Wanderlust

I asked The Grandmother the other day if she had ever had a desire to live in a different place.  She’s lived in West Virginia all of her life, not in the same place, but almost.  She said, pretty quickly, “No.”  Every place I mentioned–New England, The West Coast,  The South–she poo-pooed right away for one reason or another (too hot, too cold, too much rain, not enough rain, weird people, volcanoes, tornadoes–you get the picture.)

It occurs to me that she is probably telling the truth.  She is the type of person who likes routine, and the known.  I wonder, though, if when she was younger she might have felt differently.  I can remember when my dad moved away to southern Alabama (then Florida, then southern Alabama again, the Florida again, then southern………well, never mind) he made the comment, “I was due a change.”  At the time I just blew that comment off, but now I’m starting to think he might have been on to something.

I would love to live in a different place.  I don’t mean just a neighboring county, although at this point I’d take that.  I’m talking a different place, with different people, a different climate even.  I am suffering from an old-fashioned case of wanderlust.

Don’t scoff–our country wouldn’t exist without it, or at least not the country the way it is today.  Why did people keep pushing west?  Why did explorers ever set out in search of new lands in the first place? (I mean, besides to rape and pillage and plunder and destroy all of the native culture.)  It’s simple:  some people are happy to stay where they are forever, and some people want to move on, to see and try new things.  I definitely belong with the latter.

I would offer a warning: beware of the Pacific Ocean.  Once you see it, it will never let you go.  At least that’s the effect it had on me.  They say the Pacific has no memory, and maybe that’s true, but what they forgot to mention was though it has no memory, it will implant itself forever in yours.  Now all I want is to live close enough to be able to see it whenever I want, to smell it and hear it and see if it as beautiful as I remember.

I hope no one would read this and think I hate where I live. Not at all.  I’m not so blinded that I don’t realize the beauty of my home.  People come from all over the world to walk across a bridge I drive over at least three times a week.  They come to a park and photograph a grist mill that is five miles from my house, and that my husband once worked in as a tour guide.  They pay hundreds of dollars to raft on the rivers that are but a few miles from my house, and my friends are their guides.  I rake up and curse the leaves that the tourists drive for hours to see.  I’ve hiked and biked the trails, driven the roads, eaten in the restaurants, and visited the parks.  I know what’s here.  It’s my home, and I love it.  Here are some more reasons:

  1. We have no common natural disasters (The Grandmother had a good point, actually.)  We don’t have hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, or volcanoes.  Although it’s fairly hot right now, we generally don’t have extreme temperatures.
  2. We really do have better manners than most people.  I didn’t notice this until a recent trip to New York.  Some people can make fun of us as hillbillies, but whatever–we say “excuse me,” you don’t, we’re smarter. So there.
  3. I have travelled to many, many, many different states, and here’s a news flash–there has been white trash in every single one.  I’m not sure why other people don’t realize this.  When I worked at the park a long time ago, a tourist (we called them tourons, but with great affection, I assure you) once asked me if we seriously had dirt floors in our houses.  Really.  I wanted to ask, “Do you have dirt floor in your house, dumbass?” Of course I didn’t, but I mean, come on!  I worked in the tourism industry for years, and I swear to you I have met some of the biggest idiots I have ever met in my entire life, bar none.  I’m talking people who couldn’t read maps, road signs, huge notices on walls, instructions on a toaster over, directions to their cabin, or instructions on how to fill out the camp-site reservation form, but we’re the hillbillies.  Yeesh!
  4. I’m getting off topic here, so I’m cutting off this list.

So anyway,  I’m not knocking my home.  I could make a list of faults for you, but you could probably make a similar one about where you live, too.  I think it’s just a desire to be somewhere different, but maybe that’s not all.  Maybe it’s a desire to be someone different.  It’s not that I want to take on a new personality (although there could be a good debate on that topic I bet) but the fact is, as long as I live here, I will always be perceived in a certain way.  That’s one thing I would put on the list of faults, by the way: when you live in a small community, your family history is public knowledge.  The people that surround me day after day will never allow me to change, or to be anything more than I am now.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go somewhere and define who I am by—-gasp!—–who I actually am, and not by what someone else expects me to be, or thinks I already am?

I don’t know if my wanderlust itch will ever be scratched.  It’s a scary prospect to just pick up a life and move along, especially when it isn’t just your life you’ll be moving.  But sometimes you have to do things, even if you are afraid.  Sometimes, you’re just due a change.

Love Hurts, but Fashion Kills

I saw David and Victoria Beckham at Sheetz today.

Well, not really.  They popped into my mind, though, when I saw this young couple there browsing through the touch screen menu.  I am fascinated by people like this. Or maybe I’m jealous.  I’m still trying to decide.

The Sheetz-Beckham’s were dressed to the nines–casual yet still uber-stylish.  The woman in particular was a study in fashion.  She had perfectly “casual” blonde locks, sleek pants and perfectly picked pink shoes, two or possibly three layers of god-knows-what on top, and, Lord help us all, a thumb ring.  The guy was wearing those purposely distressed pants with the giant belt (which apparently came back into fashion at some point while I was in the motherhood cave for the past ten years–I don’t know) and a button-up shirt.  Here’s the best part–they were wearing aviator sunglasses!  They matched, except hers were rose colored (there’s a joke there, I just know it, but I’m going to let it go.)  Now, even though they looked super hip in every other aspect, I have to say I’m not a big fan of aviators.  Only one person looks hot in them, and that’s Johnny Knoxville.  I don’t know why that is, I only know it is.

Aside from the minor sunglass faux pas, they were immaculate.  I couldn’t help but cringe as I stood there in Sheetz in my usual attire–jean shorts and my Pink Floyd tee shirt (black).   They even had that cool, casual attitude that I envy so much.  Meanwhile, Ian and I were juggling onion rings and I was trying to answer the cell phone and dig in my purse for money.  All I could think was, “Who the hell are these people?”  Obviously, they don’t have kids.   Or family.  Or a house to clean.  Or grass to cut.  Or normal bodily functions, like, say, sweat, which I now produce at a rate of two gallons per hour.  Fashion, to me at least, is a little more basic.

 

Remember this from Saturday Night Live?  While I don’t rock Mom Jeans yet, this is about the level of my fashion expertise.  I don’t wear makeup.  I don’t paint my nails.  My husband has more shoes than me.  Also, I sure as hell  don’t wear aviator sunglasses.  It’s not that I don’t want to look nice–believe me, I do.  I don’t get it, though.  I’m a fashion idiot.  Oh, I can sit back and criticize other people’s fashion all day long, but I don’t apply it to myself.  I try those nifty, trendy clothes, but I always feel like some kid playing dress-up.  For whatever reason, I’m stylistically crippled.  I love to look at beautiful clothes–on other people, of course.  I think those hot little shoes just look stupid on me.  Once, I decided that I was by-God gonna paint my toenails.  I did it, then I sat for about five minutes looking down at them, and finally I freaked out and cleaned it all back off again.  It looked absolutely ridiculous.  But I don’t think other people’s feet look ridiculous when they paint their nails.  My friend and her daughters paint their nails all kinds of cool colors like blue and funky pinks and purples, and I think they look great.  I’d look like an escapee from a mental institution.

I could blame motherhood on my issues, but anyone who knows me would know this is not the absolute truth.  I’ve been this way–jeans and tee-shirts, no makeup, no style–since I was old enough to pick my own clothing.  The only difference is now I have a lot of convenient excuses.  I turn up my nose and say things like, “I don’t have time to dress nicely.  It doesn’t fit in my lifestyle.  I bathe people and feed people and change diapers and garden and use a gas powered weed-eater and ride a four-wheeler.  I can’t do those things in heels.”  The truth is, though, I’m just too chickenshit to give it a shot.  I would love to have the confidence to stroll around with cool indifference in my hot, hip shoes and painted nails and a thumb ring.

You can keep the aviators, though. I guess fashion just isn’t for me.  I’ll just sit and criticize everyone else.  It’s a lot more fun.   I’m going to go watch “Jackass.”

Stick People Turn Me On

Want to do a (not so) scientific experiment? Walk up to any teenage girl, and ask her if she thinks she fat.  I just about guarantee that approximately 95% of them will answer “yes.”  And by teenage, I don’t necessarily mean 16 and 17 year-olds.  Now it seems more like 11 and 12 year-old girls are starting this crap.  I wonder why that is?  Consider the following:

This is a Victoria’s Secret model from a few years ago, named Candice Swanepoel.  Now, in reality, this is not a realistic body image for us regular girls to have.  Pay close attention to what I’m getting ready to say…….real people don’t look like this!

Now, just forget all of that, and have a look at this:

This is the same girl.  I swear.  This is a recent picture from this spring.

Okay, I’m going to be mean for a few minutes, so if that bothers you, skip ahead.  This girl looks like crap.  It’s pathetic.  She literally looks like a picture from the case files of an eating disorder clinic, but here’s the best part–this isn’t from a case file, it’s from the frikin’ Victoria’s Secret show this year!  I know what Victoria’s Secret is—she’s anorexic! Did I say that was the best part? I was wrong.  The best part is that there is actually discussion as to whether or not this girl is too thin!  Holy hell, are you kidding me?  No, she’s not thin, she’s about ten pounds away from dead, folks!  And yet she is still a model and worse, a role model!  Your little girl is going to look at this and think that normal people actually look like this!  Shit!

Shame, shame, shame on our culture as a whole for this.  Am I bitter?  You bet.  I’ve fought body issues all of my life, and it’s no picnic.  Now I’m a little more educated.  Can you say “photoshop?”  How about “airbrushing?”  You’re not trying to live up to a person, you’re trying to live up to a computer generated image of a person who has never existed.  Everyone has wrinkles, moles, zits sometimes, cellulite sometimes, you name it.  They even use the computer to make the whites of these girl’s eyes look whiter!

Sadly, the picture above isn’t photoshopped.  That poor girl actually looks like that.  And a million other poor girls think it’s the way to look.

Last but not least, a great big “thank you” to all of you guys out there who, for whatever reason, think this is sexy.  Way to go, fellas!  Why, I guess you’d follow your pecker right off a cliff, wouldn’t you?  Sort of like those little lemmings, only dumber.  And it doesn’t matter what that guy looks like, he thinks he can get one of these girls.  He may have a huge bald spot, more body hair than an ape, and a belly that gets into the room five minutes before the rest of him, but he thinks he’s a stud, just the absolute shit, and the hot girls should just be lining up to have a shot at him.

I imagine pretty soon young boys will soon be sneaking off to their room…..locking the door…………..closing the curtains…………………….slipping their hand under their mattress………………….and pulling out a much used magazine………………………….opening to the center……………………….and holding up a picture that looks like this:

Is it getting hot in here, or is just me?  Gotta go–there’s a Three Musketeers in there with my name on it.

Today’s Fashion Tip: Buy Some Windex and Cover Your Junk!

     Folks, when I start giving out fashion advice, things must be pretty bad.  Normally, I could give a crap about what people wear.  In fact, I’m usually on the defensive, waiting for the people from one of those fashion makeover shows to swoop down on me while I’m in the store.  My uniform is pretty consistent:  black tee-shirt with either jeans or some form of knee-length shorts.  I don’t wear make-up, and if my hair is clean, I consider it “fixed.”  So, I repeat, I’m not one of the world’s great fashion critics.

     Sometimes, though, even someone like me has to take a moment and say, “Huh?”

     We celebrated our long weekend by going to the lake.  All of us love the water and we go to stay all day.  It was a holiday weekend, so tons of other people had the same idea.  No biggie.  What this meant was that I had opportunity to observe a lot of people in way less clothes than they should have been wearing.  Obviously, people swim in bathing suits.  Duh.  Having said that, there is a whole world of choices available to people of all shapes and sizes that are relatively flattering and cover all of the parts that the rest of us don’t need to see.  Though I am severely fashion-challenged, I am an expert on bathing-suit selection, since I spend approximately two years trying to find one that doesn’t make me cry when I look at myself in the mirror while wearing it.  At least I am aware of and can accept my faults.  I’m not a big girl, but I’m not a pixie, either.  Also, my body will never forgive me for what carrying my daughter did to it.  Once you reach a certain age, even if you weigh 90 pounds, certain things just aren’t where they’re supposed to be anymore.  Gravity sucks (literally!)

     Apparently, some people haven’t yet realized this.  I saw some things on that lake this weekend that may have scarred me for life.  I could write a book, but I thought I’d just sort of give you the highlights, because it’s late and I’m lazy.

  1. There were numerous gals who have obviously not realized that bikinis aren’t meant for everyone–especially if, when you put it on, it disappears. 
  2. I myself sport a pretty good tan because I’m outside a lot, but I saw some older ladies today getting out of a truck that looked like great big brown shoes.  Some lizards in the weeds on the side of the parking lot sort of perked up and did their little mating dance routines.  Turn off the tanning beds!
  3. I saw one woman who had on a bikini style bottom and one of those tankini tops.  Usually I like those pretty well–I wear one with board shorts–but hers wasn’t quite long enough.  At first, I thought she had a flesh-colored floaty ring around her waist.  She didn’t.
  4. I saw a middle-aged man in a Speedo. What else can I say?
  5. Just as a generalized statement, fix your wedgie for God’s sweet sake!

     I guess the most alarming thing to me is that these folks actually looked at themselves in their mirrors and said, “Damn, I look GOOD!”  Either they need to clean their mirrors, or I need to find out what kind of mirror it is so I can get one for myself.

     The last, and most important, “little pointer” I’d like to offer up to the sunbathing masses is pretty straightforward–please, for all humanity, cover your private parts!  I do NOT want to see them, and I’m getting older, my reflexes are slowing down, and sometimes I can’t tackle my son and cover his head with a towel before he sees some girl’s nipple or some dude’s junk! 

     Case in point:  we were out swimming and jumping off of some rocks today, and three people (two guys, one girl–their gender was obvious) paddled up in a fancy little canoe.  They parked behind the rocks and climbed up.  I guess buying the fancy canoe drained their finances, because the guys were in their underwear, and the girl was in her bra and panties.  I swear I am not making this up.  When the aforementioned garments became wet, which is inevitable when you are swimming, you could see everything.  Twigs, berries, nipples, patch–though they were technically covered, they were all there in sharp relief.  I had two twelve-year-old girls and one eleven-year-old boy with me.  I could have tossed all three of them into the water with no floatation devices and they would have been fine–their eyeballs would have kept them afloat.  We vacated, and how!

     Sheesh!

     I guess that about sums up my advice (or gripe session, as it was.)  Have a little pride in yourself, and cover up the nasty bits with fabric designed to go in the water.  Remember, guys, you may think you’re showing something off, but cold water is not your friend!

A (not so) Fond Farewell to Childhood

      In the short story “The Body,” by Stephen King (which later became the movie “Stand By Me”) the narrator of the story says, “I never had friends again like I did when I was twelve.” 

     My best childhood friend lost her dad a couple of days ago.  Her parents live very close to me, but I didn’t even know he was sick.  I found out he died when I read it in the paper.  This is a man I saw nearly as much as my own father from the sixth grade up until about three years after I graduated high school.  His daughter, my then-friend, was literally my very, very best friend. 

     Do you remember friends like that?  My husband is really my best friend, but I don’t know if I ever laughed even with him the way I laughed with her.  I’m talking about the kind of side-aching, tear-squirting, breath-taking laughter that I think only kids and drunk people can produce.  We were together all the time, and when we weren’t together, we were talking on the phone.  Now, I’ve struggled for three days to remember what her voice sounds like, and I can’t.  I can’t remember.  Somehow, she slipped away from me. 

     Oh, I know it’s common enough.  Life takes over–real life, the kind that sucks–and you hardly have time for your own family, let alone friends.  But that’s just it–I DO have friends now, really great friends that I love with all of my heart.  We are bound by common interests, similar family situations, mostly our kids.  I don’t get to do much with them, but I talk to them regularly.  So why couldn’t I have that with my then-friend?  I remember imagining our lives as we grew older, how we’d marry brothers maybe, and be pregnant at the same time (if we decided to have kids) and live in the same neighborhood.  We knew all of each other’s secrets, and fears, and dreams.  Somehow, it still wasn’t enough.

     Now her dad is gone, and I guess she has some other best friend to talk to, and tell her how sorry they are, and all of that crap someone does for you when someone you love dies.  He didn’t have any kind of memorial service, so I don’t know what to do.  It’s been years since I saw her or spoke to her.  I thought about sending a card, but all I can think of when I think of a card is Robin Williams in “Good Will Hunting” (I wrote a post about the movie thing, remember?) sitting across the table from his “best friend.”  The friend said he was sorry he didn’t make it to Robin’s wife’s funeral, and Robin says, “Yeah, I got your card.”  Heavy sarcasm.  Now, in case you don’t speak sarcasm (a language in which I am fluent) what his tone and expression suggested was “Shove your card up your ass.”  That basically sums up my opinion of most cards to begin with, so back my original point, forget the card.  Her old number is disconnected and I don’t know her cell. 

     So maybe that’s that.  Maybe it’s time for me to just let it go.  She’s not my friend anymore.  It’s not because of anything that happened, unless you want to count life–that’s all that happened.  Kids and jobs and husbands and errands and everything in between.

     Life.

     We aren’t those kids anymore.  The life we thought was so hard when it was happening turned out to not be so bad after all.  The things we were afraid of were just phantoms, and they, too, have faded away.  We grew up, and grew apart.  Her dad dying was like a splash of cold water on my face.  We are way past being kids.  Our parents are old enough to retire, and they are old enough to die.  I know it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I’m not kid anymore–don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total idiot.  I know how old I am.  I guess I just forgot for a while how wide the gulf is between that kid I was and this person I am now.  It’s hard to let her go–my friend and myself.  I miss that easy laughter, and that bond that only children can know.  I miss the carefree life that was, that is gone now forever.  I guess the truth is, I miss my friend.  I’m sorry I lost her.  I didn’t mean to, but when you’re young, you don’t realize how easy it is to lose things.  By the time you realize how precious a thing is, most of the time it’s already gone. 

     So, I won’t send a card.  I can only say now how sorry I am for her loss, even if she never knows it.  And I can say thanks for being my best, best, best friend through all of those years.  I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

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