Damn That Shiny Armor

I was never more myself than when I was six years old—a lively little girl who talked too much, knew too much, spun round and round, and ripped her clothes off to run naked through the streets in comfort. She was still rigid and literal-minded, misunderstanding the world of people around her, but she didn’t notice. She was carefree—free to be herself.

Memories are marked with odd, quirky, stimming behaviors, but they too were just an expression of herself; the way she saw the world, and did things. That little girl knew what she needed, wanted, and what was comforting to her. The young woman I was becoming could not make the same boast. I was rattled and confused.

Adolescence crept up on me, bound and gagged me when I wasn’t looking. Adulthood threatened to choke the life from my soul. Much of my happy stimming behaviors were replaced with mind numbing alcohol. My intelligence was not being fed, and my self-worth began to rely on whose attention I attracted. I was on a downward spiral into the abyss of uncertainty.

I was a weird child, but adults accept even weird children. A weird adult, most especially a woman, no-one accepts—not really.

I married when I was twenty-three years old, and by that time believe me when I tell you I felt OLD, way past the age when I felt my life should have already began and hadn’t yet. While my friends were finishing up college degrees, or beginning their careers and settling into lives of their own, I was still floundering around trying to find something that fit me—but nothing fit me.

When I first met my husband, I was attending a large church in Brooklyn. It was a Tuesday night in May of 1995. I know because I had just finished taking my physical for the New York City Police Department, and had gone directly to the Tuesday night prayer meeting at church. It had been a long day; I had said many many prayers to get me through that physical exam. Everyone should go to church sweaty in a t-shirt and stretchies.

On our way out of the building I saw him, I don’t remember very much else about what was going on around me—damn that shiny armor; here we go again.

He was the complete opposite of me. Dark eyes to contrast my blue eyes, brown hair starkly different than my light blonde, his nose and were lips full, mine pointed and thin, and his olive skin made my marshmallow complexion glow. I don’t know how we met really, I just remember looking at him. He was talking; I wasn’t listening.

When it was time to leave I offered him a ride home in a car that a student of mine lent me for the week. I was working at Arthur Murray Dance Studios in Manhattan at the time, but was getting ready to leave that job because the next police academy class would be beginning in the end of June. Law enforcement, police work, forensics, investigations—that was where my interest really lied, where my heart always laid.

Maybe it was the idea of justice, that naïve belief in the system—good vs. evil; right vs. wrong. That has always been at the core of my being, a passionate morality, a clear distinction between right and wrong; where lines were crisp, and there were no shady grey areas.

He accepted my ride home versus making the long trek from church to his apartment. I am proud to report that he was nothing but a gentleman, and in fact, would you believe he got out of the car, thanked me for the ride, said good-night, and began to walk away from the car! What?

I sat there slightly shell-shocked.

Beep, Beep. B-b-beep. BEEP.

He hadn’t expected me to start honking that horn.