Kristina Furey


“You wake up, in a room with no windows and no doors.  The only thing in the room, is a table with a mirror.  How do you get out?” The older Girl Scout asked, as my mom was driving us home from the Roller Rink.  “It’s impossible,” I said.  She quickly countered, “Everything is impossible if you don’t believe it’s possible. You’re limiting yourself.  Come on Alice, think!”  Even though things were getting “Curiouser and curiouser” I knew she meant to reference “Alice in Wonderland.”  She and I had recently memorized the poem, “The Jabberwocky” together, for some strange reason I can’t seem to recall.  “You go through the looking glass?”  <—YES, I figured it out!  “No,” she bursts my bubble.   A moment passed by…  “Are you still thinking?”  “Yes”.   “Keep thinking”.
I loved brain teasers and I’m pretty sure I instigated this game of riddling one another.  My Obi Wan Kenobi (a retired teacher on our street) had used them to challenge me, when he was done with the impromptu visits I paid to he and his wife. He would tell me one as he walked me back outside to my bicycle and told me to come back when I had the answer, so he could give me another one.   I imagine, to him, I was probably more of a Dennis the Menace but he was patient and took it in stride.  I was just doing what I was taught in elementary school, “When you’re done with your own work, find a neighbor that needs help and help them. When everyone was caught up we would move on to the next lesson.  I extended this to my actual neighborhood neighbors.  I checked in on the older ones and asked if they needed help with anything and glared longingly at cookies, pies or those ribbon candies that merged into one, inside those candy jars that just sat around collecting dust.

I have no recollection of my Obi Wan Kenobi being around when I was in middle school.  I’m not sure if he died before I made it there or if it was a relationship that just ran its course.  I remember at some point, his wife was a widow.

I entered middle school with no real correspondence with my mother, an anxious, depressed father in crisis and no Obi Wan, no hope, no Jedi Master.  There was this sort of brainwashing that went on behind those middle school doors.  It involved middle school aged girls and mirrors.  It was the kind of thing, all the thinking and puzzle solving I had done previously, seemed to prove useless against.   Mirrors, reflections and perceptions filtered by this brainwashing, became a “measuring stick” of worthiness.  I had always believed I was enough but it was getting difficult to have that reflected back and reinforced in my head.  I did my best to keep the faith because as a friend once told me, “Everything is impossible if you don’t believe it’s possible.”  I did not want to limit myself.  I was a kid, inquisitive, active, creative and on the go.  I was never lonely for a friend.    While I might have a tiff with one friend or be iced out by a group, there were always more to hang with, until things worked themselves out.  Girls, guys, older, younger, I wasn’t picky and I always had a blast.  Until middle school.  

I noticed the girls who lingered in front of the mirrors after gym class and between each class in the bathrooms.  I saw mirrors in their lockers and in their purses.  These girls that seemed so attached to their reflections, started messing with mine.  I noticed I didn’t feel so good about myself when I was around them.  I was already dealing with feelings over my mom abandoning me and then to find myself being distanced from girls who used to be my friends was a compounded form of rejection.  Guy friends were treating me different as well. (Again, I blamed those same girls. It appeared to me they were the ones that made the boys feel awkward and mean.)  That sad distance was a feeling I tried to fight sometimes as I swallowed and it was a feeling that seemed to find a home in my belly.  It was during this time that someone I really respected, loved and thought was my confidant told me in a very cruel and what seemed deliberate way, that I had a dark mustache.  When a guy in my class told me, out of all the boys in the classroom, I was growing the best mustache, I realized everyone seemed to be noticing but me.  It was pointed out to me that I had dark circles under my eyes, I was really pale and didn’t tan, my breasts were too big, for my age and build and I had a “Wampa, wampa butt.”  My dark, baby fine hair was pointed out as looking frizzy, looking greasy…   It seemed the list was always being added to.  

I skipped school back then for the same reason, I now limit my time on the computer and stay away from social media.  I need to find my own reflection and I need to discover the truth of the people I interact with.  I don’t want their impaired or propagated reflections.  I don’t trust these things to be healthy for me, my environment or my government.

Back in middle school, my counselor seemed to be stalking me, pulling me out of class and out of the cafeteria on so many occasions that I found myself doing the best I could at times to be invisible.  He was creeping me out with comments about how I hated my mother.  Asking me if my father had put moves on me.  I remember hiding from him in the cafeteria, under the table where the girls around me could hide me with their bodies and legs.  I hated going to his office and being alone with him.  Everything about it felt uneasy.  He never laid a hand on me to my recollection but he messed with my head.  He asked me, accused me or at the very least, insinuated I was or was going to end up a lesbian.  

When I was 15, the actor behind Obi Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), showed up in a film in my drama class that discussed Alec’s approach to acting and characters.  He did an outside in and inside out approach to his characters.  In a quest to discover my own ability to be great at something, I walked around the house blindfolded for a day, among other outside in approaches and I rushed to the book store to find books on psychology, so I would find my characters’s reasons for their actions and discover how they might carry themselves.  It was in that book store that I began to be able to make some sense of what I hadn’t been able to before and where I began to get insight into Freud and what that counselor might have been looking for when he made his remarks to me.  To this day, I’m uncertain as to whether or not he was a creeper or someone really trying his best, to help the girl that was skipping school all the time but was foolishly playing around with her psyche in the process.  Maybe he was like me, curious to understand the world and bumbling his way through.  It was inappropriate but I have learned by paying attention to myself and others and from using careful consideration as a tool of measurement, that “inappropriate” easily accompanies risk taking and sometimes is part of growth.  Malice is different.  So I believe, Intent, is very important to establish if you desire an environment that is as fair and safe as it can be for all.  All those hurts I got in middle school were maybe just the sum of people bumbling because no one understood the big picture.  I put in the time and research in hopes I could be there for myself and then be there for my neighbors.  I held onto these memories instead of letting them go because my Obi Wan Kenobi taught me to find answers, not frustration, not anger and not malice.  He and his wife were also members of my church and they used “Gods words” to heal, not to judge and not to harm.  I believe they were intellects, who choose not to use that as a weapon, put themselves above others in some high brow fashion or use their wisdom for their own personal gains but because they wanted to use wisdom as King Solomon from the bible did and they wanted to empower others to do the same.  It was that empowering others part, that stuck with me.  I have shared things I have learned in attempts to help others and I have noticed there are those who use these things I share to hurt others instead of empower and help.  I have been distancing myself from them all my life and more so, since my mother passed.  Many things dawned on me as I went through the process of loosing my mother and I am not the same.  I am still patient but somehow less tolerant of people and situations that seem senseless, hurtful or less than considerate.  Maybe one day I will be able to explain this in full.  In the mean time, if it appears to anyone I have isolated, it’s only to reclaim some part of myself, evolve some part of myself or maybe just preserve something worth preserving...  I'm not sure but something sacred to me, feels to be at risk of extinction. 

I continue to learn the same lessons over and over again in my own attempts for wisdom and just as soon as I think I am wise, I trip myself up.  I did not expect that I would still be bumbling through life in my own attempts for wisdom, at my fine age of 52.  I did not understand when I was younger that age has nothing to do with being a fool or not.  I did not understand that education has nothing to do with being wise or that money and titles have nothing to do with deserving.  I did not understand as a child of 11, that people would alter my reflection by mirroring back at me what was their own flaws or in their own best interest.  Thanks to my Obi Wan Kenobi/s, I do understand “The Force” is my soul’s fingerprint left on this earth when I am gone; My truth, in honest reflection.  

Brain Teaser Answer:  That brain teaser my friend riddled me with, seemed to require a bit of a stretch of the imagination.  I was unable to figure it out and she got to tell me the answer.  I was kind of annoyed with the answer because I felt I had no fair chance at getting it right but maybe I was just a sore loser.  You be the judge.  “You look in the mirror.  You see what you saw.  You take that saw and you saw the table in half.  Two halves make a whole (Always remember that part “Two halves make a whole" <3) or in this case two halves make a hole.  That hole leads to freedom.” Take your freedom and run with it!

One last reflection on this subject:  I think looking in the mirror and seeing what you saw, remembering it and being kind enough to share it, can help other people find freedom.  My mother and I loved “Free To Be, You and Me” by Marlo Thomas.  She loved it so much that she had it put on a license plate and she put that plate on the first car she ever bought by herself.  Yes, she did have to have a man there with her before the salesman would sell it to her.  1980, and she couldn't buy a car without a man.  Since she was separated from my father at the time her brother went with her.  But I suppose that’s a story for another day.  She took her freedom and won my father's respect with it.  She later passed that car, with that license still on it, to me :-)


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