Fear of Big Feet

Cinderella, DisneyCan you think back to the first book you ever read?

Here I am, my 4-year-old self, on the green-carpeted floor, the sun pouring over me like water over a flower. I coo with pleasure as the sunlight highlights the pictures on my skinny “Golden” book with pages ruffled from turning them so many times.

The spine is broken, but I don’t care. I caress the cover of a beautiful lady with golden hair, a pink bow-shaped mouth, and a soft blue dress that fits tightly on her body until it opens wide and flows down to her toes.

I squeal the title out loud. Continue reading

In My Little Town

“A fellow of mediocre talent will remain a mediocrity, whether he travels or not; but one of superior talent (which without impiety I cannot deny that I possess) will go to seed if he always remains in the same place.” Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Pitman, New Jersey, small town, growing up, childhood

Main Street, Pitman (Jesse Bair/South Jersey Times)

I couldn’t wait to leave my little town. Pitman, NJ. Where everyone knew your name, your business (and your parents’), where you lived, how you lived, and who your best friends were, or were not.

By my junior year in high school, I began collecting college brochures from the guidance counselor’s office: North Carolina, Vermont, Florida, even Ohio sounded romantic and far away from southern New Jersey.But my parents encouraged me to look at colleges less than five hours away. So I shortened the list to New York,Pitman, NJ, small town, family, friends Pennsylvania, Northern New Jersey (a completely different state from Southern NJ), and Virginia.

I left home for college at 18 and never looked back, so happy to be far from the claustrophobic closeness of the Wilsons and the Robbins, the Stephens and the Jones, the Murphys and the Johnsons.

Strangers! I wanted to find strangers in a strange land.

Forty years later, I smile at how far I’ve come.

Tiburon, CA, small town, friends, family

Main Street, Tiburon

I live, purposely, in a small town where everyone knows your name. My heart leaps when I enter the post office and run into John, a colleague and one of my writing students, and then Shirley, wife of a Board member from work.

After acquiring my stamps from Keith, our friendly postal clerk, I run across the street to the grocery store and wave to Dave, our one-time realtor, while listening to Phil, head of the seafood department, explain the merits of Pacific Snapper over Alaskan Cod.

I blush at the checkout counter when Derek, our accountant, points out the fresh cupcakes in my basket, and then, when racing out the door, I pet Molly, our former neighbor’s 10-year-old lab,

On my way to get gas, I note the three traffic lights in our small town while passing the elementary school that my 30-something childrenTiburon, California, small town, family, friends attended oh so many years ago. Oh, look at the lupine bush by the playground that I’ve watched grow up from a tiny sapling when it was planted along the Bay years ago.

Ah yes, I’ve come so far from the mediocrity of living in my small childhood town.

I’ve grown up to learn that the “ordinariness” that sometimes signals mediocrity can actually be another word for comfort, friendship, security, and love.

Mozart – perhaps you got it all wrong.

What’s in the Middle of your Middle Name?

http://www.etsy.com/market/distressed_letter?ref=l2Many middle names arrive in the middle of confusion, compromise, and even confrontation.

Take my middle name.

Well, for the first 30 years of my life, you couldn’t have taken it, because I didn’t have any.

When I became sentient enough to realize that unlike my friends (Beverly Lynn Pooling, Julie Glory Wyckoff, Barbara Ann Bancroft) I had no three-word-title to deliver on the right hand side of my school papers.

Just plain

Pamela Wight.

When I was 6, I asked my parents what my middle name was. They did that “parent look” over my head, the look that said “don’t say anything,” and just replied, “You don’t have one.”

When I was 9 I asked my parents why I didn’t have a middle name. They did that parent look again, but this time I stomped my foot and demanded an answer.

My mom explained, “when you were born, your dad and I couldn’t agree on what your middle name should be.”

Dad added, with love in his eyes, “so we agreed to give you NO middle name.”

Boy, that made me mad. So glad the argument turned out well for them, I thought, but what about me? I explained these feelings to them, as only a 9-year-old can, something like, “BUT I WANT A MIDDLE NAME NOOOOOOWWWWW.” So they calmed me with compromise.

“Pammy,” my dad said earnestly, “when you’re old enough, you can decide your own middle name.”

Wow, that stopped my protest immediately. Really? My middle name could be anything?

My mom, seeing how much pleasure this idea gave me, said over my head and into my father’s ear, “let’s see what she wants it to be right now. Why wait?”

So they asked me what I’d choose for my middle name. I thought, and thought, and thought carefully for over a week.

Pamela Thankful

Pamela Thankful

middle name, alphabet, T, thankful

Then I came back to them and announced that my name was now Pamela Thankful Wight.

Uh oh. That parental look across my head occurred again. After much “discussion” (me crying and they pleading), we came to a compromise. When I turned 15, I could create a middle name for myself, no matter what it was, and that would be that.

Well, six years later, I approached my parents on my birthday and said, “Okay, I’m ready.”

They didn’t know what I was talking about! They had forgotten about my middle name.

I certainly had not.

I choose the perfect name. I heard it sung, over and over again, by the Beatles. The girl they sang about was beautiful and romantic and desired.

That would be me.

“My middle name,” I declared, “is Michelle.”

Pamela Michelle

Pamela Michelle

Well, you’d think I’d said, “Ungrateful,” or “Freaky,” or “Drugs & Alcohol,” because my parents hated the name “Michelle.”

“You only like it because of the Beatles. Wait a few more years, then decide,” my dad said.

“I will never NOT like the name Michelle. Pamela Michelle Wight. It’s perfect!” I argued over and over, but to no avail.

So for the next 15 years, I had no middle name. Not for all my college applications, nor employment applications, nor even on my first mortgage statement.

I was Pamela “Nameless” Wight.

Until I met my guy who became my forever mine.

And guess one of the first things he did, after he declared undying love for me?

He gave me a middle name.

middle name, alphabet, S

He began calling me Pamela S. Wight.

As soon as we began to co-exist (and then legally marry), he filled out our rental apps, taxes, insurance forms, school release forms for our kids, etc., etc. with his name and mine: Pamela S. Wight.

Only one slight problem.

To this day, he has still never told me what the “S” stands for.