Someday I think I’ll be me. Not Mike’s wife. Not a mother. Neither a
grandmother nor a daughter. I will, if only for one short day, be simply
Anne. I’ll feel free. I’ll dance without inhibition, I’ll go to
the circus and sit on the grass. I’ll laugh at the clowns, feel the
excitement of circus thrills, and forget that I grew up only to discover
that clowns cry, thrills don’t last, and surprises aren’t always
Today I ask my best friend Caitlin to help me through an unexpected
surprise. One that makes my gut feel like I’m at the circus and on a
“Come on, Caitlin. It just makes sense. If we get an early appointment
and go together we’ll have the rest of the day to ourselves. Think
about it. Eight whole hours just for us. I’ll even pop for lunch.”
Slowly she brings her long tanned legs down from the porch railing and
leans toward me, bringing the calico-cushioned rocker to a slow stop.
This spirited friend of mine sees right through me. Shamelessly
bordering on bribery, I try to convince her of the importance of
mammograms, simply because this is something I do not want to do alone.
She rolls her Irish green eyes upward, red curls bouncing as she shakes
her head. Sitting back quietly she studies me, trying to see if I’m
hiding anything. As if I could get anything past her.
“You mean to tell me that you want me to undergo excruciating pain,
endure total embarrassment, and add to my financial burden with the only
compensation being a free lunch? You’re not that good a friend,
“Chicken. What’s with this excruciating pain? When did you get so
“About the same time you got so pushy. When did you become such a
health nut anyway?”
“I’m not a nut. I just believe in taking care of myself. And if I
don’t go now I don’t know when I’ll have the chance. Tomorrow is
my last day of vacation. Besides, I really want a day out and Mike
won’t be jealous if I’m with you. Please?”
“Okay, okay. I’ll go already. But if that technician makes one smart
remark about my, uh, body structure I’m gone. Got it?”
Caitlin is more than a bit touchy about the size of her breasts. I
pooh-pooh her distress as nonsense, saying she makes way too much out of
a mound of flesh. Besides, in my opinion there’s nothing wrong with
small, perky breasts. No matter what our size or shape, women’s bodies
definitely have an edge over men’s. I admit I take great delight in my
own body. I’m proud of my long blonde hair and blue eyes. I work hard
to stay trim; eating healthy and walking my dog, Elmo, twice a day.
At times I feel extremely powerful using my sexuality as a weapon
against Mike’s anger. Just last week, sex helped soothe a tense
moment. A properly placed hand accompanying a properly placed kiss can
sometimes diffuse an otherwise abusive situation.
I Remember 1965
I remember praying, as only a teenager can. “Please, make me be pretty
this time. Please. Please. Please.” Standing in front of the
full-length mirror in my bedroom, I covered my eyes while softly
praying, more to myself than to God.
While my eyes were still closed, I knew it could happen. After all, I
was a blue-eyed blonde. And while not tall and lanky, I wasn’t short
and stocky either. My eyes were expressive and I’d spent plenty of
time over the last few months flirting in front of this mirror. I
thought I was finally getting the hang of it.
Honey-colored hair fell past my shoulders and down my back, with just
the hint of a wave reaching toward my waist. I thought that by Christmas
it might make it. So with my mind’s eye, I saw a pretty blue-eyed
blonde, thin and sexy and ready for a real life in the real world.
Opening my eyes, I stared straight into the face of reality. The pretty,
sophisticated girl of my prayers and dreams was really a painfully shy
child whose big blue eyes remained downcast. My long blonde hair
didn’t know the first thing about behaving. It hung limply tucked
behind my protruding ears. My body had the right pieces in the right
places, but my thrift store clothes hid the curves I was too shy to show
My shoulders slumped as I attempted to shrink even from myself. My nose
was too big, my chest too small, my hair too limp, my eyes too tearful
to look anymore. My self-esteem was nonexistent, my sense of self-worth
lower than an earthworm, and faith in myself was not yet formed. I was a
As a senior in high school my grades were good enough to keep me on the
honor roll each quarter. I worked part time at a local bakery, arriving
on time and going about my work quietly, rarely talking with anyone. It
seemed safer that way. I was always afraid of making a fool of myself by
saying something stupid.
It seemed everything I did was motivated by fear. Even the things I
didn’t do remained undone because of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of
punishment. Fear of ridicule. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of
We all drag something with us from childhood. I was naïve enough to
bring my fears. Given a chance to redo it, I’d leave all the fears
behind and find some self-confidence to drag with me instead. But I was
young and inexperienced. I did the best I could.
Excerpted from "Dancing through Minefields" by Carol Feller. Copyright © 2018 by Carol Feller. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.