terri-scott-and-i In San Mateo… in my front yard… I wonder if I never moved who I’d be today… ?

At a very early age, I learned how to put up walls. Probably because… when I was younger, I was always the “new kid.” My dad was up and coming. A Mattel Executive, right when they were introducing Barbie and Hot Wheels. He rode the wave  and then in the 70s he seemed to settle into a computer Company called CSC in El Segundo and remained there for several years as one of their Vice Presidents. When I was nine, we finally landed in a Southern CA Community called;  Palos Verdes Peninsula, where other up and coming daddies also brought their families.

Being a Mattel tester kid was fun. During our first move I met Terri. My first best friend, who ended up being the best thing about all of my dad’s transfers,  (& remained my best friend until she died a few years ago) admitted that she was jealous of me. She told me once, “Your dad went on all of these business trips and always brought you something back.” Little did she know, I was jealous of her. Her dad came home every night and she lived in the same town all of her life.

palos-verdes-peninsulaPalos Verdes Peninsula


Maybe it takes a kid with a better backbone to go to four elementary schools before nine, but I never really mastered the art of making friends back then, basically it was just plain awkward, coming in the middle of each school year. And kids can reeeally be mean. In turn, I tried to teach my kids to seek out the underdogs and welcome them into their group. Kids learn how to be bullies at an early age and I feel that if more parents would take the initiative and teach their kids to be more aware of the friendless kids, I think they’d ALL have a head start on becoming amazing adults.

The thing that saved me is that I loved to read and write and I always had Terri.We bought funny stationery and sealing wax and wrote to each other often. And where ever I went, I knew I had a best friend “somewhere.” Who knows if I’d remained across the street, if we’d have stayed best friends or even traveled in the same crowd. But there was something magical for both of us…  To her, I was the girl across the street that traveled all over and for me…  well, she didn’t even know. She just made me not feel so alone in those times of being the new kid and arriving after everyone had already made their friends for that school year.

Looking back as an adult, I see that every circumstance and experience made me into who I am today. And I am grateful for them. But back then it just seemed to suck. I think that is why I only need a few good friends now. And perhaps why I love my blog friends so much. It is a safe place and in my neighborhood here, I rarely have run into a bully. Most show up as the kind of friends I wish I could have found in my elementary school days. And for a magical moment it is just you and me. When I read yours and you read mine.

vallonVallon Drive… Street I grew up on since Junior High…

Today, I wonder who I’d be if I’d always lived across the street from Terri, and we never moved. I wonder if my kids would be the same kids, or if I might have had a totally different life. All I know is that  I over think things. I scrutinize the whys and try to figure out what makes others tick. I know now that as a kid, when I’d feel as if I wanted to disappear, I really wanted to be found. Though, over the years,  where I used to care, I have learned to not trust that many people. I appreciate people who are honest, those who keep their word, are not judgmental and especially are not bullies. When I was younger, I used to wonder how the bullies would turn out. As an adult, I’ve realized that a lot of people just end up being mean adults. Though a few have surprised me and had the depth to change and we have become good friends. I think that knowing where people came from helps and I don’t think that I could ever not accept an apology.

Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace the adult perspective and move past my insecurities. And I am still a work in progress. An “I LOVE LUCY” episode comes to mind where Lucy thinks that everyone has forgotten her birthday, while in reality Ricky and her friends are waiting at a surprise party for her as she goes out and joins “Friends of The Friendless.” As adults we see the irony in the humor of LUCY. And I think I have grown from that little awkward NEW KID into embracing my friendships…

But…. If I do let you in, please don’t break anything.


21 thoughts on “If I Let You In… Please Don’t Break Anything

  1. Diane, this ranks as one of your best blogs I’ve read since we’ve been following each other. I adore your candor and your transparency on “One thing”. It is refreshing and motivating. I take your story to heart. What you’ve been through has made me a better person and a better writer. I grew up in a small farming town of 5-6,000 folks in Southwest Iowa. Before I left home at 19 to join the Air Force, I lived in only two houses. Our first one as a toddler and elementary school kid, and in the house my folks built. Small towns definitely have their advantages, Shenandoah did for me. To be honest, I don’t know how I would have adjusted having moved around as you did. You are blessed to have the friends you’ve made, especially that one special friend. I did not have one. I had many “friends”, but not that special one. You are blessed to have that as part of your story.
    Over these years we’ve been chatting back and forth, I think I have learned lots of cool things about you, and I am grateful for your friendship. I remain for you, I hope, a soft place to fall. Thanks for letting me in. And I promise not to break anything. :>)

    1. Ahhh Steven,
      Just getting ready for work & to jump in the shower & had to stop & read this !!!
      You made my day! What a sweet comment.
      I am blessed to have you as a friend. I just learned that I lost my job as of January & you give me inspiration to get serious about my dream… to finish my book & maybe take a pile of my better poems and create a book of them. Not sure what I’m going to do. You are the first I’ve really shared this with outside of my family. I Can’t say it’s not bittersweet & that I am not a little relieved of having the decision out of my hands. I am on the first day of a seven day stretch, where I do most of the set-up myself. As an event coordinator it is a very physical job & im feeling aches and pains where I’ve never felt before. So to have this kind of reprieve is going to be welcomed if I can use it productivity!
      Thank you for your kind words!

  2. Hi, Di !
    alThanksgiving tomorrow.
    Growing up, I had a friend like yours…, always there, always close, even when miles separated us. We still share the blessing of that friendship after more than 60 years. Hugs! 🙂

  3. Please count me as a friend. I have been so busy the last few weeks that I haven’t posted anything and have month of other bloggers’ posts to erase without reading, because it’s impossible to read them all. But your blog is one that I always enjoy.
    I was the geeky smart kid and moved in the 3rd and 6th grades.
    Hugs and Happy Thanksgiving!!

    1. You ARE counted ALWAYS!!! ❤️ I also haven’t had a lot of time to write or read and feel that some of my favs slip away. But also feel that if people slip away because of my lack of attention, they weren’t really the kind of friends I want. My kind of friends are the ones who don’t give guilt trips and when you do hear from them, you just catch up as if no time in between ever happened! 😘😉
      It’s funny because as I reread my post, I never wanted to appear as whining or complaining about my childhood. I was pretty privileged & blessed. I just think that our childhood and it’s circumstances shape us into who we become and wanted to share my perspective.
      It has helped knowing that others shared similar experiences.
      Happy Thanksgiving my friend. I am grateful for you!!

      1. I didn’t take it that you were whining. I think the school years are hard for most kids. It’s all good.
        I feel so weird about having 297 followers but few if any comment or even like what I write. I would rather have people like you who enjoy reading my posts and let me know at least every once and a while and who understands when I do likewise. You are a friend too. Hugs and 😃

  4. What a tender and beautiful post. I too have walls; I let very few people into my life. Part of that comes from my childhood, part from my illness – just a learned lack of trust. Reflection is good as the years gain on us. I call it wisdom from above. There is a peace on the other side of it; knowing myself gives a good comfort, that settling into my own skin, the ability to smile at the person in the mirror, loving and accepting exactly who I am. It will come to you too. ❤

    1. Susan,
      I love it….”Settling into my own skin” YOU should write a post with that title! It is epic! But yes, I agree we do gain wisdom from our reflection of the years! Especially if we can let go of the bad and just ream the good!
      Thank you for reading and taking the time to share! I need to go out and wander around and read more as well!

  5. Good post. It’s interesting, when I was one, my family moved from Moses Lake, Washington, to Sacramento. I have lived in Sacramento ever since — more than 50 years now. I stayed and went to Sac State, then went to a local law school and have worked in Sacramento ever since. My parents still live in my childhood home. In other words, you moved a lot. I never moved. 😉

    And I agree with you. We are creatures of all of the experiences and decisions and actions of our pasts. The odd thing is that you have your past and I have mine and many of the things you describe about your approach now are similar to my own approach. I, too, taught my kids to look out for the underdogs and not be bullies. Primarily because I was one of those quiet, uncool kids, particularly going into middle and high school. And after my own experience of staying home, I encouraged my kids to go away to college. Really encouraged them. A decision I regret now as both of them are somewhat failing at the idea of maturing and taking responsibility for their lives now that they are “on their own.”

    I also value a small circle of friends and quiet moments with one or two of them at a time rather than large gatherings and noise and hullabaloo. Not sure what it is during my childhood and earlier years, but I have become very much an introvert — give me a longer dinner with a close friend where we talk about anything and everything instead of a loud party any time. That party will cause me to crawl back into my shell and wish to be somewhere else.

    And I never stop analyzing this stuff and trying to figure it all out. 😉

    1. I always love your perspective. I think that we are drawn to those like ourselves. Have you watched the show Bull? I think you’d like it. There was a character in the last episode (a Doctor) who had an epic scene explaining his lack of bedside manner. It resonated! Not that I related. But it made perfect sense to me and I GOT it.
      I always try to take time to read your posts when I have a chance. Your time reading my posts and comments mean a lot.

  6. What a nice story! To answer your basic question, life is sort of like an omelet. If you change the recipe, you’ll change the ultimate product. So, if you’d changed any of the circumstances, you’d somehow be different. Not necessarily any better or any worse, just different. Funny thing is, you’d never know, because you will never know what was on the path not taken. You spoke of bullies, and when I was a kid, mostly in the Junior High School years in Salinas, California, there was a bully of all bullies. He picked on everyone, and I was fearful of him during all my school years. I have one good friend from those years who turned out to be a world-famous football player, and later coached at the University of California. One year he took his entire team on a tour of San Quentin, sort of as an educational exercise to show what can happen to a misguided life. During the tour, he heard someone call his name, and saw this bully from our childhood, standing behind bars. He spent the rest of his life behind those bars. I wonder sometimes how that encounter affected the lives of those young football players. My friend, who is now suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, is trying to write his life’s story, and I’ve been helping him. It’s not an easy task, since his memory from those years is excellent, but present-day memories are fleeting. I tell you this because like your “omelet”, mine keeps changing with every adjustment in the recipe. Keep adding to yours. It’s entertaining!

      1. No, I didn’t know that. Small world! My friend and I have been working on this book for about three years now, and part of the difficulty is that he wants it told in the first person, from the perspective of him speaking from a stage, with a microphone, in his words and using his style of humor. I’ve taken rough drafts from him, and re-written to the point where it is still obvious that it’s him speaking, but with a little more clarity. I think there are about twenty two chapters done now, but with his failing memory I get insufficient feedback from him. We’re trying to get a local typist to come and sit with him to do the editing that remains, but it’s difficult. The window is rapidly closing for him, and it’s sad. He’s a sweet guy, and I talk with him any time he feels like calling. Long-distance ghost writing is not an easy task. I’m happy you appreciate the situation I find myself in. Salinas holds a lot of memories for me, but I left there in 1952 after finishing Jr. High. Was different then. My stepfather used to deliver papers to Steinbeck’s house when he had a paper route!

        1. I feel for you. I have heard my mom’s story for years. How she came down with Polio and her childhood in the 40s. She had her mind set on how she wanted it told and I tried one Christmas to gift her with it. I told it like a story that was narrated in second person. Come to think of it. I think you just hit on something I didn’t think of until now. I think she also wanted to write it in the first person! Anyway, it is hard. I was so disappointed after all my time and binding it, she didn’t react in the way that I thought she would. I can’t remember but if it was wasps or hornets now, but she got upset when I said the wrong thing stung her in the story. A hornet’s nest got knocked down and stung her all over when they were picnicking when she was six. And it was the details like that, that really upset her. Which I get. You want your story told correctly. But I still was disappointed. I could always edit. I also was working on the life’s story of a Pastor at our church who was a Marine during the Vietnam war. His story needs to be told! It is great! He loved my version of his first few chapters but also wanted to change it to first person after I’d talked him into 2nd person. Which was great, but after that, it was hard to set up meetings and if I am going to do it as a gift… I need you to invest some time as well. You know. I think that a writer who can tell someone else’s story is amazing and probably not me or as easy as I thought it might be!
          By the way… We live in Paso. My son lives on Steinbeck’s Vineyard!

          1. It sounds like you’ve made a valiant attempt, both times. I’ve been doing ghostwriting for well over forty years, mostly for people who were in positions of authority,, but with no writing skills. In quite a few instances it was for folks who also spoke with an accent because English was not their first language. They found out I could write, and so it fell to me to try and help. I found that I could take their basic message, and edit for correct grammar and punctuation, except where it would lose the flavor of their own speech patterns. I would abandon all the correctness in favor of maintaining the illusion that it was the other person speaking. It worked well for me in most instances, and would probably work well in this latest instance if I could sit in person for some much needed editing, but distance precludes that. When you spend a lot of time inside someone’s head you get a feel for how they look at things, and an appreciation for the uniqueness of their speech patterns, particularly if they’re Greek, Hispanic, or some other point of origin that lends charm to the terms they use. The things I fail to understand is why some folks, in their later years like your mother, tend to anger easily over some small item that can easily be corrected, such as, “No, dear, they were not bees, they were hornets. Could we have another cup of tea?” I encounter similar reactions to some things from elderly folks, and I can’t fathom it. I’m going to be 79 in a few weeks, and I don’t know why that should be true, unless it’s the realization that the end of the road is near, and that’s what’s causing the anger. I need more insight into this.
            Is that Paso Robles? My Dad worked there on a huge military project early in WWII, before they drafted him. He thought he was immune, having already served four years in the Navy, was married and had three kids. In Paso Robles he fell off a scaffold, landed with his back on the point of a sawhorse, and ruined his back. When they drafted him, he tried to get back in the Navy, but they wouldn’t take him because of the bad back. The Army would though!
            I didn’t know Steinbeck had vineyards. I learn something every day!

  7. I am stunned. I could have written this. My father moved around and I experienced the same angst. It left me teary eyed! Like you I believe the experience strengthen me, eventually. I am grateful for my childhood now, but then . . .I do sometimes wonder . . .

    1. Quiall,
      First (((((HUGS))))) we always feel closer when we can relate!
      I am in this stage of reflection. Why I am who I am, why I react to certain situations, who I trust, who I don’t etc…
      It’s exhausting. LOL.

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