Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Not all those who wander are lost. ~J.R.R. Tolkien

You're not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality.  Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.  ~Malcolm X

I'm not a radical.  I grew up in a sleepy town that afforded me certain freedoms city folk just didn't have.  The days of summer were slow, languid and stretched out like a rippling curtain of promise.  Mornings spent eating cereal at a table with a vase of daffodils, packing a lunchbox with baloney sandwiches and hopping on my pink Huffy bike to ride off where the wind blew.  The back alley was a freedom highway for me.  This was before they widened it and built restaurants(The Farmstead), banks, and hotels.  Back then, riding up to Toothpick's house (our Amish neighbors up the road) was the biggest adventure I could have.  I was eventually allowed to go a little further and bike up to Boyd & Wurthmann's grocery store.  I can still see the dark, wide planks of wood that graced the floor of that old place.  Tiny aisles filled with white bread, cans of Campbell's soup, and finally making my way to the candy display.  Mars bars, packs of baseball cards with that hard as cement piece of gum, Reese cups, and Zero bars.  The paraphernalia of my youth, scattered through my memory, for some reason is coming to the surface today.  Alot of days were spent swinging on the tree swing Dad hung for us.  Rhonda and I each had one, and from forenoon til dusky, velvet evening, we were out there swinging in circles around those old trees.  Those trees are gone now, all cut down by the house's new owners. If only they had appreciated the history behind them. The radio would play and I was transported to the made-up places in my mind.  If I got bored with swinging, I would take off for Johnny's woods.  Over the gate I would climb and make the grassy trek through the field to the barb wire fence.  One hop and over would start my walk into the deep beautiful woods.  An old sugar shack stood for a long time deep in those woods, as did the story of an old Indian that supposedly lived there long ago.  I would poke around in the dark, verdant earth looking for arrowheads and any sign that I could find of this mysterious Indian.  Down a little further into the woods you came to a beautiful stream.  The hills were steep around it, and the water rushed over huge rocks.  Barefoot, I would stand in the water letting it flow around me.  Some days, I wish I could go back there just to stand.  Just to feel what I felt as a child before I grew up and the world became known to me. 

Coming from a small community has it's benefits.  People are quick to help when someone is in need.  There is no better cooking than here.  Mashed potatoes dripping with brown butter, Poor Man's steak, homemade strawberry jelly, and the finest bread anywhere.  It's a feast for the senses and the stomach.  I grew up here, I graduated here, and then I left here.  I was gone for a Voluntary Service short term stay in Texas.  This is where my whole world changed.  Some might think it changed because I met George there.  Yes, he changed my whole world in different ways.  He let the light in the almost impenetrable shell that surrounded me.  The shell that is put around you when you grow up in a town, that although wonderful, is somewhat sheltered from the world.  Everyone does everything the same way, and oft times, is never changed and nary a thought is given to it.  You might say, well Missy, you live here and are raising your children here.  Absolutely true.  I wanted my children to go to school here, to be raised here in this wonderful place.  I wanted them to have the same idyllic childhood that I had.  There is only one difference.  They are being raised to know that there are more ways to live, more ways to think, and more ways to love than that just exist here in Holmes County.  When I lived in San Antonio my eyes were opened with a swift blow to the head.  When I lived with George in Mexico for almost a year my head almost exploded.  Why?  Because I realized that there are so many people in the world, so many other ways of doing things, and so many other ways to get from point A to B.  So many times we travel along the well-beaten path, following in the same footsteps as everyone else.  My brother played this sport and so will I.  Well, my dad did too.  You should too because it would make him proud.  We do things, not because we always want to, just to please other people or because everyone else is doing it.  This might not be the case for you, but lately, it's all that's on my mind.  

Have you ever been argued with just because your idea was different? Because you presented another side of an issue?  Lots of people might be surprised to know what I know.  They might be shocked and surprised what we teach our children.  Why do you think they are surprised at this?  Because it's different.  Well, you can't teach a child that....you can't tell him that....you have to hide that from him.  I say no way.  My children are versed in the ways of this world, so they can be ready to enter into it when they leave our little nest.  You can take them to church, and teach them the right way to live, and in the end they will be on their own.  You pray their way through it.  I will not put shame on my kids if they choose a path that lies outside the path I have trod.  This is what I want for them!  I want them to grab this world and take from it what they can to forge their path.  A path that's not well-beaten and holds life's delicious mysteries for them.  

A canopy of lush tropical trees and vines flash by my eyes.  I'm looking up through the sun roof as the moist air rushes onto my face.  I'm driving to Acapulco, George at my side and behind the wheel.  I'm 20 years old and I'm free.  Free to explore this wide world and the unknown in it.  We stop at a roadside stand that sells exotic fruits.  We buy them, partake, and keep driving.  The decision to leave a good-paying job and travel to Mexico with George was a heart-renching decision.  Being raised in a small town makes it hard to leave.  It was a decision that, although not made lightly, was inevitable.  I never regretted it.  Leaving and driving away from home was the hardest thing I have ever done -- but it was also the best.  We came back, got married and raised our kids. We raised them in the same town that I was raised.  It was the right choice.

Our country, to a point, is eating itself alive.  Arguments, barbs, and hatred are pushing us back 60 years to a place America should never go back to.  I'm glad we have raised our children to be strong and never back down.  Sometimes the vitriol comes out stronger than we need it to sound.  I for one, never want to shove my views down anyone's throat.  But I will be heard.  I will never sit around and let someone tell me, just let it go --- that's just how we do it. Don't make a fuss, you don't want to be noticed. I reject that.  Being raised in a small town helped me to define who I was, and in a great way enabled me to become who I needed to be now.  The bible says that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent.  I have had my share of silence -- it's now time to speak.  

There is, inside me, a yearning to still hit that open road.  I envision roads that wind  through misty mountain mornings.  People sleepily coming out of their houses to start their day.  The question is not if we'll ever go back to Mexico, it's when.  People gasp when I say this.  How could  you go to a country so dangerous?  Why would you do that?  They forget that my husband is from there. Born deep in the lushness that is Oaxaca.  He is an Aztec Indian, 100% so. Our children know we yearn for this.  For them, we will wait.  Wait until their schooling is done.  Wait until they know their path.  They want us to go -- maybe they will come with us.  George has lived in this country for 31 years.  Years filled with danger, anguish, and finally love and steadiness.  He is steadfast as a father and husband -- a warrior that's true to his nature.  For him, I will go.  Not only for him, though.  For my fast-beating heart that thrills at the thought of forging a new life.  

"Do not follow where the path may lead.  Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail."  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Tina said...

Thanks for sharing your heart and hopes and dreams and plans.
I can pray for you and your family in a new way now.
Love ya