It’s taken almost an entire lifetime too shake off even just a portion of the dogmatic training I was subjected to as a child. If I make it two more weeks it will be 70 years, and for most of those years I have been fighting in a push and tug battle over my beliefs versus the beliefs of others which was thrust upon me unwittingly and unwillingly as a child, and to which I have also subjected others who I love.
It will be a battle that I will never win, and perhaps that is my fate…and my punishment?
The ghost always seems to come upon me when my eyes, unwilling to close in sleep, because after all there are only so many hours left, and as my Grandma said “I’ll catch up on my sleep when I die” but yes the ghost comes drifting in like smoke off a cigarette into my sleepy eyes. It’s not insomnia, just the unwillingness to give in to the “the little death”
It looks like I would have been a drinker, and could have mellowed out and drifted off because after all the drink is in my blood something fierce, but I never give into it, never even finishing the samples they dole out at Olive Garden. I was drunk a couple of times in my early youthful days and just hated it, detested the loss of control while all the while knowing I was the fool.
So I write, I peck away. Trying to coax and coach myself into thinking of something worth saying because after all a writer defeats nothing more than an empty page or a blank line at the top of the page saying “what’s on your mind?” Well damn plenty is on my mind, but half nobody would want to hear and the other 50% just trivial. So I very much wish to wake up tomorrow after sleeping oh so gently to find this device laying on my chest in bed again with the cover open, hunting for something to fill the blank page, and to frighten the ghost away.
I was raised with bare incandescent lightbulbs in fixtures that had little chains affixed to them. You had to pull the chain to turn the lights on and off. If one of them stayed on a while and you touched it, woe unto you. A burned finger might be the outcome.
I remember my Mother’s first washing machine. The tub was automatic, and it ran off electricity, but you had to put the clothes through the top part to wring the water out by hand, turning the crank. Mom hung the clothes out on a clothesline using wooden clothespins to keep them up. I loved the smell of the clothes on the line as the breeze shimmied by, the faint odor of bleach on the white bedsheets, accentuated by the warm sun.
I used to listen every afternoon at four o’ clock for the giant air whistle at the mill to loudly signal that first shift was over, and then I’d run out and look down sixth street, watching for Daddy to come walking up that hill towards home. Most of the time to sit down at our little round, Formica top table to a meal of pintos, fried taters and cornbread.
I think now, I’m glad I was there then, at that time and that place with those people. I think now, I’m so lucky to have subsequently found the other friends and family with whom I have shared this life. Every direction in which I have turned there has always been someone there for me….with me.
I think now, there are still memories to be made and happiness to be shared. New relationships to nurture, and different paths to walk. There is always change. That’s the one thing you can count on.