Tag Archives: self-identity

Growing Up George: Ch. 1 The Headline

“George. George. My car’s making that sound again.”

Now I love my Aunt Matty but 6AM on a Sunday???

“Can you check it before I go to church?”

I rolled over and covered my head with my pillow.

“Were you going to go with me today, George? George? I know you’re awake.”

“No I’m not.”

“Come have breakfast.”

Aunt Matty, at her forty years of age, was full of energy, but her long silver hair made some ask if she was my grandma. She took me in after my parents died, though I’ve always been somewhat unclear on the details. She never really had boyfriends, and sometimes she openly told me she hated men, so she was gonna try to keep me a boy for as long as possible.

However there are some things that at sixteen a boy just cannot ask his aunt and at breakfast that morning I found myself cautiously trying climb up my family tree.

“Didn’t Dad have no brothers?”

“Whadd’ya wanna go knowin’ that for?”

“It’s just you never talk about it.”

“They’re all dead.”

“How many were there?”

“Three.”

“Including Dad?”

“Look George. I could lie and tell you your dad was an air force pilot and he died for all our freedoms and all that romantic crap. That ain’t what happened. You ever seen any uncles pull up to our house in their Bentleys looking for their long lost nephew?”

“Well, no- I just-”

“Then you don’t have none.”

“Well they ain’t gotta be rich. I could use a regular one just the same.”

“As far as you’re concerned, I’m your dad and your uncles and your ma all rolled into one.”

“That’s fine Aunt Matty. I didn’t mean to-”

“You going to church?”

This woman thinks I’m the Flash expecting me to fix her car and clean up in time for the 9 AM service. “I’ll try to make the afternoon service.”

That afternoon, I ended up at the library. I hadn’t been able to fix her car and I resorted to YouTube. Did I mention we didn’t have internet at home? Well we didn’t. My aunt said it would have disturbed the spirit of peace in our house but looking back I think we just couldn’t afford it. That’s the thing about growing up poor. A lot of times you don’t know you’re poor unless other kids point it out, and I wasn’t the type to openly share that information.

So there I was, looking at “car videos” when I stumble upon the city’s newspaper site. Main headline: “Parole Panel Delays Decision in Ballesteros Murder Case.” I didn’t care much for criminal law. But my last name was Ballesteros. At least it had been, originally, back in grade school. Then my aunt had it legally changed because the other kids were making weird comments like “Don’t mess with George, he’ll have you sniped,” and “You know where my brother can buy stardust?” Things that suddenly made sense upon reading the article, because this Ballesteros, whoever he was, had given my father and uncles a bad name.

Still, I thought if I could talk to him, maybe he’d have the answers my aunt didn’t want to give me.

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Daily Prompt Take a chance on me

Daily Prompt: Take a Chance on Me

Tonight you get a sad post on account of my brain is tired.

I like taking risks.
It’s a good feeling.
But I also like making those around me happy.
My family doesn’t like me to take risks.
They like me to stay in the mold.
I remember the first time my dad saw me wearing make-up during the day.
I was 27.
He made a vague comment about superficial people.
That was a small risk but I didn’t let his opinion discourage me from looking however the hell I wanted to.
Years earlier, when my then-fiance and I decided to move to Mexico after we got married, there was an uproar in both families.
My husband doesn’t like taking risks.
I think he was just going along with my risk-taking for several years until he got fed up with it.
Before that, at some point during high school I got tired of the education system and decided to home-school.
I started going to our community college at 16 and then there was a disconnect with my friends from childhood.
Of course college girls thought I was too little and some sort of child genius, and the guys who hit on me were perverts.
Those are all things that didn’t matter to me at the time but they’ve really defined my adulthood.
Even with its cons, I am glad I took that risk because it showed I had control of my own life.
I haven’t always been so intrepid.
When I was 13 I wanted to parasail but my mom didn’t let me.
I really wish I had.
Maybe a lot of people my age now have kids and they look back and think, “I wish I had been a better son or daughter,” but I really wish I had taken more risks.
I wish I had been more disobedient.
See, nowadays I wouldn’t windsurf. I’m too scared.
But I wouldn’t be scared if I had done it then.
Now I wouldn’t move to Mexico.
It seems unreasonable.
But that unreasonableness is not rooted in me.
It stems from a fear of contradicting my husband.
When I was 11 I recall a concert at our school.
The flutes had a difficult part in the melody and I was the only one who had practiced sufficiently.
I knew the part.
My friends didn’t.
I didn’t want to stand out from them and make them look bad.
So I didn’t play the part well on purpose.
What kind of person does that?
A self-oppressed person.
I have this desire to take risks for the fun of it, but there is this sensation- this fear of disapproval that restrains me.
Even with guys- yes, even with guys.
I remember a couple times when my friends had crushes on really cute guys I secretly liked and who told me they liked me.
I turned them away because I didn’t want to make my friends feel bad.
Silly, right?
It is one’s own responsibility to seek out one’s happiness.
No one else is going to do that for you, no matter how much someone loves you.
There is a very fine line between protecting someone out of love and trying to keep them within our ideals for our own benefit.
I often wonder what I could accomplish if I could just be me, unquestioned, confident, acknowledged, supported…
Happiness should be a risk worth taking.

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