Friday, March 13, 2015

From The Beginning

Recently several of my Blogger Buddies have reached back into their archives to share.  I've been doing a lot of family tree research this week.  I often have to explain (a) why I don't just want dozen of charts detailing who begat who. (I hear the Grammar Police groaning) and (b) why childless me is even bothering.  Truth is, I want to write a book of stories and make those generations who came before me come alive, not exist as a list of birth/death dates.

This usually inspires more "Why?"  The answer is simple: I love "the rest of the story" moments.  I want to understand how decisions were made, even if I don't agree with them.  So I reached back today and found my very first post on THIS edition of my blog.  You see I had a blog for a year in 2005-06, with a similar name, but it started to become a job, not a joy.  So I quit.

But I couldn't smother the need to tell stories.  (And alright, I missed my Invisible Friends).

So here it is, the first in this Blog series that might explain a little while I feel the need to write about life along my road less traveled. 

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Comfortable Shoes

A while back I took a step off this road to take a breather. Sometimes life can get overwhelming...if you let it. And I was on the verge of letting it, so I sat down on the side of the road to think.

I'm done. Musing in my head, that is.

So I picked Father's Day to start again. Dad may not be walking amongst us anymore but he's here in spirit. Not Ghost Hunter and image on an infrared camera kind of spirit. As in the spirit of fun, living on in my silly sense of humor and the expectation that good will win over evil, even when it looks like evil might have the edge.

You see, Dad kinda broke the family mold when it came to putting on a pair of shoes and going off to see the world. Most of his family had been farmers, until his father's generation got into the furniture business. I think Dad saw the writing on the wall, the family expectations of him to go into that new line of work. And he did. Eventually. You see, Dad had a buddy who wanted to enlist in the Navy. He talked his pals into coming to the recruiting office with him...and the Recruiter talked them all into joining. Dad use to laugh and say he was more afraid of telling his Mom than what Boot Camp was rumored to be like. If Boot Camp was sending a southern boy to Chicago in the winter, I can only imagine what Grandma offered up.

Dad did his four years and despite an invitation to remain, he decided all that being away from home for four more years was more than he was willing to agree to. He joked that maybe he should've stayed: his buddy Ted became Admiral Ted. I'm glad he chose to come home. Even if he did end up in the furniture business. His travels inspired mine. But my path is different.

I guess that down-to-earth farming gene stuck in me...I've never had wanderlust. My feet have never itched to see the world. Maybe it's because Dad was such a great storyteller. Between his adventures and my imagination, I was convinced as a small kid that I'd actually gone to England, Germany...to Triste and Naples. I'd look at old black and white photos while Dad told the tale. I can see Casablanca as we pull into port on a naval transport ship...one which transported people, not weapons. I can feel my feet trying to grab hold of the deck as it rode Hurricane Hazel, salt air spraying in my face OVER the back of the fantail. I still giggle at the thought of my no-nonsense father being reprimanded by his CO because he and his buddies were on deck taking pictures...during the hurricane.

One day I realized the stories fascinated me more than the actual traveling. It seemed the storyteller in me was stronger than the urge to pack a suitcase. My true joy wasn't in the "going", it was in the "telling"...in making people see places they'd never been, yet feel as if they'd just left there that afternoon. And I wanted to know WHY people made the decisions they did. What made my by-the-book Dad stand on deck in a hurricane? Youthful stupidity? Curiosity gone mad? Didn't give it a second thought and just wanted to see for himself? [My conclusion: probably all three].

And so the storyteller in me won and my roots went deep. Oh, I've gone here and there, but not across the pond, as it were. But in my mind I have, all because of what Dad told me when I was a kid. We would vacation at the beach every year. Some people will tell you standing beside the ocean makes them feel small and insignificant. To a tiny kid like me, it was just one more thing bigger than me. But one day Dad paused as we came out of the ocean, pointed at the horizon and said, "There are wonderful things over there." He meant across the ocean, where a variety of cultures and people lived that I might one day see firsthand, just like he had. To this day when I see the ocean, I hear him whispering that in my ear. Of course at the time, I asked him if we used my pail and shovel, could we dig through the sand all the way to China and see people standing upside down.

Wonderful things over there. Over the ocean. But in my little girl mind, it was the horizon that I literally believed was the starting point for seeing wonderful things. And that feeling never left me. Whether from my backyard or someone else's travels, I never lost the urge to want to help people see those adventures so clearly, they'd believe they just left that very spot..that very morning.

So put on some comfortable shoes...or sit back and put on some traveling music. I'm ready to head around the bend and find a new story to tell.

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