The Family Tree of Life … wait, what?

The Family Tree or The Tree of Life … whatever you call it the symbol is deeply embedded in religious and spiritual beliefs. You will find it popular for genealogy and history buffs, elementary school home projects and with artists of all kinds.

The definition is as wildly varied as is each tree. Rarely depicted in exact form or feature. A basic Google search brought me the following definition:

“In this way, the tree of life is a symbol of a fresh start on life, positive energy, good health and a bright future. As a symbol of immortality. A tree grows old, yet it bears seeds that contain its very essence and in this way, the tree becomes immortal. As a symbol of growth and strength.” unknown

I’m sure you have heard the joke about the family tree being full of nuts. It’s generally the absolute truth and is especially for my own. A few weeks before my epic trip up north my mom sent me photo which would make a permanent mark on us all, literally.

My phone was blinking with a message waiting as it often does, only this time it was my mother. Some people might roll their eyes or sigh seeing another text from mom but not me. I love them. I guess after years of not speaking little blinking lights seem to have the positive power to keep all the old darkness away.

This time she sent a photo.

She had found a piece of jewelry online, or I think that was what it was. I have since lost the texts, little did I know such a simple thing would turn into a worthy story. I don’t remember the words but I complimented the piece. I had just purchased something similar while on vacation. I had hung it in my kitchen window days before our conversation. An interesting coincidence. The symbol she shared was a Triple Tree of Life design.

Whether it was she or I who decided it would look amazing as a tattoo I do not recall. I will give her credit as she is the visionary among us.

She decided we should all get this tattoo of 3 trees and set about to sketch it. She proclaimed her tree to be the middle and my sister and I would be to the left and to the right. Her image came to live in a circle and she began to add leaves separating each mature trunk and expansive branches. She asked what leaf shape I preferred and I chose the hearts. My sister would be assigned the scroll shape leaves.

And so it was shared and agreed, we would get these trees symbolically tattooed to our individual bodies to represent the true roots and togetherness despite growing into separate entities.

That would be that except for the fact that now we needed an artist willing to do the same design on separate occasions and for a reasonable price. Oh, and a tiny detail, I happen to live in another state, they each in separate cities. I was going to be in town for a short window so my appointment had to be scheduled in advance.

Like a true champ mom had her appointment first. I wish I could have been there but alas the miles add up and I wouldn’t be there for weeks.

Second my sister got hers, a little larger than ours, much as she does everything. She laughs louder, is a little taller, and has bigger chickens. (It’s not a competition, sis.)

When it was finally my turn I hobbled in, limping on a broken foot with the fam. Mom, Dad and my sweetheart in tow. For the record I didn’t know the foot was broken at the time, not that it would have slowed me down any more than it did. I didn’t need the entire clan for support either but I won’t lie … I did enjoy the entourage.

Mom introduced me to the artist as the daughter from out-of-state and reminded him she promised to bring me in. Now here I was. She was so excited, proud even to be presenting her family to the man with the needle gun.

It’s a special gift she has, to walk into an establishment and become the official honorary host. She takes charge in the mom-est way ever and she does it so well. She shows us off and takes ownership even though we are moms ourselves and tower over her in height.

It might also be a red-head thing. It’s sort of endearing.

I was invited into the artists chair and I happily plopped down, arm up on the rest and head back taking it all in. There was a glass case to the left against the wall with piercing jewelry in it. On top of the case was an entire brown bear skin with yellowed teeth and claws. The bear skin seemed shockingly out-of-place yet so at home there perched menacingly about 8 feet in the air. I didn’t ask about the bear but may next time.

My eyes shifted to a back room which I suspect was the piercing room. I suggested mom get her nose pierced. She didn’t miss a beat and declined. It was hard to rattle her.

We continued to chit-chat with the artist about my current ink, where I got it and that it was unique. My mom, from her seat in the corner, pipes up with a question. Asks what the oldest person the artist had ever tattooed.

Good question.

Guy covered in ink and wearing purple gloves continues to gently press into the skin on my arm and pauses before he shares his reply.

He begins the story with how he had to help an elderly lady into the tattoo chair. A frail, tiny old woman. He might have said she had an oxygen tank or a walker or something, painted the picture of tiny sweet grey hair granny type. He got her into the chair and she advised she wanted a touch up tattoo. Not kidding. She wanted to touch up the roses on her earlobe. He described being scared to break her, being so gentle as to not hurt her.

She was a champ.

I can only hope to be that bad-ass someday.

Mom was intrigued. She asks if it is harder to tattoo old people skin (yep, said that) and she mentions something about being worried she might be too old for tattoos. It is possible I guess she was fishing for a compliment. I don’t know. Forgive me, Ma, if the words are wrong there but this story is as I recall it. Also it happened.

She got good news however you look at it, she wasn’t the oldest he had ever tattooed (he laughed at her for that) and she was in the fairly young range of people who come in for ink. I think she blushed but it was hard to tell from the reflection in the glass case. I was still concentrating on the insanely large teeth on that bear skin.

He went on to say with plenty of moisture skin will be good for tattooing for a long time to come. She is probably sitting somewhere with some Skin So Soft right now. I know I have upped my moisture game. Old lady skin be damned.

It was over quickly and I marveled at how beautiful my new tattoo was. We paid and tipped well and made our way back for the party that afternoon.

We ate and drank and took pictures and ate some more. We showed off our new ink in singles and in triple to anyone willing to smile and nod.

Our tattoos are a symbol of who we are. Joined at the root but each branched to our own. My mother with her leaves, which symbolize for me life and change. My sisters scrolls symbolizing what I see in her as great wisdom, boundless intelligence and strength. Lastly my hearts, which for me represent love unconditional with a notation on some limbs a barren place for broken hearts for which I am grateful to never forget.

*Thank you to my mother for designing such a beautiful tribute to family, forgiveness and bond. Also for feeding us constantly when we visit. Those baked beans though … yum.

*Thank you to my dad who has kept us safe since we were wee girls. That’s what dads do. They also make safety videos so you don’t hurt yourself playing in the yard.

*Thank you to my sister for being ever-present in my life even when we don’t speak. Also for the moonshine that tasted like paint thinner. You’re the best sister I’ve ever had.

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Get contacts they said … it will be easier they said

contact-lenses-picture
A first time wearer of contact lenses tale of terror.

 

This week I made a decision. Well actually I couldn’t make a decision which leads me to this story. I went to get new glasses and I asked if I wanted contacts or glasses. I hesitated and before I knew it I said “both”  which sounds about right for me.

Bacon or sausage? Fries or onion rings? Pink or blue?

 

I always want both. ALWAYS.

This time though it was going to cost me. Financially, mentally and physically.

My original appointment went something like this:

Cover your right eye, what line can you read?

HUH? lines? what lines?

Cover your left eye, what line can you read now?

UH. just write a big letter on poster board, ok? we both know I can’t see these lines.

So clearly I needed to do something more permanent than wearing glasses sometimes. The time has come.
I asked about how long the follow -up appointment might last as I had to be to work that morning.  “45 minutes, usually, depending on how quickly you can learn to put in / take out your new contacts”

Not so bad, right?

This was going to be easy. Little did I know.

I have never worn contacts. I barely wear my glasses, not because I don’t need them but because they are always dirty or I can’t find them. I am a walking disaster.

I arrived to my appointment and sat down to be presented with my new contacts, a mirror and an instructor across from me to teach me the basics. I tried to get the first contact out of the mini liquid bath without success. Never have I ever felt more like a lumbering giant then when I was trying to fish a teeny little floppy bowl out of a mini container with my giant finger.

Lets say it took awhile.

So then I have it. Perched on my finger tip, aimed at my now pried open eyeball. There was no looking back. I aimed straight for my right eye and blinked just before the contact could secure to the destination point.

I didn’t know this at the time. I had no idea. I smiled. I was excited. I looked up at the tech waiting for praise. Look at me! I thought I had it.

Nope.

I looked in the mirror and it had folded in half and was stuck to my eyelashes. Like a clump of glue on Pre-K macaroni art. Right there on my freaking lashes.

So I tried again.

I rinsed the flakes of mascara off, and again pointed the saucer at my eye. After what was probably a dozen failed tries, 1 torn contact and a battered, red eye the unthinkable happened.

That contact popped out and bounced off my face like a dodge ball off fat kids head.

Where that little sucker landed was a mystery for a very uncomfortable few minutes.

I was searching everywea34ca7b7e40099a061ef3572269ea0053afadf123b148bba59e21f7449996cfhere. One eye half closed and watering like I had been in a freak accident and one eye bloodshot and battered but with the contact in place. I looked in my lap, nothing. I checked in the folds of my cardigan, natta. Peaked super classy like in the cleavage of my cami tank. No contact there either.

One of the techs got on all fours while I flailed about like the losing figher in an MMA match, one contact in and faced contorted with embarrassment. I wasn’t sure whether it was appropriate to laugh or to cry. I did neither. I rinsed that rogue lense super well and with determination stuck it in, wiggled it around and called it done.

I was so proud. 

I was also terrified.

The tech said I had to take them out now. At this point I gave up on trying to be lady like. I had had enough torture. If this was a survival plot to save my life surely I would be dead by now.

Taking them out was easy. I did it. I put them in their little case and tightened the caps.

Because I am a coward the next thing I did was the only thing I could.

I put my glasses on and left with my head held low.

Oh the lesbian drama. Secrets of the cheating kind. 

I was casually browsing social media today and realized I hadn’t seen posts from a specifically annoying “friend” lately. I decided to scroll my friends list to see what had changed.

*dramatic pause* It seems I was unfriended! Not only unfriended but blocked. That’s the worst. A title held for stalkers and ex lovers. Not for friends who were once considered “framily” the highest level of friendship. A family bond. 

I want to be super casual and nonchalant about the whole thing. I really do but it bothers me. 

Like really and truly bothers me. 

Here’s why …

A few weeks back a dear friend (at the time) told me something she didn’t want anyone to know about but simply had to confide. Not abnormal at all for girlfriends. 

We all have little secrets. 

Maybe we secretly hate our coworkers voice or maybe we don’t tell our spouses we hate the way they cut their hair. It’s normal. It’s what women do. We gossip and sometimes we are really mean girls. 

However. We never, ever put people we love in terrible positions with potential danger attached. Physical, emotional or mental danger. Never. 

The secret she shared violated almost every taboo. It was in regards to her marriage, her employee / friends marriage and a friendship among the 2 couples. I told her it was a terrifying situation but regardless I would have her back …

 i.e. keep her secret and not be judgemental.

So that’s where my moral compass started spinning. I don’t think dishonesty is ever ok in a marriage.  I don’t think newly wed couples should have a crush outside the marriage.

 Or forever and a year married couples for that matter. If you find yourself swooning and longing for more face time with someone other than your lover you’ve got problems.

It is absolutely not ok to have secret feelings for and continue to be involved with someone outside your union.

 It’s not ok. It’s not acceptable. 

It’s also never acceptable to ask your best friend to allow this to happen and to arrange gatherings which would facilitate time with said crush. 

Who is married. 

To your newlywed employee. 

With that in mind I pulled back from the crazy when it was requested the other couple join us for weekend plans. I felt used. Like a bridge to the land of secrets and lies. 

I declined and canceled all formal plans. I kept my safe distance and continued on with life as it were.

I never mentioned anything about why I didn’t want to entertain the 3rd couple. I didn’t say it was because I couldn’t watch my friend spiral down the rabbit hole with her employees spouse. 

I didn’t say, even though I wanted to, that regardless of love lost and intimacy non existent in her own marriage it didn’t give her or anyone the right to intrude on someone else’s bond.

Someone else’s brand new, only a few months old, fresh ink on the paperwork marriage. 

The same someone else who happened to work for her. 

As an employee. 

Within physical feet, every single day.

I didn’t say anything of this until my friend, my closest thing to family, sent me a scathing note about betrayal of the friendship kind. Accusing me of all people of not communicating and assuming her plans to use me to see more of her crush.

Just … wait. what? I was avoiding her for the same reasons she was accusing me of. She told me I was reflecting. Me? The situation was exactly the opposite. 

She basically told me to get lost. She broke off the friendship in a dramatic and drawn out way only women really can. 

Then she begged me not to tell her wife (our friend as well … framily) and I advised I made a promise and would keep it. I never said anything at all. I could have. I didn’t. 

Now that I am unfriended and blocked … by not only the ex-friend but also the people who were being cheated on (emotionally, which is still cheating. Anything else is purely speculation). Interesting. It’s like a dramatic Lifetime movie made up of all lesbians. 

It makes me wonder why I was unfriended. By people who knew nothing of what was going on right in front of their faces. What had I allegedly done to be blocked? They didn’t know of the situation so they must have been told something untruthful. Likely something really hurtful to get the blocked status. 

Was the truth distorted to cover up the infidelity? Likely. Was I somehow spun into a web of lies without even knowing it? Probably.

Now I ask myself why I am I’m keeping her secret. Isn’t social dictaion that it is free to be told now? While not directly said shouldn’t it be put it into the world to find its way ? 

There may be be no right or wrong. There is certainly no going back. There is no reason for me to break my promises but I don’t have to carry the secret either.

 It has been decided. 

It may never be read but it is written and I can let it go now. 

If I’ve learned nothing else from recent life traumas I’ve learned that there is no point holding onto the things that can not be changed.

 Things that can not be undone.

 To release them is to find peace. 

I sincerly hope that the couples involved each find peace in their own respective relationships. Or at least find the truth and eventually the peace that comes after it. 

Blocking it won’t help. 

The truth is right there in black and white.