This is me. The photo was taken when I was three, my mother says even then, she knew I was going to be a dreamer. A girl without an anchor...drifting through life until something external could grab me...anchor me...SAVE ME.
It's odd how a picture like this will bring about the feelings I had when I was growing up. I was a child who appeared on the outside....as...an outsider! It was so very hard to find common ground between me and my peers. I hated dolls. I could see no use in playing house, putting me in a dress was an exercise in futility. I was not a lady, nor would I ever learn to be one. It wasn't in my genetic makeup...somehow, that gene seemed to skipped over me to my sister. So, I often felt alone and dark. I often felt similar, I imagine, to how this swamp feels. Alive with unseen, unknown life. A senescent being, aware of herself, aware of her surroundings. Aware that both boys and girls regarded me as a swamp, an unknown entity. Something to be avoided and sneered at. A being whose essence was not understood, and left to figure her own way about the swamp...find the good things that lived within, and become a unique being unto herself.
Sometime after my forties, I came fully into myself. The light-bulb came on, the storm clouds parted and the rainbow of light and inspiration burst through. While nothing happens overnight, the light of happiness found a crack in my horrible dark and cloudy swamp. I started to discover and remember all the great things about this swamp that gives it the live many find irresistible! How could life have taken all the weird twists it did, to bring me here to this joyous place I live in today? I wonder...does everyone have these swamps that surround them? Do most find their way out earlier than others? Am I as unique as I like to think I am? Well of course, I AM....but just because of my perspectives and my way of processing adventures...not because of my dismal swamp years...I know now, we all have those.
I often find myself feeling as if I've soared into the high reaches of the swirling breezes. I'm feeling a lightness, a giddiness... and I think I can float above the confines of the troublesome, earthbound sorrows. I have a ground crew who follow me around. They try to make sure when I land, that it is not too bumpy or full of other types of obstacles to take me from a joyous mood to a deep, dark cavern of dense feelings, writhing to spill out from the carefully constructed woven basket that is my psyche.
When the darkness encroaches upon me, it's easy for me to identify it...to label it...and to visualize it, as this dark immature kid, sitting in the chair of leadership, taking retribution on the things I love around me. Causeing pain both physically and mentally. What a mean spirited child it is who sits in that chair of leadership, but it helps to remember to see this image of myself. It causes me to laugh, become aware once more of the consequences of my actions and moods.
It's time to hide that selfish, mean little brat. I see there are millions of small sheds where I can push my memories, my emotions, my thoughts of brilliance or the shameful thoughts of evil. These are the sheds in the bright concentrated areas of my meandering soul. These are the places I've been, as well as the new places I will find myself. You never really know what you will find behind the doors of the sheds in your mind...
I grew up a military kid. Dad was a 29 year veteran of the Air Force. We moved quite a bit. I guess you might say I was born with sand in my shoes. I love travel: if I can't travel far, then the next best adventure would be in some of the more unusual public gardens...
I've come to a conclusion: my love for travel is more unique than one would think for a military brat. Looking at my own family of two brothers and one sister, none seem to have the lust for travel that I do. They don't mind moving per say, but they don't like to just get up and go with no particular destination in mind.
This week, after a particularly long ride from my home in Tennessee, I stopped in to visit a friend who had just moved to the western states. She settled here after a long search of just the right desert for her...she choose to live in New Mexico. She likes the western flavor, mixed in with the Native American colors, cuisine and Mexican influences.
She loves the gaucho cowboy, the common prickely cacti...not to mention, she loves to show off the desert in bloom after a nice rain...who knew?
She lived very close to the Ohio river all her life. She has shown me pictures of the waterways near the home she lived in for almost 35 years. She has told me stories of how she would catch bull frogs as a kid on the banks.
I guess this accounts for the giant frog she once kept in her front yard. Audra still keeps him in her yard here in New Mexico. You know, she's done the unthinkable for the desert area: she's installed a large pond and oasis greenery in her back yard...look there is Fred...yeah, that's what she's named him...Fred.
I'm sitting in her yard now, reflecting on Fred. Drinking my unsweetened ice tea...and eating a slice of her world famous cream cheese cake.
I just wish she would leave off all the weird swirls of strawberry and the chocolate crisp...I really don't need to be impressed with the appearance of the food...just the taste! NUM NUM!
I awoke this morning with the anxiety and trepidation of a ground squirrel. Darting from my rumpled bed to the bright lights of my bathroom, I am taking care to avoid the mirror…I hadn’t slept well: I don't want to see the black pools of broken vessels lying beneath my strained eyes, encased bags of skin draped above my cheekbones.
Brushing my teeth, then my hair…I next fly to the kitchen, where I can smell the dark brown grinds of coffee beans…already sitting in the brew basket…basking in the hot water flowing over them…Bless the man who invented the auto timer on my drip coffee maker!
Raising my eyes to the kitchen window, I find the sun already seemingly high overhead even though it was only 6AM. I have never had a hard time adjusting to Daylight Savings Time…but it sometimes comes as a shock…Last nights sleeplessness is a prime example…tossing and turning in anticipation of the coming day…looking forward to the morning as I arise, expectant of the promised day of spring to come. I dart a quick glance out the window...I must be sure I'm not dreaming...it is still Spring isn't it?
Ahhh yes, look…it’s spring! See the spring flowers planted across the street in Mrs. Albin’s tiny front yard? There they are, next to the garish garden gnomes and huge topiary toads? I find my eye drifting to the small sign attached to the wall under her door bell…
“WORMS”….. Nothing more, just worms. I like her…she is just as strange as me… in a prevaricate and tangible way…she is a genuine and beloved character of my neighborhood. I smile, moving back to the waiting coffee pot. The gurgling has quieted, now all that remains is the delicious aroma of fresh roasted coffee. I pour myself a cup…yeah…just what I need…more fuel for the fire that burns within me.
Picking up my riding pack…I find myself bounding down the stairs to the garage where my motorcycle awaits me. Rushing to her side, I strap the day pack to her fender, then roll my little girl out the gaping maw that is the garage door. Her chrome gleams in the sun, reminding me I need my sun glasses. Rushing back to the door of my kitchen, I grab the dark glasses from the small receiving table just inside the door. As I return to my bike, I spy Mrs.Albin making her way across the street. She loves my bike…I think she secretly wants to be a biker, but at the age of 89, it appears she will be living vicariously through me.
Her bent form crossing the road to greet me causes me some pain. I really want to get on the road…I have an important date… “I’m late…I’m late…for an very important date…” No…I’m not that late…I can take the time to give her what she needs…Crossing over to her I take her arm, I ask her how she is. She shakes me off, telling me she needs me in her kitchen…NOW…wow she sure knows how to make me march to her drums! Off we go to her bright and cheery kitchen. As I walk through the door with this kind hearted but frumpy woman beside me…my nostrils are zapped with the wonderful aromas of baking bread and cookies!
Mrs. Albin has been baking. She has already made a batch of my favorite cookies she's also packed a lunch made of tomatoes and cheese,cut and put into baggies. I also noticed thick slabs of her famous potato bread: she was slathering butter on both slices, then slammed them together wrapping them in wax paper…She stuffs all this into a paper bag as I watch...and she solemnly hands the bag over to me, I love this lady.
I lean down, give her a kiss and a hug…she forces a promise from me to stop by after my day. I know she will entreat me to retell the dealings of my ride. I enjoy her bright sparkling eyes…so yes, I promise her, I will return to her kitchen tonight when I get back…I know I would rather come home to a hot shower and fall into bed…but those eyes…when she listens to my adventures…sparkle and shine with such life. I’m a fool if I don’t take advantage of this woman’s zest for life…I will be here after my day of adventure has led me back home.
Back in my own driveway, I bring the little girl to life with a twist of the throttle and a flick of a button…we are turning our wheels out onto the tarmac and into the road. I live on a small one lane road in the country…and as I leave, I spy another neighbor as he comes back from his early morning paddle…
“HI Jimmy!” I shout out to him over the roar of my exhaust… I expect nothing back in return other than a smile…
“Yes,” I say to myself, “today is promising a day full of life and adventure..."