Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

On Love and The Walls We Build

The walls we build are subtle, at first.

I remember being six. My hair was wispy. Long. I liked it that way.

I could make it into a face-curtain when the one hanging in the living room was too far away to escape to without being seen.

That was the year my cousin got a pixie cut, which I suppose was “in” at the time, although today I know that pixies look good on some people no matter their year, and not good on others, no matter their anything. I fall into the second camp.

“Just a trim, please,” I said. My mom had other plans.

I left the barber sporting a pixie that made my round face look rounder and my small ears smaller. I wore a hat for weeks.

When a trusted teacher took it off without asking, I started building my heart-wall. Shame and anger reddened my face but hardened my workers. The tiny people living inside me mixed mortar, stacked bricks and went to work. I could hear them shouting orders and the tiny “beep, beep” as mini forklifts backed up between corners with supplies.

I’d be more careful, next time.

Life offers a lot of wall-building opportunities.

Heart-bricks were added the day a girl at rollerskating said “You’re ugly,” and I didn’t say anything because I suspected she was right.

The day the boy I liked liked my friend instead, and she liked him back even though she’d told me she didn’t. The she’d never.

The day my mom moved out.

The night in high school when my first real boyfriend said “We’re not going to prom. Sorry. Also, I’ve decided Melissa isn’t as annoying as I thought and I’m going to give her a chance.”

The thing about building a wall is that the bad stuff still gets in while the good stuff sits down, defeated in the dirt in front of it.

No matter the strength of our walls, the bad stuff gets in.

The girl at rollerskating who calls us ugly is still right there, next to the most insecure and scared, sacred place inside.

The ones who leave us wondering, wishing, and sometimes plotting are right there too, while our wall-builders whisper “Told you. You’re not good enough.”

The good stuff though – that’s easy to keep out.

The person who says “hello” is “just being nice,” or is bored, or whatever. 

Maybe, the main wall I’d build around my heart wasn’t made of stone but of ice?

It was only our third date, but I was running out of time and had run out of games long ago. I said it. “I want a baby.”


I could hear the forklift engines revving up.

“It’s okay if you want to leave,” I said. “I know you already have kids.”

The workers were readying themselves to build the wall higher, stronger, because how stupid could I be asking this guy I just met to leave if a baby wasn’t in his future?

“Shhh,” he said. “I want to stay. And okay, to a baby. Just one?”

I listened for the workers inside and instead heard the melting of ice. “Huh,” I thought. “And all this time, I thought the wall was built of stone. Instead, it’s been a mini-glacier, and love is like hot water.”

“Just one,” I said, mostly meaning it because I was already considered Advanced Maternal Age, and how much could I push for on a third date (or in life)?

I wonder whether I meant to say “I want 1,001 babies,” but know that was likely impossible and a little bit crazy.

When we build walls, who are we really keeping out?

The walls spoken about in politics today scare the hell out of me. If the world’s history and my personal history has taught me anything, it’s that the bad gets in. The bad is determined, after all. Those who have nothing to lose will find a way to climb or to dig, much like our insecurities find ways to our centers despite our walls of stone or of ice.

The good though. The walls defeat the good.

There’s a guy out there right now who wants to build a wall, and he’s wrong, and building a wall is stupid and the bad guys will get in and the good guys won’t. I read an article about Carolina workers, and how Americans are given jobs as priority but only seven out of 6,500 stuck it out. SEVEN. The workers who farmed these crops are here, doing jobs that Americans don’t want to do! WTF??? We’re going to build a wall to keep them out? So what will we eat? More processed food? More cancer?

F*ck the walls, except sometimes, for privacy.

I sit in my tiny yard and I see the fence that divides me from our neighbors but rather than seeing a wall, I see my privacy. I see a small, safe space where I can pace while thinking of what I want to write, of the people coming and going at a distance.

I find tranquility in wondering whether they’re on their way home from work, going to a hospital to say a first hello or a last goodbye.

Maybe, they’re simply driving to the grocery to pick up strawberries because their son, like mine, eats too many carbs and always eats strawberries.

Mostly, I think walls don’t work and I want to not build them inside myself, or along my country’s borders. Let’s let the nice in.

Evil is only dispelled with magic wands, therapy, and love. The good? It’s sitting out there, waiting for us to melt the wall or stop it from happening in the first place. 
kristi rieger campbell finished post for finding ninee
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “When it comes to borders…” (borders, boundaries, walls…)
Our lovely co-host, and this week’s sentence-thinker-upper is Kerry, from Her Headache. She’s wonderful and wrote about borders, and the crossing of them in a FB post this week, so I asked if FTSF could use her idea this week. I’d planned to write about borders, and funny trips to Mexico, but instead, found myself stuck on walls.

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  • Deenie - This was really beautiful and very well written. #LoveFebruary 24, 2017 – 8:48 amReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - Walls.
    These word CHOKE me up, make me want to cry.
    …but we still build them.
    Btw, Kristi, you are beautiful, so very beautiful. xxFebruary 25, 2017 – 11:25 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - AW Kimmie! They kill me. CHOKE me. And yeah, people build them. We build them. WHY? To keep evil out but as you and I know there is no wall that keeps evil out. Evil finds a way. Walls keep good out.
      Also? It is YOU that is the beautiful one. xoxoFebruary 26, 2017 – 12:03 amReplyCancel

  • Kerry - So beautiful Kristi. Love it.

    I have built walls around my heart too, after losing friendship and love over the years. I hope, if they are made of ice as well, that the right set of circumstances will be able to warm and melt them.

    I agree that this topic is so multi faceted, as a fence to make a back yard a little private isn’t so bad, but getting to know our neighbours is still the best way to go. We can do both. It’s the walls to keep out the other that disturb me greatly. I just can not fathom.

    Thanks for asking me to do this. I hope I did okay, as all the link insertion stuff is a little difficult for me, as it is fairly visual and I only know to copy and paste. Thanks again. Xo.February 25, 2017 – 1:01 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Kerry, first, you did the link-up perfectly perfect. I am so sorry I didn’t look to see whether there’s a more voice-friendly version… they talk about,, but well, I’ll look, and thank you for the reminder.
      I’m so glad for your idea this week (even if I took it from a FB post – it was THAT dang good!!!)
      I agree about getting to know the neighbors, and for all of it. I can’t stand that we’re maybe going to build a wall? REALLY? WHY??? What will it do but NOTHING. It will do nothing but spend money that we need for other things. Like I dunno, giving kids with special needs equal school?? THAT.February 26, 2017 – 12:56 amReplyCancel

  • Emily - First, the pixie cut — me too! And, I hated it too! What was my mom thinking?! I do believe that that bad haircut has now made me care about how my hair looks way more than I probably would have otherwise. And, just for the record, you were an adorable kid. 🙂 And, the walls…I agree that the walls can keep out the good, but I also keep thinking and want to believe that walls (at least our personal walls) make us more resilient for the next time — whether it is someone calling us a name, giving us a bad haircut, or whatever. I don’t think a border wall will do that however…although maybe it will make the people on the other side of it more resilient? I still can’t believe or don’t want to believe that one will be built. I honestly thought it was a joke the first time it was mentioned.February 26, 2017 – 5:38 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - OMG you got the pixie cut too? SO GROSS when it’s not something you want, right?
      I hope you’re right about the walls and them making us more resilient, that makes sense. But holy crap to the ones that 45 wants to build… I thought it was a joke, too!February 26, 2017 – 11:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - You are so right about building walls that even though we build them we keep out the wrong stuff. The wall I built around my heart when Lindsey ran away with that older man, well, the wall didn’t solve anything. I still hurt.

    BTW, my sister had a pixie cut and it looked so cute on her! I don’t believe I was ever tortured with one. At least there are no pictures to prove that I was. 🙂

    You know my stance on a wall between us and Mexico. I’m totally against it. I don’t believe it will work. I don’t believe any walls work (except, like you said, for a little privacy). You always make me smile.March 4, 2017 – 8:48 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - My neighbor has a pixie cut and it’s adorable on her! Like seriously cute and stylish. With my face? Not a good look… And yeah, I do know that you and I agree completely on walls. They don’t work. The heart-ones, or the dividing ones. xoxoMarch 7, 2017 – 6:49 pmReplyCancel

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