Sunday, August 18, 2013

Memories, at the corner of my mind....

School is over for the the summer for me, just in time to send my kids off to school next week and for me to begin the Fall semester. Thank you sweet, baby Jesus, I got an A!!!! 

I have been going full steam ahead for so long that the last 5 or so days, I have been having a lot of down time, which leads to me cleaning and organizing, and feeling nostalgic. Once that happens, it's all downhill. I am thankful for school to begin, so that I can once again get back on a nice, little schedule. I need to study, craft, shuttle, clean, and do so many things to keep myself busy and not busy reminiscing and feeling melancholy. Here is what I have been thinking about recently. 

When I was little, I was an only child, and my parents only let me watch a Nick at Night. I have vivid memories as a child from about 3 years old up, and even then, I felt so much older than I was. When I was four, my imaginary friend was Carol Burnett. When I was five, I was dreaming to be either Lucille Ball or Annette Funicello. I had almost every song from 1950-1990 memorized by the time I was 10. 

Anyway, my parents were super over protective and wouldn't let me watch "contemporary" movies, TV shows, or listen to "contemporary" music. I never really understood that because in my mind, I was always in my 30s at least. I remember begging my parents to let me watch The Golden Girls at 5 years old and to go see Steel Magnolias...I was 7. 

The Golden Girls is one of my favorite shows and I would sneak watching it until it was in syndication, and then I was 13 and "old" even to watch it, even though my mom totally disapproved. It became a nightly ritual, coming on at 10 and 10:30pm and I would stay up every night to watch it. 

In the early 1990's, our town got a Target store. My parents were out of time and my grandmother was staying with me and I was about 12. For some strange reason, for the grand opening, Rue McClanahan came to Target to do a meet and greet and sign autographs. I begged my grandmother to take me! It was so cool. I was so excited to meet her. 

I remember getting her autograph on a promo photo, telling her that I thought she was even more beautiful in person, and then asking her if she wouldn't mind signing one for my mother, who was out of town. She went to grab another photo, and her agent, or representation, or someone...told her, "Rue, don't sign extra autographs. You'll get writer's cramp." She looked at me and smiled and said, "Oh don't be silly. I never get writer's cramp. Here you go, Darlin'!" in her best Blanche Devereaux accent, and handed me another signed photo. 

My grandmother and I giddily talked the whole way home about how nice she was and I remember looking at her and thinking how much prettier she looked in person, if that were even possible. Thinking back, by this time, The Golden Girls was finished taping. And even at 12, I wondered what the heck she was doing at a Target opening in Lake Jackson, TX. But I didn't worry about that too much because it was a happy day for my grandmother and I. I always loved Blanche the best, and my grandmother's middle name was Rue. 

When I left for college many years later, you couldn't hold me back in this tiny Texas town. I was ready to get away from this conservative Southern town, away from my overprotective parents, and head out on just my own. Again, mentally, I thought and felt grown since I was 4 or 5. My parents dropped me off in an off campus dorm, to live with a roommate who just dropped off her boxes and then went back home. That first night, I was completely alone and felt miserable. I started to doubt myself and panic a bit, but I couldn't show my parents that after I put up such a fight to move out. So I called my grandmother and talked to her. I begged her not to tell my mother and asked her what I should do. 

She told me to do what I do every night. Get in a routine, and go to bed. She was right. So, I got up, washed my face, put on my pajamas, got in bed, and turned on The Golden Girls. I fell asleep watching them and woke up the next morning with much less anxiety. Each night, I would just do the same thing I did at the Golden Girls, until I felt really comfortable. 

I still love to watch The Golden Girls. I was very sad when Estelle Getty died in 2008, and almost a little heart broken when Bea Arthur died a year later. When Rue McClanahan died in 2010, I was super upset. She was my favorite Golden Girl. Eddi Rue McClanahan shared a name with my grandmother, Billie Rue Seay, who was my hero. My mom wanted to name a daughter Blanchie Kay when she was a child. In Jr. High, I was nicknamed RuRu by a favorite teacher....all coincidentals for sure. But this makes me feel close to my grandmother. We used to watch the Golden Girls together sometimes...and I just miss having a connection with her. Watching the show gives me a similar form of comfort that I got from my lovely grandmother. 

I write all this because I just finished reading Rue McClanahan's autobiography. Autobiographies and biographies are my FAVORITE books to read. I remembered meeting her and getting her autograph, watching her since the time I was little, and still watching her several times a week on the Golden Girls. Those are happy memories I have that I was able to share with my grandmother before she died. And I hope that in going through all of my old stuff, I will come across that autographed photo. 

Um, I watched too much TV as a child....and I have probably read too many biographies....Chelsea Handler, Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Woody Allen, Al Pacino, Carol Burnett, Annette Funicello, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Rue McClanahan and on and on and on.

But anyway, that is what is going on in my life at the moment. I miss my grandmother and I am sad that so many of the people that formed my childhood are no longer alive. I am thankful for the memories that we share and hope that my children will feel the same as they get older. 

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