I’m a proud rural single mom with a problem. I wrote to you two decades ago, saying that although “Floyd” and I were still in high school, we had found true love. You told me love is a rare dove that some search the world over for and never find. (I thought you might have been talking about yourself.) Well, Floyd was a bird alright and he took flight. Off and on he’d come back to the nest (my parents basement) ‘til my daddy finally ran him off at gunpoint. (Thank you Second Amendment! ) Money is tight but I have three wonderful children. I don’t know how any God-fearing woman could do it any different. My choices are my own. But that is not why I am writing.
My growing up years were wonderful. Daddy worked maintenance at the Northland Community Vo-Tech in Thief River Falls. He’s gone now, as is the union. I could have basically gone to school for free but that’s another story (thank you Floyd Jr.). Muslims and Mexicans (I’m not prejudice) who don’t speak English and work cheap have all the jobs and I don’t feel safe on campus. Thanks to Obama, men can dress up as women and rape you in a public restroom, and Beyonce is telling me how to vote. (Whew, don’t know where all that came from!)
Here’s my reason for writing. I had a friend “Lynne” in high school. I was homecoming queen and she was in my court. She went right to the Twin Cities after graduation and I stayed up here for my boys. Fast forward twenty years and I run into Lynne at the market! I may have come on a bit strong but I was so excited to see her. I asked her if she is moving home. First she laughs and then looks at me like I had stepped in something (I hadn’t, I checked). She let me know that she and her husband are both doctors in Minneapolis and their kids are in prep school out East. They have purchased some property here, a little getaway from their stressful careers.
I figure even a part-time friend is better than nothing. I kidded her about how she couldn’t get out of here fast enough back in the day. I told her about my oldest starting technical school over in town. I’m babbling and flustered cause she doesn’t volunteer anything about herself or ask about me, not that there’s much to tell. While I’m in the middle of trying to catch her up on the old gang, she’s getting nervous about her frozen food. I suggested she and her hubby come out to visit. After that she ran out to her fancy Lexus.
A week later I drove out to her new lake “cabin” (a three story monster house) to take her some homemade brownies. There was no answer but I thought I heard whispering. I tried friending her on Facebook and no reply.
Should I try again to make contact, let her know how insignificant she made me feel, or just ignore her?
P.S. I left the brownies on my best tray on her porch, and I would like it back.
I have a problem and I remembered your homespun country wisdom when I was a girl. I had written you a turgid, vitriolic condemnation of my hometown dubbed “Gopher Flats.” You advised me to spread my wings and move to the city. Thanks to some government grants, scholarships, and working three jobs I completed med school at the U, where I also met my future husband, Arthur (not his real name). We have a nice home on Lake of the Isles and have two exceptional children.
Arthur teases me about being Homecoming Queen of the Corn. We came back up north (something I vowed never to do) for my uncle’s funeral. Arthur, who grew up in a big city, fell in love with the area! I showed him the lake where a bunch of us used to skinny dip. As a surprise, he bought the lake, or most of it. He would hum the theme from “Green Acres” and threaten to open a practice up here. I asked him if he would be willing to accept chickens as payment as no one here has any money or insurance!
The compromise Arthur and I struck was to use the land to build a holistic retreat center. I can continue my volunteer work with domestic abuse victims and Arthur and his colleagues can use it to conduct seminars. We can do some good and at the same time gain a significant tax advantage. I have agreed to come up one week a month.
Fast forward to this month: the construction is done and I am grocery shopping to pick up items the caterers missed for our housewarming/Hillary fundraiser for eighty people. I am running around the store like a mad woman and who starts hugging me but “Easy Susie” from high school! No tiara but same hairdo, plus 30 pounds. (They must not have pilates in the woods.) She starts yakking like I’m back home to stay and we can be “buds.” She is dangling participles, saying “these ones,” and beginning every sentence with the word “actually.” She goes on about her oldest child. I have no idea how large her brood is, but I am starting to hear banjo music and the sorbet is melting. She invites me out to see her double-wide and bring “the old man.”
On reflection I treated her brusquely. If I am honest, she reminds me of a vulnerable time in my life. I witnessed abuse here as a child and I vowed to get as far away as possible. My professional status and money is a firewall as much as the 300 miles. Susie was sweet but she crashed through all of my defenses and now I cannot face her. Arthur, bless him, still does not understand why I freaked out when he bought the property.
Susie knows where I live and has started leaving unwanted food on my doorstep. She is harassing me on-line about wanting her valuable tray back (it’s silver plate). A lawyer friend has offered to draft something but I think that is overkill. The simple truth is we live in different worlds and have nothing in common. How do I say that nicely?
Dear Mary and Blue,
Mary, you are correct, I think of my readers as my children! I will confess that you have always been two of my favorites and I am very proud of you. I am publishing both of your letters together and hoping you can bridge this gap between you.
Tom H. Cook is a writer on occasion and not a political savant.
Don’t mourn; organize.
—Joe Hill, labor organizer, executed by Utah firing squad 1915