Dear College

Dear College,

My first two years at school, I partied far more than I’d like to admit, I made pitifully average grades, and I struggled emotionally. My last two years, I had matured significantly, I made increasingly excellent grades, I sought counseling (however unsuccessfully), I worked a part time job, and I found my calling in education. 

I also finally talked with my parents about the assault. 

My very first week at your school, I was sexually assaulted by a fraternity boy, and that introduction to a social life at College colored my entire four year experience. College came with many sweet friendships, growth experiences, a variety of adults that held influence over future choices, and an opportunity for personal maturity and growth. And yet. 

My junior year, I finally went to the counseling center on campus to talk with a therapist about dealing with the lingering emotional turmoil surrounding the event. I wanted to go home to talk with my parents, but I was nervous.  I asked the school therapist for help in sorting through the mixture of emotions I didn’t know how to process. Joining a sorority, being popular, weekends full of parties, and flirting with college boys had only exacerbated the deeper yearning to be “fine” that was secretly driving my destructive behaviors. Yet telling my parents that I had been assaulted meant explaining that I had been out drinking heavily. It meant admitting choices I knew to be negative and in direct conflict with how I had been raised to think and behave. It meant admitting that for two years, I had hidden my secret instead of seeking help. I did not want to have that conversation, but I knew I must have that conversation. The therapist (your therapist) asked if I really needed to talk with my parents and implied that maybe I should deal with the incident myself. 

Did I really even need counseling? 

I hadn’t been raped, per se, so wasn’t I being a bit overly dramatic or creating more chaos than necessary?

Maybe – Was I just afraid of being on my own in the world and searching for attention? 

Thankfully, I’ve never been the best at following directions. Ignoring the ridiculous advice of that therapist (your therapist), I went home to have a heart to heart with my parents anyway. Simply being open with them gave me the confidence to turn my college experience around. My final semester, I finally received a 4.0.

So, I guess what I want to say is…

Dear College,

Talk about assault. 

Talk about safety. Talk about bullies and victims. Keep your doors open to those students that need to walk through them to you. Listen when girls misbehave in ways that point to trauma. Talk about trauma. Listen to boys that misbehave in ways that point to trauma. Talk about trauma. Talk about brain changes and PTSD and pregnancy and abortion and drugs and drinking and the next day. 

Talk about the walk of shame. (Surely by now we all know what I’m referring to. But why is it the victim seems to get the honors? Talk about that.)

Talk about The Next Day

Then. Talk about grace and redemption and love and support and also. 

Listen. 

Listen for signs of hopelessness and guilt and shame and confusion and sadness and anger and humor. Listen for the self deprecating humor. Listen for the covering up of the vulnerable. 

Talk about suicide and second chances. Talk about religion. Talk about Jesus. Talk about Buddha. Talk about death and nothingness and family and friends and dorm life. Talk about showering. Talk about showering on The Day After. Talk about sex. Talk about love and lust and kissing. Talk about dating. Talk about sweatpants and yoga pants. Talk about failure. Talk about money, and stress, and those freaking Joneses. Talk about bodies. Talk about being in a melting pot of a bajillion people the same age and how the real world is not like a college campus. Talk about homesickness. Talk about mommas. And dads. And little siblings. Talk about the loneliness in the midst of a campus full of people. Talk about grades too. Talk about taking each day one step at a time. One teeth brushing victory at…. A…. Damn…. Time.

Then. Talk about grace and redemption and love and support and also.

Listen. 

Because.

I guarantee I am not alone in my journey on your campus. I have written this letter over and over and over in my mind for twenty five years, and it never comes out eloquently. But. Listen still. 

Dear College, 

Listen.

Talk about assault.

Sincerely,

Your graduate and a Boy Mom of a rising College freshman

Home

When I was a little girl, I begged my momma to let me stay home alone while she ran an errand. Feeling big and brave, I insisted I’d be fine. Knowing I would be, Momma left me in the living room while she drove two blocks to get us hot dogs and come straight back home.

Home.

Immediately after she left, I panicked – a little girl, big scary world, full blown anxiety attack. When Momma came back a long ten minutes (lifetime of misery) later, she found me hanging on the brick wall of the garage screamin’ crying out of fear. I couldn’t handle the house all by myself, and had instead come to wait for her arrival out in the carport.

Home.

I loved that house. Oh, it held treasures! We had six bedrooms, rotating family, one whole room dedicated to our books, our own library! My father had a wood working shop, and there was this huge basement full of exciting surprises that could entertain any child’s imagination for hours. The kicker was that to get to the basement door, one must either brave this freaky carved mask with beady eyes that my parents hung over the stairwell or go out and around to the dungeon door off the yard. I chose to puff up my chest, hold my breath and run clodding down the stairs as fast as possible past the mask. Every time. Until we moved.

Home.

Years ago, I don’t know how many moves later, my older sister lived in a house in Atlanta with a basement and she hung that same dreadful mask over the stairwell. She had her own children by then. Why on Earth would she subject a whole new generation to the mask? Tradition? Nostalgia? A twinge of evil? As the younger sibling, the latter is a reasonable assumption.

Home.

Today I live in a beautiful historic home in downtown York. We’re in the heart of southern charm, we’ve found our place, and we’re settled. And yet. We’re selling it. Seven years ago, this house gave us the hope of finality, and for someone it may become that. It has been standing here in this very spot for ninety years minus a few months. I’m guessing it’s seen it’s lifetime of stories. It’s withstood almost a century of human experiences, and so it will continue to serve its community well. Our own stories are tucked gently within its walls.

When my husband left, that hope of finality for us staying here left as well. It’s taken us over two years to live into that truth, and all during that time our house has unmistakably been our refuge. It’s loved us through a bunch of just plain Hards, a sanctuary for us to escape – a birthplace for our changed family and our strengthened, resilient selves.

Home.

My momma went Home five years ago. I talk with her all the time, hear her voice in my conscious, think back to all the times when dramatic me had gotten so worked up, and can still see her sighing, “Oh Patrish.” I feel her hugs and her practical, sarcastic wit pulling me back into the present. Oh, Momma. Her kindness. Her patience with me in my irrational moments. Mom embodied “home”.

Dad still lives in their house, invited in a new wife who’s different from Mom but worthy of her place there. That house needed a woman again, and while a bit awkward at times, her merging of their lives provides a chance to witness growth. New love. (And new love, even in eighty year olds, is just as cheesy as new love in teenagers. Still fun to watch.)

Home.

We get incredibly attached to our buildings, our bits, and our things. We think we aren’t that connected to our simple clutter until change introduces itself, and then we panic all over again. It is completely true that Home is in the people, not the tangible, but it’s still a Hard Good – moving. The boys and I run the gamut of emotions on any given day on how we feel about letting someone new live in our house while we’re gone on this next adventure. Of course these people will have paid for this house and taken over the deed (and would probably be a bit disturbed if we showed back up announcing our adventure finished). But. The ownership of this space will still be ours until another landing spot deems itself worthy of the title.

Home.

H.O.M.E.

Home.

Strong Enough

I have depth. I have a voice. I have a sense of self, and it helps ground me.

I am not unique. Not in that way.

(I mean, I AM unique, but we’ll save that quirky bit for a lighter post.)

Women, we are smart. And beautiful. And worthy.

Worthy of love. Worthy of listeners. Worthy of respect. Worthy of gravity and reason and recognition.

And none of these attributes require an apology or an excuse.

In the past two years, many women have called. Each story different. Some abusive, some just plain miserable. But women call. Maybe they want to compare? To see if their situation is bad enough to warrant that desire to escape? To find out what single motherhood truly, practically, day to day entails? To find out the formula, the set of instructions in surviving divorce?

And the one thread that weaves through every story is the fear. Fear that this time, she is not strong enough. Or good enough. Or smart enough. Or thankful enough. Or Godly enough.

Fear holds women back. To be honest, fear holds humans back so often we at times can’t even recognize it as the barrier. Fear paralyzes, and it tells us we are weak or dangerously vulnerable or selfish. It pins us down and cements our dreams to a place of stagnation.

The first time I walked through the fear, it was terrifying and glorious. I keep doing it, situation after situation. Recently my son proclaimed that I just push through awkward like nothing he’s seen. And what he is truly witnessing is that determination to push through fear. Fear of hurt feelings, broken friendships, embarrassment, failure. Oh, the fear of failure is large and in charge. My three a.m. brain and fear have a deep, strong, relentless relationship. But no matter what the night holds, the beauty always wins, and the dawn keeps coming.

It keeps coming. Fear ain’t got nothing on the dawn.

So women. You are strong. You are worthy.

Keep cutting that thread and know….

You are more than Enough.

Lorie Cassidy Cooper of Ken’s Barbershop

Lorie and Ken cutting hair.

Me: How long have you lived in York?

LCC: I’ve been in York since 1988, so about 30 years. I moved here from Rock Hill, just right up the road. When I first moved here, I lived way out in the country for a long time.

Me: So you live in town now?

LCC: No, I still live in the country. I have lived in town before though. I was a gypsy for awhile.

Me: You just lived all over? All over town?

LCC: Yes. And Taiwan and um…

Me: Oh, OK. Not just around York! Other places too.

Laughter…..

LCC: Yeah, other places too. And I lived in a camper for three years. I had it right in front of Black’s Peaches. I was the only thing in this big ole field. I rented a little spot from John Black. I loved livin’ in a camper.

A Black’s Farm peach

Me: When you said gypsy and camper I was thinking you were one of those people that traveled around, but no.

LCC: No. I lived in a field. I loved it!

Me: You said Taiwan. Now why did you live over there?

LCC: My son moved there. He’s been there about ten years. He went to college. That was the initial reason, and he’s never come back. He is now on TV and movies and stuff like that.

Me: So he graduated from York Comp, right?

LCC: He graduated from York, went to Winthrop his first year, and did an exchange program to Taiwan and he stayed there. He’s made it. He’s made it big! He’s been home twice.

Me: How many times have you been there?

LCC: Twice. The first time I stayed for a year, and the last time was last September, and I went for two weeks.

Me: How long have you worked at Ken’s Barber?

Ken: 2004.

LCC: 15 years? Close enough.

Me: How many barbers have worked here? Just you and Ken and Ken’s daddy, Len?

Ken: Well, when she went to Taiwan, we had another one, but yeah. Just us.

Me: Did you plan to be a barber?

LCC: No. It was really strange. I was cuttin’ hair since I was little. My daddy would have me cut his hair since I was five years old. I would stand on a stool and cut my daddy’s hair, and then he would go get it fixed. I didn’t realize at that time he was showin’ me my career.

Me: So you’ve been doing this your whole life essentially.

LCC: Yeah, but I didn’t make money off of it until my Momma passed away, and that’s when I went to school. Took care of her while she was sick. After she passed away, it just kind of fell in my lap. I needed to do something. I didn’t know what to do with myself because I had been so stretched for so long, and I ran into these people and they knew somebody that needed to hire a barber and they did on the job training. So I worked for free to pay for my on the job training.

Me: And then you came here.

LCC: Yeah. Well, first I went to Blackwood Brothers, and I did an internship and then I came here after a year.

After that, umm, I ended up getting a divorce, and all kinds of stuff. I’ve got the best job in the world. If people knew how good this job is, I couldn’t have hand-picked a better job for me.

Me: What’s the best part?

LCC: The people. Getting to know them.

Me: I bet you get all kinds of stories in here.

LCC: A mentally handicapped man from York, people would pick on him. But people didn’t know what he would do. So this other man, I was cutting his hair, and that customer said, “Hey ____, did you know there’s a warrant out for your arrest?” Well, _____ picked up this chair, and I ducked cause I knew what he was fixin’ to do, and I said, “Don’t!” He set the chair back down, but that man wasn’t ready for that!

He would also get mad when it was snowing. He’d get mad. He used to live downtown, and he would walk here, but he lives with his brother now. That’s why you don’t see him around. We love him.

Talking…..

LCC: I was the first woman to work at this barber shop. It’s been here since the depression, and I’m the first woman.

Me: I don’t doubt it. You don’t hear about many woman barbers.

LCC: No. You don’t. And it’s so funny, when I started working here. They all pick on me. I’ve been the butt of every joke for fifteen years. Not everybody could do this job.

I don’t mind. I love it. I’ve got a lot of useless knowledge. Like Herman told me how to deliver a cow. Now when am I ever going to do that?

Me: I bet you hear a lot of gossip. What’s the best gossip you’ve heard??

Ken: We had a doctor once, would come in and tell us everything. He used names! We were like, Nooo!!!

Customer: I don’t want to hear that!

Ken: That’s what we told him.

LCC: It’s women that gossip. With men, it’s just BS. They’re talkin’ smack or it’s political. And I don’t know anything about politics, so I don’t say anything.

Me: Do you have any clients get in arguments? About politics or stuff like that?

LCC: Oh yes!! Ken!!

Ken: I had two old men fightin’ over me! They both wanted me.

LCC: Yeah! They both wanted Ken to cut their hair, and they’re both trying to get in the chair at the same time.

Laughter…

LCC: And then one of them got in a fight with me, and then later he’d say, “Hey!” He was trying to get on my good side in case we went to court.

LCC: But yes, people get heated about politics, especially around election time. Now Ken and I, we try to stay out of it.

Me: But Ken’s daddy didn’t. He’d talk about politics because that happened the first time we ever came in here. He was here, and he was telling all kinds of stuff. That’s what I was telling Ken, that my boys were excited and wanted to go back to the barber. They learned all kinds of things they had never heard before!

LCC: Oh I’m sure! Lenny will tell you, “I was a democrat until I learned to read.” But Ken and I, we stay out of it.

Me: Do you have a poignant or kindhearted story? (Ken pipes in, and I tell him to hush. It’s Lorie’s turn to tell a story. He smiles.)

LCC: There are kids that come in here… (Ken – Oh, yes.) I’m very mothering. There’s kids that come in here, and they don’t have anything. This one fellow that me and Ken got too close to, he had a whole lot of problems. He’d been in foster care, he’d been adopted, all kind of problems. Now, we’re only hearing his side of the story. We don’t know, but he was pitiful, and he was making a lot of bad choices, and me and Ken we’d try to give him advice. He was seventeen at the time he run away. But he ended up, they sent him off, and I don’t know where he is now.

…..

Kids get to me. I have another kid that comes in here. He’ll say, “I found something at the thrift store, and it’s two dollars, and I want it so bad!” And of course, I give him two dollars. The first time I saw him at the thrift store, he’s walking around, and he’s as skinny as a rail, and he had on high waters, socks, shoes that didn’t fit him, and he was carrying around these cleats. It was dead of summer, and he had on a jersey with football pads, and he had them cleats. The store clerk asked me what was with him, and I said he looked like a kid and that I’d go talk to him. Well he was just a kid, and he wasn’t on drugs or anything, he was just mentally unstable, and he wanted those cleats. His hair was all over the place. So, of course, I got them for him, and I got him something to eat, and I told the woman I’m going to cut his hair and we’ll be back to eat. He wasn’t this big around. So I cut his hair and he went back and ate, and of course, he’s come back after that. We have a lot of sad stories like that.

But I try to help people. Especially the children.

We kept on talking, but the best way to hear barbershop stories is to visit yourself. You can find Lorie and Ken at Ken’s Barber most days, and I can tell you, it’s worth the visit.

Lorie’s Chair



Personal Update

So HOW are you doing now? How’s real estate going? …

Oh, you’re doing music? (Y’all also mentally add, “Can you live on that??”)

Really.

Are you selling the house? Couldn’t you just put a sign in the front yard since you’re an agent? How are the boys with all this?

What about dating? Have you thought about dating? Have you met anyone? What do the boys think about you dating?

I’m telling you!

Since my divorce, lots of well meaning and genuinely caring friends have tended to ask the same questions repeatedly. Or they’ve had a look on their faces that says, “I have SOOO many questions, but it’s probably inappropriate to ask.” And here’s the thing. I really don’t mind sharing (to a certain degree) how we’re doing and where our journey has led us thus far. So without further adieu, here are the answers to your most burning questions about my new life (because I know we’re just SOOO exciting, lol!)

Careerwise, I kept attempting to balance music and real estate, and I felt spread way too thin. I honestly enjoy both careers, but the daily frustration of balancing short term financial needs and long term career goals proved too much. I have chosen to focus on music, keep my real estate license in referral status, and give up the future to God. Truly. My life works much more smoothly when I let go of fear and live confidently in the day I have at hand. And that kind of confidence for me only comes through faith, prayer, and self care.

Practically in the day to day, this means that I am available for real estate questions, and I can guide customers to people that are experts on a variety of real estate related fields. I listen, assess, and refer people to those best suited for each situation. Because I am not taking personal clients, this allows me to focus more fully on teaching music. I teach violin, viola, and beginning cello. I currently take students in my home studio, at Tillman Music in Rock Hill, and I am one of the string directors for Piedmont Music Academy during the school year.

In personal news, the boys and I are busy living our lives. We still participate in homeschooling, summers at the pool, and various extracurricular activities. Things have shifted a bit, but then things tend to shift with each new life stage anyway. I have promised the boys we will continue this lifestyle through the current school year and then evaluate needs again at that time.

I have no intentions of selling my home just yet. This house has been the boys’ refuge and landing place through a whole lot of growth these past seven years, and for their sake, I am staying put until there is a reason for us to do something differently. While we ponder possibilities of moving to new places or even just into the city or buying a farm in the country or building a tiny home on the lake, we are simply dreaming right now. Brainstorming out loud. It’s fun! There are certain to be changes in our future, but for now we’ll take the dreaming and the daily bread and be grateful.

Divorce is such a hard experience, but not everything that comes from this journey is negative. Many positive growth opportunities have challenged me, stretched me, and woken me up to so many new possibilities. I am a better person for having gone through divorce. The boys continue to encourage me and express how proud they’ve become of me for trying new experiences and entering the world again as my own individual. They have also matured and done a bit of soul searching that makes a momma drop to her knees at times. The amount of kindness and introspective beauty they’ve developed through this journey is a true gift to witness. So while we continue to evolve and grow, we cheer each other on in all of our new endeavors, and it is an honor to be their mother. 

Now, as for dating, well, that’s personal. At least for now.

Peace. Love. Grace. 

Patricia

 

Locked in Arthur’s Cooler… A Tribute to Black’s Peaches

Because there are days in the quicksand, and we all need to be able to laugh at ourselves…..

A few years ago, during the peak season of my homesteading passion, I ordered an acre of heirloom corn. And by order, I actually collected a group of like minded non-GMO, Earth loving people, and we paid a local farmer to grow us an acre of heirloom, silver queen corn. This worked out to around 5-15 bushels for each of us committed to the experiment. Depending on the weather. Now, the farmer that finally agreed to our deal lived up the road a bit, but an older, much closer farmer, by the name of Arthur Black, agreed to let us use his farm stand as our meeting grounds. Arthur told me GMO corn would end up feeding the world, but he knew there was a niche market for us hippies and his buddy was younger than him, so I stood a chance on Jody agreeing to the whole escapade. Jody jumped at the opportunity to work with us. Hippies or not.

Now, as a side note, hail hit our acre and raked right through all the stalks. It was a bit of a pitiful crop, and poor Jody was nothing but gracious the entire time. Farmers work harder than just about anybody I know. He delivered us the survivors and it still took me two days to shuck my corn.

Well, the day of delivery came, and Jody dropped off over a dozen crates full of corn loaded in their husks, leaving them in Arthur Black’s big walk in cooler out the back of his farm store and located in the big green barn. I was to come and get it all for everybody that morning so it didn’t waste too much room.  Therefore, I promptly arrived and backed my Explorer right up to that barn and went straight to that cooler to start unloading those crates. The ladies running the farm store informed me they’d gotten all their produce out for the day and to just shut it tight as I left. So I walked right in, started checking out the task at hand, and picked up the first crate. Except in my haste, I hadn’t propped open the cooler door. And now, while dressed in a knit skirt and a tank top, I was thoroughly locked in Arthur Black’s giant cooler behind the farm store in his big green barn. The handle, apparently, had been broken for quite some time, but at this moment I didn’t know anything other than I was locked. IN.

Glancing around, a tiny stream of daylight peaked through a corner of the door that hadn’t completely sealed. I kneeled down, face to the dirt floor, and screamed with all my might. I screamed til I ran dizzy, and all along I just kept thinking how serious this could turn out to be. Nobody needed anything from that cooler. Nobody was coming. My phone was in that Explorer.

I could hear Arthur’s elderly three legged dog scratching at the other side of the door, obviously alarmed by my distress calls. I prayed he’d go get help. And then I panicked. And in my panic, I tried to remember anything I could have ever learned about survival, and all I could think of was that I needed to eat. It would get my juices flowing, keep my sugar levels up, and maybe give me energy to produce body heat. This was not scientific knowledge, obviously. Just my panicked reasoning. Looking around, it suddenly occurred to me that I was surrounded by food! Beautiful peaches, cantaloupes, corn, and all the produce of a summer garden overflowing off those refrigerator shelves. And so I did what anyone out of their mind, locked in a cooler, at the mercy of a three legged elderly dog would do – I started eating.

I started eating peaches. Delicious, freshly picked Black’s farm peaches. It was a task of survival after all. During my panic, the dog had started barking, and right as I was diving into my second peach, the door opened. There I was, in my knit skirt and my tank top, peach juice running down my dirt covered cheeks, completely out of my mind with panic, eating food from the cooler shelves. And there was one of the farm stand employees, checking out why on Earth the dog wouldn’t stop barking. (That dog likely saved my life. But whew. Not my pride.)

Well, she immediately took in the whole view, and announced that if I ever chose to lock myself in Arthur Black’s cooler again, the back door worked just fine. All I had to do was turn around.

I loaded my corn crop out of that cooler right into my Explorer and thanked her profusely for the help.

peach

Y’all. I still can’t look at that big green barn without wanting peaches.

And Arthur does know how to grow some darn ones.

I just bought fresh yellow cling-frees today.

 

P.S. Black’s Peaches is in York and worth a day trip. He’s got a tractor playground, hay bales for climbing, produce, ice cream, and a lunch counter. Just an FYI. Even the humiliation from years ago can’t keep me away.

Summer Music Lessons and Workshops (and Camp!)

Educating Patricia Hatch’s Summer Music Offerings

Private Lessons – 45 minutes long, $25 weekly, paid at the beginning of each month. (If you or I are taking a week break for some reason, vacation, etc., then there is no charge for that off week. If I am given advance notice – more than 24 hours – of an absence due to illness or scheduling conflict, I will make every effort to reschedule, but make no guarantees. Same day cancellations are charged as a normal lesson.)

Sibling lessons – 45 minutes long, $30 weekly for the family, paid at the beginning of each month. If one student is significantly more advanced, we may need to discuss extending the lesson to one hour ($40) to be split between two students. This can be arranged as needed.

  • There will be an opportunity to play in public during the summer, possibly at a festival, a nursing home, or in a recital setting.
  • There will be no lessons May 28 – 31, June 25 – July 6. (Memorial Day week, Last week of June, Week of July 4th)

Strings Workshop – Learning to play together, Max. 6 students, For all players/ Tuesdays at 1pm.

  • Dates include July 10, 17, 24, 31
  • Workshops are charged at a rate of $15 weekly
  • Maximum spots available in each group is 6 students weekly.
  • The workshops are one hour in length.

Music may be emailed to print. Otherwise copies will be provided.

All lessons and workshops are taught out of my home in York. Please visit my website, https://educatingpatriciahatch.com or contact me at 803-741-4047/ pchatch76@gmail.com for questions or to sign up!


Performance Opportunities

Tuesday, August 7th, 10am – 2pm – Historic Brattonsville, Time Travel Tuesdays: We will be participating in Historic Brattonsville’s Time Travel Tuesdays by providing music for guests on the farm. More information will be provided the week prior to the event.

Saturday, September 8th, 6pm – Allison Creek Bluegrass: We have been invited to provided opening music for the monthly bluegrass concert held at Allison Creek. Please plan to get there a little early for warming up.

Completed – Acorn Acres String Camp! (June)