Sunday, September 27, 2015

Resolution

I've made about a thousand resolutions in my life. I'm one of those people...forever proclaiming something new, something intended. But almost never following through. Why? I lose interest. I convince myself that I will fail. I start to realize all the reasons I won't. I sputter and choke. And eventually move on to the next thing...the next whimsy, the next proclivity, the next distraction. Until I move again. What does that say about my early-childhood programming, I wonder?


However, in defiance of who I seem to be, I've made a very, very painful decision. Well, not the decision so much as the repercussions of my decision. I've decided to write a book. Chris's story. Who he was, why we loved him, and what we lost January 5th, 2012. It's like gouging out my guts to contemplate this, much less do it. The agony of reliving what we have all lost fills me with chagrin. But he was an amazing person. Everyone who knew him had a list as long as their arm of stories of funny, athletic, charming, gallant, brave, and frankly incredible things he had done. If I devoted my life to chronicling everything people knew about or had experienced with him, this would take me 10 years to write. So I'm going to write the story I know. The man I lived with. The man who - for some unknown reason - adored me. This incredible man adored....me. That is a puzzle I will probably never answer. Nor will I try. But as much as he loved and adored me, I loved and adored him even more. Strange...when he was alive, he used to say all the time that he loved me more than I loved him. And I never knew really how to take that. I felt guilty, as though my secret had been found out. While I without a doubt loved him with everything in my heart and soul and would absolutely swoon over the man he was, I knew he was right. Somehow he just had a capacity to love like no one else I have ever met. It didn't matter if you were a friend, an ex girlfriend, a kid from the neighborhood...if you needed someone, he was there without a moment's hesitation. He gave his life to making everything ok for everyone around him. He used to say he had so many people on his plate...but the truly incredible thing was, the more people needed him and looked up to him, the more humble he became in his heart. Oh, he would swagger and crack jokes and build himself up. But I knew the man he was in his heart, and in his heart, he was deeply, deeply humble. That was part of what was so amazing about him. He would boast about himself in a way that made you like him more. Because you knew he was soft and sweet and just having fun. In a heartbeat, he'd step aside and give credit and attention to anyone else and never for a moment ask anything for himself. That's the way he wanted it, always.


So that is the man I will try to write about. I wonder if my character is developed enough to convey the depth of who he was, his story which was frankly amazing in every way. Character - how about writing talent??? I will have to do better than I have here...otherwise no one will want to read his story. And his is a story I think everyone who has a heart and a soul that wants to see good in this world will love.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Our Culture of Stuff

I've been increasingly preoccupied over the last several days with our culture's preoccupation with stuff. When I was over at my brother in law's a week or so ago, he was showing me old pictures of the Baldus store in Newaygo. There was a picture of it from the 1910s and another picture sometime in the 1920s, and then he had a picture of himself and some other friends standing outside waiting for the bus in the 60s. It eventually burned to the ground in the early 70s. But looking back at those photos, all I could think of was that people would go to that one store in Newaygo every week and buy everything they needed for their house. 


That entire store was the size of any one of the store fronts we have downtown now that specialize in women's clothing or bead-crazed jewelry or sporting gear or hand crafted items or specialty dog foods. But inside that store was almost anything a family, and in fact a family farm, would need. Sure, they would have the Montgomery Wards catalog or the Louden Farm Equipment catalog, but in that world one box grater served the culinary needs of whoever was cooking...no need for a cheese grater and a zester and a microplaner. All you needed was a box grater. I have each, including the box grater which came first. But somehow I became convinced that I also needed a special cheese grater for my Romano, a zester for my citrus, and a microplaner when I needed a touch of nutmeg. Last night when I was shopping for groceries, I happened to walk through the seasonal area where the deck chairs and outside ottomans are, and I saw this glove that had a sponge that covered the hand and I thought, perfect! Wow, so glad someone finally came up with one of those to clean the lawn furniture! And suddenly it dawned on me that up until twenty years ago, everyone used their old towels that they would cut up into smaller pieces, and that would clean the lawn furniture. And they'd use it on the living room tables, not the fancy one-use wipes we all use now. Heck, there was a time women mixed up their furniture cleaner in their kitchen. Do you know that in the 1050s, people had very small closets because they only had about five outfits? Three for every day, one for dressy occassions and one for hard work. And I just had to buy 30 hangers because I was short that many and had so many items of clothing I couldn't hang up. Back then, closets were about the size of our broom cupboards. Broom cupboards...where we now keep our Swiffer, our Wet Jet, our mop (for the really dirty jobs), our dust broom (complete with its matching miniature dust pan), our regular broom, the broom we use outside (for again, the really dirty jobs), our vacuum cleaner, our Dustbuster, and our carpet cleaner. Seventy five years ago, women had one broom, one dust pan, and their carpet beater. And that was it.

Of course, one could argue, this is just commercialism, profiteering off the well-to-do age we live in now. But I do long for a simpler life. I've often thought that once the girls have grown up and moved out, I would like to buy a miniature house. I probably won't, but I won't change how I feel about all the stuff we are so convinced we need.

I say all this and yet...I won't get rid of any more books. Even the ones I look at and think, I don't like that book. Nope. Books will stay. Even if I end up in an apartment so small, I brush my teeth in my kitchen sink. While I'm laying in bed.