Monday, June 20, 2011

Pale, white, female

I think we all feel like an outsider in our own family at on point or another.  I am adopted, which does technically make me an outsider in the family gene pool.  Never has my family intentionally done anything to make me feel like anything less then a part of a family, however some situations remind me.  Growing up, Dad would cover my pale white skin with the highest SPF available whenever I stepped outside the house. The scent of the sunscreen made me gag but he persisted none the less. The process seemed to take hours.  I sat with Dad as he generously applied the sunscreen and watched LittleSister run around with her sunscreen free olive skin.  Our family spent Texas summers outside in the pool.  I hated it.  By the end of the summer, everyone had dark brown skin except for me. In family photos, my white bright skin seems blinding next to their tanned brown sun tans.  My skin remained, pale white with a few specks of new freckles to remind me of my time in the sun.  Now into my thirties, when summer hits I do my best to stay indoors in the cool air-conditioned, sun free environment.  I haven't purchased a new bathing suit in over ten years and it only comes out for special vacations. 
Both my sisters were headed to my Dad's for Fathers Day so I decided to make the 3 hour drive down as well.  I was the last to arrive.  I told them I planned on arriving at noon and exactly at noon I pulled into their driveway.  The front door was unlocked and I walked right into an empty house.  Nobody around, no note, but evidence of goggles and flip flops directed me to the neighborhood pool.  I dug through my  car trunk for a baseball cap to wear to cover my face. As a thirty something woman, another excuse I use to stay out of the sun is to minimize my developing crows feet and sun spots.  The thought of packing a bathing suit hadn't even crossed my mind.  I wore a tank top and shorts and walked down the street to the pool.  I found my entire family sprayed with oil sunbathing and splashing in the pool.  Suddenly I felt like I was 8 years old again and an outsider.  I decided to sit at the edge of the pool and dangle my feet in.  My family made jokes about me not having my bathing suit and my hat to block the sun.  Even with my feet in the pool, after thirty minutes I am at my limit of sitting in 100 degree weather.  
"I'm heading in," I declare as I watch my 3 month old twin nephews float in the pool.
"What, why?" They question and they stare me down.
"Because I hate the sun and the heat," I reply.  After over 30 years of me, you'd think this wouldn't come as shocking news to them.  
I head back to the house alone.  I get comfortable on the couch and watch the previously recorded Tony Awards from earlier in the week.  My skin starts burning and realize after 30 minutes in the sun, I am sunburned.  I search the medicine cabinets for aloe, and have no luck.  Two hours later, the family returns from the pool to find me sunburned on the couch singing along to the newest Broadway sensation Book of Morman once again displaying myself as the odd ball in the family.  But what fun would families be if we were all alike, right?

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