The Smartest Woman I Know

Today I got a text from one of my friends asking me when I was going to start sending “the word of the day” texts I used to send to family and friends a few years ago. For the last couple of years, I have been sending a daily uplifting message starting with adjectives that start with the same letter as the day. Not very imaginative, but I like to do it. What I’ve noticed is some people really like them and then there are those that really don’t. I stopped doing the word of the day because some people found them as annoying as the happy “enjoy your day” messages. You never know how people are going to respond. Some people even get a little hostile.

My friend today surprised me when she asked for the word of the day. I don’t really see her that often and she almost never texts me and that’s why this was such a surprise. I mean this is the first time she has texted me in months and the time before that she was answering my text to her asking her if the morning texts woke her up. She worked graveyard and so she would be sleeping by the time I sent the daily encouragements. Anyway, the reason I mention this in the first place is because this friend of mine is one of the smartest women I know. We have never been especially close, but she has always been so intriguing to me. I always tell her that she is the smartest person I know, and part of me thinks that is true. I know for a fact that she doesn’t think so at all and that’s a shame, because I wonder how far she can go if she really knew and believed that she truly is extremely smart and has incredible potential.

I’ve noticed something disturbing since I moved to Kansas. Not a lot of dreamers, I mean a lot of the people I’ve met are so steeped in reality that they are dream crushers to their children. I guess the best example of this I can give is what my dad used to say to me when I was young. “Get a job with benefits” or in other words, “You probably won’t be able to make a living on your imagination or creativity, so just concentrate on just getting by.” The same goes for my friend and actually a lot of people I’ve met here in Kansas and the message is being creative or making a living as a writer, or actor, actually anything that is creative or artistic isn’t real. I have never met so many women and girls that have become CNA’s or CMA’s and it’s not because it’s a calling, it’s because it’s practical and there are a lot of opportunities for employment in this field. More than one person suggested that I get certified. I really can’t think of anything I’d like to do less. I worked in the laundry of a nursing home and I was really happy not to be a CNA. Well, I’d rather die a slow horrible death than be a CNA or telemarketer. As a matter of fact both this friend and her cousin were both CNA’s and two of my roommates were CMA’s. Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. I am saying that these girls were not exactly pushed in that direction, but they were encouraged to do something that they could do and not to try to follow some dream, or do something they are passionate about.

Now I’m not saying this mindset is more prevalent in Kansas than it is in California, what I am saying is that before I left California even my dad was encouraging me to write and the friends I left behind were also encouraged to pursue something they loved instead of something practical. It may be regional, but in this case I think it’s parental.

My friend is very close to her father, but has a, well, for lack of a better word, volatile and sometimes hostile relationship with her mother. We used to have these long conversations late into the night about her life. The things she went through in high school, were things that were completely foreign to me. I couldn’t even imagine doing the things she did. In an effort to make her behave the locks were taken off her door, and I think there was an arrest. I know there was being sent away to something called Job Corp (I think), not quite juvenile hall, but some kind of detention program for teenagers that got in trouble with the law. I know that incidents like this shaped her into the person she is today, but I think what made the most impact in her life was the fact that her mother left her and her brother and went to another state with her boyfriend.

Mom went off with the boyfriend and dad raised them as a single parent for awhile. My friend was really happy with that arrangement and the three of them got along without mom quite nicely. So when her mother came back and her dad took her back, it was like an interloper hijacked her life. I think the worst part though, was when my friend acted out, her father took her mother’s side and I think that was the real betrayal. He still does even to this day and although my friend and her mother have a much better relationship now, the hostility still comes back. I have been able to watch this relationship up close and personal and as someone who knows both parties and both sides, I would have to say this is a real love hate relationship.

These are the things that I think have shaped her life and guided her narrative, and that to me is heartbreaking because this girl (and I only say girl because she is so much younger than me) is so smart, I really think that if she had had the right encouragement or had my mom as her mother, her path would have been so different. Although, you can’t tell that by me. I had the greatest mother in the world and yet I still grew into an extremely insecure woman for most of my life. Let’s face it, I’m still insecure, I just don’t have anything to lose at this late date and I am tired of being a loser.

The reason I’m writing about my friend today is because I admire her so much. She, I think is beautiful and she has three beautiful daughters. She is a single mother and she is very proud of her girls and she should be, they are all very smart. I think she has abysmal taste in men, but so far I only have one friend that has good taste in men, so that’s not unusual. I thought of her today, because when she asked me to send her a word of the day, I was honored that there was something I had that she admired. Then I remembered that she has always supported my writing. (She would not be happy with this article at all). I guess, I just wanted to let you in on the importance of the things we not only say to children, but also be aware of what we imply. I don’t have kids, but I would hope that if I had been a parent, I would have been more likely to get over myself and try to be the supportive, loving and encouraging mother I had to be so that my children would dream and have the courage to chased those dreams and have the confidence in themselves to achieve them.