Saturday, 01 June 2013
I've always treasured words. Things people say to me and especially things they write to me have always been so precious.
This is true with friends and family, but it seems to be particularly when it comes to boys. I had one major crush throughout middle school and the beginning of high school; dramatic, silly, often rather sickeningly obsessive...I had then, and still have now, so many of the words we exchanged stored up in various places. I collected them, hoarded them, like they were jewels, like each one was part of an arsenal I was building.
I'm reading through old entries, deleting most of them. I'm trying to eliminate my presence on the internet, in some ways. And I came across a comment from him that completely pulled at my heart, and gave me a buoyed and elated feeling, if only for a moment. Even now, when I've had no feelings for this boy for years, when we no longer speak or write to each other, those words still have an incredible effect.
I was fifteen through writing most of what I am now deleting. Most of me feels as though I cannot even recognize that girl as myself. I can't say I miss her. I don't know who she is. And she didn't know who she was. I think (I hope) I've changed dramatically since then. And yet, some part is the same (clearly she also spent a good deal more time on the internet than was necessary...).
But even now, as I can delete most of them without a thought, some I am still copying into a word document and saving them. Sometimes I still can't let go.
Thursday, 24 January 2013
I went home for Christmas. It was appropriately cold and snowy; below zero and a few feet of lake effect. Perfect. I was even happy to drive home in a blizzard. Back here we've had a mix of temperatures, although people here continue to bundle up for what I consider sweatshirt weather. Last week the mornings and evenings were filled with this wonderful dense fog that made my morning walks to work feel ghostly and surreal. And yet on Sunday when we took a day trip the sun was brilliantly strong and warm, and today from the top of the hill I could see the mountains in the distance.
I'm working one day a week at a marine historical society this quarter, and I spent the better part of my first three days reconciling files and records. It's been an organizational puzzle for my brain, picking out clues and figuring out where things fit. I love it. Yesterday I got to start poking around in the collections for the objects we need to find. I'm still devoting a considerable amount of my time to the Ethnology department, and I'm taking a class in Northern Northwest Coast formline art. And this is really all I have.
Wednesday, 05 September 2012
Thursday, 07 June 2012
So many things have been happening, and I've been not writing about all of them. Here is the short version.
I graduated college somewhere close to three weeks ago. I sat under the very hot sun in a very black gown with seven hundred other classmates and all of my closest college friends and then walked across a stage, and just like that, it was over. This is still scary and surreal and so I've been trying not to think too much about it, and just look forward. We drove home from Potsdam one very last time, Eric and I, and then summer started.
Last week I began work again. When I walked in it was as though I'd never left, and now I'm back in the routine of packing all my lunches for the week on Sunday evening and setting my alarm for five every morning. Tuesday, when I drove to work, the sun was rising. Where the road curves sharply and I turned from going south to going west, the first rays of the day's sunshine hit all of the mirrors on my car at once. It's all golden and warm and lovely; the best thirty seconds of my twenty-five minute drive, and after those seconds I crave the sunshine and try to find it again between the trees and over the tops of the fields I pass.
At three-thirty when I leave I roll down the windows and turn up the county music; because there is something about a forty-hour work week in a manufacturing plant that won't allow me to listen to anything else on the drive home.
Last weekend we cleaned out the attic, and I've done my room as well. I've thrown out so many things, so much stuff that had just accumulated. I was sentimental at first, before I started wondering what it all was for. I still have too much in my room, but I've thrown out boxes full of nonsense and now the floor is relatively clear and the closet is nearly empty. My bookshelf collapsed, finally, under the weight of all the books I had stuffed onto it. So now I have only two shelves on it instead of four, and am on the hunt for a new one. I've also packed up all of my dishes, pots and pans, and other kitchen items for this fall. I separated all the books I will be bringing with me, and put them on a separate shelf.
This summer is a strange sort of limbo, so far. It's lovely, being home, but I feel like I am still trying to organize everything, and will be doing so for the next three months. I split my time between Eric's sister's house (where he lives), his parents' house, and my house, and it's a lot of back-and-forth and checking to borrow cars and trying to schedule everything. I keep thinking about the west, and all the things we are going to do there.
We. Us. Together.
And so I work, and I think about how amazing it will be, and all the trips we'll take together, and city life. I love living in the middle of nowhere, and I'd like to for the rest of my life. I love boundless woods and fields and quiet streets and large gardens and massive, shady trees. But for the next few years I'd like to be closer to things. I think about Florence and how I miss walking to do my grocery shopping and eating gelato and climbing to the church of San Miniato. And I think about Seattle and parks and museums and Pike Place Market, and how, six years ago when we visited, it was the city I dreamed of moving to.
This was not the way I pictured it, not at all. It's so much better, and I am happy. I am also nervous; it is a Big Scary Step, asking someone to move across the country with you. And then actually doing it.
This weekend we're going to visit a few high school friends. Two friends of mine are getting married this summer; I got an invitation to one in the mail yesterday. I'm taking a trip to see my five Florence roommates in a few weeks.
And I need a new bookshelf.
Tuesday, 27 March 2012
My grandmother tells stories.
After nearly 93 years, she clearly has many to choose from. And sometimes I hear new ones. But mostly they're the same ones, the ones I actually really love despite having heard them several times.
She tells one about her first job, at a Five & Ten in the city. She had graduated high school, which would make her eighteen, and it would be 1937. She talks about taking the streetcar and working the candy counter and being moved to the makeup counter, being promoted several times in the first few months. She talks about the magazine she read, Mademoiselle, and how her new issue had two new shades of nail polish that the store didn't carry. She asked the manager why they didn't have them, and he had them in stock the next week. She was about to be promoted again, too. I've forgotten the name of the position, but the woman walked about the floor between the different departments, and had the keys to the locked cases, etc.
She got a call from her mother on a Friday morning. It was the feast of Our Lady of Mercy - the name of her high school. Phone calls were, of course, quite an important thing in 1937. Even that makes me nostalgic, for a time I never experienced. Her mother told her that Bausch & Lomb had called, that they had wanted her in for an interview that morning. And she didn't tell them where she was going when they let her go, but she went. She took the streetcar and Bausch & Lomb hired her and told her to get her lunch and come back at 1. She always says, at this point, "Who starts work at 1 o'clock on a Friday afternoon?" Her first paycheck, for four hours, was $1.20. Thirty cents an hour.
She worked at Bausch's for about six years, as far as I can recall, promoted several times. She has a fantastic story about working with the payroll office on Fridays, and taking peoples' paychecks to them in envelopes. She went across the street, to Building 14 she said, with her box of paychecks, and got in the elevator to go up. Besides the elevator operator, Curly, there was another gentleman in the elevator, dressed to the nines in a grey suit and a hat. When he saw the box she was carrying, he said something to the effect of "I can take care of those for you." And my grandmother (this is the easiest part of the story to picture) said "You most certainly will not! Don't you dare come near these!" She got off the elevator, distributed the checks, and returned, where a rather mortified-looking Curly let he know she'd just told off Mr. Bausch himself. Her boss called her into his office when she returned, and told her Mr. Bausch had stopped by, and told him not to let her go, because she was clearly not going to let anyone near those paychecks.
She met my grandfather at Bausch & Lomb.
After about six years, she started nursing school. 1943, that would be about right. What better (and more terrifying) time to become a nurse? She loved nursing, she says, and I believe it. She still tells stories about specific patients, about her roommates and friends, about how she spent her nights off. Dancing and "going with" guys and living in a city that was alive. Sometimes I feel I'd give anything to live in that city, rather than it's contemporary counterpart.
When she married my grandfather, she was just shy of graduating, I believe, and being promoted. But she left, and she never looked back.
I think a lot of people I know might say that's sad, that she "threw away" a marvelous career opportunity just to get married, just to be with a man, whom she has told me absolutely did not want her to work. Not that he was oppressive about it, necessarily, but just that he felt it his duty to be sure she never had to work, and he made that very clear. Promoted in every job she had, she could clearly have gone as far as she wanted.
And so she did. She tells me repeatedly that she doesn't regret it. And I believe her and I love her for it.
I feel like so much of me is from her. My passion for travel, my stubbornness, my love of finding beauty everywhere. We're different of course, being two generations apart. But sometimes we think just the same way. We were driving home from lunch a few weeks ago, and as we drove along the Lake Road, she commented to me how she's driven this path hundreds of times, and she never ceases to be amazed by how beautiful it is. "Look at the sky, the trees," she said to me. "How can you not see God in all this?"
She's more Catholic than anyone I know, and certainly much more than I am in the traditional sense. She wouldn't give her religion up for anything, and she never has. She married my grandfather, a protestant, and I find this fascinating. Despite her very strong convictions about her faith, she clearly wasn't going to let it color her view to the point where she wouldn't fall in love with him. And she didn't want him to convert; just to let her keep her religion. She tells me about her mother-in-law (who didn't approve) and her father-in-law (who did, and played the fiddle, and taught my aunt to dance an Irish jig in our kitchen when she was little).
She tells me how her mother used to play piano, in the 20s, at their house for parties. She and her sister would stay awake, sneaking to the top of the stairs to listen.
I can't imagine living in her shoes, experiencing all the changes that have happened between 1919 and now. So many things happened, in a way things just don't seem to happen anymore. Think of how different the world is. It must seem much more gradual to her than it does to me, but it's still quite astonishing.
Things do happen, of course. I can only hope that someday my grandchildren will be even half as fascinated by the things that are happening to me as I am by all the things that happened to her.