GROWING UP IN THE MIDDLE – Marilyn Armstrong

I was both the emotional and intellectual center of my family. I was also the middle child and the communicator. Everybody talked to me which is WHY I knew everything while everyone told me to never tell anyone about what I knew. I kept secrets I probably should not have kept for many years, to my own and others’ detriment.

I think that was why my mother was stricter with me than my brother or sister. She thought I was going to blow up. I DID blow up, actually. At my father and eventually at her for telling me her personal truth, then acting against it.

Sex, for example. She believed in freedom. Really she did. She told me many times, with one exception. She never mentioned the exception which was, it turned out, me. Everything was fine, just not for her daughter. Since I didn’t know her beliefs excluded me. I thought she really meant it and joyfully told her the truth. The results were not what I expected.

I’m not into the “exception” thing. You believe it or you don’t. The rest is hypocrisy and for a long time, I resented it. Eventually, I recognized she had made a lot of intellectual leaps in her life, from a Yiddish-speaking Orthodox family on the Lower East Side through WWI to becoming a Communist and eventually, a socialist and from Orthodoxy to atheism.

She found some leaps harder than others. Sex was one of them. She thought of sex or the lack thereof as a matter of honor. I didn’t get to see a lot of honor at home or for that matter, anywhere else. I still don’t … except among my friends. Maybe that’s why they are my friends.

Uxbridge is notoriously full of angry, antagonistic people. I don’t know WHY this is true because right next door in all the adjacent towns, people are a lot more normal. But this town is very weird that way. it’s why most of the churches in Uxbridge are closed. Nobody could agree on anything. It’s also why no one bothers to vote in town elections. The candidates are always the same people or children or uncles or cousins of the people we didn’t like 10 years ago. I remember talking to the nurse in my Doctor’s office and I said, “The people in Uxbridge are jerks.”

She said, “Yes, I know. I live there too.”

So in other places, people are helping others. In this town, if Owen didn’t live here, we could be dead for a month and no one would stop by to see if we were breathing. Not all places are towns where people get together. I wish I lived in one of those towns.  This one is a good example of what’s wrong with the world.

13 thoughts on “GROWING UP IN THE MIDDLE – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. Actually the ‘good’ towns (as such) are turning on one another. Not the TOWN itself, but the people in those allegedly good towns. Up here in tiny-ville U.S.A. where everyone knows each other and mostly have been (up til now) on nodding terms at least, there has begun to be actual violence over groceries and goods, and people are crossing the street to avoid even meeting or passing someone else (which I understand. To a degree). Tempers are short and frayed. Anxiety is making everyone grumpy. I just hope the feel of this place recovers once they presumably best the virus. I’m not betting on that though. Once the trend gets started….but that may be pessimistic on my part too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, Uxbridge was ALWAYS like this. I guess the rest of the world is catching up. Not a good thing, but although everyone says that hard times pull us together, I’m not seeing that. What I’m seeing is exactly the opposite.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We lived in a small town where everyone knew everyone and their business. It was annoying but there were those there that were helpful. We live in a much bigger place now, and the neighbours here, look out for one another. It’s quite amazing really.

    Liked by 1 person

      • So much for the fable about small town life.

        “I love those dear hearts and gentle people..who live in my home town……..because those dear hearts and gentle people….will never let you down”. Remember that one?


  3. At my new town we moved to, the situation is radically different. In a good way. Everywhere there are posters of help offered, and we also still can go and do our own shopping. If course we only go out when we have to, but everyone is helpful. I’m very sorry to hear that it’s not the case in Uxbridge. It sounded like a lovely, caring place….. this is quite depressing news.
    Stay strong, stay safe – this is the new Goodbye!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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