Ramadan
Lately I’ve been doing some massive liquidation of my various belongings (as well as the belongings that my ex-husband left behind when he walked out on me and he never reclaimed them) and I’ve been trying to sell them at various places for some cold hard cash. Last Saturday I took a whole bunch of CD’s in a box, shoebox, and three plastic bags over to a nearby used CD shop where I made $80. I immediately spent some of it on food while I was budgeting $30 for an upcoming appointment with my therapist. After that I decided to do something fun. I also wanted to go alone rather than invite any friends to come with me because I needed to clear my head. I just wanted to be alone for a while while having fun on my own. So I went to this year’s Artscape in Baltimore. I don’t go every year, just on those years when the heat and humidity are relatively low. (A number of years ago I made the mistake of going to Artscape when the temperature was in the upper 90’s with high humidity to match and I lasted about an hour or an hour-and-a-half before I decided to leave because the weather took a toll on me physically.) The admission was free so I went for it.

While I was walking around and enjoying myself, I heard someone call out my first name. I didn’t recognize the woman calling out my name and my name is a relatively common one so I assumed that she was calling out someone else who had the same first name as I. So I turned around to walk in another direction when that woman caught up with me and asked me if I was this person and she uttered my first and my original maiden name (which I had recently reverted back to after my divorce). I said “Yes” even though I didn’t recognize that woman until she said her name.

This person was the younger sister of a girl who was the neighborhood bully who used to make my life a living hell at times. And that younger sister was no prize either. I was there on a neighborhood playground when we were all elementary school students and she told her bullying older sister that I had beaten her up when it was an absolute lie. I had never laid a hand on her. Of course her older sister didn’t believe me and we ended up in a fight.

But then this unexpected encounter from hell at Artscape got worse when she called over another woman she was with and that person turned out to be a former friend who lived next door to my family and who alternated between being my best friend then not having anything to do with me for a while. She also acted jealous of me at times (mainly because I was an only child and she was one of six children) and every time she did something that was better than I did, she never hesitated to rub my nose in it.

Things really came to a head in the eighth grade and we were in the same class together. There were some girls who somehow thought I was “retarded”. Instead of sticking up for me, this so-called friend started to tell these girls some embarrassing secrets about me from my past, which only fanned the flames. This friend even joined in on the taunting. I completely ended that friendship. Until recently, I used to consider her to be among the worst friends I’ve ever had. (That distinction now belongs to a friend with severe mental health problems who had an affair with my husband, she got engaged to him just 8 months after he walked out on me while he was still legally married to me, and married him just 3 months after our divorce was final.)

So here I am at Artscape and I found myself facing the bully’s younger sister and the backstabbing so-called “friend”. They both mentioned how I haven’t changed at all. One of them asked how I was doing and I said that I was looking for work and I only went to Artscape because it is free. (Which actually is the truth even though there was more to my current situation than what I told them.) I didn’t mention my divorce or how my husband left me for a mentally ill friend of ours because I knew that those two women would later snicker and gossip about my misfortune and I really don’t want to provide them with any kind of entertainment like that. I basically clammed up after I mentioned that I was looking for work and went to Artscape because it was free. They left soon afterwards and I was relieved.

The facilitator at my weekly support group meeting had given a talk at one of the meetings a few weeks ago about how you don’t need to necessarily tell everyone about your divorce and she was right about that. I didn’t feel obligated to tell those two women all about my divorce and I don’t regret it.

I didn’t bother to ask those two women how they were doing because I don’t care about either of them. While I blew the chance at finding out whatever happened to the bullying older sister, I really wasn’t in the mood to appear friendly towards either one of them. And, to be honest, I don’t give a damn about whatever happened to the bully either.

It was people like those two women that prompted me to leave Glen Burnie as soon as I possibly could. I had to move 30 miles away so I wouldn’t face all those who made my childhood and teen years a living hell. I also wanted a chance at a normal adulthood, which would’ve been impossible had I stayed in Glen Burnie because of the people who looked down on me when I was younger continued to look at me like I was inferior all through high school and my freshman year at a community college.

In the years since I left Glen Burnie, I only went back there to visit my parents. After my father died, I continued to visit my mother until she became too ill to live in her home all by herself and she now lives in Odenton with other relatives. The last time I went back to Glen Burnie was in March and that was because my mother was in the hospital (University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center) with both the flu and a urinary tract infection.

If I ever go to Artscape again, I’m going to wear a wig so I won’t have anyone from Glen Burnie recognize me again.

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