MPM Pit Story
So, I had finally returned, to my first family, where I received love from Grandma.
The neighborhood may have been referred to as "the ghetto" and was reported to be the poorest in the City of Milwaukee. But I felt richer than I ever had. It felt good to be home. And to feel love.
Grandma made that difference.
However, there was one thing that was left unfinished in my prior neighborhood.
That neighborhood was near the city limit, and had fields with apple trees, cherry trees, and other northern fruit.
So as a boy already eager to climb as many trees as possible, I enjoyed the reward of any apple I could reach.
Cherries were a rare delicacy, because more often than not, the upside of a gorgeous cherry was already pecked by a bird beforehand.
Prior to season, I was developing my climbing skills on the "monkey bars", some have called it a "jungle gym". It's that horizontal ladder, where you move arm over arm, rung to rung, while you are hanging from below.
That's when she appeared, seemingly from nowhere. Her eyes, her smile were glorious. I had been smitten!
She and I talked, while keeping an eye on her little sister, who was with us on top of the bars.
After learning about each other, she returned to her home with her little sister. I continued with my climbing.
Not long after, some other children approached me. They told me that their sister told them about me, and that she had sent them out to check me out for her.
I felt flattered, and honored to receive the attention and interest from such a lovely girl and now her siblings, running their own investigation.
When it was time for the sister and younger brother to return home, I walked with them.
Another sister met up with us. Along the way I had found a tree, new to me. So as the one sister and brother returned home, the latest arriving sister joined me in that tree.
She was older than the other siblings, so she seemed to have a more interrogative approach.
I was thoroughly impressed with her "sibling support system" that she had available to her. And that her focus was on me.
My family, on the other hand, had been joined from four different directions. And was less endowed in social and relational akills, which provided little guidance for me in social situations, particularly girls.
So I could only hope to pass the scrutiny, using skills gleaned from TV and first year of middle school.
Her sister did make a comment about a hole in the heel of my sock, and how "homely" it made me appear.
She had hit a sore spot, because as I grew, I was tearing through my socks and clothes, without replacements.
My guardian, receiving "not enough" from the county for my care, said she didn't want to fill out an extra form to provide clothing for me.
So instead I made do with the little clothing afforded me. It was typical
for me to wear a single pair of pants for the week and to rotate two or three shirts over a week to appear fresh each day.
Often I would wear my socks for more than one day. Trick was to wear the socks over night so they wouldn't be stiff in the morning.
Aside from that "homely" comment, I liked to think I passed the scrutiny with her siblings.
From then on, that lovely, friendly, smiling girl would stop by, when I least expected and would surprise me every time, sometimes to say hi, sometimes inviting me to play. One time she asked me to help her with something, and then offered a kiss as reward.
As a shy preteen boy, I had no clear protocols for this. In my family configuration at that time, I found no sources of advice.
My older high school age sister, who I had known for a only few years at the time, was withdraw. She had her own story. She read often, and enjoyed knitting and crocheting. But she had less social experience, and no advise to share.
My even older brother, was an electronic genius and focused tinkerer. He attended a technical high school only for boys at the time. I hadn't seen him with a girl, until he graduated and left home.
The other children were much younger cousins, the oldest in 3rd Grade, so no discussion there.
I was the "social star" of the family.
I had friends who I enjoyed during the school year, I was invited to sleep overs on weekends, house parties on a near weekly basis during the summer.
However, with girls I seemed to have "anti-charisma".
Girls with whom I had pleasant encounters, suddenly turned cold, for no apparent reason.
Once I thought it was just the difficultlies of a boy entering 8th grade in his 6th school, with his 3rd family.
I had no known sources of advise in real life. So I found examples from Mr. Cleaver, John Wayne and others.
One example of this confusion, was a pair of girls, that I knew for a only a couple weeks. I crossed paths with them several times while walking. They were very attractive. We had wonderful conversations.
They even appeared at one of the weekend house parties. Days after that party. I saw them again. Before we were within talking range, one of the girls yelled. "There's that yucky boy!"
I hadn't realized she was talking about me, until they walked by with cold shoulders. This continued until I stopped going that way.
Years later as young adults I crossed paths with that girl who turned on me. We happened to share a ride and she sat next to me.
She said that at that house party years before, she was smiling at me, and trying to flirt with me from across the room and I didn't repond. She said she felt jilted.
I explained that I was nearsighted and couldn't see her from across a darkened room. It's difficult to return a smile when you can't see a face.
But if I wore the glasses to see her, she probably wouldn't be flirting with me in the first place.
As a ward of the county, the options for eyewear were limited to about six styles, the harshest pair resembing the warden's glasses on Shawshank Repemption.
I think the brand name was "four eyes".
Because kids on the bus, kids on the playground, and elsewhere would mentioned that name. I became brand conscious, knowing that I was too often being regarded as some permutation of nerd.
"Permutation" might be a poor choice of words, when you're trying to deny being a nerd.
The real concern was, without the glasses I couldn't see them. With the glasses they didn't see me. They saw the brand of my glasses.
I hazarded to go without the glasses, they were for reading the blackboard anyway.
I had not realized that I was also missing recognition of faces at a distance. So when I thought I knew someone, I would watch them approach, wait until I could see their face (assuming they have yet to recognise me).
And just as their face comes into focus, I hear "What are you looking at?" He wasn't my friend and didn't sound friendly.
Second time this happened, I began to think I was standing in the wrong neighborhood or something.
On another occassion, a girl responded. "Take a picture it lasts longer."
I began to realize that this wasn't some neighborhood challenge from the males, or even a girl being
began to realize. I had effectively been staring people down.
not intentionally, but inadvertently, I been staring people down.
I would watch as they did.
I anticipated when they came into focus for me, it was approximately the same for them. Not so, I learned.
Just as they are coming into focus, their face beginning to appear, I am greeted by someone I don't recognize.
"What are you looking at?" Was a response I heard more than once from
One girl, I wrongly thought to be someone else
was mentioned more than once. One girl said, "Take a picture, it
More difficult was being nearsighted. This posed a social disadvantage, with extra ramification that I didn't understand until years later.
I could only assume she had caught on to my rotation of reused dirty clothing, which admittedly is yucky. I thought I had to strategize better between laundry cycles, which was typically two to three times per month for a family of eight.
I tried to make myself available by climbing in that tree, where her sister and I talked. The bows of the tree was spaced for continuous arm over arm movement around and around the tree.
She had originally seen me from across the playground on the jungle gym, and came over to meet me. So I figured she would see me across the street, traversing branch to branch like a monkey in a continuous loop.
When I saw her coming, I began to swing branch to branch for a number of loops, showing off my primate skills, expecting to draw her attention and meet again.
After about the third loop around the tree, I stopped and realized she must not have seen me across the street in the tree. She had already passed and was nearing the corner.
I knew I was awkward and still unsure of confessing that I liked her "that way".
However, she did deserve to know she was loved. So in that tree I made a promise to someday write a song that professed my love in an honest open way.
That was once I buy a guitar, learn how to play the guitar, learn how to play the guitar better, learn how to write a song, then write a song, learn how to write a better song, write a better song, gain life experience, write a more meaningfull song.
I think you have the idea.
I still didn"t have even a guitar, so I felt I had little to offer, except sincerity and I was reluctant to be sincere with myself.
In addition to the sense of worthlessness and diminished self esteem from my home life, it seemed unbelievable, that a girl, wonderful in every way would settle for a near vagabond child like I felt everday, that I scrounged through an inadequate supply of clothing for school.
Also.I felt ill prepared to knock on her door. Harshness was a norm in my household, so I expected to be walking on egg shells in her household, especially once her parents diacover my true feelings for their daughter.
I was already feeling guilty about my feelings of guilt. Religions told me that I should not associate with those who practiced other denomination of Christian worship.
Her family was in the 'wrong' denomination, so I was also concerned about eternal hell-fire, had I entered into a relationship with her.
I had read and heard the parables and stories of saints and heroes who were condemned by their 'weakness' for a 'temptress'.
So a big concern for me was not only the typical awkwardness of boy confessing love to a girl, but also the fear of going to hell, in the way described by religious leaders that warned us, about them.This conflict weighed heavily on my mind.
She was wonderful in every way. And she liked me enough, to catch me by surprise, and spend time when we had it.
Yet I felt ill prepared to approach her parents to visit her at her home. He wanted to get to know her without intruding. I wasn't prepared to explain feelings. That was something generally frowned upon in those days.
Instead I relied on her occasional surprise appearances, which were always a delight.
During summer, I went out of his way to pass her house. Quite often she was outside on her lawn, when I went by on my bicycle.
When she saw me, she would always yell to me by name.
"Hi Dan!" was the acknowledgment, I was seeking, and received every time.
Of course, I would wave and return the greeting. Thatís WHY I was riding by her house.
Her power to enchant seemed to go beyond my normal experience. She appeared as a light to me.
Yet I found it hard to believe she would be interested in me at all. I had little to offer, except the song I promised to write one day.
I had already learned about unworthiness, about feeling lesser-than, about feeling guilty about even positive emotions.
Between the awkwardness of a boy smitten by a girl beautiful in every way, and the threat of hell-fire by the supposed will of deity, i was confused.
The seasons changed,, clocks were set back, so darkness came early in the evening. With kids usually home by dark, I didn't see much of her.
I met another girl at school. When she asked if I had a girlfriend, I told her about the encounters I've had.
A week or two later, the new girl told me that she spoke to that girl I adored. So much. She said things about her, and their interaction.
If those things were true, I might have had reason to cancel my pursuit, which I had intended to resume next summer.
The story was flattering to me and indicated promise, but I bought another part of her tale, and thought I had to make it right, so I did the wrong thing.
With twists of logic and emotion, religious guilt, and misplaced loyalty, I found a way to reject that girl in a harsh way.
I thought that this would resolve my inner conflict of emotion, self doubt and religious limits I believed. I made it so I couldn't go back easily.
I regretted that moment, the instant I did it. Her siblings were there. I may have redeemed, that new girl, I figured, but I may have damaged a lovely angel in the process.
She had done nothing to me, except to be wonderful to me as always. And I hurt her in front of all.
When I walked on and turned the corner, I stopped to look up at the stars to ponder my missdeed.
I would rather have shown her the constellations of the Winter sky, Orion, Cannis Major, Taurus, the Pleiades. I wanted to impress her, which I did, in a very wrong way.
I went on to the other girl's house, I had burned a bridge and tried to move on. But from that point on, I felt a hole, a loss, a disappointment, in myself.
As a result of not being honest with my feelings, I had complicated a simple fear of rejection into mean spirited behavior, and hurt a lovely girl in the process.
I hurt myself too. Over time, I have learned that you cannot hurt someone without hurting yourself.
I didn't understand how to deal with that relationship. I couldn't believe I was worthy. So, regretfully I destroyed it.
I didnít know how to explain my behavior. After that ill conceived moment. I felt even less worthy and even more unworthy of her forgiveness.
I wanted to apologize, explain and confess to her. I wanted to be sure that I hadn't hurt her badly, and that the maladies, ingrained in my troubled childhood, had not been passed to her in my missguided act. I wanted to make sure she was alright.
Already, I had struggled to approach her with my true feelings. Now I was faced with the need to explain, apologize, and ask for her forgiveness.
My social graces hadn't developed much beyond the non-social skills displayed in my household. Punishment sermed more the norm than forgiveness. So I didn't know how to proceed, in resolving the irredeemable.
I was presented with one more chance at redemption. In a grocery store at checkout, a light drew my attention like a beacon.
As I looked in the direction of the light source, I actually wondered if I was seeing an angel, because the light appeared to be coming from this beautiful girl shrouded in white light, standing just beyond the checkout counters.
I instantly recognized her as that lovely girl, now older. I marveled at the light she emitted. I had never see such a phenomenon. I had read and heard Bible stories describing angelic light, this was the first I've seen the phenomenon.
Years later I learned about auras, which best describes what I saw that day. Her benevolence was literally shining. I was ready to confess all to her in that moment.
But that seemed rude since I was with a current girlfriend at the grocery store, and I didn't want to be a cad to her even though she was the one who spoke against the angel before me.
I left with the girlfriend, and hoped that either another opportunity would occur or that I would approach her at home once I developed a workable level of confidence.
Although, she and I went to different schools, we had years left before graduation. So I was relying on time and the song I would be writing for her.
Then the dice rolled, and I rolled out of the neighborhood, through juvenile facilities then ultimately back to Grandma. I was back where I needed to be. But I left unfinished business behind.
When the dice rolled, Danís life rolled away from that neighborhood, through the mill of the juvenile system. Danny emerged at Grandmaís home to complete the remainder of his childhood. It was that boyís wish come true. And healing had begun.
Yet that boy had some unfinished business in his old neighborhood. And the opportunity for resolution was becoming more remote as time passed.
Dannyís life moved on. School, work, military service, relocation, career, family, life kept him moving. He usually didnít have time to entertain thought of nostalgia or regret.
From time to time, he did wonder if she was okay. He wondered if she was being treated well in her marriage. He wondered if his moment of insensitivity caused any damage in her life.
He wanted to apologize, and to make sure she was well, he wanted to make amends. He wanted to let her know how wonderful she was to him, and how, in her way, she had moved him. He needed closure.
In 1994, Danny was occasionally travelling between Los Angeles and New York on business. Grandma was in a nursing home by then, so Danny arranged to pass through Milwaukee to visit her more often. Danny had been away from home for decades, and was grateful for additional time with Grandma.
During a visit through town, Danny passed the house where that delightful girl lived. Danny had intended one day to contact her through her parents to apologize for his misdeed and settle it in his heart.
Then he saw a ďFor SaleĒ sign in front.
Danny had relied on the idea that her parents would be there as a point of contact in reaching her, the opposite of his childhood concern that they might block him from her. Thatís when Danny jumped out of the car and met her parents for the first time.
They both met him at the front door. Admittedly, they saw him approaching and thought he was interested in their house. After explaining about growing up in the neighborhood, he asked about the family. They were very nice people. He wished I had met them sooner.
And soon the opportunity to bring closure might be gone forever.
Danny expected to be in Milwaukee again soon, so he set about to resolve it through her parents. He would love to have met her, or talk to her on the phone but mid-west sensibilities suggested that likelihood, a near zero.
The explanation seemed more that Dannyís writing skills could convey at the time. There was a shared history of meetings and moments, that meant something., at least to that boy.
There was little time left. Her parents could move any day and that chance to resolve that mistake could soon be gone forever. Then he remembered how as a preteen, he had promised, to himself, to write a song for her to demonstrate what she meant him to him.
Admittedly, the song led to a place of pain and sorrow. But for years Danny had hidden behind his armor of machismo, ego, and fear. It was time to be honest and open, regardless of outcome.
This is what he wrote.
Want to hear it?
explain myself to her parents.
I didn't know. In my household, harshness was the norm. I
By this time, I had already been immersed in a family where my self esteem and worthiness were already challenged at home, even to the point, where my vision had faded into nearsightedness.
So despite the fact, that a beautiful girl stopped by repeatedly, called to him whenever he passed her house, Danny was too afraid to knock on her door.
Afraid not so much because of her, she was wonderful in every way.
but because he felt ill prepared to approach her parents to visit her at her home. He wanted to get to know her without intruding.
He wasnít prepared to explain feelings. That was something generally frowned upon in those days, in his household.
Danny was taught by the religious sources given him, that it was a sin to associate with those of that denomination. He didnít want to go to hell fire. And pursuing her would be that sin, he understood.