DOUBLE LIFE OF A YOUNG GIRL Part II
Part 5 of 5 in an ongoing series
A MEANS OF ESCAPE
Reading has always been a great escape for me! I become so ‘involved’ in the story and the characters that I cannot wait to pick up where I left off. There is actually excitement and anticipation; a physical response to the material my mind devours. The experience of reading takes me back to my grade school days when, everyday in the afternoon after recess, our wonderful teacher would read aloud as she encouraged us to (for the girls) knit or crochet and, for the boys; lay their heads down on the desktop while the magical words describing the current escapades of the main personalities drifted into our imaginations. Often, I pictured myself as the first person; thrilling to a new experience, fearful of the unknown, heart beating with trepidation at a first encounter or emotions soaring as a victory unfolded into a happy ending. Oh, the stuff of fantasy.
Life had taken quite a complicated and complex turn for this young girl, at age 12. Mother had given birth to a ‘bouncing baby boy’ who, soon, became almost my sole (soul) responsibility. Still working two jobs to keep the family bills paid and a roof over our heads, mother did not have enough time to properly care for her baby. Looking back, I can see how unfortunate and sad a situation this was. At the time, necessity took front place in day to day living. My step father’s sickness continued to keep him in bed and unable to function normally so, the onus fell upon my young shoulders.
GROWING UP QUICKLY
We rise to the occasion! I found a certain joy in this duty; a feeling that I held the happiness and the cohesive “glue” which held our fractured family together. I learned to do so many “adult” things~! Cooking, proper cleaning, ironing, food storage, canning, freezing, bathing my little brother, being his ‘significant other’ and mommy fill-in while making sure his needs were always met. Up early in the morning and awake late into the evening waiting for mother to return from her evening job so I could tell her of the day’s events; those times of trouble and the moments of joy!
Little brother had a few challenging physical needs which added to my obligation of proper care. He had digestive issues which meant that he required a special formula rather than milk from the carton. Of course, mother could not nurse him due to her work schedule and, for some reason, breast feeding was not the norm in those days; viewed as an inconvenience or just plain old fashioned. So, along with cooking, cleaning and caretaking, I was the creator of the magical mixture which my little brother could tolerate. I became very adept and fast at mixing and heating just right…not too hot; not too cold; and, pretty soon, it was just another part of life.
A TALE OF TWO BROTHERS
Just as I was about to enter my teen years, Little Brother was moved into my bedroom so I could hear him at night if there was a problem which included diaper changing. Oh boy! Welcome to the real world, my dear! But, this, too, became commonplace and not a big deal. He, mostly, slept soundly through the night with only the occasional screaming fit which was loud enough to wake the dead! We’d get through it, though, and drift sweetly back into slumber.
About this time, my older brother was around the house less and less. As the tension in our house grew, his presence diminished to the point that I rarely saw him. Out in the early am hours to school, off to friends’ homes after school, away at the dinner table -(that stereotype never really existed, anyway, as we were all off on our own one way or another )- and in late at night; he had become a memory, almost. Once in a while, our paths would cross but few words were spoken and less conversations occurred. We were growing our separate ways. I was more involved in the home life; or what little there was of one, and he found any and all ways to be absent. Something was not right and, soon enough, I’d find out what that was.
MUSIC FREED MY SOUL
Besides reading, I found company and solace in music! Just at a time when it was changing rapidly; when new musical combos were emerging with fantastic messages, amazing instrumental arrangement which included strange and unfamiliar sounds, and completely unique styles! Listening to the words gave me the feeling that others yearned for that magical life; something other than a day to day existence. Possibilities abounded within the creativity and imaginations of so many of the new artists. They were speaking to, singing to me! Personally talking and sharing their experiences, their dreams and desires. I felt I had friends there in music land. Friends who knew exactly what I was going through because, they were going through it, too! Music was my refuge and the stuff of many a long distance love affair. In my mind, of course; and only there.
My last preteen year was spent this way, taking care of the family and living in my imaginings.
TEEN AGED CRUSHES AND AFFAIRS OF THE HEART
I just had to see the Beatles and they were coming to the States soon! Only 55 miles from my house, too. This could be done! I called my best friend, Gail, and asked if she’d like to go. Like I didn’t know. She was wild about the Beatles, too, and her crush was George. No competition! We talked for hours about how wonderful it would be to see the Beatles and to meet them! I called my father, who could do anything in my eyes, and begged him to get two tickets to the Cow Palace in S. San Francisco to see the BEATLES! I never questioned his ability to deliver on this request; it never crossed my mind, that he could do this. Just pick up the phone and ask! This had been the relationship that developed over time as a result of the divorce and subsequent ‘part time parenting.’ Out of guilt, no doubt, my brother and I were the beneficiaries of some pretty incredible ‘stuff,’ and privileges. So, with heart on sleeve and fingers crossed, I waited…..only hoping that the seats he got for us would be perfect! Up front and CLOSE!
I called Gail to tell her the news; that I’d asked my father for Beatles tickets. She came over and we waited by the phone for father to call saying he had them! The clock ticked and daytime turned into dusk. Still, we waited; playing cards, listening to (guess what!) Beatles albums and talking talking talking about our (we were SURE) upcoming adventure. Dusk gave into night and there was no word from father. We began to worry; to fret. What if!?!?!? Oh NO!!! We HAVE to see them!
We were watching late night movies on TV when the phone rang! I RAN to answer it and, sure enough, my father’s voice spoke from the other end.
“Kathryn,” my father said. He always addressed me using my full name. I used to be known as “Kri” until I was almost 13 when I insisted that no one call me by that name again. I thought it was embarrassing and I demanded that I never hear it again. Looking back, I regret that. The nickname came from when I was a baby and my older brother would hear me in the crib, crying. He wasn’t able to articulate enough to say “hey, mom; the baby is crying.’” No, he could only say, “Cry!” “Cry!”..pretty soon, it was “Mama, baby cry!” My mother thought it a great idea to call me Kri; with the ‘exotic’ spelling. It took. Soon, everyone called me that and only that. I LOVE the name now but, sadly, will probably never hear myself spoken to by that moniker.
Anyway, I digress…
“Kathryn, “ my father said. His voice low, slow and matter of fact.
I said, “yes, daddy…….”
He paused (for effect, I’m sure) for a time which seemed like forever!
He replied: "Section PP, Row 13, seats 1 & 2!"
Gail had come over by now and stood there with her mouth open and eyes shining..she knew even before I did! Then, in an instant, “Really!!? Really!? Did you REALLY get them??”
I looked at Gail as I began to say thank you to my father over and over. Tears were welling in both our eyes! We were going to see the Beatles! My father could do anything!
Stay tuned for our first concert and WHAT A SHOW!!! And how the ‘60’s were a panacea, a refuge, a saving grace, a Godsend and so much more in the double life of a young girl.
This offering is part II of "Double Life of a Young Girl" which are parts IV and V of the series beginning with "Double Life of a Little Girl" which comprised parts I - III.
More pictures coming when I can find them!!