Finding My Place

I’ve known many people that were always satisfied to stay in one place. Never moving very far from where they grew up. I didn’t have that gene. I was continuously searching for something or somewhere better. I’m not saying where I grew up was a lousy place.  More so, it was a beautiful place. Small town, USA. A farming community. A place where the stores closed on Wednesday afternoons and were open on Saturdays until noon. Nothing was open on Sundays except for a few restaurants and gas stations.  The town was growing and now when I visit I barely recognize the place. I might add, the traffic is horrible considering when my parents moved in there was only one traffic light in the city limits.

My searching for a better place started before I even graduated from high school.  I had no interest in college. I just wanted to find a job and save enough money to leave. Didn’t know where to, just go. And I was gone before I was twenty-one. I didn’t just move to another city. I not only moved to a different state, but I made it across the country to the west coast.  Seattle area was my stopping place. Yes the grass was greener there, but there was still something missing. Family maybe?  A year later I found myself back in my hometown.  It took me seven more years to leave again.

A lot of life events happened in those seven years, but there was still that longing to be somewhere else. I jumped at the chance to move with a job promotion.  Although happy there, the thought of somewhere better was still deep within me.

Through the years, I have lived in four more states and numerous cities. For years I would come to the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia to vacation.  Camping, canoeing, kayaking, and hiking. Sever times I tried to talk my husband into moving to the area, but our jobs wouldn’t allow the move. Finally, I gave up. My time in Virginia was lovely. I spent many weekends in the Blue Ridge mountains. An opportunity came to live in Montana. A different like of beauty that almost killed the wanderlust in my veins.  Family duties moved us to Arizona. A desert is a magical place, but the heat is unbearable, even if it’s a dry heat.

When our family responsibilities came to an end, we started looking for a place to become our forever home. About time, no?  We spent hours upon hours scouring the internet looking at homes from Montana to the four corners of the Southwest, to the hill country of Texas. Then one day my husband suggested the northern mountains of Georgia. My first thought was humidity. NO! Nope, Not going to happen.  After weeks of him reminding me of how we use to vacation in the area in the summer, camping in a tent and we loved it, I finally gave in and said I would go look.

We packed up the dogs and truck and headed East! We had rented a cabin near Blue Ridge, Georgia. Even though it was winter and there was snow on the ground, I felt a peaceful calm come over me. Over the years, I had forgotten how these mountains affected me.  

A few months later we have moved into our forever home. I finally found a place that I never wish to leave. If I finish my life on this mountain, my life will be complete. I’m finally at peace with the paths I have taken. I have forgiven myself for my mistakes. I am thankful for all the good things that have happened to me and have put away all the bad stuff from the past.

I do not know if it was God who lead me here or fate, or I’m just lucky. One thing I know, this place finally killed the wanderlust from my body. Don’t get me wrong, I still have two places on my bucket list to visit, but this is home!

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Then and Now

“Mama, I hate this dress. It’s scratchy. I want to be a boy!”

“Honey, you were born a girl. You can wear your cowgirl outfit this afternoon. There are just times we must dress like little girls. “

“Boys have more fun!”

In one form or another this conversation played out in my home for years. I so wanted to be a boy. I had no interest in dolls, or dresses, or having mom fuss over my hair. I wanted to sport a pair of blue jeans, a shirt and a six shooter on my hip. I can’t remember if mom made my cowgirl outfit or bought it, but I would bet money that she made it herself. She was a wonderful seamstress.  But there I was all decked out, just like Dale Evans.  Life was good.

Mom would drag me kicking and screaming into beautiful, ruffled dresses every chance she got. Holidays were a nightmare for this little tomboy. I’m sure that reference will offend many but back in the day, that was my label.  Sundays would find me in a prickly, scratchy, dress with my hair all curled up. I couldn’t be still in Sunday school from all the scratching that was going on.  Mom would tell me to stop, the material was soft. Soft for an elephant maybe.  It was the 1950s. No such thing as fabric softener. Only starch to make those petticoats stand out. She even bought me dolls to play with. Boring!

Over the years of me complaining about being a girl, not once did my parents ever say, “That’s okay Honey. You can be a boy.”  What the hell?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand there are people out there in the world that are gay. They have the need or wants to be with their own gender.  I have had gay friends tell me they knew from an early age that they were different. I once asked a gay male friend of mine if he dressed as a girl when he was a kid. His answer was…..ah no.  However, his partner told me he had.

I guess I’m just too old to understand this transgender stuff. My theory is if you are born with a penis, you are male. If you are born with a vagina, you’re a girl. Get over it. I did when I was about twelve. All along I knew I was never going to change into a boy. With parents that allowed me to play with toys that were considered boy’s stuff, I was satisfied.

But that was then, and now our world has changed. People are allowing their children to pick what gender they wish to be. I saw on a TV show the other night a child was saying they identify as gender Z. WTH is that? Zebra? Zillow?

All in all, there is just one human race. Two genders. Live by the golden rule and all will be good. How hard is that? 

A Different View

After a FaceBook conversation yesterday regarding a Confederate flag being flown at a home in a nearby city, I started thinking about the different views.

I was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in Brighton, Michigan. My parents were from the South, as were many of my childhood friends
parents. Many of them moving to the North in the late 1930s or after WWII in search of better jobs. Our parents talked a little different; we ate a bit differently, drank sweet tea, and taught slightly different manners. I was once told by a school mate that I always had a Southern drawl. I never knew. My grandparents, most of my Aunts, Uncles, and cousins,
still lived in the South. Many of our family vacations were spent visiting family ‘down South’ we would say. It wasn’t until years later that I learned just how many of my school mates had Southern
roots also — more than I had ever
thought. I thought I was special.

All these years later, yesterday, I found myself defending a symbol of my heritage. I was told the Confederate flag stood for hate, slavery, intimidated minorities, and it should be in a museum. My classmate for all those years ago told me how that flag offended him.

Pushing seventy years of age, I have now lived my life longer in the South than the state where I grew up. I have lived in three different deep South states, which included five different cities. In all those places, in all the people I have met, not one has ever associated the Confederate flag with slavery. Not one has ever used the flag to intimidate another person. Not one has ever used it as a symbol of hate. Every single person I have ever known has thought of that flag as a symbol of their heritage. Even people of color looked upon the flag as part of their heritage.

I’m not sure if it’s the difference between rural and city people, but the people I have met, associated with, worked with, and have been friends with, regardless of our skin colors have always said, I’ve never owned a slave, my parents have never owned a slave, nor my grandparents
or great-grandparents. Same was told by the Blacks I have known, that they have never been a slave, their parents were never a slave, nor their grandparents or great-grandparents. They like the rest of us were merely trying to make a living, raise their children, and have a little more than their parents had.

Sure I heard stories of how things used to be, and it was once tough to make a living. But I also listened to the same type of stories from my father when he grew up in Arkansas. Those hard to find jobs was the reason he moved to Michigan in 1939. Was there racism in the
South, my parents taught me there was, but my father also told me of the race riots in Detroit long before I was born.

Are their hate groups that use the Confederate flag as their symbol for their hate? Sure. However, hate groups use other symbols too. Should be offended by their choice of symbols or by their actions? The KKK used white sheets as part of their identity, yet I still use white sheets on my bed. I know that sounds silly, but it makes a point. It’s not the object a group decides to use that we should be offended by but the actions of these people.

If you make a judgment of another human by what you see before you know them, are you not just as guilty of racism? On the nightly news, I see reports of violent, life-threatening attacks on people because they have a different political opinion. That offends me, not their black hoodies, their black scarves worn over their faces, or their backpacks.

Sadly, I believe this great country is heading for another civil war. We have a congress and many Americans that feeds off of hate. Blind hate. I say blind hate because there is no compromise or conversations, only hate for what the other side believes or wants. A fight between Liberals and Conservatives. This has been festering for forty or more years. Our being offended by everything is bringing it all to a head.

Some of you that just read my thoughts will say I have never experienced racism. When I first moved to the South, when I would go out shopping or out for dinner, the second I opened my mouth, I would hear, “Well, you’re not from around here, are ya?” It wasn’t said nicely. I once had a note left on my work station telling me to go back North. My co-workers couldn’t stand my Yankee accent. People made fun of the way I spoke all of the time. I was even called a nigger lover because I was friends with a black girl. But there are ignorant and hateful people everywhere. After
living years in the South, when I would go back home to Michigan, people would make fun of my Southern accent. For years I felt as if I had no home.

So are the thoughts of this older woman that has lived in eleven different states and numerous cities. There will always be haters, but try not to
be one. Don’t be offended by our heritage. as all of our forefathers did despicable things, many in the name of religion. Learn our history and learn from it. Stop sugar coating it and trying to cover it up. Don’t let it be forgotten, or we will fail again.

Remember, (stealing a line from a song), No
body’s right if everybody is wrong.

Things I Now Understand

Looking around my house yesterday I realized there were so many things I now understand that I just didn’t get years ago. The answers to these questions have come to me as I age. If you have or are asking an aging parent these questions, trust me, if you live long enough you will know and understand the answers.

Why isn’t my mother’s house as clean as it was when I was growing up?

The laundry is piling up.

The bathroom needs cleaning again??!!

Why aren’t the bushes trimmed?

You don’t fix your hair everyday because you’re not going anywhere?

Why are there three pairs of shoes by the front door?

How can you be tired of cooking?

How can you forget to eat?

What are you looking for?

Why are you just standing in this room looking around?

How can you be too tired to go for a ride in the car?

How can every joint hurt, you haven’t done anything but sit most of the day?

Why don’t you wear much makeup these days?

Why do you pee a little when you laugh, cough or sneeze?

How can pushing the vacuum around hurt your hips and back?

And the list goes on and on.

Lesson learned, don’t ask questions of us old people, just help us when you see we need help. Remember we were once healthy, vibrant, young people once, independent. Be careful of how you present your help. It’s hard for us to accept most of the time as in our minds we are still that young independent person.

Are These My Golden Years?

Each day I end and start each day with grand plans. Things I am going to accomplish. Only to find on most days, about halfway through my morning, plans and ideas have been set aside or gone with the wind. I ponder this morning if this is my golden years.

I understand the walking into a room and then standing there trying to remember why I walked in there to begin with. I get the putting something in a safe place and then looking for said item for hours or even days. I have learned to turn the TV down at night before I turn it off so I don’t deafen myself in the morning when my hearing seems to be a bit better.

Some things I do wonder about seems to have no answers. What happened to my once spic’n’span clean house? I look around to see dust on the furniture, the floors need swept and mopped, and oh my, I forgot to make the bed again today. Instead I find myself out on the porch or patio enjoying the outdoors.

Lucky me, I have enough things to wear that I don’t have to worry about doing laundry all the time. I was folding laundry the other day when my husband poked his head in and asked, “Do I have any clean underwear or should I go commando today?” My first thought was commando, recalling a more youthful time, but handed him a stack of clean laundry to be but away. I do tend to do laundry more than I care to just so I don’t have large piles to fold or hang up. If it wasn’t for that I would probably always be on the brink of going commando myself. Doing laundry isn’t on my list of fun things to do either.

Cooking is another thing that has lost its ranks of interesting and fun things to do. Rather it’s become a chore of, “What the hell are we going to eat today?” I am lucky to have a husband that cooks when I just can’t make myself step into the kitchen. Luckily, most of the time I could feed him a PB & J sandwich and he’s be just a happy. Thank goodness grilling is still something I enjoy a great deal and I do grill most of our dinners year round.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not unhappy with my plot. That’s the trouble, I’m enjoying the slow paced, relaxing, watching the world go by, lazy, listening to the birds, have a glass of wine on the front porch life maybe just a little bit too much. Or maybe this is what the golden years is all about. I have friends my age and older that are still working. They say they do it because they love working. Different strokes for different folks as they say or once said.

Last night while sitting on the front porch enjoying a glass of wine, discussing the days events, (we went to town yesterday), while he enjoyed a cigar and a glass of scotch, I remembered how blessed I am to have reached this part of my life.

When I might not always fix my hair or even put on makeup before going to town. When I do house work when I get good and ready. I can stay in my night gown well past noon if I please. I don’t even own an alarm clock. I come and go as I please. I need not impress anyone with anything in my life. Acting silly in public is a pleasure and fun. Laughing at ourselves is the best thing ever and we try to do that as often as possible.

My goal is that one day the younger people that live near us will say, “Remember that old couple that lived in that house? They were always sitting out on their front porch, enjoying the day, and welcoming all that passed by.”

The only problems I see with the golden years, is that they take too long to get here and don’t last long enough. So my goal is to enjoy the hell out of them.

Guess What Day It Is?

Of the many National Days celebrated I picked this one. National Two Different Shoes Day. I’ve been celebrating for years.

I believe the first time was in 1984 or so. I was sitting at a desks at one of the stores I managed when a customer walked up to the counter. I was desperately trying to get my shoes back on that I had kicked off. With one shoe on and still fighting to get the other one on while smiling at the customer, I was finally forced to look down and see why my shoe wasn’t slipping on.

I looked at the shoe completely confused, “That’s not the shoes I put on this morning.” I looked at my other foot and realized I had two different shoes on. They were both white, but two different styles and with different heel heights. I completely lost it and was laughing so hard I started to cry. The customer looked at me like I had lost my mind. I finally regained enough composer to show him my shoes and say, “This is how my day is going, how’s yours?” Thank goodness he laughed too.

But that wouldn’t be the last time that in my hurry to get out the door on time and not be late for work, I would grab two different shoes. Always having the same result, me laughing my butt off and those around me laughing too.

The photo above I believe was the last time I found two different shoes on my feet. Or at least that’s the last time I noticed. This was four years after I retired so I’m not sure what the big hurry was that morning.

Shoes or not, matching or not, enjoy your days and remember to laugh at yourself.

What’s Funny?

This morning’s news reminded me that today is April Fool’s Day and I started wondering just what is funny these days? It would seem that just about everything I once laughed at, now offends someone. Is it me, that I didn’t change with the times or is it that everyone else has very thin skin these days?

What great fun we had back in the fifties and sixties playing jokes on each other. Even my parents would trick us, not only on April first but throughout the year. Afterwards we would laugh and laugh. Parents today are probably afraid to play tricks on their children in fear of being sued and the courts siding with the children.

Gone are the days of placing a plastic spider on someone’s shoulder and then telling them they have something on their shirt. What ever happened to the fake puddle of vomit? Or the spring loaded can of worms? I suppose those things would be too disturbing to our younger ones these days. Mother’s would be fainting and falling over like fainting goats.

While I was looking for the photo of the court jester for this article Danny Kaye’s photo popped up from his long forgotten movie of the same title. It brought a s mile to my face as I remember the silliness of such movies. I thought of Abbot and Costello, and of course the boys; The Three Stooges.

I think we have forgotten how to laugh. When we make light of something we ourselves have done, we are told we are shaming ourselves. If we can’t laugh at ourselves we have lost all sense of humor.

I wonder what ever happened to that fake plastic snake I once had? Carrying that over to my neighbor’s house today would be epic! Of course, Mr. T would probably kill it but wouldn’t that be great? Mr. T killing a plastic snake. April Fools!