I have a temper. I was born with it, like my blue eyes and the little space between my teeth. When I’m angry, I talk very fast and loud. So loud. My husband once remarked that arguing with me was like arguing with a buzz saw.

But I have boundaries, long-standing and unbreakable. They were set in stone when I was a kid, 8 or 9 years old.

I grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts, a city full of tenements, blocks of them, most with shared backyards. Some, like mine, had slopes perfect for sledding. Once when school had been canceled because of a blizzard, every kid in the neighborhood had spent the day screaming down that hill.

Then it happened. My mother appeared on our back porch to call me in to get warm.

Everyone looked at me and a few kids laughed. One girl, Dee Dee, who lived with her dad, sneered, “Boo hoo hoo – poor little Sandy is cold.” “Oh, yeah?” I sputtered, angry and embarrassed at being called out. “At least I have a mother that cares about me.”

Dee Dee’s hurt was too quick for her to hide and her face had a slapped look. I felt so ashamed then, right down to my bones, and I would have given anything to take back my hateful words.

So, yes, I have a temper. If we ever were to argue, I’d go toe to toe with you. It may get heated and I will talk very fast and I’ll be loud. So loud. But no matter how contentious or heated or loud it gets, there is one thing that you can count on for sure. I will never hurt you.

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