Since I was a kid, I would talk to strangers, walk long distances, and spend many hours reading books and inventing imaginary scenes. No straight and narrow for me. I liked the winding streets, wind in my hair, eyes closed into the wind, leaning out the back of the Bonneville window.
Since tomorrow is my birthday, I’m thinking about the yield – a nice fall term – of these years and this attitude.
Surely, if I told you my whole story, you would be surprised. You would say, “My! I didn’t expect that of her.” Sort of like my senior hall mate in my freshman dorm, incredulous: “I didn’t know that Doris Day smoked pot.”
It shows in my choice of mates. No one docile and temperate would do for me. Our newlywed years were full of high tempers and drama. No one gave an inch. We are better at respecting each others’ thoughts and dreams these days, but we really haven’t calmed down that much.
My kids are unconventional. No girly girls, although they are certainly beautiful. We have musicians, artists, writers, singers, poets. We have a certified auto mechanic, installation technician on eight foot stilts, turning fills on snowboards, racing dirt bikes. We have an certified urban gardener passionate about sustainable growth, and a social worker (to be) who works with and for disadvantaged youth.
My hobbies are a little off. I can’t knit. I read romance novels and autobiographies, collect vintage cookbooks (which I read like novels) and dishes, especially brown transferware, and when I travel, I like to walk about. Tours are not preferred, although I do like a good ghost story or family legend. Somewhere, long ago, I read that when you travel, you should bring home art…usually, it lies flat and is a great value. I’ve done this since 1981. I would always rather get out of the plane or the car.
I love shoes, because I have nice feet. Everything always fits, unlike pants. I adore broaches.
I like the spin of a message, the point that gets to you, that changes your mind, your opinion, that opens a crack in a door. I enjoy a good philosophical debate, but I don’t appreciate over-blown rhetoric. I love grey. I don’t see the world in black and white.
Today’s youth think they are wild when they buck the system, thwart modern morality, try so very hard to be different. Sad to think that, as adults, we haven’t passed on the wisdom that it’s been ever thus. Poor Miley. Poor Justin, Selena, and their little Disney gang. Or any gang for that matter. Everyone is thinking, “If I make myself conspicuous, I will matter.”
As in, conspicuously sexual. Or violent. Or rich. Or drunk.
I like Jack Sparrow’s line in the first Pirates of the Caribbean: “The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can’t do. For instance, you can accept that your father was a pirate and a good man or you can’t. But pirate is in your blood, boy, so you’ll have to square with that some day.”
Lots of things are in my blood. Back when I was chasing down the moon, I couldn’t imagine that, at 54, I would still feel like a pirate. Its seems we would all have a better cultural and generational understanding if we could stand on deck and deliver. Even shy people would plant their feet and stand firm.
“This is who I am!” everyone would shout. “Like it? Because I walk on the wild side.”
This started with the juxtaposition of Meijer Gardens to Point Betsie (the cover photo), both really beautiful places to visit here in my glorious state of Michigan. But I prefer the crashing waves, the scrub grass and goldenrod to the cultivated sanctuary of the park. That’s just who I am.