When this word was generated by Tabitha and I started mulling over what to write, I could not escape the numerous post ideas concerned with, well myself. I am not a delicate person. Physically nor emotionally nor behaviour wise. And this is not a recent thing. I can almost mark on the calendar when my lack of delicacy was firmly established. I was six. My parents had just announced that they bought me some new clothes, and with great enthusiasm started to pull out three new dresses that I would undoubtedly love. Up until that moment I was a normal girl-child, who indeed wore dresses. But when both my mum and dad started pulling out the three new frocks, something inside my head snapped. I officially became a tomb boy. Those dresses were the most hideous things I had ever seen and I fought tooth and nail not to have to put them on. I remember exactly how two of them looked like. One was purple (ala t-shirt dress – no frills to speak of), with a picture of a girl on it with floppy hair and a sew on necklace, the other was a stripey polo shirt-type dress, with a polo collar (pretty much a tennis outfit dress of the 1980s). My mum made me put on the dresses and started taking pictures of me to send back to Poland to my grandmother. I was mortified. And I chucked a massive tanty, which led to disciplinary action, which led to tears. From that moment on I wore shorts and pants only and my hair was never allowed to be left out. The only dress permissible in my wardrobe was my school uniform. The only acceptable hairstyle, a pony tail or a plait. This lasted up until I was about fifteen.
The delicacy associated with female clothing and my lack of wearing it, probably led to more possibilities for me as a young girl. My dad was just as keen to teach me how to change the washers in the laundry taps and to hook up the entire stereo system in the house as much as my mum was happy to teach me how to appreciate really fresh bed linen. For a long time I prided myself on being able to lug a 20 kg backpack through the mountains as well as being able to knit a scarf. Schwarzenegger’s Commando is still one of my all-time favourite movies. I also loved the winter Rocky IV training scene, the martial arts of Bloodsport, the male camaraderie of Stand by Me (umm, I actually knew most of the words off by heart), and the survival and the rites of passage of Kevin Bacon’s White Water Summer (that’s right ladies, not Footloose). My dad also allowed me to watch Rambo, but the war aspect just didn’t do it for me.
When I was pregnant with my first kid my friend Ves told me over the phone that obviously it would be a boy. When I asked why, he replied laughing I wouldn’t know what to do with a girl. I didn’t take offense because I have always liked that about myself, that I am not a predictable delicate female type. And when I was ready to start a family the idea of having three boys, my own private army unit, appealed greatly.
Meeting Michal and having him draw out the softer side of me however has been a value added. There is nothing wrong, it turns out, in being delicate from time to time and having someone else be stronger than you. I know that Michal knows that I can manage with a 20 kilo pack on my back in the mountains, but it’s nice that he takes the tent and all the heavy water bottles and the gas cooker and the cans of stew, just so that I can have an easier load.