Note: Apologies for the tardiness with this post. My website has been undergoing some upgrades.
I have said it before…I grew up on the precipice of time. I was the first ‘fatherless’ generation, i.e. a huge proportion of my friends were also from single parent or blended families. Hell, even the TV show The Brady Bunch glorified such things. Divorce or even unwed parenthood were acceptable.
I grew up suckling on the bitter, cold milk of feminism. And I sucked that shit down like there was no tomorrow. I was not going to be like the other women in my family…pregnant and married right out of high school. I was going to go to college…become an Air Force or Navy pilot…see the world.
There was a popular country song in those days by Mac Davis…
Like Mac, the past thirty plus years have taken me to Texas, Hollywood and now London. Little bit Terri Lynn from Drayton, South Carolina has gone far. And there is not much that I regret (a few things maybe).
But I am coming to realize the truth in the final stanza of that song. The problem is that as my favorite poem says…
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
Nonetheless, melancholy and nostalgia have reigned recently. With some devastating affects…few (no) words written except for rude ones on Facebook. Honestly, this election though thousands of miles away has gotten me contemplative. It has polarized my homeland and made it even more difficult to be an American living abroad (which is never easy by the way…America is that head cheerleader in high school that everyone hated but all secretly wanted to be).
When I was a young teen, my grandmother, whom we all called Gran-Gran, hooked up with another man. I come by this rebel shit honestly, folks. I am more that woman’s daughter than my mother or my Nanny (great-grandmother) who raised me. Papa Curt was U S Navy retired, having served in Korea and Vietnam.
And having failed at ‘being good enough’ for my sperm donor to stick around or my step-father to really love, I set about to win another ‘surrogate daddy.’ Making him proud was the reason for the pilot and applying for the Naval Academy (and I came close…only failed the physical because I could not do pull-ups and medical because I had buck teeth, which had made high school living hell, but we were too poor to afford braces).
Gran-Gran and Papa Curt were the first to have cable television. In addition to reading war novels and Louise L’Amour, Papa Curt loved the History channel. I would visit after-school and on weekends. We would watch documentaries on different WWII battles in particular. We even did a family holiday to Charleston, I think he needed to do some paperwork there. And we went to the ships there.
Papa Curt died when I was seventeen, of throat cancer from too many years drinking and chewing. But I have been thinking a lot lately about something he said to me right after I received my nomination to the U S Naval Academy. He had been drinking beer and we were watching another war documentary. He got this far off look on his face. Then he turned to me and said…
“Terri Lynn, you’ll never really appreciate America until you have seen other places. Lived in foreign lands.”
I swear I think there were tears in his fading eyes (the cancer was eating away at him by then). Just as there are in mine now. But you were right, Papa Curt. I know now what you meant.
And even if Fate, cruel bastard that He can be, never allows me to live there again. She lives inside of me.
I have grown up. I know that it is impossible to truly go back and honestly the years have bought some good changes too. I know that no place is perfect…well, no place touched, divided and governed by the flawed hand of man anyway.
Even those beloved memories of that place and those people are tainted by the realization that they could have never welcomed my beloved PanKwake with her mixed race heritage.
I feel my soul growing, expanding and developing once more. As it has so many times before. I know that change is in the air…not just for me but for that country I love. No matter who wins…it seems we may all loose.
But the Transcendentalist in me like Thoreau, Emerson, Alcott and Dickens recognizes that society, religion and politics corrupt the true basically good nature of man…and the environment. It is not that I long for the past but that I pine for the future.
That has lead me to take up another abandoned project…my memoirs…Eggs, Onions and Farts. My purpose in doing so is simple…he, who does not know history is doomed to repeat it. And there are things that these people knew, lived and saw that is passing from our collective memories…things we need to hear now.
It is my hope that it will inform and perhaps inspire some, not to try to recreate a flawed era in history, but to take the good from it and the good from the recent past…meld them with independent living and community which are also cornerstones of Transcendentalism…and usher in a New Age of enlightenment. Not through gods (or goddesses) nor politics nor capitalism/socialism/communism nor any other -ism, but through the simple decision of…
Personal responsibility…for me and mine…and you too.
Not because a church or government makes me,
But because it is simply…the RIGHT thing to do.
So…expect more of this drivel in the weeks to come…no apologies.