Sunday, October 12, 2014

When I Grow Up, What Will I Be

When I Grow Up, What Will I Be
            In a note to a friend I mentioned that I have lived my life in chunks. The years on the ranch. Years raising my children. Years recovering furniture. Years in theatre.  Years in city government. Those sorts of chunks. Some chunks overlap. Some chunks I have tried to bury far from memory. Others I treasure. All are part of what makes me, well, me.

            I wonder what will define this particular chunk of my life. Lord knows, it is different from all the others.

            Looking back, I can find clues to what led me to decisions I made. For example, when I needed work that would enable me to be on hand to care for my children, I made a list of things I liked to do; of skills that I had accumulated.

            Actually, three girlfriends, each of us floating in the same boat, got together one day. We brain-stormed to come up with lists of interests and talents. Martha wanted to be a nurse. She said, “I can clean toilets.” So Martha cleaned houses to put herself through nursing school. Karla said, “I like yard sales and finding bargains.” She began collecting items for the weekend flea market. These many years later, Karla still makes her living at the flea market.

            Two of the items that stood out on my list were my sewing machine (I began sewing when I was eight) and tiny rooms of furniture and accessories I created in shoe boxes with discarded paper, paint, glue and junk, (also when I was eight, nine and ten). So recovering furniture seemed an obvious choice to me. The clues were all in front of my face.

             It didn’t take a lot of training to add to the skills I already had. For a good number of years I fed my family and paid the bills with the work of my hands and my creativity.

            Now I have entered a new and outrageously different phase of life. For a variety of reasons and physical necessity, I live a life of sloth and ease. I sold all my accumulated gear and made a beeline south where I found a small apartment in Mazatlan on the coast of Mexico.

            Should today be my last day on earth, I do not want “sloth” to be the defining word on my tombstone. I’m a do-er. My chunks of life have all been defined by verbs. Suddenly I am a noun, a be-er.  At times, I am a most uncomfortable noun, itching to “do”.

            When I examine my simple life, I don’t find much to put on my list. I mop each day. One could “eat off the floor”, not out of personal fastidiousness, but in my struggle to keep all crumbs away from critters: scorpions, cock roaches, centipedes and pesky little ants. I’d hate if “she mops” defined me.
            Many days I play a Mexican card game I learned on the beach. I’m pretty good. We play for fun. Gambling has never appealed to me as a viable vice. The few times I’ve gone to casinos with friends, I’ve donated my designated twenty dollars “fun money” on the nickel slots. During rehearsals for “The Queen of Bingo”, Billie and I went to bingo nights at the Elks to get the real feel for the game. Neither of us ever won a card. I still cringe when I think of a night, nearly fifty years ago, when a group of friends played a particular type of poker and I lost my shirt, so to speak. So that isn’t it.

            And I read. That comes closest to defining me. I’m a reader; you could say a promiscuous reader. I lose myself in a book for a portion of each day. That is my pleasure, but I feel a compelling tug to be out and about.

            Something will come along to give me do-purpose. But that little something has not shown up yet. Friends say, “Be patient.”

            I heaved a sigh (I’ve longed to write those words.) and looked around. In the years I’ve made trips here, I’ve bought every trinket and gadget sold on the beach. I have a copper pitcher, wooden boxes, clay bowls, silver jewelry, ironwood dominoes, leather parrots, a rusty iron pelican, woven rugs, blouses and serapes, hats and sunglasses. If I gathered it all, I could occupy at least one good season as a beach vendor. I’ve been told I look Mexican. My Spanglish is improving. “Beach Junque for sale. Happy hour. Almost free. Ten pesos.”    

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

September 25, 2014

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