Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What is my legacy?

Growing up my parents' best friends were Barry and Diane.  This is definitely where I honed my skills for bullshitting and drinking caffeine for hours.  My favorite thing to do, unless you substitute wine for the caffeine.

We were over there so much (the two families) that almost all of my childhood memories revolve around the Goodalls.  Diane Goodall is one of the funniest people I have ever met.  Her son, Barry, my brother, Pat, and I spent our entire childhoods together.

Barry and I keep in touch when I am in Louisville when I frequent Mr. G's, and we laugh constantly remembering the shit our parents would do when we were little.  He was older, and luckily, he has a great memory, and he is definitely one of those AWESOME people that you know as an adult, from your past, that begins almost every paragraph with "Remember when" and then the stories that follow make you laugh so hard they bring tears to your eyes. There are many revelations, for me, because I was younger, as well.

To hear my mother tell it, I was a clingy child and I would sit on her lap while Diane and she talked about collecting "dalls" - of the Madame Alexander variety.  They were obsessed, and they would drag me to flea markets in search of the rare ones in "mint condition".  Ebay has changed the way the "dall world" operates, now. "The Jodster," her unfortunate Ebay handle, is a force to be reckoned with in the Dall World.  She sells the craziest stuff to the most unbalanced people.  She showed me this Madame Alexander paper doll that is a convenient size for a dall to play with (creepy).

"I mean, do you believe people even buy this stuff?"  She held up the tiny paper doll, and looked at me condescendingly.

I replied, "Mom, YOU bought it first.  Do you recognize that?"

"Oh, I hadn't thought about it that way," she frowned as she swung around on her swiveling computer chair to face her screen, again.

Oh, LAWD. I had a neighbor once say that she felt sorry for women who did not have girls, because then they would never know what was wrong with them.  Agreed.  For instance, the girls and I were talking about how they loved our house, yesterday.  It thought it was so sweet, and then Hallie goes, "I just wish it were cleaner."  Nice. 

Anyway, Diane, my mom, and I would spend hours perusing The Fairgrounds while they wheeled and dealed, and bullshitted and smoked cigarettes.  There was no "smoke free home" alternative at that time.

That HAD to be when I developed my love for Tag Sales, Estate Sales and Yard Sales. Brad and I moved around a lot when we were first married, and literally rented for the first 7 years of our union (Ha!).  He often worked long hours at whatever job we had moved to a city for, and I would meticulously scour the local papers for Estate Sales and yard sales in affluent areas. 

I would take my dog, Elaine, my best friend, to each and every house each Saturday. More than anything, I just wanted to own my own home and have permanency.  I decided I would just buy things to fill my fantasy house, and fix them up, while I waited.  This seemed like a good idea until we moved, and then I would be stuck with all this junk I bought and painted, that I either had to get rid of, or fit in some UHaul.

You are who and where you come from, and I find that it is not until later, when I reflect on why I am, the way I am (interests, flaws, social skills, mother, hygiene)  you are, no matter how much you think you have evolved, forever a product of your environment.

I almost think that you are the most creative when you are poor, because you have to imagine what some "find" you are interested in, could be, with your inspiration.  Even if it is terrible, I sure would like to revisit the 70's console I painted white with yellow diamonds on the doors. It housed our "stereo system" which was a boom box with a CD player on the top.  One regret, because we moved around a lot, and I have a penchant for purging when we would make a move, is that I do not have those things that I first bought and painted to make them presentable in whatever apartment or house we were renting at the time.

One of my loftier projects was in the duplex we rented in Denver.  I would go to paint stores and buy paint that had been returned and paint whatever I felt needed "color".  If you are from the South, color in decorating is a must.  There was this kind of porch in the back of the house that was probably as big as an  5x8 area rug, at best.  I painted the entire thing blue, even the ceiling, and then striped the floors blue and green.  I scrambled together enough money for four navy wicker chairs with matching pillows at a Pier One sale, and Brad and I hung out there all the time.  There were small screened in windows and we would force guests to sit facing us, about a foot away, and we practically knocked knees with them while we drank Colorado micro brews.

I remember our landlord coming over, after the fact, when we were getting ready to move AGAIN, and I proudly showed him my porch.  I had ripped up the linoleum floor and painted the sub floor.  No, no primer needed, thanks.  Not in the budget!  I was inspired!

He was miffed.  He couldn't imagine how, and mostly WHY, I would do something like that.  I just needed to CREATE, man.  I also painted just the cabinet doors of the kitchen a nice yellow color I found at a yard sale.  He seemed fascinated by that, as well.  But, my focal point were the doors of the duplex.  I had painted each of them a different color of the rainbow, door frame and all, baby.  Now that he had to appreciate.

He was cool, though, he didn't take our deposit or anything.  Maybe it's because when we dropped off a check each month to his house, and we pulled into the driveway, we would have to pass a 10 foot lacquered bear that had been carved out of a tree stump.  You see, he understood what it was like to need to be artistic, and in my mind, that freakin' bear was proof!

I guess my point to all this, and what I have realized by writing this blog, is that your interests and your passions are instilled in you, or become important to you, at a very young age. Then the older you get, and the more your life changes, those passions and interests morph according to our availability to those skills.

For instance, I have always loved to write.  I have written at different times throughout my life, but I have never really been secure enough to write what I know - which are my memories and observations.  I was always wasting my time on fictional short stories that I thought would be interesting to my audience, and it seemed false and forced when I would go back and read it, and it was. 

My daughter, Hallie, likes to write.  She writes all day long.  She is not a sportster, but she isn't the least bit self-conscious about it.  I really admire that.  It makes me wonder what I do with her, (or in my case, was forced to do with my Mom and her friends) that she will pick up on and make a part of her, like I did, with the flea markets.  I have to be honest, though, to this day, Madame Alexander dolls just turn my stomach.  With any luck, Hallie will feel that way about blogging some day.

What is my legacy to my daughters and the people I love?  Is it painting?  Writing?  My twisted sense of humor?  My laziness?  It is an interesting question to ponder and unfortunately, but one that you can control.

My recommendation today is to reach back and pick up something you liked to do when you were young or poor, or both, I guess.  If you are rich, I guess then just hire someone to do what you used to like hiring someone to do for you.  I don't know.  I've never really been rich.  I am CREATIVE, remember?

Hallie took this picture of herself for her "autobiography" project.  Almost all of her pictures are what she calls "James Durbinish".  She included the one of me with dreadlocks and a rainbow beanie, and one of her poor grandmother with her fake tattoo sleeve on. When I told her that people might not understand what all that means in both her project and my blog, she said, "I don't care if people don't understand it."  LOVE HER!!!! I think I just answered my own question about what my child is taking away from me.

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