Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Maybe Behind The Bathroom Door

Maybe Behind The Bathroom Door
            I’ve lost my robe. I’m beside myself with anxiety. I didn’t realize it was gone. In fact, I have no idea exactly when I misplaced it. Surely, I couldn’t have thrown it away. I depend on that robe. It is a piece of me.

            My hermit robe. A “security blanket”. I wore it from the day I moved to Mazatlan. Protection in my desert of solitude. It circumscribed my hermitage, defined my retreat.

            Yesterday Bonnie said, “Sondra. You look so different.” We met in March, when I bought my casita. Bonnie manages the Rancho for her mother. She is a practitioner of several forms of Chinese medicine. She’s my acupuncturist and my friend.

            “Your face, you look so . . . happy. Tranquillo,” she continued.

            I looked around at the beauty, the garden I’ve created around my home. Who wouldn’t be happy?

            When Bonnie left I walked around my yard, thinking about my years in Mazatlan, the changes I’ve wrought in my eight months in Etzatlan. That’s when I discovered that my robe is missing.

            My apartment in Mazatlan, a block from the beach, was a perfect retreat house for me. I walked to the fruteria for groceries. I walked my laundry to the lavanderia. Several people greeted me regularly. I looked forward to seeing familiar faces. Every several days I called Carlos with his pulmonia to take me places I couldn’t walk. In winter months I visited Ted and Frank, apartment neighbors.

            Often days passed without me talking with anybody. I reveled in my solitude. My life as a recluse suited me. I needed it. I needed the quiet. I needed my time for healing in my desert hermitage. I wore my hermit robe comfortably.

            My life didn’t change overnight when I moved to Etzatlan, near Guadalajara. My first weeks I cleaned and fixed the inside of my casita, alone, content with work at which I’m good.

            I suspect, a guess, mind you, the changes began when I shifted my attention outdoors. This morning when Carol and John, “sometime” neighbors, came over, they asked, “How did you develop your garden? Did you start with a landscape plan? How did you begin what could be an overwhelming project?”

            Plant by plant. I took out planters. I added planters. I removed trees. I planted trees. I made spaces where flowers flourish.

My garden evolved, is still growing and changing. I suspect this will be true forever, my forever, as long as I’m here to derive pleasure from the privilege of creating spaces where beauty flourishes.

Along with the flowers, I count people friends in my garden. Some, like me, live here year-round. Some locals. Some Americanos. Some arrive for weeks or months and then go to another home for weeks and months.

Recently, I’ve added daily language study to my life. Not that it’s a necessity. I can, and have, gotten by with rudimentary Spanglish, pointing and desperate gestures. Like a toddler, I’m beginning with basics. I’ve yet to figure out how to introduce “El perro camino sobre mi camisa” (The dog walked over my shirt.) into everyday conversation. And I’m not sure I have the correct verb tense. But I’m doing it.

Recently, Bonnie’s daughter, Samantha began teaching Qigong, a Chinese energy movement practice, in the park behind our cluster of casitas. We meet for class twice a week, people from our Rancho, people from town. Between times, my neighbors meet in my back yard patio for practice daily.
See what I’m saying? My life has turned downside up.

It’s not all rosey-posey. My brand new non-working refrigerator has not been replaced, two weeks now. My yard resembles an open pit mine around my septic system. Poco y poco, tanks are cleaned only to find the drain is clogged with Yucca tree roots. Yucca, that same pretty summer flower along roadside barrow pits, is a tall tree in my yard, same creamy cluster of beautiful flowers. The roots, millions of tendrils, grew to encompass the tanks and clog the pipe. New pipe, new drain field, coming up. I’m still researching for a new computer since my trusty desktop died of old age and other infirmities.

Next step for my garden? The soil in the flower beds surrounding my yard is tired. I’ll dig out all the hundreds (literally) of lilies, planted helter-skelter, replace the dirt with composted topsoil, add a serpentine path through the middle of the five-foot wide flowerbed, replace the plants in neat clusters. What do you think?

My hermit robe is still missing. By the way, my bathroom doesn’t have a door, merely a curtain. But if I had a bathroom door, that’s where I’d hang my robe, on a hook, safe for when I need it. I’m naked without my trusty robe, aren’t I? I need my robe, don’t I?

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

October 20, 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Meanwhile, Back At The Rancho

Meanwhile, Back At The Rancho
            Those dratted leaf-cutter ants are at it again, drilling holes, raising mounds of pebbled dirt around their nests. Their chain-saw jaws can strip my hibiscus, roses, oleander and hydrangea in minutes, leaving bare-naked stalks. Unsated, they turn to the rest of my garden.

            I gently escort spiders out of my house. But when I see fresh ant hills, I show no mercy. We were driving out the Rancho road to the highway, going to Guadalajara to pick up Pam at the airport, when I saw a dozen new anthills outside my walls. That means they were also inside the walls. I made a note to sprinkle yellow death when we got home or I’d have no garden tomorrow.  

            For three days, twice a day, I tied a kerchief over my nose, slipped on nitrile gloves and sprinkled last rites above the piles. More will appear. Constant vigilance is required.

            Pam had shoe-horned a short trip into her schedule, five full days, days of exploration in Etzatlan, meeting my friends, wandering the tianguis, adventures in Tequila (the town, not the  drink), Teuitchitlan and the Guachimontones pyramids.

One morning we went shopping in town. I bought a new refrigerator. The store delivery men brought it the next day. Instructions say to let the gases settle twelve hours before plugging it in the outlet, then wait another twelve hours before filling it. I did all that.

My new fridge blows hot air. I’m waiting for the factory repair man to come verify the appliance doesn’t work. Then he writes a report to the company supervisor. Then I get a different new refrigerator. Once the refrigerator left the store, it became a factory problem. Or my problem.

My old refrigerator is out on my patio, plugged in next to my outdoor kitchen sink. Dinner prep means many trips in and out. The fridge still works, just sounds like a John Deere.

At the tianguis, the weekly open-air market, several blocks in length and crammed with goods, Pam took a million photos. Vendors from around the area hawk everything imaginable. The market is colorful, noisy, exciting; a place to explore delicious flavors and aromas and see fruits and vegetables unknown to us in Montana. And flowers.

I bought three tomatoes, a small head of lettuce and a pineapple. And a hydrangea, a gardenia, a small plant with orange flowers and a large plant with red flowers. And one more hibiscus. Well, I don’t have one that beautiful shade of tangerine.

Briefly I contemplated that I might have developed a strange garden obsession, I mean disease, I mean addiction. I don’t believe it is deadly. So why does everyone laugh at me when I bring home more plants? I don’t understand. There is a wee side effect. New pots must be purchased.

Pam is a trooper. We ate meals out at least once each day, sometimes twice. We had a breakfast of pork ribs with nopales at Dona Mary’s, a roadside shack near San Pedro, where all the foods are cooked over wood fires, including the best ever hand-patted tortillas. Believe me, this place would never catch one’s eye for fine dining. We licked our plates. We feasted on cheese stuffed gorditas in Magdalena, topped with a kind of mushroom stew. We sated our appetites on shrimp at every opportunity. Tacos or shrimp, all was excellent. Except one meal.

After a day at the Guachimontones pyramids, we were starved-horse hungry. We decided to splurge, to eat at a fancy restaurant on the lagoon. The caldo, a soup made from dried shrimp, served in many restaurants as an appetizer, was excellent. The rest of our meal was inedible. We left this supposedly posh place disappointed, dispirited and still hungry.

Best of all were times spent out on the patio, simply visiting and working on final details of Pam’s book. I loved watching people’s faces when I would introduce her. “This is my friend, Pamela. She’s my ex-husband’s wife.” Their puzzled faces scrunched even more when one of us would mention, “Our daughter.”

Pam got Dee’s hardest teen-age years, when I was a single parent with a world of other problems. Her Dad and I agreed that two parents were better than one for our mindful daughter. I got the holidays, the good stuff. I blessed Pam daily though she didn’t know it. 

Pam will come back to Etzatlan. Who knows, she might buy a get-away place here. After all, this was her “first” trip.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

October, 13, 2016

Thursday, October 6, 2016

All I Can Say

All I Can Say
            It is a good thing you have me to think of these things. It took a long time but I finally have the weather figured out.

            For years I have stated that weather forecasters use the dart board method. They follow a probability theory that some ding-bat engineer has worked up into a chart which a graphics specialist transferred to a giant dart board. So the meteorologist is blindfolded, turned in circles until dizzy, pointed toward the board, handed a dart. Wherever it lands, that is the forecast for the day. I used to sneer that the dart never landed on the right square.

            All week the meteorologists have predicted sunshine with 0% rain. We’ve had storms with as much as two inches of rain every day. I’m wrong. The forecast is right. I don’t know how I could have missed the obvious all these years. It’s the timing that is flawed. The monsoon will end. Manana.      

            Made you feel better, didn’t I? Well, somebody has to think of these things.

            In case you are thinking to attribute any genius to my mental abilities, I must confess, at times, I’m slow on the uptake.

            For about a month my bathroom shower has been slow to drain. By the time I rinse my hair, I’m standing in a couple inches of water. Soapy water. It’s not filthy. But, still . . .

            I meant to tell either Josue or Leo that I had a problem but by the time I saw either of them, my shower water backup had fled my brain.

A few days ago I heard Josue working next door and the proverbial light bulb flickered. “I think my septic tanks must be full or the drain-field saturated with all the rain.” I described the symptoms of my problem and Josue agreed to check the tanks the following day.

Meanwhile I spent a sleepless night worrying that I would have to replace the entire septic system and drain-field, more money flushed away. Why not? I’ve had to replace everything else in and around and connected with my house, except that and my refrigerator.

The refrigerator sounds like a 747 sitting on the runway, revving engines for take-off. I’ve already scouted out the new models in town.

So it was an easy stretch of my elastic imagination to suppose I’d be faced with a major septic mess.

And with company coming too. I have a friend arriving for a week’s rest and relaxation. I imagined both of us holed up in adjoining rooms in the hotel, eating all our meals at the nearest taco joint.
Josue dug up the septic tanks. Sure enough, both are full. It took a day to locate a sewage pump truck from a neighboring town. “He’ll come tomorrow after he finishes a job south of here.”

It rained. All night and half the day. The man with the pump truck never showed up. The next day was Sunday. Sunday is family and church day. Nobody works. Monday he came and looked at it. “Yep, needs to be pumped.” 

Meanwhile, belatedly, I began thinking. It’s only the shower that drains slowly. The kitchen sink is fine. The toilet flushes like a trooper. When the men laid new tile in the bathroom, they snagged a bucket (literally) of old hair out of the shower drain pipe. Suppose they loosened enough hairs that a gob fell back and clogged the small opening through the mesh. The men hadn’t cleaned the whole drain pipe, just what they could reach.

Leo told me, “Yvonne was ill. She lost hair by handfuls.”

Lani added, “She had long hair.”

Eventually the sun will shine. Wednesday the pumper guy with truck and tank arrived. Today Josue will snake out the shower drain pipe and remove the rest of the tangled mess. As long as the pipes are exposed, he’ll also make sure the drain-field pipe is clear of debris.

            Again, the sky rained all night. Rained until noon. My back yard looks like a lagoon. The weather forecast for the week ahead is sunny skies, same as the forecast for the week behind.

            In my next life I’m going to be a meteorologist. I’ve studied on a different method for predicting. Instead of throwing darts at a board, I’ll walk out my door. If the sun is shining, I’ll say, “Rain is on the way.” If I get wet, I’ll say, “Sunshine soon.” It’s all in the timing.

            Between the now and the then of this life and my next life, I’ll try to locate the sky faucets.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

October 6, 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

“When The Frost Is On The Pumpkin”
            “And the fodder’s in the shock.” James Whitcomb Riley, the “Hoosier Poet”. He wrote in dialect and I loved it. I memorized that entire poem in southern Indiana hillbilly style in third grade at Elizabeth. I like to think I was more in love with the season than the poet. No matter where I’ve lived, autumn has been special to me.
            That is, until I got to Mexico. In Mazatlan, on the coast of the Sea of Cortez, with desert a mere short drive inland, where I lived two and a half years, I could barely distinguish one season from another. Summertime brought torrential rains, short lived, usually at night. Summer was green. Winter tended more toward a lesser green with speckles of gray-brown.
            Here in Etzatlan, snugged against the hills in the high Sierra Madre valley near Guadalajara, summer is officially over; the rainy season has drifted away until next June. Corn stalks zoom even higher than elephants’ eyes. By the end of October, men will swarm into corn with machetes and stack the fodder into shocks. Cane reaches upward visibly day by day. Peppers soon will be ready for harvest and shipment all over the world.
            I’ve always been an avid weather watcher; too many Montana years where weather personified is a psychopath which might turn on one in a heartbeat. I’ve lived in many places but Montana is always “home”.
I’ve been in Etzatlan seven months. It’s the beginning of fall and I’m trying my best to find the errant season. Spring, March and April, were hot and dry. That is all messed up! Summer hot and wet with cool nights, ideal. I keep looking for signs of the fall season according to those which I remember best. None have appeared. What I do find baffles me.
            A huge tree at the corner of my garden resembles a floral umbrella, vibrant green leaves patterned with orange trumpet-like bouquets. Plants and bushes which bloomed in the spring are again in bloom, some for the third time. My bottle brush tree is full of red brushes and hummingbirds. How do they do that? Some never stop blooming. Like the lilies. And the roses.
That’s another thing. What are roses doing in this sub-tropical region? Brought here by gringos, no doubt. Yet every vivero (nursery) has a selection of roses. Leaf-cutter ants feast on my roses. These voracious critters form an assembly line and strip a rose bush in minutes. I’ve timed them. Once roses have been reduced to naked stalks, they turn their attention to the young oleander and baby hibiscus I just planted. To stop them I’ve, with requisite guilt, resorted to sprinkling a vile yellow powder while wearing rubber gloves and a face mask. I boil my body afterward.
I’m harvesting my first limes from the baby tree I planted in April. Oranges are forming on my new trees, barely as tall as me. I’ve no idea if they are in season or out of season. What is the season?
Canaries are returning from the north. I’ve seen the first two pairs this week. Ha! There’s another returned bird searching for bugs on my brick wall. He is a variety of woodpecker, the size of a chickadee.
And the “sheets” are back. They weren’t gone long. I call them sheets because this butterfly, the size of a saucer, floats in the air like a bed sheet on the line, gently shifting in the breeze.
Breeze? That’s another difference between here and there. The weather forecast this morning predicted winds from two to four miles per hour. Two to four? Is that measurable? Any self-respecting Montana wind would sneer at such a wimp.
Real winds, when they happen, seem to foretell incoming rain, whipping with intensity for ten or fifteen minutes. Then the wind falls off, raindrops start, the wind moves the clouds on over to the neighbors. I’m just describing what I’ve experienced.
But it is only the end of September. Maybe frost will rime the pumpkin yet. My neighbor told me last year one morning in January the top of his car was covered with frost. Big whoop, right!
I can still recite Riley’s entire poem and if I close my eyes, I can see the changes, smell the season. Birds and butterflies are great. But I’d love to see the gathering of the elk at Slippery Anne. I may have to get a ticket home.
Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door
September 29, 2016

Cross Your Eyes and Dot Your Teas

Cross Your Eyes and Dot Your Teas
            I like to write letters. I like to receive letters. It’s a lifelong habit for me. While I no longer have a mailbox, I do have an email account and a computer. While the pleasure is not even similar to pulling down the flap of the aluminum container perched on a post at the end of the drive, I have learned to compensate.
            We live in a wondrous and fearful world. Everything—letters, bills, junkmail, spam, appears on my screen without visible means of support.
            Just this week, in addition to daily notes from “regular” mailers, I heard from Lynne, a friend I haven’t seen in over twenty years. While “heard” isn’t the accurate word, she tried to contact me.
            Lynne was my first friend when I moved to Washington in ’84. We met through my, then embryonic, business. Together we crossed the Sound to hear the Seattle Symphony practice sessions, an experience which can be more exciting than the actual symphony. We sat around our kitchen tables and drank gallons of tea. We filled hours with conversation, hopes and dreams and “where did we go wrongs”. We both were alone, knew few other people in the area. In my case, in that first year, she was my only friend. 
            Despite our good intentions, we eventually got busy with our lives and somewhere along the way we lost touch. At that time neither of us could activate a computer. I couldn’t imagine ever using one though my eight-year-old son managed to scrounge one at a neighborhood yard-sale and within weeks was making the relic do things it was too old and never designed to do. He did not inherit his skills from me. I wish inheritance worked the other way around.
            Lynne located me through the Havre Daily News. I realize she didn’t walk into the newsroom and grab a paper. She probably Googled (Is that a real verb?) my name, opened the HDN website, read my column and found my email address at the end of the article.
            She tried to email me and failed to get through. Undaunted (I’m imagining the steps.), she then found my Montana Tumbleweed blogspot. She left a message for me. I am so excited.
            Lest you think I am computer savvy, I confess that my daughter set up and manages my blogspot. Dee Dee relayed Lynne’s message to me. For some reason, operator error, I’m certain, I cannot get into the mysterious innards of my blogspot from Mexico. So I asked Dee Dee to give my message to Lynne and assure her that the email address on my column is indeed the right one.
            I’m fairly certain, imagination again, that Lynne overlooked the dot in my address. It’s easy to do. After all, it is such a little thing, that dot in the middle of my name. A simple dot. One hardly notices it. In retrospect, when I set up the site, I should have simply said sondrajeandotashton, weird at that looks, it is visible.
            Meanwhile, out of the blue and across the miles, this same day, Steve’s wife Theresa emailed me to ask if she still had my correct email address. She said Steve wanted to email me. Ja! Ja! Ja! (That is laughter in Espanol.) Steve and email? That is funny.
I’ve been friends with Steve for years. He has never emailed me though I get occasional messages from Theresa. In fact, when last in Washington, Steve and I had coffee at my favorite coffeehouse, the Waterfront Bakery in Silverdale. He told me then that he was determined to learn to email. I smiled. But I never opened my mailbox to look for a letter. I know Steve.
Lynne will contact me. We have entire decades of time and experiences to share. I will check my inbox with happy anticipation. Maybe her message will await me in the morning.  
Who knows? Maybe Steve will write too.
Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

September 22, 2016

Monday, September 19, 2016

Churros In The Plaza—Snakes On The Doorstep

Churros In The Plaza—Snakes On The Doorstep
            My friends are back home in British Columbia. I signed up for three days of depression, lonely following our whirlwind of explorations and excitement. A vibrantly green lizard perches on my wall, staring down at me, as if to say, “I’m here. Don’t cry.”

            Each day brought choices, where to go, what to see. We drove to Tonola twice for the tianguis (open-air street market). Twice we plucked fruit and vegetables from huge piles at the Friday tianguis in Etzatlan.  

Under the guise of signing Kathy up for phone/internet service, we went to Tequila. Yes, Tequila is the actual name of a town.

            Etzatlan, in the valley rich with black volcanic dirt, is purely farm country. Tequila, in the red-rock volcanic hills, surrounded by blue agave fields, is home to Jose Cuervo Tequilas. The beautiful town, clean and festive, lured us into the museum, gallery, shops and a restaurant, of course, where I had shrimp in Tequila sauce. No, I did not have to go to a meeting afterward.  

            We staunchly resisted temptation though we could have been lured into imbibing tequila every ten meters. People here laugh at Americanos who drink rotgut bar tequila in slammers or sinkers or some weird thing—as quickly down the hatch as possible because it is so bad. Tequila is meant to be sipped and savored. Distilleries guard their secret recipes. Each brand has different strengths, flavors, and ages.  

            Oops—there goes my lizard, Verde, straight down into the giant philodendron, head first. I’ve been abandoned again!

            We saw Magdalena, famous for opal mines. We yielded to temptation, mea culpa, in San Marcos, where artisans make clay pottery dishes and cookware.

            Our favorite baker had a severe stroke so his (the 4:00) panaderia is closed. In our minds his baked goods are the best. So we had to search out other bakeries. We have settled on the 12:00 bakery for fresa (strawberry) empanadas, the 2:00 bakery for the most delicious Mexican cookies and the 5:00 bakery for bread rolls and other melt-in-your mouth goodies. Times refer to when the goodies emerge from the ovens.

These are very small bakeries, no signs over the door. Bread is made fresh daily and often sold out within a couple hours. It’s hard to justify baking when an empanada is 3.5 pesos and a bread roll is 3 pesos.

            About a half hour drive from Etzatlan, in the hills of Teutchitlan, archeologists uncovered ancient ruins of the Guachimontones pyramids. As early as 300 BCE an ancient people built a complex society around circular stepped pyramids. We were allowed to wander around these ancient sites, only a few of which have been restored. This is a “must” trip for everyone who visits me. No argument.

            On the way back from the pyramids, we dined at the three hundred year-old Hacienda La Rivera. I don’t mean we ate. We dined. There is a difference. We savored our choices over three hours. It seemed fitting. Nothing should be rushed after a day in the spiritual ruins.

            One Sunday evening we sat in the Plaza just to watch people and munch churros. There is something which must be respected in a society in which the entire family strolls around the square after church, enjoying one another, enjoying their neighbors.

            Every day brought new experiences, special times. My friends did not want to leave. On the last day we were sitting on my patio when a coral snake curled into view from around a flower pot to the right of my door. Kathy and Crin jumped on chairs. I knew it wouldn’t attack. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t afraid like I was with my first coral snake. But I wasn’t going to embrace it.

Josue and Erica ran over with shovels and dispatched the slinky bugger. What happened with “You’ll probably never see another one”? In Mexico it is against the law to kill the snakes. Don’t tell.

            You might think all we do down here is gallivant around. My everyday life is simple. We over-filled the few days Kathy and Crin were here. It was Crin’s first visit and we had ulterior motives. We wanted to convince Crin to buy a house and come frequently. Will she? A strong “maybe,” “probably,” “almost a done deal”.

            I’ll miss them terribly. Here comes a three-day depression. Three days of rest. My neglected garden is crying for attention. Working in the dirt will pull me together. Oh, another lizard on my wall—this one gray.

            Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

September 15, 2016

A Story With No Beginning And No End

A Story With No Beginning And No End
            Yesterday Ariel and Lani, Kathy and Crin and I went to Rolando’s taco restaurant.  He served us chicken with cream and mushroom sauce and all the fixings, family style. We loaded our plates and the only sound for twenty minutes was clinks of knives and forks. Delicioso.

            After overeating, we walked around the Plaza. We passed a young couple sitting on a white wrought-iron bench, his arm around her shoulders. She appeared sad, as if she might have been crying.

            I passed closest to the couple, and in Mexico, strangers give a polite greeting. “Buenas tardes,” I said and smiled.   

The man stopped me with an unusual question. “Senora, do you think my wife is beautiful?”

            “Yes,” I looked into her eyes. “You are muy bonita.”

            “She thinks she is not beautiful.” I relayed our conversation to my friends. With sincere words and gestures, we assured Danielle that she is indeed a lovely woman. Certainly Lorenzo thought her beautiful.

We will never know what caused her to doubt herself. It could have been something as simple as some other woman prancing by all dolled up. Our couple looked like they drove in from the farm, wearing jeans and boots and plaid shirts, clean and well pressed, but hardly high fashion. We learned Danielle is twenty-two. The couple has three babies. That alone would be enough to make me cry.

The look in her eyes jumped-started a memory as vividly as if it happened today. I’ve talked about it before. To briefly recap, I was divorced, a single mom, teaching school in Hays. I met a man from Box Elder who had a remarkable impact on my life. Over a few months time I saw James several times. We had fun together. I liked him a lot. But it wasn’t enough.

The finale exploded my world. I don’t remember what we were discussing. But I’ll never forget when I said to him, “But who do you want me to be. Just tell me who you want me to be.”

His reply, “I just want you to be yourself. I like you, not someone you think you need to be to please me.” Not the exact words, maybe, but close enough.

“Just be yourself.” How could I? I’d survived many years by being the chameleon I thought others wanted me to be.

Erasing myself had taken time, a subtle process, an on-going addition of many little things, all of which subtracted me.

As a child: You can’t be hungry. We just ate. Or you can’t be cold. It’s 75 degrees. It’s an easy progression to being told: You don’t want to do that. You really don’t want this one. You’re going to wear that? You don’t really think that. Why can’t you be more . . . (fill in the blank)? I heard it all.  And these examples are just a few of the words within which I became lost. Body language speaks even louder. Add isolation to criticism and half-truths. I disappeared.

Fortunately, though I never saw James again, I remembered his words, his priceless gift. James gave me back my life. I am the person he saw through all the masks.  

I began the search for myself by remembering my childhood, the things which gave me joy, the things that had nothing to do with pleasing other people. Gradually I put painting, sewing, designing, building, writing and rock collecting back into my life. These “doings” helped me to begin to “be” once again. Little things, over time, like wearing comfortable clothing rather than what I thought I should wear for the job, added to my increasing confidence.

That was the beginning of a long process. You’d have a hard time erasing me today!

I realize I’m imputing my experiences and pains onto Danielle, an innocent woman who may have simply stubbed her toe. Yet I think I recognize a relationship, however tenuous.

Before we left the Plaza the couple spoke with us again. Danielle looked considerably more cheerful. Yet she stayed in my head the rest of the night. I want to remember her with pink bubbles, three laughing babies and a man who wants her to be happy.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

September 8, 2016