What secret shall I divulge? A good one is the non-secret that I am an ornithophobe. I am afraid of birds.
I blame the television show, “Little House on the Prairie”. In an episode, Laura finds a bird’s nest and gets to watch baby birds hatch. I thought this was a good idea. So the next day, I climbed a tree and found a nest. The mother bird found me and pecked and scratched the top of my head repeatedly. As a mother, I understand. As a child and adult, I am still terrified.
The degrees of ornithophobia vary greatly. I have a fairly mild form. I can talk about birds and watch birds in movies and on television. I can walk outside and not give much attention to them. It is the sound of flapping wings and the close proximity of them that gets to me. If I’m sitting and bird perches near me then my heart races and I have to move immediately.
My friends and family always make a point of telling me their “close encounters with birds” stories. A few days, ago my husband texted me with “You wouldn’t have been able to get into the car today because a bird was on top!” He was correct. I wouldn’t have been able to get into the car with a bird on top.
I tell my girls that mommy is just being silly and refrain from pulling them away from our neighbor’s parakeet’s cage. After all, one ornithophobe per family unit is enough.
Or How My Career as a Hand Model Ended
After my mother passed away in the Spring of 1990, my family struggled with our new roles in our new lives. Caregiver had not been assigned. I was the first to understand that this much needed role had been overlooked.
My younger brother and I were home alone. We were arguing about something and I got so mad that I tried to punch him with my right hand. I missed. Towering over me he laughed and hurled another insult at me. To catch him off guard, I punched him with my left hand. This time, I connected. It was a hard punch to the sternum. So why was I the one writhing on the floor in pain? Apparently, I didn’t know how to curl a fist and you shouldn’t punch someone in the sternum who is wearing football pads.
The pain that was shooting through my hand was unbearable. I sat there crying and screaming. My brother didn’t know what to do. We called my dad at work. His response was that he was at work and he would take care of it when he got home and that we shouldn’t be fighting anyway. My brother pulled out the big medical book that was on the shelf. We iced my hand and waited.
My father took me to the hospital at about midnight. He worked the 3pm to 11pm shift. They told me that my pinkie finger was broken and basically there was nothing that could be done. I had a little metal splint put on. To this day, the tip of my pinkie on my left hand points downward.
I always tell my brother that if he ever makes any money, I will sue him for ending my possible career as a hand model. I tell my dad that was so not the way mom would have handled the situation.
My bent little finger is my reminder that people love differently not less…just differently.
I moved into the house I call my childhood home during the Winter before I started 1st Grade. It was a ranch style house in a new subdivision of Jackson, MS called Presidential Hills. All the streets were named after Presidents and we lived on Warren Harding Drive. (Warren Harding was the 29th President infamous for the Teapot Dome Scandal.)
The houses looked much the same with neat front yards, obligatory pine trees and boxwood shrubs. Rarely, did we ever play in the front yard. We always played in the backyard and knew how to turn the hinge on neighbor’s back gates to get in and see if anyone wanted to come out with us.
Family parked in our driveway and entered the house through the utility room. The utility room was a small room that housed the washer and dryer, floor freezer and my father’s Fingerhut purchases. The man was obsessed with appliances. He would use them for a while and then they would go to the utility room, where he stored them for later use. The “later use” moment never came.
Everyone else parked on the street and entered the house through the sitting room / dining room. This room was always, always immaculate. It was furnished with a beautiful sofa and settee, large hand-blown glass lamps, formal dining room table and china cabinet. It always smelled like potpourri. Even though my father would tell my mom that she shouldn’t be so particular about that room and that a house was supposed to lived in; you could tell how proud how he was when there was a get-together at the house and someone would say that the room was so pretty. “Oh yea, Toni did all this. She keeps this room looking nice.” Of course we never allowed in the room except for parties, Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas morning.
My favorite room was my room. It was me unadulterated. Pink walls! White four poster bed and white desk. My bedspread was floral with pink and green flowers. I grew up in that room and didn’t ever grow out of it. If my husband would agree, my bedroom would still be pink.
My dad and my step-mom moved out the house about 6 years ago. When we travel to Mississippi now, I always think that I’m going to see my dad because home is in old subdivision of Jackson.
My sophomore year at Tulane University in New Orleans, my dad bought me a brand new Geo Tracker – blue with removable white top. It was the most wonderful vehicle ever invented.
During the Spring of 1992, my girlfriends and I drove the Tracker to Atlanta for the unofficial Black College Spring Break called Freak-nic. I look at the photos of that weekend and look at those girls – short skirts and shades on Peachtree Street. Wow, would our kids recognize us? Would they think it possible that their moms were parked in the middle of a major thoroughfare standing in a convertible talking to boys in the next car? All the things we warn them against now.
The Tracker took my little group everywhere for the next 4 years. Cruising around Lake Pontchartrain. Driving to Texas for football and basketball games. Escaping hurricanes. And of course the trips to Hot-Lanta!
In the end, the little Tracker had to be sold. It was beaten beyond my financial ability to repair it. And someone had stolen the vinyl covering that served as the back window! Mold had begun to grow in the back seat. The sell was probably my first grown up decision. I wanted to hold on to the Tracker forever, but it was time to let go.