The Umbrella – by Jennifer Boberg

There was once an umbrella. 

It had been made for a purpose. 

It was well made and a pleasing color blue. It had been made and labeled to promote a brand.

It had been given away as a promotion.

It was used for a short time and then it joined other umbrellas in a closet.

It was forgotten about and used infrequently.

Often overlooked and passed over while other umbrellas were chosen.

Yet, it was not completely forgotten.

It moved with its owner from one house to another and was not abandoned. 

Then one day a call came.

An umbrella was requested.

Compact, Sturdy, and Reliable were the qualities that were needed.

The umbrella was chosen! 

It was as if it had a new lease on life. 

It was happy to be needed. 

It was happy to be useful. 

It provided protection and shelter from the rain & sun. 

The umbrella had a purpose.

The umbrella was happy!

You are like the umbrella.

You have been made for a purpose. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

You are well made and have been made to promote a brand. Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being  you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 2 Corinthians 5:20a We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors,

Sometimes we are useful for a time and then retire ourselves.  This maybe because we feel overworked, or underappreciated but we remove ourselves and hide away. Closeting ourselves from our lives and the world.  [But in Christ]  Luke 8:17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

You may feel forgotten.  But God says in… Isaiah 49:16a See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands! 

You are never abandoned, no matter how many places you go.  Over and over the Lord says, “I, the Lord, made you, and I will not forget you.” Isaiah 44:21 (paraphrased)

When you recognize and hear God’s voice you will know you got his call.  John 10: 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 

You are chosen!  Ephesians 1:4-5 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will

It is like having a new lease on life! 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

You want to be needed and useful. James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds Jesus appeared to Saul in Acts 26:16a and said, “Now get up and stand upon your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant. You have a purpose!

Have a purpose and be happy. Philippians 4:13 says, I can do all things through Christ strengthens me. (NKJV)

The Umbrella can also remind you that God is with you in times of trouble.

Isaiah 4:6 It will be shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm & rain.

Mark 4:39 says, He (Jesus) got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be Still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

When the winds and storms of life buffet you about. Pray that Jesus will rebuke the storm inside of you just as he did the wind and waves.  So that you may know peace that surpasses all understanding and you can know that God is with you. Psalm 46:10a He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.

All Biblical reference from the Holy Bible, New International Version, (NIV) Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblicia, Inc. unless otherwise noted.

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Epiphany

Wikipedia defines Epiphany as: An epiphany (from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphanea, “manifestation, striking appearance”) is an experience of a sudden and striking realization. Generally the term is used to describe scientific breakthrough, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective. Epiphanies are studied by psychologists[1][2] and other scholars, particularly those attempting to study the process of innovation.[3][4][5].

The Epiphany of Jesus Christ is the Manifestation of God as Man in the World. Emmanuel, God with us. It is most often associated with the coming of the Wise Men to the child Jesus. However there were many epiphanies before the Wise Men and God used different methods to enlighten those whom he was revealed.

He was revealed through prophesy:

(Here are a few)

Isaiah 7:14 (virgin birth) Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin
will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Micah 5:2 (Born in Bethlehem) “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are
small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler
over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Genesis 49:10 (From the Tribe of Judah) “The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and
the obedience of the nations shall be his.”
Jeremiah 23:5 (Descendant of David) “’The days are coming,’ declares the LORD,
‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and
do what is just and right in the land.’”

He was revealed to Mary by an Angel

He was revealed to Joseph by an Angel in a dream

He was revealed to the Shepards by 1st 1 then a host of angels

He was revealed to the Wise Men by a star

He was revealed to Herod by the wise men and the prophets

He was revealed to Simeon by his faith

He was revealed to the on lookers of Jesus’s Baptism, by the Holy Spirit in the shape of a Dove and by God’s voice from the heavens.

There are many, many more examples in the Bible, where an Epiphany of understanding of who Jesus is happens.

Epiphanies happen even today, as the Holy Spirit moves in our hearts, bringing us to faith, as the Word of God opens our hearts and eyes. I pray if you have not already had an Epiphany as to who Jesus is, that you do in God’s timing.

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The Accused and the Accusor

Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do? Maybe you got blamed for something a sibling did. Maybe you got blamed for something that wasn’t your fault.

The Gym Uniform

I had a friend who was poor. She was so poor her family could not afford the gym uniform that was required for gym class at school. Everyday she would get in trouble for failing to be prepared for class. This was back in the day when you could get a whooping at school from the teacher. The teacher did not know why she did not have a gym uniform. The teacher never asked. It was not my friend’s fault as a minor. Yet she was the one who was accused and suffered the consequences. Finally the school learned why my friend did not have a gym uniform and stopped punishing her for it.

Let the Crime fit the Punishment

When I was a teenager, my mother used to accuse me of drinkning, getting high and running around with boys, when I wasn;t. She didn’t believe me. She believed all teenagers were trouble. She used to try to impose restrictions on me based on non-existant behavior. I got sick of getting in trouble for things I wasn’t doing…so I started doing them. I know…backwards logic. I was a teenager. It made sense to me at the time. If I was going to get in trouble anyway, I might as well have fun!

False Accusations 1

Another friend owned a business. He was accused of selling drugs out of his business. It wasn’t true. The city tried to shut him down. It took thousands of dollars to defend himself and clear him and his business’s name. It still had a negative impact on his business and he lost money. He was kicked out of a business association based on the accusations. They treated him as guilty until proven innocent.

False Accusations 2

I had a job where I would have interns reporting to me. They were still in school and part of the work they did counted toward their class. I had an intern that was screwing off and not doing any of the assignments. She was expecting me to just sign off on everyhting even if she did not do the work. I called her out and refused to sign off. She got pissed off and accussed me of unethical behavior that caused me to loose my job. After the investigation, it was proven that the accusation was false, but my employer had already made a decision adn would not reverse it. I didn’t want to go back after that anyway, but still it sucked!

Accusations that were not believed

As a woman who came of age in the 80’s, I am of a generation of women who regularly heard to “Don’t make such a big deal about a thing”, :You should just play along or play nice”, ” Stop over reacting.” or my personal favorite…”Are you sure?” In other words. Don’t trust your gut. Your feelings don’t count. Your opinion doesn’t matter. The number one time I heard these responses was usually when someone made me uncomfortable physically. An older man maybe a relative who made sexual comments about my buddying breasts during puberty. The boss who let the customer sexually harass me because it was good for business. Or the boss who just wanted to get you in bed. So even if you spoke up and made an accusation, it was often, not believed or dismissed.

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Why I Hate Housecleaning or The Never Ending Story

I hate housecleaning! It is drudgery. It is boring. It hurts my back. It is both necessary and pointless. Obviously for basic hygienics, we must clean our homes. For basic sanity we must maintain a semblance of order. However, the process of keeping up with those two goals is a pain in the you-know-what.

A plethora of books have been written on how to clean and organize a home. There are numerous website, blogs, Pintrest boards, recipe for home cleaning products, Hack videos in existence to help us get the job done. There are entire industries devoted to making and selling us products to clean our home and keep them organized, and yet…I find it most difficult to actually accomplish.

Let’s take into consideration I am an Adult Female with ADHD. I start a task, I stop a task. I move onto a new task. I get bored. I get distracted. I procrastinate. I focus on the wrong task for the moment. Then add to the mix that I work 2 jobs. 1 Full-time and 1 part-time, amounting to 55-60 hours a week. I am tired. The last thing I want to do with what free time I have is to clean my house. That being said I do have built in some good routines that help be stay on top of the basics.

I work from home for my full-time job. My home office is on the 2nd floor, a spare bedroom in our townhouse. After clocking in a starting my day in the morning, I usually head downstairs around 9:30 to get my coffee, breakfast, feed the animals and wash the dishes from the day before. If there is dirty laundry upstairs, I bring it down with me. I apply a principle I learned in the hospitality industry…”Full-hands-in, Full-hands-out”. When I go down for my 2nd cup of coffee, I start a load of laundry. Several times a week I collect the garbage from all the rooms and take it out. Same goes for the recycling. This is where my attention comes to and end.

I have hardwood floors. I have 3 pets, 2 cats and a dog. There is fur. Lots of fur. EVERYWHERE! on my floors, on my FURniture, on my bedding. Yes, my animals are allowed on the furniture. Not going to change that. I know it’s really time to clean my floors when the fur balls look like tumbleweeds in the desert, rolling along the floor. Here is where the true example of The Never Ending Story comes in. (BTW, I loved that Movie).

I had the daytime off this last Friday. I knew I NEEDED to clean my house, so rather than making plans I was determined to get it done. I even got a head start Thursday night and swept and mopped the kitchen floor. Friday I slept late, because I could and then I went downstairs and discovered my dog had pooped on the kitchen floor and also vomited. Great! So I go about cleaning that all up and rewash the kitchen floor, do the dishes, clean the counters and finally have breakfast.

I move everything in the dining room and sweep and wash the dining room floors, dust and put a new table cloth on the table. I vacuum the couch and ottoman cushions, throw the couch pillows and blankets in the laundry room, move the couch and retrieve 15 lost cat toys, sweep and mop half of the living room floor. This has taken me most of the day, due to the massive quantities of fur. I then prepare for my 2nd job and go to work.

I worked until 3am and slept until 11:30 on Saturday. I woke up to find my wonderful husband had gone to Home Depot to buy flowers and vegetable plants for our garden, along with soil and planters. He was busily working away while I slept. Now our townhouse is the 2nd in a row of 4 with a front garden and concrete patio and a back concrete area and small strip of dirt. To get from the front to the back you can walk around the building, or you can walk through the living room, dining room and kitchen to go from the front door to the back door. Guess which method my husband chose?

You probably guessed that we walked through. If you did you are right! With his taking the path of least resistance, he had also created a path of muddy foot prints from one door to the other over the floors I had just cleaned. I could have gotten mad at him, but I knew what he was doing was out of love, so I didn’t say a thing, I just swept the floors a couple of times during the day.

Later we were having lunch in the living room and watching TV, while he took a break from gardening. Meanwhile the mail carrier came down our courtyard to deliver the mail. Every day when the mail carrier comes it is a big deal in our house as our dog Daisy, a 65 pound Blue Healer/American Bull Dog mix, gets VERY excited. She barks and barks and walks across the love seat in front of the bay window watching the mail carrier go from townhouse to townhouse waiting for our mailbox to make it’s distinctive clinking sound as the mail gets dropped off. We go through this every day. Saturday my husband decided he must curb her barking and yelled at her to stop.

Instead of stopping her barking she got scared because her beloved Daddy was yelling at her and she peed. She peed on the love seat cushion. This caused my husband to yell louder. She jumped down of the love seat and ran near the table in the dining room and peed on the floor. So now I had to clean a couch cushion AND wash the dining room floor again! SIGH! It never ends.

I get to working, I sop up the pee on the floor and re wash the floor. I sop up the pee on the cushion then Oxi-clean the cushion. I finished washing the cushion. I turned to my husband and asked him if the shop-vac was at home? He said, ” and got it for me so I could extract the excess water from the cushion. I sucked out the excess moisture from the cushion and then took it outside to a sunny spot to dry.

I know I will now have to empty the shop-vac. I go to open it and as I do soot comes out. Not a little bit of soot but a pile of it. The soot was from our old furnace. My husband had vacuumed out of our furnace back in January, when our furnace was acting up and tried to kill us. (That’s another story). He had never emptied the shop-vac after using it back then. I dump the remaining soot into the trash, hand him the base and ask him to rinse it out with the hose outside.

The filter of the shop-vac is rubber banded to the top motor part of the vacuum. It is clogged with soot. I take that off subsequently getting more soot all over the kitchen floor. Now I don’t know if you have ever tried to clean up soot. But I can tell you it is difficult. It is fine, it is dense and when you try to sweep it or wipe it up it tends to spread. It is black and made of carbon, it stains your fingers. It stains porous surfaces. It is an over all pain in the behind. But I get it cleaned up and once again mop my kitchen floor.

After finally rewashing floors and allowing the love seat cushion to dry, I vacuum the love seat , move it from the wall, sweep under and mop the rest of the living room floor and reassemble everything. The gardens look pretty. I still have to clean the foyer, stairs, landing, bathroom, hallway and bedroom floors. I made some progress taking 1 step forward two steps back…but man -o-man I HATE CLEANING!

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When a Singer Isn’t Singing

For 20 years I sang in a Praise & Worship Band for my church. Over the years I worked with various instrumentalists and other singers collaborating to praise God and lead contemporary worship services. Then it stopped. Our last instrumentalist left our congregation and was never replaced. The sitting Pastor at the time was not eager to continue the contemporary worship service, even though there was a great interest by the congregation. More people left the church, until only Older members who were satisfied with traditional hymns, organ music and traditional worship were primarily all that remained.

I stayed with the congregation. I stayed because it was the church I had been a member of for 29 years. I stayed because my children were confirmed, & baptized there. I stayed because family had been married and buried there. I stayed because my husband worked for the church. I did not stay because I felt fed by the spirit, nor did I have an outlet for they way I wanted to praise God.

Gradually my voice got quieter. I sang less in general. Then something happened. I started working for a music venue in my home town. A blues music venue. I was surrounded by music and singing. It wasn’t my preferred genre for my voice, but it still filled me with music. Many of the artists were also Christian and loved the Lord. Opportunities to share my faith came up regularly. Still I wasn’t singing.

My husband started looking for a new job several months ago. Recently he landed a new job with another church! We gave our notice as a family that we were leaving the church from a membership perspective. Shortly after he gave notice, I started dreaming music. I started dreaming that I was singing in a church. Singing contemporary music and praising God. In fact I would wake up because the music was so loud in my head!

I dreamed I lead devotions, read scripture in church and ran a Bible Study. The barriers that were blocking my voice, and spirit have been removed. Now we begin the process of looking for a new church, as the new church does not require membership with them, just a church membership.

In the mean time I have been singing at home, singing both traditional and contemporary songs. Letting my voice ring out to the heavens, giving praise and glory to God!

Songs I have been singing recently:

Wonderful Merciful Savior by Eric Wyse and Dawn Rodgers

Great Is They Faithfulness

How Great Thou Art

Be Thou My Vision

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The Eye Exam

The Eye Exam

I have vision insurance through my employer. Towards the end of the year, I started to receive reminders to use my insurance benefits before they ran out. It had been a couple of years since my last eye exam and getting new glasses. I found myself not being able to read with my existing pair any longer. My daughter also needed an eye exam and contacts.  My daughter called and made appointments for both of us last week.

My vision had indeed changed. My distance vision got better, but my close-up vision got worse.  With a new prescription in hand, I searched through the displays to find a new pair of frames.  After finding a pair I like, I place my order for my new glasses.  They will be ready by January 12th. New glasses for a new year.  Clearer vision.

20/20 Vision

After leaving the store, I got to thinking how 2020 was like a big eye exam for the world.  Identifying all the things wrong with our view of life. The irony was not lost on me that to have 20/20 vision is a term used to express normal clarity or sharpness of vision measured at a distance of 20 feet. Unfortunately, we (the world and our nation), did NOT have 20/20 vision.

Nearsighted

We found out many of us were nearsighted, and short sighted. We could only see what was right in front of our faces.  Some could not see past the end of their nose. People played the short game, lived for now, thought only of themselves and lived life as if there were no consequences for their actions and no tomorrow. YOLO

Double-Vision

Some people had Double vision.  They saw more than one thing at a time but could not focus on anything.  It is the ADHD of vision problems. A person with Double vision can not tell what is real and what is the phantom image. Easily misled to follow false information.

Lazy Eye

With this eye condition, the eyes do not work together, and the brain ignores input from one eye. Similar to the lack of cooperation between political parties, or not listening to other people’s perspectives, input or needs.

Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration and Retinopathy

Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration and Retinopathy are all eye problems that affect how much you can see at a time.  It is like having blinders on or looking through a hole in a fence or trying to read a redacted document or identify someone in a blurred image. You do not see the whole picture only partial data.  Information is incomplete and easily misinterpreted. Making conclusions using this partial data can end in incorrect assumptions and wrong decisions.

Cataracts

Vision with Cataracts is like looking at life through sheer curtains or dirty windows. You see that the image exists, but the details are missing.  You only have a general sense of what you are looking at.  The Cliff Notes of information with no depth.  An impressionist painting of life. You might correctly identify what you are looking or what is going on, but your success rate for an accurate identification and full view is low.

Far-sighted vision

A person who is far-sighted can see clearly far away but might miss something right in front of their face.  They look to the future, meticulously plan, work their plan, and live for the goal. In doing so they may miss the moments, fail to be present in the now and not appreciate the process of getting to the goal.

(The following are not Vision issues but rather issues with perspective)

Looking at Life Through Rose Colored Glasses

The famous phrase has been used to describe an unrealistic view of life.  Only seeing what you want to see and choosing NOT to see the reality of a situation. Lying to one’s self, to make themselves feel better.

You Can’t See the Forest for the Trees

This usually describes a person who is overwhelmed by circumstances.  They are unable to see the big picture because what is in front of them is all they focus on.

The Eye Exam

Then the Eye Exam happened. 2020 happened.  We suddenly were given a new pair of glasses and what was really happening in the world was suddenly clearer.  Covid-19 was real, Racism still exists, our country is very divided ideologically speaking, people were dying, people lost jobs, businesses closed.

We saw people and jobs differently.  Suddenly grocery store clerks, take out food workers, delivery people, teachers, and healthcare workers were getting a lot more respect. Parents started spending more time with their children. Meals were eaten at home. People were not over scheduled, because there were less choices for how to spend our time.

We started to appreciate family and friends because we could not see them at all or as often or we lost them. We got creative on how to run our businesses and do our jobs. Virtual, Streaming, Zoom and Teleconferences became a norm. We suffered and fought and got a fresh perspective on LOTS of things.

Now 2020 has ended, we gladly ushered it out, waved good-bye with no tears in our eyes, said adios.  Through it all we can look back and honestly say – hindsight really is 20/20.

Jennifer Boberg 01/01/2021

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Eye Contact Part 1

After I was raped and my rapist left, I lay on my bed crying for about 15 minutes.  I knew I needed help.  I had been sleeping in nothing but a T-shirt.  I threw on my robe and went upstairs where my roommate was.  I woke her crying and spilled out what had happened.  I had already called the police.  They arrived in just a few minutes.  Ironically I had called the police the night before, because I thought I had heard someone outside.  The same police officers who had shown up the previous night were the ones who responded to my call this time.

The officers were very nice.  They took my statement and checked my apartment and around my apartment and then they transported me to the hospital.  The officers even tried finding the rapist right away, grabbing some guys before we even got in the patrol car to see if I could ID anyone.  I couldn’t.  It was generally agreed on, that whoever it was, probably had cased my place the previous night and was the reason I had heard something outside.  A call was made to the Director of the little Black Box theater I was Stage Managing for because she was also a rape victims advocate.

When I arrived at the hospital by robe and T-shirt were collected for evidence as they had semen on them.  I was given a hospital gown.  Otherwise I was naked.  The officers asked questions, the hospital staff asked questions.  But what stood out most was the eye contact, or lack there of.

You see I wasn’t visibly hurt.  There were no bruises.  I was not beaten.  I was not restrained with anything but his hands and body.  I had one small, tiny nick in my neck where he had held the point of his knife.  You had to look to see it. I didn’t apparently look like a victim of rape.  So hospital staff looked at me sideways, or not at all.  A black nurse asked awkwardly about the race of my assailant.  He was black or mixed. She reacted as if she was physically hit.  She was not looking at me at all when she asked and received the answer to her question. Was she ashamed?

I rape kit was used to examine me internally and to collect evidence. Then I sat and waited or alternately answered the repeated questions of what happened by different people.  After what seemed like a very long time, I asked if the examinations were over and if I could wash myself as his smell and semen were still on and in me.  No one thought to offer me the chance to clean myself.    Hardly anyone made eye contact. I was told I could shower when I got home. No one thought that the idea of him on and in me was freaking me out. I was directed to a bathroom with a sink, where I did a basic washing.

Finally someone said I was free to go home.  I was naked, except for a hospital gown.  I had arrived by police car with no purse, money or transportation back.  I looked at the hospital staff and asked them how I was supposed to go home and wearing what?  They had no answer.  No one had thought of that.  My friend finally showed up and she brought me some clothes and slippers and took me home, but all I could think of was how the hospital treated me like I had done something wrong and how the staff could not look at me in the eye.

 

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The Blame Game

In most cases of rape, the victim is not just victimized once. They become a repeat victim through the blame game.  As if being attacked sexually by someone isn’t bad enough, now other people make it your fault too.

In my case I heard;

You chose that neighborhood, you should’ve known better = It’s your fault.

You kept your windows open, you  should’ve closed and locked them = It’s your fault.

You didn’t try and fight him?=It’s your fault.

Other women hear;

If you dress like that, you’re asking for it=It’s your fault.

You have too much make-up on=It’s your fault.

You were dancing sexily=It’s your fault.

You went out by yourself=It’s your fault.

You were drinking=It’s your fault.

You have big boobs=It’s your fault.

So basically because you are a woman=It’s your fault.

Bull Shit! It’s his fault!

 

 

 

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Scents and Sensibility

A scent can bring back memories as easily as a photograph.  Unlike a photo, however, a smell can sneak up on you and hit you unsuspecting.

There are distinct perfumes and aftershaves that I can still identify in one sniff and that will bring back memories of specific people or events.  My Nana wore L’Origan by Coty, Paris.  My Oma wore 4711 a traditional German Eau de Cologne by Mäurer & Wirtz. My Mother wore Tabu Cologne for Women by Dana. My Sister-in-law wore L’Air du Temps, a women’s perfume by the French fashion house Nina Ricci.

My Father wore Aramis for Men.  An old boyfriend wore Pierre Cardin,  and Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche.  And I can still identify when a man wears Grey Flannel or Polo for Men. For years I bought my Brother-in-law the Avon aftershave colognes in the bottles shaped like vehicles. My husband does not wear aftershave or cologne, but he buys the scented deodorant and body washes, usually a Sport scent.

My Rapist, he wore traditional Old Spice. Yes he was freshly showered and scented. Why? He broke into my apartment before dawn around 5 am.  What had he done? Woken up extra early, showered, put on cologne to get ready to Go-A-Raping?  Just like you and I would shower and get dressed to go to work?

After he had left and I had called the police, they asked all the usual questions to help identify my attacker.  What did he look like? Hair color, eye color, skin color? Could I estimate how tall he was?  What was he wearing?  Could I identify him if I saw him again?  Since I was awoken out of a sound sleep to my rapist on top of me with his hand covering my mouth and nose and a knife to my jugular, memorizing those type of details was  not my first thought. I even remember him saying, “Don’t look at me! Close your eyes!”

With the threat of being stabbed, plus the fact that I was not wearing my glasses, as I was sleeping, I didn’t really try to look.  Yes, I  did remember some details after I had calmed down, but one of the most easily recalled details was his smell.  He smelled clean, freshly showered, and was wearing cologne.  One of the police officers happened to be wearing the same cologne.  I asked him what it was, “Old Spice”, he replied.

Needless to say, I do not like the smell of Traditional Old Spice Cologne.  Even though it has been almost 28 years, that scent can bring back all the details of that experience as if it were yesterday.  A couple of weeks ago, my husband bought body wash for the shower.  Usually he gets a sport scent, Old Spice even makes Sport scents.  this time he got traditional Old Spice scent.  He came out of the shower and I immediately recoiled  from him.  At first I did not know why.  I just knew he smelled wrong.  When I went to take my shower, I saw the bottle on the shelf and immediately knew why I did not want to be near him.  That evening on my way home from work, I bought him a different body wash.

I was raped 6 months before I met my husband.  I told him the stories, but he didn’t know me then.  It’s not real to him.  I told him about the Old Spice and to never wear it.  in fact when Old Spice came out with the other fragrances, I had to check them first, to make sure they didn’t smell like the original.  He forgot.  I’m not mad at him.  He accepted the new body wash without question.  The Old Spice body wash is still on the shelf in the shower.  Why haven’t I thrown it away?

Scents are powerful memory triggers.  Old Spice triggers one of my worst memories.  My nightmare memory. My rape. Do I let that scent, and that memory control me, have power over me?  Maybe I have been unable to throw the bottle away because I don’t want to touch it.  Maybe I have needed to face it, face the fear, face the memory of my rapist in a vulnerable place like my shower, and not recoil from it.  Not back down.  The memory will never go away.  It gets pushed aside by the present and regular life, resurfacing from time to time, triggered by something.  Something as simple and yet as powerful as a scent.  Maybe the sensible thing is to throw it out.  Time to put this memory away again.

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An Open Window

In 1993 Melissa Ethridge wrote the song “Come To My Window”

The sultry lyrics invite her lover with the lines;

Come to my window
Crawl inside, wait by the light of the moon
Come to my window
I’ll be home soon

A Different Window

The summer of 1988,
Less than 3 months after my father passed away,
trying to be an independent adult of 22 and living on my own,
I was sexually assaulted, no let me rephrase that,…raped.
Raped by a stranger who broke into my basement apartment by entering through an open window.
An open window that was open because it was a hot August night.
An open window that was open because it was a hot August night and my apartment did not have air conditioning.
An open window that was open because it was a hot summer night and my apartment did not have air conditioning or security bars on the windows.
Was the open window with no security bars an invitation to enter my apartment?
No it was not.
I was sleeping.
I awoke to a stranger on top of me.
I awoke to a stranger on top of me with a knife to my throat.
With a knife to my jugular vein.
People asked me if I tried to stop him?
With a knife to my jugular vein?
Did I try to stop him, pinned to my mattress with his body?
Did I try to stop him with my mouth and nose covered so I would not scream?
Did I try to stop him when I could not breathe because his hand covered my mouth and nose so I would not scream?
No.
No, I did not try and stop him, because I could not.
No, I did not try and stop him because I could not risk dieing from a stab wound to my neck.
No, I did not try and stop him because all I could think about was that I wanted to breathe and how could I convey that without getting stabbed in the neck?
No, I did not try and stop him when he did allow me to breathe and I convinced him I would not scream.
So, is that consent?
No its not.
When he was done,
When he was done, he went through my purse, as I lay crying on my bed.
He robbed me of what cash I had and berated me for not having more money.
Was there more money somewhere else?
What about upstairs?
My roommate was upstairs.
I told him there was nothing upstairs. It was empty. Praying he would not look for himself and find my roommate asleep in her bed too.
He did not go upstairs.
He left.
He left the same way he came in.
He left through the open window.
The open window that was open because it was a hot August dawn.
The open window that was open because it was a hot August dawn and I had no air conditioning in my apartment.
The open window that was open because it was a hot August dawn and I had no air conditioning in my apartment or security bars on my windows.
I did not invite him in.

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