wouldn’t need to steal to make ends meet. I am not a socialist or a communist. Profit can be a good motivator, but I do not believe it should be the only motivator. Too bad common sense can’t be directly measured, monitored or compensated for. I guess I just want the best from people, and I hate most of them for disappointing me, including myself.

Health! That was the other topic of polite conversation. Oh, I already covered that. Wow I am more polite than I thought I was. Ignore politics and religion, and polarizing topics, for now let us pretend that I have stuck to the polite ones. I wouldn’t say that I have ever been really physically healthy. I was a sickly child, sick more than I was not, though it was mostly psychosomatic. Psychologically I didn’t want to leave the house so somatically I was sick. I didn’t ever really like people. They lie too much. They say things like until death do us part and then they split up. That was an early lesson in the dependability of men.

I can’t entirely blame my father for abandoning us. He didn’t want to take us away from our mother. To him that was a greater travesty than not having a father. The fact is his mother had MS, for most of what he remembers she was an invalid. He and his siblings were responsible for caring for her not the other way around. From what little he describes of his childhood, it was bad. His mother’s sole act of punishment for the children was yelling at them and telling them to put their fingers in her mouth, so she could bite them. Ouch. He talks about grocery day when his father would bring home food and the kids would scramble to hoard away enough for the week. It was bad, so bad that joining the army was an improvement.

Dad went to Vietnam, the second of America’s great unwinnable wars. He weaseled his way into the trackers despite not actually graduating from the training. He talked about getting in country with a group of certified trackers and managing to prove himself better at it than them when he pretended to be one of them. The officers in charge knew there was one more man than there should be but they weren’t used to that kind of problem and let it go. He managed to point out an enemy sniper during a training exercise, that incident and one other like it were his credentials. War left many a mark on him though. He came home with serious PTSD, and damaged hearing from bedding down beneath the mortars.

In the time he spent living with us while growing up, there was not a night when he did not barricade himself in his office for most of the evening. He didn’t completely isolate himself. I was always welcome to knock. Most of the time he would move the two by four aside and allow me entrance. It was like the magic fortress of an alchemist. He would scold me for that metaphor, magic was of the devil and unacceptable but for a young child it was the only impression possible. He had parts of electronics and robot kits scattered over an L shaped workbench. This was back before the real dawn of the age of PCs when such things were still quite esoteric. I remember puddles of melted solder and burn marks in the long board. Beneath the bench were blue cabinets with clear drawers filled with any number of nuts, bolts and other mysterious fasteners. He had a little television on the end facing a small love seat, or large recliner. It was nearly always tuned to PBS. In the evenings they showed science and nature programming like NOVA or Nature. We wouldn’t always pay attention to the television. There were snacks sometimes too. I remember velveeta slathered with Best Foods mayonnaise on white bread. My dad would smear extra mayo on the edge before a bite. Somehow it wasn’t too much mayo. To wash down the sandwich was a tall clear green plastic glass of ice cold water. It never tasted as good as when we ate it together.

As we watched TV or ate, or played with his doodads, my dad would talk about chess, and electronics and computer programming. Sometimes he would work on the computer he was building himself, or one of the robot kits. That was back when R2D2 had just made robots cool. Sometimes he would work on reloading bullets, or he would pack and repack his backpack for a camping trip. Two things I remember are that the backpack was taller than I was, and his camping food smelled disgusting when he would make some to show me what it was like re-hydrated. His room always smelled of solder, gunpowder, camphor, and kerosene. My father didn’t smoke or wear any cologne I can remember his smell was a hint of his study. The rest of the house smelled of diapers, cigarettes and Pine-sol. My two worlds were distinct.

When he wasn’t fiddling with a project or engrossed in the mating patterns of wolves or black holes, my father would try to explain the twisted and illogical logic of calculus. I knew what an imaginary number was before I could really multiply two and two. Spotty knowledge of higher math mad learning the basic mathematical functions more colorful. I argued with my teachers a lot. When learning arrhythmic I really wanted to understand the process of subtracting a larger number from a smaller one. No first grade teacher was ready for that. She flatly insisted you just could not do that. I knew better I just wanted to understand the process. That is not the last time a teacher fervently lied to me about math. In fourth grade when I started algebra, we learned the chant, “A negative times a negative equals a positive.” Okay, got it, and a positive times a negative equals a negative. But what about when you want to take a square root of a negative number? The teacher quickly argued you just wouldn’t have to do something silly like that… So imaginary numbers were just my imagination?

By that time I was no longer my father’s perfect little princess. I had withdrawn from him, not because I didn’t desperately love him anymore, but because I could not stand the things he said to my baby sister. For the rest of my life I will always hear him telling her as she sat knocking outside of his door to go away, she was just a worm, she could come back when she decided to be a person. Sometimes I am in the room with him, sometimes I am just walking up behind her to knock myself. Guilty, a small percentage of the time I remember knocking above her head and gaining entrance. I warred within between feeling special and feeling like a monster. I knew I was passively calling her a worm too. The older we got the more I hoped she would rate being a person too. But it just wasn’t happening. I stopped knocking I couldn’t handle the guilt I felt even when she wasn’t pounding at the door beneath me. I have to say my sister was born with more persistence and strength than most. She was still regularly knocking when I finally stopped.

My sister was far more physical than I was. Even as a young child much of my play was imaginary, focused on verbal skills and creativity. My sister wasn’t particularly verbal until she started school, but my sister learned to ride her bicycle half an hour after I rode mine unassisted for the first time. I know when my dad and sister started spending time together it wasn’t the same as the time I spent with him. He taught me chess, he taught her how to fish. She was like the son he never had. They became close pretty quickly. Not once did either of them consider I might want to be included. My sister started to treat me like crap. As a family we went to the circus. I got a plastic clarinet, mysister ate popcorn until she puked. She still rode home in the front seat with mom and dad.

I liked that clarinet, until sis gave me a black eye with it for not letting her have all of the pillows for her pillow fort. I cried like a baby. In contrast, my sister decided to break glass bottles in the alley. A glass shard from one flew up and cut a four inch gash in her thigh. She didn’t even notice. The neighbor boy had to run and get my mother. Even after more than a dozen stitches she didn’t cry once. Her pain tolerance was ridiculous.

When it came time for discipline, my father was a fan of using wooden spoons. There was even a particular place just outside of his study where he kept the current one. When one of us screwed up… we were ordered to bend over his knee. I was usually in tears begging for forgiveness before he ever touched the spoon. I might get one or two whacks for most things. My sister would get five or ten whacks for the smallest thing and wasn’t beyond standing up afterward; staring my father in the eyes; and stating unemotionally that it didn’t even hurt. That usually lead to more whacks. In the end she might get twenty or thirty wacks for the same offense that I would get one whack for. It wasn’t beyond reason for either of us to be spanked until the spoon broke. I don’t know how many times I wished my mother would stop buying them, but the one time he used a slotted plastic spatula made me grateful for the spoons. The slots left welts that hurt far more than a simple spoon.

Even with all of that my father wasn’t generally a violent man, physically anyway. He was very good at beating on you verbally. My mother would clean until her hands cracked and bled. He would come home and berate her for being lazy and doing nothing. I recall arguments about my mother not fulfilling marital duties. I thankfully did not understand that euphemism. And I recall early arguments that there was no way he was my sister’s father. I don’t think she ever heard those the argument was tabled before she was old enough to understand. My sister and I were too noisy, to dirty, to disheveled. I don’t know if that was our fault or mother’s He didn’t come home at the same time every day, and he never called to let us know when he would arrive, but if dinner weren’t ready or had gone cold… My sister and I would put ourselves to bed early.

Dinner… my father always insisted we completely clean our plates. I had a small appetite, and most nights my plate was still full when I was. I remember the nearly daily ironic lecture, “Don’t take more food than you can eat! Because you will eat everything you take.” One point I must make, I had no control over what ended up on my plate until well after he left us. Technically I hadn’t “taken” any of it and should not be punished over waste. I was a strange child. I had to be bribed to eat my macaroni and cheese with extra spinach or fish. I was very into vegetables and much less into starches. Meats were okay in limited amounts. Really if I had been allowed to follow my early dietary inclinations I would be neither overweight nor diabetic. Oh the irony!

I guess I am back to my health. I had many ear infections and bouts of strep throat as a child. I was on antibiotics at least once or twice every six months. Ear tubes and a tonsillectomy were discussed and passed on. My father didn’t like doctors and didn’t see the need. Another thing I was plagued with was my ankles. Both of them are very weak. I got them from my mother along with my gnarly pinkie toe. She broke her foot one time stepping off the front porch. I haven’t officially broken anything other than my tailbone, but I am almost an expert at sprains and strains. Remember the purses, the ones that have EVERYTHING in them. I can’t tell you how long those purses have carried ace bandages, athletic tape, and or ankle braces. I also can’t tell you how many times I have been to the ER for my ankle wiping out. I have injured myself dozens of times more and not gone to the ER, just doctoring myself. At some point though I know I will need to get some kind of surgery in one or both of them. But that is in the future, this is not about the future is it?

Hmm, where do I want to be in ten years. Still in a committed relationship would be a good start. Rich? Famous? No I don’t necessarily think I could handle the problems associated with either. Taxes? PR reps? That would be too much effort. Then why the f*** am I writing this? Don’t I want to be published? Yes, I do, but can it be without wealth and fame? Sure I want people to read what I write, and maybe I want to change someone’s mood if not their life… but do I have to be famous to do that? Well… yea and nay, I could just self publish this… like the rest of my books. Yes, people this isn’t my first ride on this pony. Never heard of me? No one has. I kind of like that. On the other hand who doesn’t want a pat on the back for a job well done. Some recognition would be nice. I would like to shake some foundations and rattle points of view.

Are you supposed to discuss your hopes and dreams in polite conversation? Heck, I know I threw polite out the window on the first page. Hopes… I hope someday someone reads this. Dreams...I dream of winning the lottery. I would probably blow the money on starting my own publishing company. I would publish the people no one else wants to risk it on, well the ones that can string words together in a way that makes sense. I buy lottery tickets not with the dream of winning in mind but as a license to daydream...what if… The problem is that money can’t buy the things that I want most. I want that my parents never got a divorce. I want that my mother didn’t die. I want everyone I have ever loved to still be alive and close enough to talk to. I want to cry. That is okay, crying is cheap. All it costs is a few sips of water. Pennies if you buy it by the bottle. I need about a gallon.

One of my worst memories is the night my father’s abuse went beyond words. Mom was in a nightgown and she let my dog out the front door on a chain because the little area in the front yard under the tree was the only place the snow wasn’t too deep for her to do her business. My dad had yelled at her not to do that for the last three days. This time as my mom put the dog out he ran up behind her and shoved her out of the house and locked the door behind her. She was barefoot in a knee length thin nightgown. It was below freezing. She went to let herself in using the Realtor lock box. My dad caught her, ripped the lock box out of her hand with the key and all, and flung it right into her face. That is when the yelling really started. I dragged my sister up the stairs and dialed 9-1-1. I can’t remember what I told the operator other than my dad was hurting my mom. The rest of the night was a blur. The police came and when it was over my dad went with them. My mom hurriedly got on the phone and made some emergency phone calls, yelling at us to pack an overnight bag. My sister tried to pack all of her toys. I had to unpack her bag and fill it with clothes before doing my own. My sister clutched at her teddy as mom pushed past us to pack a bag for herself.

We ended up staying at one of my mom’s friend’s house. She had been a teacher at my school until she got married. Then she had moved across town to teach at a different school. I wasn’t quite clear on all the adult conversations that happened over the next week, but words like restraining order and parental kidnapping floated around. What I knew was my mother was afraid to go home, and even more afraid to send us to school for fear my father would pull us out and disappear with us. Instead I went to school with her friend and was classroom helper for a week. She had a small lizard as the classroom pet. It could change colors to better hide in its terrarium. I would spritz it with water daily and knock a cricket or meal worm into its terrarium every day. I wished I could hide half as well as it could. I felt like it was all my fault. I had gotten my dad in trouble and it had messed up our whole family. My mom’s friend bought me a Pound Puppy toy and I whispered to it about the horrible things I had done.

From there I didn’t see my father much. There were counseling sessions and therapists. Mom went to work. They tried marital counseling and my dad came home for like a week on a trial basis. It didn’t last. Then we stopped seeing him at all. Mom eventually filed for divorce so she could get aid from DHHS. It wasn’t until almost a year later when child support entered the conversation that I saw my father again. He had to pay, so he was going to insist on visitation. I felt like he was renting us. Like the only value we were to him was the $400 he had to pay every month. The only real things he left behind from the time before was the paint splattered chair he used at his workbench and the tall green plastic water glass. For years afterward I would fill it with ice water and sip at my “Daddy glass,” when I was really hurting.

Whoa, that has me teared up and emotionally torn up. I still feel like the call and everything that followed it are my fault. I KNOW my father is really responsible for everything. He chose to hurt my mother. He chose to virtually abandon us. He chose not to fight for custody. I still FEEL like it is my fault, like I chose sides. It’s like I betrayed him, not once but twice first when I abandoned him to make him stop calling my sister a worm, and a second time when I called the cops on him. But what choice did I have? I couldn’t let him start beating her too… or did he before? I don’t think he beat her. She never said he hurt her… except with words.

Words hurt, often worse than sticks and stones. I don’t care what the rhyme says. Words hurt, and they scar. “You’re short fat and smelly!” That would hurt from a classmate, how do you think it feels when it’s a parent. He rarely used them all at once, and sometimes he used the word unfeminine or said “You need to dress better or people will think you’re gay.” That is as close as he ever came to confronting me about how I felt. To this day I am not sure he knows… that is just one closet I can’t open. HE is my FATHER, I only get one real father. I don’t want to break our relationship beyond repair. I guess I have my hand on the knob right now. If this gets traditionally published… fatherly pride will require him to buy it and read it. How far he will get before he flings it away and swears that I am going to hell… that I do not know, but I am guessing he probably isn’t reading this right now. If you are on the other side of these words dad, call me… even if it is to tell me you never want to hear from me again. It will let me know I was at least worth this much of your time, even if you don’t agree with or like what I have said.

Father, while I only have one real one, several men have tried to fill the job. The first was my mother’s uncle, Donald. He was the first man I knew that really understood who I was. He put real thought into the first and only gift I got from him. We had gone on a trip to Dinosaur National Monument, as far as I cared at the time it was Mecca. I had been telling people I was going to be a paleontologist since I was two. I was a little older than twelve when we went with him. The whole trip I rode in the back seat asking every fifty miles, not if we were there yet, but what time it was. I was calculating our speed and guesstimating how long until we got there. I was a strange child. The point is that for Christmas that year he bought me a watch with an alligator on the face, it was as close as he could come to finding a girl’s watch with a dinosaur. I am not sure my father has ever put that much thought into a gift. For example, my 25th birthday he gave me a power chisel… I got to use it twice before I nearly carved off my fingertip and my mother gave me a stern warning not to touch it again. He knew I am clumsy as f*** and he gave me a power, chisel. Just as I was melting in to the safe feeling of a father figure that was kind and caring, uncle Don died.

We spent six months traveling back and forth across state lines to Wyoming while my mother settled his estate. The worst part of it was that his house still smelled like him even when he was gone. Not like a dead body, no, it smelled like he was still alive, burnt pine needles, wood smoke and old spice. We went through the collected flotsam of his life. Christmas tins full of change pins and dead credit cards. I still have his original brass social security card, and a mostly used ration book. He was not a man without flaws. He had a terrible drinking problem. He was both honorably and dishonorably discharged from the navy. The dishonorable discharge was following a court martial for being AWOL because his boat left without him while he was sleeping it off in a drunk tank. He had a bite out of his ear and was missing half of a ring finger from bar room brawls. He wasn’t popular with most of our family. He was the black sheep and that is why we, not his surviving siblings were responsible for him in the end. His ashes sat behind a recliner for a decade before we were ready to sprinkle him over the graves of his dead siblings and parents. He isn’t the uncle who shared his annuity that was another uncle.

Speaking of uncles…my plain uncles, my mother’s brothers, were absolute dicks to her after she married my dad. One had a family with three kids. We saw them one time of year when my sister and I each received exactly one gift. We ate dinner sometimes, then we went home. The entire visit was tense especially back when my father came too. There were a lot of verbal jabs at my mother’s choice of mates. Despite my father’s departure, my mother’s relationship with that uncle continued to deteriorate I am not sure if we went over there for very many years after the divorce was final. The other uncle was a mechanic he had one biological daughter who died in infancy from meningitis. That prompted a vasectomy. He had several wives that I could remember. The only time we saw him was when our car broke down. He would fix it and make a payment plan for my mother to pay off over time. About the time my mother found out from his then current wife that he had probably over charged her we stopped seeing him and found another mechanic. I remember sitting in his greasy waiting room for hours drinking fifty cent sodas back when most machines sold them for twenty five. I think that expresses my understanding of his life philosophy.

So, within a few years of the divorce our family had shrunk pretty much to the three of us. Every few months we might visit my mother’s father and his third wife? His forth? His first wife was my mom’s mom. She died and he told my mother to either move out or get married. His second wife was, according to my mother, a platinum plated witch, and my mother was pretty sure she was being unfair to witches. As a christian she felt witches were the devil’s minions. Anyway that step mother was mean, and in the end divorced my grandpa and took all of what my mother was supposed to inherit from her mother with her in the divorce. I think there was a third wife which I vaguely remember. She liked to give me dolls every time she saw me. I am not sure what happened with her, it could be that I am just recalling my interactions with the royal bitch. The last wife was with him until he died. She too liked to buy me dolls at the flea market. One Christmas she gave me a Cabbage Patch Kid knock off be cause I had been asking for a Cabbage Patch Kid since they came out in stores.

That was the same year my mom made my sister and I Cabbage Patch clones from kits she found in a craft store. They even came with birth certificates and adoption papers. She had to sew them herself. I don’t know how she even found the time. Another doll my mother made me, repeatedly, was Balleria. The original Balleria had been given to me by a consignment craft store owner. My mother made a lot of crocheted animals around plastic eggs and sold them at various shops. I remember riding the bus all over creation with my mom as she dropped off another round of egg animals. Anyway Balleria was my best friend when I was a toddler. I wore her out at least eight times. My mother would take the worn out doll for a vacation and she would “come back” fresh new and often in a very different dress. My mother remade her a lot.

The other main toy I remember from my young years, was Bobo. He was a stuffed bear. I got him for free too. An older couple who worked as truckers had him in their truck. I saw him and asked what his name was. The woman asked me what I thought his name was. I answered Bobo. She smiled and asked me how I knew his name. Then she said since I already knew so much about him I should take him home with me. I didn’t just take him home. I took him everywhere. Bobo was my car buddy. We would go to stores together and just about everywhere. Then one day my mother and I were touring model homes and Bobo disappeared. He wasn’t in the car when we came back to it. I had just lost one of my best friends.

I hate loss. It is the beginning of November. My mother’s birthday is Sunday. My father’s is Tuesday. Mine is Monday. I am having a hard time. I am not looking forward to the next few days. What makes it worse is my one true love is doing physical therapy at the nursing, sorry, rehabilitation center where my mother died. My mom always hated the beginning of September and had serious mental issues then, because her mom died suddenly in the beginning of September. When my mother died the second of September I thought I had just inherited the same curse. I didn’t. I can get through most Septembers with minimal issues; November… not so much. I used to make my mom lots of little presents for her birthday, mostly elephants. She loved and collected elephants. The end of October is hard because I used to crank out my birthday presents for her then. Most of the time I don’t get really bad until November first. That is when the guilt for not remembering to make her a present wakes up the reality that she is not here to receive it. If my birthday weren’t the day after hers, I don’t think it would be as hard. I might not remember her birthday and would be able to get by it better. Unfortunately nothing allows me to forget my own and by extension hers. Heck even if I somehow forget my birthday, I would still have my father’s birthday to remind me.

I miss you mom. There are so many books that I have written and you never got to read. You never saw what I ended up doing with my fairy pictures. You missed a lot of birthdays, and Christmases. You never got to meet my neighbors you barely met my true love. You weren’t even aware of our relationship. I lied to you the one time you asked about her. Did you know I liked girls? Did you ever guess? What about when I ran up a two hundred dollar long distance bill talking to my best friend when we moved away? Did you guess? Do you care? Do you love me anyway or would you fling this book away from you on the second page?

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