Telling the truth about one’s life isn’t always easy. But my blog is predicated on cracking the world open by telling the truth. It is especially hard for me because I don’t really like giving anything away. As the old saying goes, “Never tell them where your goat is tied.” I suppose that is so that people can’t “get your goat.” Here is one big truth about me. I don’t like being thought sentimental.
I wrote the following post on New Year’s Eve and am finally getting it posted. I know it’s late in coming, but some time life gets in the way of living. Anyway here is my New Year’s post. Enjoy or at least don’t let it get you down.
So here is another New Year’s Eve. It’s time to look to the future and all the things you hope to do: lose weight, find a job, fall in love, be kinder, get more sleep. All those resolutions that we make and rush to break soon after the egg nog is gone. It is also a time to look to the past. You know, Auld Lang Syne and all that tradition that many don’t even know what it means now.
Nostalgia is not cool or whatever the word for cool is these days. However, I find myself looking back to two New Year’s Eves/Days that I remember fondly.
The first was when I was around 14. My mother and I were building a house for ourselves. Actually, she had paid a couple old men to put up the shell, and we were to finish it. The men were not professional just a couple old farmers who knew how to saw a board and hammer nails. The wall studs were varying distances apart; some closer at the top than at the bottom. The result of their handiwork was that we had to measure and cut each piece of “plasterboard” (as we called it) to fit. I measured, Mom sawed, we both nailed.
That particular NYE we were working late into the night. We wanted to get the place as near livable as possible so that we could quit paying rent on the apartment where we lived. That way we would have more money to put into our house. Also, Mom could quit walking the mile or so to the building site each day. The weather had turned warm—warm enough to be out with just a sweater. I took a break around midnight and went outside, climbed up on a pile of concrete blocks and sang my heart out to the night.
All the neighboring houses were dark. The neighbors must have been in bed, but nobody called out to me to be quiet.
I had always wanted to be a professional singer when I was young enough to dream, when the impossible seemed doable. I had quite a repertoire of old love songs that I had learned from TV and church songs I learned in Sunday School. Who knew but someone from New York or Hollywood might knock on my door and hire me.
In no particular order, I sang any song that bubbled up out of my throat. That night Froggie went a-courtin’ in the sweet by and by with Daisy on a Bicycle Built for Two while Forever Blowing Bubbles and realizing that the Church in the Wildwood could be a perfect place for their wedding. “Someone to Watch Over Me” became a prayer rising from the heart of a love-starved teen. I went on singing every song I could think of. It was more meditation than performance.
At midnight, I heard the church bell ringing from farther out the road. I knew then that one of my cousins had gone across the big road to the church building to welcome the new year. I climbed down from my perch, bowed to my imagined audience and went to get Mom so we could walk that long road back to our apartment.
Many New Year’s Later
The other memory is more of a New Year’s Day than the Eve. My divorce was final from as I sometimes call him, “my first big mistake,” and I was about to take the plunge again. Bruce and I were driving from Wheeling to Meadville to visit the old farm, “my heart’s home.” It was a beautiful sunny day and our spirits were high because in six weeks we would be married. We drove past a barn that had a huge pile of steaming “stuff” on the ground near it. Bruce was alarmed. “We should find the farmer and tell him that pile is smoking. It could catch the barn on fire.”
“You city boy,” I chided. “That’s a pile of horse shit and it is hot and steams like that, especially when the air is cold.”
That occurrence has become something I can hold over him when I think he’s getting on his city snobbery. We laugh about it, still.
Then I regaled him with the story that when I was three, I thought it was great fun to step in cow patties with my bare feet then It was almost therapeutic feeling the warm stuff squish between my toes. Mom was not so happy when I would call for her to come clean my foot.
In Meadville, we parked and climbed the hill to the farm. We went to the grave yard that is on the farm. We had been there together before—on our first date. We spent some time walking among the graves. My grandfather, who was married three times and widowed twice is buried there between wives one and two. Several distant relatives and many people I only know by name share the ground with Grandpa Martin.
I told Bruce stories that I remembered about some of the residents and then it was time to go back home. As we started down the hill, Bruce stopped and turned in his tracks. “S’ long, Granddad, I’ll take care of your little girl.”