Taylor Funk – My Friends, Sally and Bob

The one thing that we have from the moment of birth to the moment of death is our body. It can change slightly or drastically over time, but no matter what, it’s always there. Everyone knows that we use our bodies for everything we do. If we didn’t have legs, we couldn’t walk. If we didn’t have eyes or ears, we couldn’t see or hear. Some people may use their bodies more than others. Some people might choose to change the way we see their bodies. Some people’s bodies may have failed them. Everything we do is all thanks to our bodies, and some people may take their body for granted. It’s impossible to list everything our bodies do for us and provide us with.

As children, we’re only just beginning to learn how to use our bodies. Walking, talking, eating, drinking, sleeping, and playing are all things that need to be learned. I learned how to talk at an early age. When I was a child, I had two imaginary friends: Sally and Bob. The only difference is that they weren’t imaginary. They were real objects that I could see and touch. Everyone else could see them, too. Sally and Bob weren’t imaginary, they were my hands.

My parents were separated teen parents. Now that I’m older than they were when I was born, I can easily understand how difficult it must’ve been for them. High school relationships and break ups are always messy, but breaking up while expecting a child? I can hardly blame my young, hormonal parents for the things they did. I can’t imagine having a child at 16 years old, so I do have to give them a lot of credit. My mother and father’s family already didn’t get along before my mother even met my father, because my uncle was gossiping about my mother. Once my mother found out and confronted my father’s family, things only got messier from there. Then my parents met, and I came along shortly after. My mother hated my dad’s family, my father hated my mother; from the moment that I was created, there was always some type of animosity between my family. I don’t know the full timeline of their relationship, but my parents were already broken up when I was born. My mother thought my dad would stay with her if she had a baby, but they were never really meant to stay together. I don’t exactly think I was a planned baby, but I know my mother wanted me. For most children, they go from having one, loving home to two, divided houses, and they have to learn how to adjust to that situation. But for me, it was all I knew. There’s never been a time in my life that both of my parents lived under the same roof. Through countless custody arrangements and visitation agreements, I was caught in the middle. Every weekend I would pack up some of my belongings to take to my dad’s house. Don’t get me wrong, each of my houses were fully stocked with clothes, toys, movies, and really anything else I may have wanted. But there was never something that stayed with me 24/7. Something would always be forgotten and left at the other house. The only thing that I had constantly was myself, my body.

I don’t know how or when it started, but eventually I began talking to my hands. I named them Sally and Bob and would create the most outrageous stories about them. I can’t remember much of their adventures now, but I do remember that at some point, they got married. Maybe I wanted the happy ending my parents never got for Sally and Bob. I would talk about my hands like they were characters in a movie, like I was sitting back and watching them live their own lives. I would talk to Sally and Bob, and they would talk back. They were never too busy to hang out with me, never got tired of hearing me babble about whatever was so important in my four-year-old life. And the best part? I couldn’t forget them at my other house! They were my built-in best friends that literally never left my side.

My family knew about Sally and Bob because I was always telling them about their crazy stories. They knew that their child was talking to her hands. I’m sure they all had their own ideas as to why I was talking to my hands like they were real people. It could be explained that I was just being a kid, that all kids have imaginary friends. Maybe they thought I was already bored with the toys that they spent their hard-earned money on. Maybe they thought I was a little weird. But if you ask me, I will explain it as a child who was exhausted of living her life out of a little schoolbag. A girl who was always afraid of leaving something behind because she knew that she’d get in trouble for making her mom drive the five minutes to her dad’s house. I may have only been in preschool, but I was very observant and mature for my age. I was surrounded by people talking badly about the ones I loved. I just wanted some type of consistency in my life, and sometimes it really felt like I only had myself to rely on. My hands were literally the only things I had that were always with me.

Even though I loved to talk, I’ve never really been extroverted. I usually keep to myself and won’t approach other people unless they talk to me first. I think part of the reason I talked to Sally and Bob is because I’ve always felt more comfortable alone than with other people. Even now, I would prefer to be by myself than talk to other people sometimes. My family always asks me why I’m so quiet and assumes that I’m in a bad mood because I don’t say much, but it’s usually just because I’d rather be alone. Maybe one of the reasons I started talking to Sally and Bob was because I knew they wouldn’t judge me. I’m constantly worried about what other people think about me, which is part of the reason I’m so quiet.

I don’t know when I stopped talking to Sally and Bob, but eventually I did. My grandmom loves to bring up Sally and Bob randomly when we’re together much to my embarrassment. I hate when my family brings them up because it’s embarrassing to admit that I talked to my hands. They think it was funny and cute, but they don’t realize that I was doing it out of loneliness. If I told them that the real reason I talked to my hands, they would tell me that I had no reason to be lonely and should’ve told someone about it. I just wish that my family realized how hard it was for me growing up and validated the way I felt.

Although I’m embarrassed that I spoke to my hands, I’m grateful for the comfort that it brought me when I was a child. I needed someone to always be there with me, and I found that within myself. Sally and Bob helped me deal with the constant struggle of going back and forth, and if it wasn’t for my hands, I don’t know who I would’ve spoken to during that time. My hands always have and always will be with me. These are the hands I used to defend myself, to pack my bags when I got kicked out of my mother’s house last year, to wipe my tears away. And yet, these are the hands that I held my baby brothers with for the first time. The hands I use to hold the ones I love. The hands I use to express things when I’m excitedly talking. And one day, these are the hands I will use to hold my husband’s hand at the altar, to hold my own children, and to save lives.

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