Hill in the Park — Chapter 1

IMG_1820My first kiss is another story. I mentioned my friend earlier that just happened to be the only girl my age on our block. She had found herself a boyfriend. I don’t know the details of how they started speaking but she had secured a time to meet him at a large park near our houses. Actually, closer to his house. He was too shy to show up alone and was going to bring a friend and asked that she bring someone along to meet his friend. I said that I could help out.

I think I gave it away at the beginning, but he was my first kiss. Man, could he kiss. We would lie on the grass in the park on the incline of a small hill. The type of small hill that is often created to keep balls from rolling too far out of the play area, for separating children from the parking lot and generally as a visual boundary of the edge of the park. A natural divider. We would lie on this and kiss. He had large soft lips, definitively unique to him. He kissed softly and it was all consuming.

This was also my first experience dealing with a short man. I apologize for the stereotype here, but this is something I experienced first hand. I needed to be forever vigilant not to say anything that in anyway could be considered a comment about height or size of anything. I certainly don’t think any less of Picard because of it.

But I digress; there were only two real events in this relationship. The first was when he presented me with a necklace as a symbol of our coupledom. This was a soft grey tin type of heart necklace that I believe was given away at carnivals. That sort of calibre. I wore it, green skin and all, continuously. I used to keep all of these mementos in a box together but they’ve become lost. I guess with 20 moves, things are going to get lost.

The other event was when we were together in my basement at home. We were in the rec room, which was a small room at the far end of the basement, lying on the couch enjoying real privacy for one of the first, and possibly only, times. My mother walked in.

I know that we were not doing anything wrong. No clothing had been removed. No inappropriate touching, just kissing. I don’t remember what happened or what was said. I know that we had had time to sit up because we could hear her coming down the hall, but it would’ve been obvious what we had been doing the moment before we became vertical.

All I remember was shame. I had been caught doing something wrong. My mother was mad. Of all of the lessons that I had learned from my mother, the one that I knew for sure was that it was never OK to have sex, especially before marriage. I don’t know what happened after this. I can’t even remember where this event occurred in the sequence of things in the relationship. I just remember that he told his friend he preferred some other girl and we fought about that and broke up.

After him there were two other significant relationships. The guy that helped me move when my mother moved out and the high school guy. The high school guy was a musician and he was the coolest guy I knew. He was neighbours with a friend of my sister and through some series of events I was introduced to him. Dating a guy from high school greatly changed my bully reputation from grade four.

I was dating an older guy. I have thick memories of the front of my Levis as we walked, with our arms around each other, down the street. The bell bottom of my jeans would rise up as I took a step and then fall slightly after my foot hit the pavement, completely covering my shoe and dragging so much on the sidewalk that the back of the pant leg was worn away. The jeans were pleasantly faded. Ironically, mine were the most in style because my parents only bought me one pair of jeans. Faded jeans were in fashion and I had the ones that were the most worn out. The fact that I needed to come home and repair them a few nights a week didn’t seem to factor into it very much.

The jeans were so old and worn out that they had started to form holes in the knees and beside the pockets on the bum. I used brown corduroy patches to cover the holes. I had originally bought the material for a jacket that I had made in Home Economics. At this time, grade seven and eight students attended either Home Economics or Shop. It was determined that these additional skills would be required when we became adults. With budget cutbacks and the recognition that this split was sexist, these classes went by the wayside. Shop was kept longer because it was considered more important. It was vital to have these sorts of skills in order to get employment. Who knew that we would soon be raising generations of children that did not know how to cook a proper meal much less do other domestic chores like sewing on a button?

The jacket had a fancy lapel and I accidentally cut the fabric in the wrong direction. I did not have enough material to cut a new lapel so I had to make due. This resulted in a tear that was apparent when the jacket was brand new. I do not know if I wore the jacket very much, but I do know that the chocolate brown corduroy looked fabulous next to the faded denim.

I remember necking, which is what we used to call it, with the high school guy. That amounted to lying on a coach making out with out having sex, more or less. My sister’s friend was on another couch with her fella, a friend of the guy that I was with, in the same room. ‘How far you would go’ was always a topic of discussion, but I had only heard rumours that some others were having sex.

As it turns out this boy had had sex with his previous girlfriend. She later became pregnant by a different guy, but my high school guy felt responsible because he had shown her how good sex could be and took responsibility for her predicament. She said no to his offer of marriage. I don’t know what she decided.

After that was the guy I would date for a few years. He was older and had a car. He was working building another refinery and making good money. Many of the boys left high school early recognizing that the chance to make good money was available and that they should take it.

These were my formative years when it came to romantic relationships. An eclectic mix of a boy I never really knew, a short guy preoccupied with his deficiencies, an artist and a nice guy that just wanted to get married right away.

There is a pair of doves that have come to stand in the rain gutter that I can see from my balcony. They were in the driveway earlier. The dove is sent to remind us of feminine peace and maternal instinct. Cool message when I’m writing about love and relationships.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Keep Reading: Point of No Return

www.wendypowell.ca

New Friends — Chapter 1

IMG_0570I’m in my office again. We’ve had hot sunny weather for most of July and I’m taking this cool, cloudy day as an opportunity to sit at my computer. The rose of sharon is now in full bloom and bits of the lawn are starting to turn green. We’ve had a little rain and that is helping.

So I started my ninth year stripped of everything that had been important to me personally, except for my immediate family. I was trying to create a new life and the place to start was to go and meet the nine year old girl down the street. I found out what her address was and I walked down the street, entered by the side gate and walked across the back yard to the back door.

My mother had been quite adamant that you never go to someone’s front door. I am still not completely sure what the genesis of this was or why it was considered polite. There is no way to access the back door of my current home and it would be quite disconcerting to see someone that I did not know come across my backyard. It would mean that they had gone down the side of the house, opened the gate, come up onto the deck and then knocked on the door.

I’ve searched for this message in movies and books and the only reference I have ever found to this particular form of etiquette is for delivery people, domestic help and repair technicians, so I’m not sure which one of those she thought I was but it was certainly a lesson that she made sure that I knew.

I knocked on the backdoor and a woman came to answer. I explained to her that I was new on the block and that my family had just bought the house on the corner. I told her that I had heard that she had a daughter that was my age and I had come to introduce myself. She excused herself and a moment later her daughter came to the back door. I re-explained the situation and we got to know each other. She was more or less my best friend for many years.

I say more or less because we really were never as close as I have been with other people that I have called friends. We spent hours and hours together playing hopscotch, reading teen magazines, playing baseball and gossiping about our futures and the other girls.

When I finally went to school in September it was not how I had imagined it would be at all. The grade four class that I was put into had been kept intact for at least the two prior years. Someone had decided that they would split all of the children of a certain age into two groups and just keep them in those groups. This meant that I was the only one that had not been with the group for a long time. I was an outsider. My new neighbour was in my class but clearly had alliances with the other classmates and it became obvious that how she treated me at school would be dictated by how the others found me. This was certainly not the reception that I had anticipated.

In addition to that, I was a physical threat to the established bully. When I say bully here, I mean the female bully. When I was going to public school, the boys and the girls were kept separate in the schoolyard. At the first school, this was accomplished by a line that was drawn down the centre of the schoolyard and patrolled by a teacher. My new school was designed in the shaped of a “T” with the top of the “T” facing the street and the bottom of the “T” acting as a physical divider between the ‘boys’ side of the school yard and the ‘girls’ side.

I was a large child. Not only was I taller than average, being a full three inches taller than the average height for the women of my generation, but I was also athletic. At a very young age I had a strong ability to swim. By five years of age my mother had put me into races and by the time I was nine I was a proud member of an exclusive swimming club that you could only join by invitation. I swam extensively. The training was during the week and the swim meets were on the weekends. We would travel all over southern Ontario to go to city swim meets.

So when I arrived at the new school I caused a power imbalance. I don’t know what prompted the girl to challenge me to a fight, but in hind site I suspect that she was under a lot of pressure to prove that she could still ‘take’ all of the girls in fourth grade. She repeatedly challenged me to a fight and kept trying to entice me. This was simply not part of my nature. I had no desire to fight her, nothing to prove and I found fighting revolting. Ironically, through our shared interest and ability in sports we became fairly good friends, but that would not happen for a few years.

She was relentless. Every day at lunch, after school and at recess she would try to egg me on to fight her. Her insistence became stronger and stronger. At some point, she started to shove me in the shoulder and that crossed some sort of personal boundary for me and I defended myself. I caught her hand with my hand, interlocking all of our fingers giving me a very tight grip on her. Then I twisted her arm in a way that was so painful that she fell. Through the forces of physics, I broke her arm. I remember being called into the office and having a few of the girls telling various sides of the story. I remember her mother shouting at the principal. I do not remember my parents at all.

They may have come to the school. They may not have. I do not recall them being involved. I do not recall what their response was and I do not remember any conversations about the event. This became the most prominent thing about our new home. My parents had vanished.

Keep Reading: The Only Thing Constant is Change

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

 www.wendypowell.ca

Hill in the Park — Chapter 1

IMG_1820My first kiss is another story. I mentioned my friend earlier that just happened to be the only girl my age on our block. She had found herself a boyfriend. I don’t know the details of how they started speaking but she had secured a time to meet him at a large park near our houses. Actually, closer to his house. He was too shy to show up alone and was going to bring a friend and asked that she bring someone along to meet his friend. I said that I could help out.

I think I gave it away at the beginning, but he was my first kiss. Man, could he kiss. We would lie on the grass in the park on the incline of a small hill. The type of small hill that is often created to keep balls from rolling too far out of the play area, for separating children from the parking lot and generally as a visual boundary of the edge of the park. A natural divider. We would lie on this and kiss. He had large soft lips, definitively unique to him. He kissed softly and it was all consuming.

This was also my first experience dealing with a short man. I apologize for the stereotype here, but this is something I experienced first hand. I needed to be forever vigilant not to say anything that in anyway could be considered a comment about height or size of anything. I certainly don’t think any less of Picard because of it.

But I digress; there were only two real events in this relationship. The first was when he presented me with a necklace as a symbol of our coupledom. This was a soft grey tin type of heart necklace that I believe was given away at carnivals. That sort of calibre. I wore it, green skin and all, continuously. I used to keep all of these mementos in a box together but they’ve become lost. I guess with 20 moves, things are going to get lost.

The other event was when we were together in my basement at home. We were in the rec room, which was a small room at the far end of the basement, lying on the couch enjoying real privacy for one of the first, and possibly only, times. My mother walked in.

I know that we were not doing anything wrong. No clothing had been removed. No inappropriate touching, just kissing. I don’t remember what happened or what was said. I know that we had had time to sit up because we could hear her coming down the hall, but it would’ve been obvious what we had been doing the moment before we became vertical.

All I remember was shame. I had been caught doing something wrong. My mother was mad. Of all of the lessons that I had learned from my mother, the one that I knew for sure was that it was never OK to have sex, especially before marriage. I don’t know what happened after this. I can’t even remember where this event occurred in the sequence of things in the relationship. I just remember that he told his friend he preferred some other girl and we fought about that and broke up.

After him there were two other significant relationships. The guy that helped me move when my mother moved out and the high school guy. The high school guy was a musician and he was the coolest guy I knew. He was neighbours with a friend of my sister and through some series of events I was introduced to him. Dating a guy from high school greatly changed my bully reputation from grade four.

I was dating an older guy. I have thick memories of the front of my Levis as we walked, with our arms around each other, down the street. The bell bottom of my jeans would rise up as I took a step and then fall slightly after my foot hit the pavement, completely covering my shoe and dragging so much on the sidewalk that the back of the pant leg was worn away. The jeans were pleasantly faded. Ironically, mine were the most in style because my parents only bought me one pair of jeans. Faded jeans were in fashion and I had the ones that were the most worn out. The fact that I needed to come home and repair them a few nights a week didn’t seem to factor into it very much.

The jeans were so old and worn out that they had started to form holes in the knees and beside the pockets on the bum. I used brown corduroy patches to cover the holes. I had originally bought the material for a jacket that I had made in Home Economics. At this time, grade seven and eight students attended either Home Economics or Shop. It was determined that these additional skills would be required when we became adults. With budget cutbacks and the recognition that this split was sexist, these classes went by the wayside. Shop was kept longer because it was considered more important. It was vital to have these sorts of skills in order to get employment. Who knew that we would soon be raising generations of children that did not know how to cook a proper meal much less do other domestic chores like sewing on a button?

The jacket had a fancy lapel and I accidentally cut the fabric in the wrong direction. I did not have enough material to cut a new lapel so I had to make due. This resulted in a tear that was apparent when the jacket was brand new. I do not know if I wore the jacket very much, but I do know that the chocolate brown corduroy looked fabulous next to the faded denim.

I remember necking, which is what we used to call it, with the high school guy. That amounted to lying on a coach making out with out having sex, more or less. My sister’s friend was on another couch with her fella, a friend of the guy that I was with, in the same room. ‘How far you would go’ was always a topic of discussion, but I had only heard rumours that some others were having sex.

As it turns out this boy had had sex with his previous girlfriend. She later became pregnant by a different guy, but my high school guy felt responsible because he had shown her how good sex could be and took responsibility for her predicament. She said no to his offer of marriage. I don’t know what she decided.

After that was the guy I would date for a few years. He was older and had a car. He was working building another refinery and making good money. Many of the boys left high school early recognizing that the chance to make good money was available and that they should take it.

These were my formative years when it came to romantic relationships. An eclectic mix of a boy I never really knew, a short guy preoccupied with his deficiencies, an artist and a nice guy that just wanted to get married right away.

There is a pair of doves that have come to stand in the rain gutter that I can see from my balcony. They were in the driveway earlier. The dove is sent to remind us of feminine peace and maternal instinct. Cool message when I’m writing about love and relationships.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Keep Reading: Point of No Return

www.wendypowell.ca

New Friends — Chapter 1

IMG_0570I’m in my office again. We’ve had hot sunny weather for most of July and I’m taking this cool, cloudy day as an opportunity to sit at my computer. The rose of sharon is now in full bloom and bits of the lawn are starting to turn green. We’ve had a little rain and that is helping.

So I started my ninth year stripped of everything that had been important to me personally, except for my immediate family. I was trying to create a new life and the place to start was to go and meet the nine year old girl down the street. I found out what her address was and I walked down the street, entered by the side gate and walked across the back yard to the back door.

My mother had been quite adamant that you never go to someone’s front door. I am still not completely sure what the genesis of this was or why it was considered polite. There is no way to access the back door of my current home and it would be quite disconcerting to see someone that I did not know come across my backyard. It would mean that they had gone down the side of the house, opened the gate, come up onto the deck and then knocked on the door.

I’ve searched for this message in movies and books and the only reference I have ever found to this particular form of etiquette is for delivery people, domestic help and repair technicians, so I’m not sure which one of those she thought I was but it was certainly a lesson that she made sure that I knew.

I knocked on the backdoor and a woman came to answer. I explained to her that I was new on the block and that my family had just bought the house on the corner. I told her that I had heard that she had a daughter that was my age and I had come to introduce myself. She excused herself and a moment later her daughter came to the back door. I re-explained the situation and we got to know each other. She was more or less my best friend for many years.

I say more or less because we really were never as close as I have been with other people that I have called friends. We spent hours and hours together playing hopscotch, reading teen magazines, playing baseball and gossiping about our futures and the other girls.

When I finally went to school in September it was not how I had imagined it would be at all. The grade four class that I was put into had been kept intact for at least the two prior years. Someone had decided that they would split all of the children of a certain age into two groups and just keep them in those groups. This meant that I was the only one that had not been with the group for a long time. I was an outsider. My new neighbour was in my class but clearly had alliances with the other classmates and it became obvious that how she treated me at school would be dictated by how the others found me. This was certainly not the reception that I had anticipated.

In addition to that, I was a physical threat to the established bully. When I say bully here, I mean the female bully. When I was going to public school, the boys and the girls were kept separate in the schoolyard. At the first school, this was accomplished by a line that was drawn down the centre of the schoolyard and patrolled by a teacher. My new school was designed in the shaped of a “T” with the top of the “T” facing the street and the bottom of the “T” acting as a physical divider between the ‘boys’ side of the school yard and the ‘girls’ side.

I was a large child. Not only was I taller than average, being a full three inches taller than the average height for the women of my generation, but I was also athletic. At a very young age I had a strong ability to swim. By five years of age my mother had put me into races and by the time I was nine I was a proud member of an exclusive swimming club that you could only join by invitation. I swam extensively. The training was during the week and the swim meets were on the weekends. We would travel all over southern Ontario to go to city swim meets.

So when I arrived at the new school I caused a power imbalance. I don’t know what prompted the girl to challenge me to a fight, but in hind site I suspect that she was under a lot of pressure to prove that she could still ‘take’ all of the girls in fourth grade. She repeatedly challenged me to a fight and kept trying to entice me. This was simply not part of my nature. I had no desire to fight her, nothing to prove and I found fighting revolting. Ironically, through our shared interest and ability in sports we became fairly good friends, but that would not happen for a few years.

She was relentless. Every day at lunch, after school and at recess she would try to egg me on to fight her. Her insistence became stronger and stronger. At some point, she started to shove me in the shoulder and that crossed some sort of personal boundary for me and I defended myself. I caught her hand with my hand, interlocking all of our fingers giving me a very tight grip on her. Then I twisted her arm in a way that was so painful that she fell. Through the forces of physics, I broke her arm. I remember being called into the office and having a few of the girls telling various sides of the story. I remember her mother shouting at the principal. I do not remember my parents at all.

They may have come to the school. They may not have. I do not recall them being involved. I do not recall what their response was and I do not remember any conversations about the event. This became the most prominent thing about our new home. My parents had vanished.

Keep Reading: The Only Thing Constant is Change

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

 www.wendypowell.ca

New Friends — Chapter 1

IMG_0570I’m in my office again. We’ve had hot sunny weather for most of July and I’m taking this cool, cloudy day as an opportunity to sit at my computer. The rose of sharon is now in full bloom and bits of the lawn are starting to turn green. We’ve had a little rain and that is helping.

So I started my ninth year stripped of everything that had been important to me personally, except for my immediate family. I was trying to create a new life and the place to start was to go and meet the nine year old girl down the street. I found out what her address was and I walked down the street, entered by the side gate and walked across the back yard to the back door.

My mother had been quite adamant that you never go to someone’s front door. I am still not completely sure what the genesis of this was or why it was considered polite. There is no way to access the back door of my current home and it would be quite disconcerting to see someone that I did not know come across my backyard. It would mean that they had gone down the side of the house, opened the gate, come up onto the deck and then knocked on the door.

I’ve searched for this message in movies and books and the only reference I have ever found to this particular form of etiquette is for delivery people, domestic help and repair technicians, so I’m not sure which one of those she thought I was but it was certainly a lesson that she made sure that I knew.

I knocked on the backdoor and a woman came to answer. I explained to her that I was new on the block and that my family had just bought the house on the corner. I told her that I had heard that she had a daughter that was my age and I had come to introduce myself. She excused herself and a moment later her daughter came to the back door. I re-explained the situation and we got to know each other. She was more or less my best friend for many years.

I say more or less because we really were never as close as I have been with other people that I have called friends. We spent hours and hours together playing hopscotch, reading teen magazines, playing baseball and gossiping about our futures and the other girls.

When I finally went to school in September it was not how I had imagined it would be at all. The grade four class that I was put into had been kept intact for at least the two prior years. Someone had decided that they would split all of the children of a certain age into two groups and just keep them in those groups. This meant that I was the only one that had not been with the group for a long time. I was an outsider. My new neighbour was in my class but clearly had alliances with the other classmates and it became obvious that how she treated me at school would be dictated by how the others found me. This was certainly not the reception that I had anticipated.

In addition to that, I was a physical threat to the established bully. When I say bully here, I mean the female bully. When I was going to public school, the boys and the girls were kept separate in the schoolyard. At the first school, this was accomplished by a line that was drawn down the centre of the schoolyard and patrolled by a teacher. My new school was designed in the shaped of a “T” with the top of the “T” facing the street and the bottom of the “T” acting as a physical divider between the ‘boys’ side of the school yard and the ‘girls’ side.

I was a large child. Not only was I taller than average, being a full three inches taller than the average height for the women of my generation, but I was also athletic. At a very young age I had a strong ability to swim. By five years of age my mother had put me into races and by the time I was nine I was a proud member of an exclusive swimming club that you could only join by invitation. I swam extensively. The training was during the week and the swim meets were on the weekends. We would travel all over southern Ontario to go to city swim meets.

So when I arrived at the new school I caused a power imbalance. I don’t know what prompted the girl to challenge me to a fight, but in hind sight I suspect that she was under a lot of pressure to prove that she could still ‘take’ all of the girls in fourth grade. She repeatedly challenged me to a fight and kept trying to entice me. This was simply not part of my nature. I had no desire to fight her, nothing to prove and I found fighting revolting. Ironically, through our shared interest and ability in sports we became fairly good friends, but that would not happen for a few years.

She was relentless. Every day at lunch, after school and at recess she would try to egg me on to fight her. Her insistence became stronger and stronger. At some point, she started to shove me in the shoulder and that crossed some sort of personal boundary for me and I defended myself. I caught her hand with my hand, interlocking all of our fingers giving me a very tight grip on her. Then I twisted her arm in a way that was so painful that she fell. Through the forces of physics, I broke her arm. I remember being called into the office and having a few of the girls telling various sides of the story. I remember her mother shouting at the principal. I do not remember my parents at all.

They may have come to the school. They may not have. I do not recall them being involved. I do not recall what their response was and I do not remember any conversations about the event. This became the most prominent thing about our new home. My parents had vanished.

Keep Reading:  The Only Thing Constant is Change

Read the entire book.
Read the entire book, now available

 www.wendypowell.ca

Hill in the Park — Chapter 1

IMG_1820My first kiss is another story. I mentioned my friend earlier that just happened to be the only girl my age on our block. She had found herself a boyfriend. I don’t know the details of how they started speaking but she had secured a time to meet him at a large park near our houses. Actually, closer to his house. He was too shy to show up alone and was going to bring a friend and asked that she bring someone along to meet his friend. I said that I could help out.

I think I gave it away at the beginning, but he was my first kiss. Man, could he kiss. We would lie on the grass in the park on the incline of a small hill. The type of small hill that is often created to keep balls from rolling too far out of the play area, for separating children from the parking lot and generally as a visual boundary of the edge of the park. A natural divider. We would lie on this and kiss. He had large soft lips, definitively unique to him. He kissed softly and it was all consuming.

This was also my first experience dealing with a short man. I apologize for the stereotype here, but this is something I experienced first hand. I needed to be forever vigilant not to say anything that in anyway could be considered a comment about height or size of anything. I certainly don’t think any less of Picard because of it.

But I digress; there were only two real events in this relationship. The first was when he presented me with a necklace as a symbol of our coupledom. This was a soft grey tin type of heart necklace that I believe was given away at carnivals. That sort of calibre. I wore it, green skin and all, continuously. I used to keep all of these mementos in a box together but they’ve become lost. I guess with 20 moves, things are going to get lost.

The other event was when we were together in my basement at home. We were in the rec room, which was a small room at the far end of the basement, lying on the couch enjoying real privacy for one of the first, and possibly only, times. My mother walked in.

I know that we were not doing anything wrong. No clothing had been removed. No inappropriate touching, just kissing. I don’t remember what happened or what was said. I know that we had had time to sit up because we could hear her coming down the hall, but it would’ve been obvious what we had been doing the moment before we became vertical.

All I remember was shame. I had been caught doing something wrong. My mother was mad. Of all of the lessons that I had learned from my mother, the one that I knew for sure was that it was never OK to have sex, especially before marriage. I don’t know what happened after this. I can’t even remember where this event occurred in the sequence of things in the relationship. I just remember that he told his friend he preferred some other girl and we fought about that and broke up.

After him there were two other significant relationships. The guy that helped me move when my mother moved out and the high school guy. The high school guy was a musician and he was the coolest guy I knew. He was neighbours with a friend of my sister and through some series of events I was introduced to him. Dating a guy from high school greatly changed my bully reputation from grade four.

I was dating an older guy. I have thick memories of the front of my Levis as we walked, with our arms around each other, down the street. The bell bottom of my jeans would rise up as I took a step and then fall slightly after my foot hit the pavement, completely covering my shoe and dragging so much on the sidewalk that the back of the pant leg was worn away. The jeans were pleasantly faded. Ironically, mine were the most in style because my parents only bought me one pair of jeans. Faded jeans were in fashion and I had the ones that were the most worn out. The fact that I needed to come home and repair them a few nights a week didn’t seem to factor into it very much.

The jeans were so old and worn out that they had started to form holes in the knees and beside the pockets on the bum. I used brown corduroy patches to cover the holes. I had originally bought the material for a jacket that I had made in Home Economics. At this time, grade seven and eight students attended either Home Economics or Shop. It was determined that these additional skills would be required when we became adults. With budget cutbacks and the recognition that this split was sexist, these classes went by the wayside. Shop was kept longer because it was considered more important. It was vital to have these sorts of skills in order to get employment. Who knew that we would soon be raising generations of children that did not know how to cook a proper meal much less do other domestic chores like sewing on a button?

The jacket had a fancy lapel and I accidentally cut the fabric in the wrong direction. I did not have enough material to cut a new lapel so I had to make due. This resulted in a tear that was apparent when the jacket was brand new. I do not know if I wore the jacket very much, but I do know that the chocolate brown corduroy looked fabulous next to the faded denim.

I remember necking, which is what we used to call it, with the high school guy. That amounted to lying on a coach making out with out having sex, more or less. My sister’s friend was on another couch with her fella, a friend of the guy that I was with, in the same room. ‘How far you would go’ was always a topic of discussion, but I had only heard rumours that some others were having sex.

As it turns out this boy had had sex with his previous girlfriend. She later became pregnant by a different guy, but my high school guy felt responsible because he had shown her how good sex could be and took responsibility for her predicament. She said no to his offer of marriage. I don’t know what she decided.

After that was the guy I would date for a few years. He was older and had a car. He was working building another refinery and making good money. Many of the boys left high school early recognizing that the chance to make good money was available and that they should take it.

These were my formative years when it came to romantic relationships. An eclectic mix of a boy I never really knew, a short guy preoccupied with his deficiencies, an artist and a nice guy that just wanted to get married right away.

There is a pair of doves that have come to stand in the rain gutter that I can see from my balcony. They were in the driveway earlier. The dove is sent to remind us of feminine peace and maternal instinct. Cool message when I’m writing about love and relationships.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Keep Reading: Point of No Return

www.wendypowell.ca

New Friends — Chapter 1

IMG_0570I’m in my office again. We’ve had hot sunny weather for most of July and I’m taking this cool, cloudy day as an opportunity to sit at my computer. The rose of sharon is now in full bloom and bits of the lawn are starting to turn green. We’ve had a little rain and that is helping.

So I started my ninth year stripped of everything that had been important to me personally, except for my immediate family. I was trying to create a new life and the place to start was to go and meet the nine year old girl down the street. I found out what her address was and I walked down the street, entered by the side gate and walked across the back yard to the back door.

My mother had been quite adamant that you never go to someone’s front door. I am still not completely sure what the genesis of this was or why it was considered polite. There is no way to access the back door of my current home and it would be quite disconcerting to see someone that I did not know come across my backyard. It would mean that they had gone down the side of the house, opened the gate, come up onto the deck and then knocked on the door.

I’ve searched for this message in movies and books and the only reference I have ever found to this particular form of etiquette is for delivery people, domestic help and repair technicians, so I’m not sure which one of those she thought I was but it was certainly a lesson that she made sure that I knew.

I knocked on the backdoor and a woman came to answer. I explained to her that I was new on the block and that my family had just bought the house on the corner. I told her that I had heard that she had a daughter that was my age and I had come to introduce myself. She excused herself and a moment later her daughter came to the back door. I re-explained the situation and we got to know each other. She was more or less my best friend for many years.

I say more or less because we really were never as close as I have been with other people that I have called friends. We spent hours and hours together playing hopscotch, reading teen magazines, playing baseball and gossiping about our futures and the other girls.

When I finally went to school in September it was not how I had imagined it would be at all. The grade four class that I was put into had been kept intact for at least the two prior years. Someone had decided that they would split all of the children of a certain age into two groups and just keep them in those groups. This meant that I was the only one that had not been with the group for a long time. I was an outsider. My new neighbour was in my class but clearly had alliances with the other classmates and it became obvious that how she treated me at school would be dictated by how the others found me. This was certainly not the reception that I had anticipated.

In addition to that, I was a physical threat to the established bully. When I say bully here, I mean the female bully. When I was going to public school, the boys and the girls were kept separate in the schoolyard. At the first school, this was accomplished by a line that was drawn down the centre of the schoolyard and patrolled by a teacher. My new school was designed in the shaped of a “T” with the top of the “T” facing the street and the bottom of the “T” acting as a physical divider between the ‘boys’ side of the school yard and the ‘girls’ side.

I was a large child. Not only was I taller than average, being a full three inches taller than the average height for the women of my generation, but I was also athletic. At a very young age I had a strong ability to swim. By five years of age my mother had put me into races and by the time I was nine I was a proud member of an exclusive swimming club that you could only join by invitation. I swam extensively. The training was during the week and the swim meets were on the weekends. We would travel all over southern Ontario to go to city swim meets.

So when I arrived at the new school I caused a power imbalance. I don’t know what prompted the girl to challenge me to a fight, but in hind site I suspect that she was under a lot of pressure to prove that she could still ‘take’ all of the girls in fourth grade. She repeatedly challenged me to a fight and kept trying to entice me. This was simply not part of my nature. I had no desire to fight her, nothing to prove and I found fighting revolting. Ironically, through our shared interest and ability in sports we became fairly good friends, but that would not happen for a few years.

She was relentless. Every day at lunch, after school and at recess she would try to egg me on to fight her. Her insistence became stronger and stronger. At some point, she started to shove me in the shoulder and that crossed some sort of personal boundary for me and I defended myself. I caught her hand with my hand, interlocking all of our fingers giving me a very tight grip on her. Then I twisted her arm in a way that was so painful that she fell. Through the forces of physics, I broke her arm. I remember being called into the office and having a few of the girls telling various sides of the story. I remember her mother shouting at the principal. I do not remember my parents at all.

They may have come to the school. They may not have. I do not recall them being involved. I do not recall what their response was and I do not remember any conversations about the event. This became the most prominent thing about our new home. My parents had vanished.

Keep Reading: The Only Thing Constant is Change

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

 www.wendypowell.ca