Dear Becky from Hillsdale Lake Greensboro,

The Legend of Billie Jean (Movie) - When do I get a body like Helen Slater?
Hillsdale Lake is situated just off Battleground Avenue up Strawberry Road. It's a gorgeous lake on a quiet side road with a small pier and a tiny pavilion. Throw a 1977 Instagram filter on your selfie and lay out on the wood boardwalk as the warm summer breeze blows over your mid-drift. It all takes you back to simpler times. Think 80s movies like the Legend of Billie Jean. You could easily Pinterest Hillsdale as the idyllic life for Greensboro. That's until Becky shows up in her mini-van.

I've been going to Hillsdale since I was a teenager. A friend of a friend divulged this secret skinny dipping spot to our band of merry troublemakers in a former life. During the 90s, we were chased out of this community by the cops more times than I can count. As a teenager it was warranted. We'd arrive after midnight, often doing what teenagers in Greensboro do.

Yesterday, after a bit of chicken and waffles from Dame's we drove with the top down on the Mustang out to the lake, a car unlike my teenage years, good enough to pass (barely) to the bourgeois whose homes line the lake. It was for a bit of nostalgia as I just wanted to see the old place. I was surprised that I could remember exactly how to get there as it had been more than a decade since I had visited. It still looked exactly the same... beautiful and empty, isolated.

We walked out on the pier, sat on the edge and just enjoyed what could have easily become the cover of the next indie band's LP cover. My eyes were closed as the sun hit my face as I heard Becky's mini-van roll up. I could hear her heavy stepped walk approach us with hesitation as she unloaded her numerous beach items from her vehicle. Slowly, she prepared her squat on the man-made beach letting out audible grunts of frustration.  As the boards on the pier creaked with her approach, I could feel both her apprehension and her disgust that two women dare share her neighborhood lake.

Becky with her corpulent legs poking through her swimsuit had seen better days. She deserved a day at the beach, no doubt. Her ample thighs were the first thing I caught sight of as I opened my eyes, somewhat ruining the gorgeous scenery. As a fat girl myself with my own shameful body, I understand the vulnerability of going public in bathing suits (it took me 30 some years to buy my first bikini). As Becky began her interrogation of why we were on the pier and lake (owned by the home owner's association), I could sense her feeling of vulnerability and that she expected no one to be here. I get it.

I explained to her that we were just checking out the old place and we weren't causing any trouble. She demanded we leave. A giant lake with no one using it, but Becky wanted it all to herself. I accept that I don't look my age, I know she doesn't know who I am or my education level. In this moment, Becky wanted to teach me the lesson of the 1%. Clearly, in her eyes, I wasn't apart of that elite Greensboro demographic. As I translated her tone and language to words only us poor hoodlums could understand, I heard "go back to where you came from". I asked her, "Does it bother you that we're here?" - She seemed flustered, and stated that the lake is only available for people rich enough to own a home here and their guests. She could have easily offered to sponsor us, but why would anyone share nature when you're entitled to the whole damn place to yourself. "We will leave if we make you feel uncomfortable.", I said. She shrugged and couldn't even muster a "yes" as she turned to grab a water bottle, clutched so tightly that the plastic sides of the container began to crack under the pressure of her hand.

So we left. So, Dear Becky of Hillsdale Lake and other residents. Sorry for invading your beautiful solitude. Sorry for sharing a moment in the sunshine of in the shadows of your beautiful homes. I'll go back to my cow patch now and dream about those moments from the windows of the trailer park. Here's wishing you and your day at the lake was the best. Thanks for your southern hospitality and warmth in our shared humanity.


  1. There was a time when only black people were discriminated against here in Greensboro, when white people could go most anywhere they wanted to go in the daylight hours and never be questioned. Make no doubt, those of us who are blue collar working class whites are now seen with the same disdain as Greensboro's elites view blacks. It's time Greensboro's working class blacks and whites worked as one

  2. I will never fit into the ideals of acceptability... and for that I understand I can never be fully a part of the class system here in North Carolina.

  3. Liv, it has been my experience that most learn compassion through suffering. Those bearing down on us with the least compassion have suffered the least. Sad, I know.


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