Friday, April 24, 2015

Unveiled: The Book

It felt for weeks, that forces outside of me were conspiring to get me to come out of writing hiding. I was contacted to do a product review and certain emotions in me ran high. I always turn to writing when emotions run high. Put it on page, blow it into the wind, and let it go like the little white feathery seeds on a dandelion. It doesn't have to be mine anymore. It's probably a function of my tidy, waspy, don't discuss the dirty, shove it down, way I grew up. Writing was the only outlet. I've always turned to it and it's always made me feel better. But, there was always a drawback writing here. I am exposed. The good, the bad, the emotional and ugly. The moments I said hateful things and the moments I learned to hold my tongue as a strategy. It's all here for your judgement. My mistakes, my tragedies, the messes I've made and the successes. All of you to digest and point a critical finger, while denying all your own messes. Your life can be carefully crafted for Facebook consumption, but my urge to share makes me...messy.

Yesterday, a woman I respect very much, sent me her book with a request for help editing. I know, I'm the last person who should be editing anything! But, she did. And what a gift. I dove into it, holding my phone as I fed the baby, holding and reading as I stood over the stove. I can't put it down.

I met this woman as she lived her life as an adventure. At some point, i haven't gotten that far, she sold off all her worldly things, purchased an rv, and crisscrossed North America. She took her dog, an Amish rug and set out to live like a Gypsy. She arrived in Ann Arbor, we sat down and had a beer and talked. It was a delight. I looked forward to her next visit.

Have you ever met someone who is peaceful and wise? Someone with a comfort in their own emotion, skin, life that you could never imagine being at that point in life? That's how I  see her. She's someone I would love to be like, but it's not my nature.

Well, as I read, I saw myself. My impression of her is one that she's earned over years of walking the Earth. She wasn't born comfortable and evolved and emotionally together. I don't know, I think when I hit 30 and didn't have it all figured out, I just assumed I never would. I thought when, at 35 my life went to chaos, that it was just me, decidedly messy and mistake prone. Part of my problem, I  assumed, is because the rules never seemed to fit. I know them, I know the social norms, I know what people assume about me, but I don't care. I have never wanted the big wedding, house in suburbia, creativity crushing job, toil away until retirement life. Never. It's not me. My former coworkers will tell you when we used to talk weddings, I  used to panic and compare marriage to death. I mean, what do you have left? Getting fat, taken for granted, and nothing to look forward to. While most girls daydream about being called wife, that term to me means, you are stuck. He doesn't have to treat you with respect and show you he loves you because you're legally bound. Same with the term, "husband." People who wed are doomed to fail or live in silent misery. No thanks!

I can say, that view has changed. Chris and I have discussed a lot. One of our big discussions is how if you love someone enough to marry them, you should treat them better than you would a stranger or a casual friend. But, we are often kinder to people that don't matter than we are to the people that do. Not true for our relationship. We make sure to treat each other better than others. I never want him to feel unimportant, undervalued, or less of a beautiful, amazing person than he is. But my view on suburban life and the way I'm supposed to be, has not changed. I'd rather live in a trailer than a massive, crappy built house with more bathrooms than people. I'd rather not be a slave to payments and have the freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want. I certainly don't want to be saddled with a massive mortgage and house when my bones are too old to care for or pay for it.

I'd rather buy out than buy in, if that makes sense. I'd rather put money to freedom than slavery. If I have a roof for warmth and a vehicle that turns over and moves for when I need to go, that's enough. Call it my train jumping, beatnik generation obsessed dream. Call it my love/hate relationship with the book Into The Wild, but I just don't want what everyone else does.  I never have. Maybe it's a curse of being raised wealthy and seeing very clearly that the big house, country club and sports car do not make a fulfilled life. I don't want the Amercan made tour of Mexico. I don't want to land in a place wiped clean of culture so I am comfortable. I don't want to get a hot rock massage, so I can come home and say, "I've been fill in the blank." Unless you've stepped away from the guided tour and lived like the natives, you haven't been anywhere. Travel is about culture not ticking off destinations on a map. At least, to me it is.

To read her writing, hear her acknowledge her mistakes, some incredibly painful, and to see the same ideas on life? It's made me smile a great deal. I don't have to be perfect today. I don't have to be sedentary in a community and never experience anything but middle America. I mean, even with her daughter in tow, she was on the move. And her stories are delicious because of it. Yes she met with Jimmy Hoffa's attorney at the Gandy Dancer. Yes, she watched Arnold before the fame, body build on muscle beach, yes Wilt Chamberlain used to hoist her daughter on his shoulders for  piggy back rides. And yes, she knows poets and painters and all kinds of interesting people. She didn't buy in, she took off and escaped. Because of that her life is full of stories. Mistakes, triumphs, disasters, survival, new careers and homes and men. She's not a bad person for her abnormal choices. She's an amazing person with a wealth of experience. Reading her story is freeing to me. I don't have to follow the rules to be a good Mom or person. I'll strap this baby to my back and hike mountains if I want. You keep your tidy, expensive whitewashed life. I'll take color and flavor and music and adventure.