Joan's Blog

"Watch Me Pull A Rabbit Out Of My Hat"
MARCH 1, 2011 12:28PM


Rate: 78 Flag

It was the hat that first attracted me to him.  An Australian Outback looking sheep farmer hat that covered a mop of curls and hid his sunburned face. It was the hat I loved first. 

He played me love songs on his guitar. Sweet songs about everlasting love. Songs about spending nights together.

We never did spend a night together. At seventeen, I would have been missed. I learned that farm boys know the best hiding spots. No one ever thought to look for us in the red barn. We hid high up in the bales of hay. We could touch the rafters with our fingertips. 

The first time I spent the afternoon with him in the prickly soft hay,  I felt changed. I had done what millions, no billions of women had done before me. I imagined I was a part of a sisterhood now. A wise and knowing sisterhood.

I put on my new pearl earrings.  I had never worn them before. They had seemed too sophisticated. Too grown up before today.  I smiled at my reflection in the mirror.

My diary entry was two pages long. 

At the end of the summer I visited my mother for the weekend. It was uneventful and mostly silent. More silent than usual. 

I packed my small suitcase that Sunday. It was time for me to leave.  I checked for my diary in the inside pocket.  I don't know what made me look for  the two page entry I had written that afternoon on August 3rd. 

The pages were gone. They had been ripped from the brown leather diary with such force, the binding was loose.

My mother had destroyed any evidence of her daughter's shameful act. 

I rode the Greyhound bus back.

My pearl earrings dangling.



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This made me angry at what parents do sometimes but it was the time. Still awful. This was short and the tale was told so well.

I rated but will come back to check as the site is just like yesterday.. took me 5 minutes to get to read this..:(
rated with hugs
Joan, that is something my mother would have done...did do...such a violation...this is such a beautiful piece...the simplicity and sophistication the pearl earrings bring...a lasting visual...xox
Some mothers love to rewrite history. It's a violation of our psyche and the first step down the path of destroying our self esteem.
Aw, Joanie. At least you have the memories.
ah, the shame, the guilt, the condemnation. some mothers are experts at inflicting pain. i hope you wore your earrings proudly.

this is some of your best writing, joanie. it vibrates.
If my mother had been alive when I was 17 she would have probably done a lot more to me. I'm so sorry. Beautifully written. -R-
Once again, Joanie, they are twins. Mine found my diaphragm tucked between the towels stacked in the linen closet. She poked a hole into it with her finger and called me a slut. It still stings the backs of my eyes, as I'm sure your mother's actions still sting yours.

Joan, how you manage to make come alive not only the scene but the smells in the air (that you don't even mention), the silence grown heavy and loud, your mother's well written, such damage inflicted on your heart...I'm sorry for that.
There's no wrath like that of a scorned mother. yikes. I do recall though, Joanie, that you told me you aren't a pearl wearing kind of woman... now I know what that means!
Very potent indeed. Just one question. Did you ever discuss this incident with your mother later on? Just wondering.
This is almost a poem, Joan. Your skillful brevity manages to tell all, share all. (r)
The important thing, Joan, is to turn those pearls of bitterness into pearls of wisdom. That brings forgiveness.
Great simplicity J. Oh I love that it was in the barn and that the beauty, like the pearls, rich with character and chic. :)
were worn as a sign. Smart.
You are a short story writer, and a memoirist, both. Slices of life, simply, metaphorically told.
How do you keep from being too angry...? Wonderful read.r
Can you still buy those hats on Amazon?
This is wonderful. So brief, and yet I can't imagine a single word's addition.
sad yet beautiful and in a way outrageous rated.
As I continue reading your courageous look back to a past that would have destroyed a lesser soul, my admiration for you only grows. You've got more than pearls to indicate your womanhood and your insight.:)
Just goes to show you, good things really do come in small packages. I'm referring to this post. I could almost smell the hay.
I pictured him as Viggo Mortenson. Your story was lovely, and really painted such a full picture - not just visually, but emotionally, in so few words - that's really something that's quite remarkable - to me at least. At least you had the memory though...but it makes me sad to think your pages were lost. r
Love the the seem to have let your Mom's anger, confusion and shame stay where it was owned. Good inspiration for all of us.
this memory is publishable.
Joanie, the ending actually made me gasp. And I almost never gasp at something I've read. Even when the memories are sad, your words are "pearls."
This gave me chills, Joan.
The silent week-end and the shame like a stain.
So spare, so beautiful.
Site is very slow and keeps shutting down so I don't know if you will get this. The ending took me completely off guard and made me furious. How could she do that! Well told story of rite of passage. RRR
You might have been robbed butt, she cannot erase those words and memories from your heart.

I have to admit, I'm glad your mother gave you the fodder she did for your superb work. The more I read about her Joan the more I get the sense that she almost literally wanted a piece of you. How symbolic, her ripping out those pages from your journal.
I found a similar hat along a trail, 9,000 feet up in Glacier National Park.
I lost the hat to a girlfriend years back, kinda like the way we are losing the glaciers to mother nature.
I wonder what we call Glacier National Park in twenty years...
Formerly Glacier National Park
Morain National Park
ah! the danger of keeping diaries
i am always amazed at that fifteen year old who left home, i wouldn't have been able to read a bus schedule back then
Your well done.
I think this sort of conflict existed between my sister and mom.

My guess is you won't have any male readers writing in that their dad found their diary and when they read about the drive-in movie episode, got all bent and tore it up.
A beautifully and sparingly told tale. Tender and truthful. Fingertips reaching the rafters ... a good unexpected image. This is for you, Girl With the Pearl Earring.
This was so compact and beautifully written, said so much with so little words. I'm so shocked your mom would do this! But you know what it's like the song, "Can't Take That Away from Me." You'll always have the memories, and that's what really counts.
Your are so good at showing us these snapshots of moments in life. Let them pearls jingle!
I love how much you leave out.

(and Neilpaul's comment cracked me up.)
Well written and shocking in a way. Privacy is so hard to come by, out thoughts, our feelings so important to us as individuals. I never respect people who try and control thoughts and feelings by wiping out the past, or just the parts they find offensive. I had a person tell me something once that would have changed the very person I was, if I denied it, as they requested. Needless to say, I refused and never forgot it. Never.
I am always struck by what a profoundly unhappy woman your mother was, which stands as such a stunning counterpoint to the seamless grace and kindness you embody through your writing, and gentle thoughtfulness extended to family and friends. I am simultaneously saddened and glad to find you thoroughly you within the context of your youth. Another unforgettable reflection and I pray, catharsis. xo R
Joan, your writing is beautiful as always. It's sad that such a beautiful memory has a sad ending--it's bittersweet. Beautifully done.
This is a precious pearl and so are you. Sad precursor of what was to come. Hope you got married in those earrings.
You capture all the tenderness and loveliness so beautifully. The desecrating fingers in the silence of your mother's rage might have robbed the world of all your grace but she had no measure of your soul.
Gorgeous reflection.
This is so full of so reads like a calm steady celebration of facinating discovery and real independence. I'm sorry your mom was so bent. It sounds like she was jealous of you.

(Oh, those farm boys...the very definition of impossible to resist.)
I am mixed race english/jamaican...A white male on --
-- Bla ck whi teCu pid * C 0 M ----- who viewed my pro'file (at least 8 times!!), had on his profile in capitals 'NO BLACKS', and in the part where it asks 'what makes you sad?' he'd put...'when black women contact me'! just thought 'why do you keep looking at my pro'file?' He must have thought the more he looked at me, the paler i might become!!! HaHaHa :)
You are the Pearl Joan!
Geez Joanie, the mortifying ache you must have felt in that moment...such a bare bones beautiful telling, really special. I just read it aloud to my 21 yr/old step-daughter. She gasped with feeling as I did.
Felt this one with you. Sparsely written, just enough words.
seventeen, it was a very good year.
i think you were already gone - before you ever wrote a word - before you ever proved it with the torn book
You write so well I want to throw my computer in the ocean -- easy to do at the moment, as I am across the street from it, in Vancouver.

Grrrrr. I mean great piece! :-)
A perfect piece of writing. Kudos.
Linda, thanks for reading. I know even getting on OS has been crazy today.

Robin, yes, the violation infuriated me at the time.

OEsheepdog, yes, it is destructive to our self esteem. There should have been a Jack Nicholson voice over in the background: "You can't handle the truth!"

Matt, that I do. :)

femme, I did, and thank you.

Christine, I get that, but I would *never* invade my daughter's privacy. Thanks for reading.

Elisa, thank you. It would be fun to see how I wrote about things back then. Maybe I dotted my "i's" with hearts. xo

Lezlie! Geez, you've got to have a pretty sharp fingernail to poke a hole in one of those. What a terrible thing to do. And to call you names... I don't know if our mothers ever understood how damaging their words and actions were.

Just Thinking, thank you, I appreciate that. Sabotage is such a good word.

Abby, you have a good memory! I don't wear pearls, they just aren't "me", but back then I thought pearls were the symbol of sophistication and being a "grown up."

Out on a Limb, no, my mother did not talk about things like that. Or anything else, really. Things just weren't discussed. Angry silences lasted for years...

dirndl, thank you and I'm so glad to see you!

Fusun, I am sure you are right about that. xo

kateasley, you are right. I would never invade my daughter's inner life. Which really, what a diary is...

tg within, thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate it.

Lea, many thanks for that.

hugs, me, so much anger has dissipated over the years, I suppose. I still think what she did was terrible.

Larry, I was hoping Kim would let us know if they are still available Down Under.

toritto, I think the mistake mothers make is thinking that their daughter is an extension of themselves... Thank you for reading and commenting.

Blue, thank you very much.

Jonathan, thank you for coming by. Outrageous is a very good word.

Susan, thank you. xo
Your mom may have come to regret her affinity for tearing things out of a life. The more you tell about her, the more a picture of an extraordinarily sad and suffering woman takes shape.

Personally, I've felt for a long time that living with relish and with all the senses is the reward for what it cost to have such a childhood–not revenge exactly, but yeah, kinda :-)
Your wonder at the afternoon remains, as does the hurt inflicted by your mother. These things stay with us...
Beautiful. Rated. Glad he was an Australian!
This was so beautiful in its simplicity and succinctness, Joan. I so wish I could learn to write like you. There must have been a lot more to the romance and to your feelings about what your mother had done, but you selected what to put in and what to leave out so perfectly the capture the essence --it's just so well-told. When I got to the part about the pages being "torn out with such force the binding was loose", I almost gasped aloud. How that betrayal must have hurt. I'm glad you wore the pearl earrings proudly nonetheless.

If I recall correctly, it was your unhappy mother who criticized that show "Queen for a Day" as she did the ironing because she thought it was bad form to air one's dirty laundry and show such emotion in public. I can see how that same mother would not want her seventeen-year old unmarried daughter to engage in such a "shameful act". ~R+++
Geeeeeeez, I kept a journal too. I'll never know if my mom snooped, but it would explain a few things....
An act of defiance, those pearl earrings -- I'm glad you wore them proudly.
Danget.. your MOM!
This is remarkable Joan H.
Sarah, I appreciate your comment, thank you.

Kate, Viggo Mortensen? Not a bad description. :)

Laura, thank you for reading and commenting.

Flower Child, I think there is something so destructive in silence.

Chuck, I appreciate that very much.

Cranky, I can't picture you gasping! Thank you!

Kim, "shame like a stain." I love that image. Thank you for coming by.

Bea, thanks for putting up with the kinks in OS to read and comment.

XJS AND ME, you are right. And thank you.

neilpaul, you made me laugh out loud. Thanks for reading.

Margaret, thank you for such kind words.

Mr. Fawkes, I am always glad to see you.

grif, your comment is appreciated.

Vanessa, my mother always would warn me not to write things in a journal...

sophieh, thank you and it's so good to see you.

alsoknownas, you guessed right, I'm sure!

Scarlett, I almost made that my title, but I thought it was a bit much. xo

Alysa, Thank you for reading. I appreciate your kind words.

Dr.S, will do, and thanks!

Lainey, thank you and yes his comment cracked me up too.

rj, thank you for coming by.

Sheila, I completely understand that. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Muse, it *was* within the context of my youth. I often felt that no one in my family understood children and adolescents at all.

froggy, thank you so much!

Sally, I ended up not being a "pearl kind of person" but I never forgot those...

LC, exactly. We were mismatched as mother and daughter and it never got better.
I love your writing style. This would be great as part of chapter in a book!!! I look forward to reading more! ~ rated
Wow! That was a shock. You came through it with the earrings dangling! It is good.
Oh boy. How to deny your daughter is not only growing up, but to kick her down and violate her privacy.

If her joyless approach to child rearing weren't enough, I REALLY want to slap her, now.

But this is wonderful writing, Joanie. Not that we'd expect any less of you.
anna1liese, many thanks for your beautiful words.

Mime, thank you~

catch-22, the very definition indeed...

susan green, interesting comment.

trilogy (hug) thank you for reading.

Blue, I am flattered that you read it to your step-daughter!

rita, glad there were enough words. Thank you.

dianaani, seventeen was a pretty good year.

Caitlin, well, thank you, but don't do that! Just stick your toes in the ocean. That's what I wish I could do today...

Emma, thank you, I appreciate that.

green, yes, I think about that too! Living fully *is* the best revenge.

Nikki, they do, but then we get to write about them...

Laura, thank you!

Lizw9, yes, you remembered correctly. Thank you!

Snippy, you never know.

Bell, thanks for reading, Darlin'.

Trig, I know. She keeps coming up... and thanks for reading.

Susie, I really appreciate your kind words.

RedNose, many thanks for reading.

Shiral, your second sentence made me laugh. Thank you for coming by.
My, but this is a gem of a post: a pearl.
Yes. You joined the sisterhood. On many levels here. Well done!
Oh my motherly love and protection too. Nice one here.
Good, it's quieter now that most have been and gone. I need the peace, you probably do too. Years pass and the sorrow remains.

I got caught when I was 15, she was quite firm. She said two things "you better not let your father find out" and "you better not wind up pregnant" and she left the room. Almost 40 years have passed and I still here these stories being lived today.

When are girls and women going to be more than pretty objects with reproductive rights? When will will everyone be just people? Those will be the happier days, I can still hope for my granddaughter. I still have hope. Thank you for speaking.
I hope writing this in some ways makes up for those lost pages. Loved it! -R
I'm glad your strong, happy memories of your young man and young love remain intact. Memories can't be removed with torn pages or angry words. They are ours to keep forever. Beautiful post, Joan. R
Our mothers were a great deal alike. Mine never found my diary, but I met a boy at church camp the summer I was 15, after the week at camp we wrote each other every day until school started. I came home from school one day to find her reading the letters I had so carefully written. There was nothing to be ashamed of but we dreamed of future things together. By the time she was done, someone less intelligent, might have believed they could get pregnant through the post. You had me feeling everything here, even the jerking of the pages. Wonderful post.
Oh, my God. I can only imagine how violated you must have felt. That diary was your personal space and none of her business. I hope you still have the pearl earrings.

(sorry not to comment until now- I've been giving up on OS due to its sluggishness)