I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be. ~ Doulas Adams -( 1952-2001)
When I was around five I wanted to be a trapeze artist. I had heard of them from my brother David, He had been to the circus and seen one there. I had never seen one but I knew I wanted to be one. I would hang upside down from the top of our swing set and flip and pose for the entire Back yard to watch in wonder. Of Course the only watchers were the chickens and hunting dogs But still I put on a pretty good show. My brother Frank saw me from the garden where he was hoeing one day and with some rope and an old broom handle he made me a swing high up in the China berry tree. I would climb up the boards he nailed to the tree and climb out onto my swing and practice my moves for hours. I could hear the roar of the crowds and the applause in my young mind. I just knew I would be a famous circus performer one day.
A few months later I decided I wanted to be a ballerina. Jimmy nailed a couple of wedges of wood across the back of the smoke house and after adding the handle from daddy's best shovel he declared that it was now my studio complete with a practice barre. I had discovered Ballet while looking through the New World Books Daddy had bought from a salesman. I would hang onto My barre in the back of the smoke house as I ignored the canned goods lining the walls and the ropes of sausage hanging from the ceiling. I could do all of the basic moves. I could twirl and stand on my toes. I was convinced I'd be a great dancer some day.
I was always changing my mind about what I wanted to be. When I got an easy bake oven I swore I would be a great chef some day. My Oldest Sister Trudy would help me mix up cakes and I'd bake one of the cookie sized cakes for every member of the family. I loved My oven till the light bulbs Burst inside the little oven and Daddy took it away. They made a new version after My own children came along. Both my daughter and my step daughter had their own. They too wanted to be chefs for a short time!
I wanted to be many different things. But I always from my first day of school wanted to be a writer. When they made me read ~run spot run ~ I wanted to be a writer. I told the teacher, Miss Dunbar that I would write better stuff than that . I despised Dick and Jane. I whined over Sally and Spot. Finally Miss Dunbar gave me a book from her shelf. It was called " The Big Yellow Umbrella". She told me that if I could read it and tell her what it was about she wouldn't make me read Dick and Jane any more. I read her wonderful book about an Umbrella and was in love with words. From the day I stood in front of her desk with my hands clasped behind me and told her about the book that she didn't think I could read, I never had to read Dick and Jane again. Miss Dunbar was a great teacher. She realized that I had five siblings older than me. She realized that I might already know how to read some words. She even allowed each of us to write something for the class to read aloud. My sentence was " One day I will be a writer and write sentences that will be read a lot by other people." I was the only one who could read it. But Miss Dunbar let me read it to the whole first grade class. I thought they would cheer; they frowned at me.. They called me names. I was different they said.
I was in love with words. I would read every word I could find. I would write words on the wall inside the smoke house when I was supposed to be practicing my Ballet. I would write words in the dirt with a stick beneath the shade of my china berry tree. The rope and broom handle swing rotting away above my head. I wrote poems and stories for my neighbors children and later for my younger brother and sister. I wrote extra stuff for school. Sometimes writing two or three for each assignment then choosing what I thought was best. I even decided to change the smoke house from a ballet studio to a writers studio. Dragging myself a peach crate in there and setting up my own office. I was going to write a mystery book and My sister Mary who was handy with a pencil and could draw anything at all was going to illustrate it. We were talking about it a while back she thinks we could still write a book like that, maybe one day we will..
And then I became a teenager. I was a good teenager. I always did my chores. I helped out in Mama's daycare center with the small kids. I loved to read them stories or make up stories for them.My youngest brother Reuben,would beg me for stories and I would make them up as I went along. I'm sure sometimes I had facts confused but little kids didn't care they loved my stories. I would write things for school and the teachers would tell me that the stories were wonderful, But that I HAD to write in proper form. I hated that too. It was as bad as reading Dick and Jane. And then I discovered the boys. Writing wasn't as interesting to me as were the boys.
I got married the first go round at sixteen. That marriage lasted for eighteen years. I actually did a good bit of writing during those years. Besides the stories I wrote for My oldest son , who came along when I was almost nineteen, I actually wrote a few times for money. I wrote for a newspaper for a while. My Sister-in-law, Camella, and I often working together. We liked to expose things that we thought were secrets or injustices. We would sometimes cause a stir here in this small town. People thought we were trouble makers. I wrote short stories for a couple of magazines and was published quiet a few times. But even though I was writing, I was way off track. Life wasn't taking me where I wanted to go. I wasn't headed in the right direction and I knew it. But I was; I thought; trapped . Finally I bought a lock box and pushed everything inside it and found me a job in a factory. Living takes money and writing was just for fun. And I was a mother with a child so I had to have steady money. I would write sometimes on my napkin as I ate supper in the green walled cafeteria where I worked. I would toss the napkins into my box at home and never look at it again. I wanted to write but I couldn't, life was leading me down another road.
Life took a big turn for me in nineteen ninety. My youngest child Emily was born just after the new year. Emily was sick from day one. I had two other children too and they had almost become my Mama's kids. Anthony was twelve and Cooper was sixteen months old. I was at the hospital and they were with my parents. I missed them But life was taking me where it wanted me to go. I wasn't writing now. I was to busy worrying about my sons, watching over my daughter, and learning to be a single Mother. I was divorced with a sick child and two sons besides her. I was way too busy to write.
I did keep a diary all those years. I pulled out some of the old ones a few months ago. I laughed about some of the things I wrote there. Entry's like ~Thanks God Cooper isn't a midget~ caused me to roll across my bed as laughter pealed from my lips. Cooper is well over six foot tall. But I remember when the nurse told me they thought he would be a midget. They measured him constantly until he grew a tiny bit.. He grew slow.. He took the long way round to get there but now he is Tall. Other entries caused me to cry. ~ Mike died cause we didn't match~ caused me to hang my head and weep remembering the little boy who was Part of Emily's cancer support group. We were all tested for a bone marrow transplant but none of us matched. I was devastated when he died. I was so afraid that Emily would be the next one to go.. And yet she recovered and will graduate from high school this year.
I married for the second time in nineteen ninety four. This Husband, who remains the best thing in my life, came with two more children and a whole lot more work required as a stay home mom. And even the diary stopped for many years. I didn't miss writing. I was way to busy being a Mom and step-mom and wife. I was off on a new path. I read every thing I could get my hands on and I even have some books where I wrote an extra bit in the back. I guess I didn't quiet like the ending of those so I "fixed" it. But I wasn't doing any real writing.
Last Summer, Dave and I went to the beach for a week-end, Taking Cooper and one of his skater friends along. Dave and I were going for a relaxing rest and the boys intended to skate. We even checked into a motel right across from the skate park so that they could run across to it without us having to drag them every where. Something happened that week-end. I was watching Dave sleep and the boys were skating. words began to pour through my mind. I hunted a pencil and searched the room for paper. I finally found a pen but no paper. I made so much Racket that Dave woke up and offered to take me to wal-mart to get what ever I wanted. He had that, I think she's lost it look on his face but still he was willing to haul me, in my crazy state, to wal-mart. I was ready and in the car before he could get his shoes on. I bought paper and two pens. I bought a folder for finished stuff and a pencil with a packet of erasers in all shapes and sizes. Rushing to get it all and get back to the room Just as my mind went Blank. I managed to hold on to one poem as all the other words ran away. But they were only hiding for the week-end.
I have wrote something every single day since then. I have learned something about me too. I was always a writer. I was writing when I rocked Emily in intensive care and told stories that the nurses would sometimes stand still and listen too. I was writing when I explained to my children that sometimes people just have to move into new houses and families have to divide. I was writing when I explained to my new love what Life meant to me and how he would have to act if he intended to share this wonderful life with me. I was writing when I mitigated problems between his children and mine convincing them that we were all going to make it.. I was taking the long road, But I was headed in the right direction.
Last night I sat in my Baby sisters living room and watched her youngest son climb up and down on Dave's knee. He took a liking to Dave last night like never before. Dave has that effect on children sometimes. All of mine say he's a hero. His know he is the greatest dad. And I tell everyone he's my soul mate. Martha had been sitting quietly watching them, when suddenly she asked me. "Patsy, do you remember taking me, when I was little, to run through Emmett's wheat field?" I smiled because I had forgotten till she mentioned it. She talked about how the wheat felt so silky as it brushed against her skin. She said she remembered that I took her there and told her to run and feel the wheat brush against her. She said I took pictures of her there so we could remember the fun that day. She's ten years younger than me so her memory is better. I asked her where we were heading. She laughed and said.. " We were walking to Grand-ma's House." I frowned and said "well we were way off track for Grandma's house.. We could have been to Grandma's house quicker another way." She just laughed and said.. "Yea Patsy, But you ALWAYS took the long way round!"
My sister was right. I always took the long way around. If I was sent next door to borrow sugar I would go way out in the woods behind our house and then run back to the neighbors house. Being sent to grandma's house just a small distance away often meant a trip to the railroad tracks or through My uncle Emmett's fields. I always looked for something more. I was on the right track all along. I was just taking the long way around! Don't be afraid to try paths you haven't walked before. Never fear the unknown. Sometimes there is a short way to reach your destination. But I'm sure you will have more fun and maybe learn something extra if every once in a while you will take the Long way around! Have a great day!