I seek to break them. Sometimes I am only allowed to bend them. It took many years to find my voice. I was always told by my mother that I was never good enough, and why would a girlfriend in grade school invite me for a sleepover. Why would any high school friend invite me to a party, or a boy ask me out on a date?

People. I instantly connect. My brain just does it and if someone looks sad I say I love your shirt! Like the tie, where did you get it, my husband would look great in that tie. Sometimes it just snaps them out of a funky mood.

I know my first gay friend, but cannot tell you who he is. Accepting people for who they are is my nature, compounded by my great Aunt Rose who’s husband said if there’s a gay guy within 100 miles they’ll be here. Same with me. My husband’s family would be shocked, my husband knows me and probably likes that the guys I hang out with are gay and no threat to our marriage.

We take in “orphans” at Christmas, neighbors, adults who are single and who are new or have no family or have family far away and have to perform surgery tomorrow morning. It is a lot of work but I get to cook for so many interesting people over the years.

It is always refreshing to hear someone’s story and know where they came from and the life they’ve led.

I grew up in a small village. Dad was the first person in his family to ever go to college. He worked at the college that brought 1,000 students in every year to our village and was sent to get his Masters, then Doctorate. His accomplishments allowed us to leave that village and grow up in a different realm.

If we had not left the village, I’d have a bunch of kids and probably be divorced from a local boy. The world is a scary place, but thanks to Dad I’ve seen a lot of it. He’s getting older, but still protects his kids and grandkids.

Along the way I also met a husband who is my bling, all I have is one band of 18K gold to say we’re solid. No engagement ring. Yes, I’ve a Claddagh. I insisted against an engagement ring our first week of dating because it’s just not fair. He was Republican, I was a Democrat. We’re now Independent. Our neighbor won’t let him register (I agree). Barriers lifted.

Yes, there are still fiesty debates between me and his Fox News Channel father. Husband, brother and MIL all bow out and no-one comes to my defense. Hearty banter. I still have to to take our dog out and he has to take grain and hay to the cattle. Our Zoe stands up on his part of the living room sofa and awaits his return. I think he appreciates all of us. Barriers, I’m no longer called a Yankee and the Civil War is no longer The War of Northern Aggression. I’ve been assimilated, to a point. I love him. No harm, no foul. We never get angry.

I draw the line at reptiles and birds. We had a pact in our old neighborhood. I’d be called in for dogs and cats, and a friend would be called for birds and reptiles. Erecting barriers, but as it was all volunteer and took a lot of time it made sense to know our strengths and show them.

There are so many people over our lives from other cultures that we need to embrace. I think about Dad’s journey, those of my brother and sisters, my husband’s family. It really is one giant melting pot. As a cook I may liken it to a fondue with a lot of cheeses and dipping ingredients. Don’t get me started.

Think about a person in another country, another faith. Think about them having dinner as a family, with kids who need to do homework after the meal. As people, aren’t we all the same?

The wars our countries fight do not make any sense. They are barriers to us being people with families who just want to live another day. With faith and hope, Dee


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