Good morning. How have you been? This post is totally inspired by Elizabeth (West Coast Elizabeth), from the blog Gossamer Wings. Elizabeth has been doing these fantastic posts every week called Retro Friday wherein she shares photographs and stories from her past. Through these posts, she lets us in to her life. Needless to say, since her first Retro Friday post, I was totally "in". I think that you get to see me, on my blog, but perhaps there are gaps in getting to actually know me. I have no idea if I can do this every week, as Elizabeth so faithfully does, but I can at least begin the sharing process. I am going to see if by sharing some of my memories, you might feel like you know me better. Let me know what you think.
Lets get on with it.
This week I flew up to Minnesota to pick up my oldest daughter from her 28 day canoeing adventure. Upon picking her up, I felt I had many things behind me - mainly my garden adventure of practically digging my way to China and fancying myself a carpenter with our pergola performance, but also my youngest daughter had been "retrieved" from her camp, writers camp at Duke University, which BTW she LOVED.
I finally could turn my attention to me. I began to do so no sooner than we had boarded the plane. I took out my sketchbook and coloring pencils once we were airborne. Being up in a plane has always fascinated me - not the actual being in a plane, as I actually have to struggle with a mental tug of war to deal with the claustrophobia I feel when I am in an airplane, but it is the part of looking out the window from way up there that I love - I consider it my reward for actually succumbing to strapping myself into what is akin, to me, of a flying sardine can.
Despite the fact that I am tall, and my body feels trapped in the window seat vs. the isle seat, I perfer to put myself in the window seat just so that I can press my face up against the window and see what is out there. Looking down at the perfectly gridded farm parcels of Minnesota and Wisconsin made me think about life. In some of those farm houses down there there was fighting going on, some of the housewives were fretting over the weight that they had failed to lose, some of the farmer's machinery and equipment was failing and needed to be repaired, and there were foreclosures at the banks I imagined at the places were all the roads seem to converge and the buildings were more closely clustered together. Life is this way. It comes with upheaval and change. Looking out the airplane window is good for me; it makes me feel like I am part of this human race and that all of my worries and problems are an earthly thing that I share in common with the rest of those walking the earth down there. Being up there, though, also makes my imagination soar. I can detach myself from my problems. Easily.
Once we got higher up, as the farm houses no longer looked like Legos and became just specks dotting the land, and the long roads mere pencil thin lines, the clouds were billowy and fluffy. I started to think about how when I traveled from Chile to the United States, at age twelve, I saw these same clouds out my airplane window, up close and personal. How I wanted to open the plane door and go sit on one of those clouds.
And so, on this trip home, as my eyes went from one cloud to the next, my mind began to wander and wonder. I thought about that trip, with me barely 12, and the little suitcase that had been handed to me by my mother to fill with all my earthly possessions.
It was tiny - more of an "overnight-sleepover" kind of suitcase, despite the fact that its' shape was like a traditional travelers' suitcase (it was the 70's and that shape was typical of suitcases of the time.) Regardless of its' size, the little handheld suitcase was the only thing I was allowed to bring when we moved to this country. I don't remember what I put in it. This was the second time I was going to the US. We had come with my father, the first time, on a scholarship, knowing it would not be permanent. Now, however, the stakes were a little higher. We had no idea what the future held. Chile was in political turmoil and my Dad had been offered, in the US, one of the most coveted of things when a home country is in upside down mode - a well paying job.
Memories are difficult - they adjust to our persona as they go through time. I don't have many pictures of the time to quantify everything that is in my head. My parents have a death grip on the few family photos our family does have. Although those photos haven't seen the light of day since I last visited my parents home a few years back, they probably will remain as I last saw them - stashed in a box on one of the upper shelves of my parents' office closet, shutting out the rest of reality. I sometimes think my parents don't want to let go of the photographs from our past, as a way of ensuring that their own past remains intact and that its' magic retains the viability of someday returning to whom they were in their younger years.
I don't know.
I wish I had those photographs to look at though.
I haven't the faintest memory of what I put in that little suitcase of mine. I know I wasn't able to put in it my favorite story book, Young Years. It was a horrible event, for me, to have to leave my beloved storybook behind. It was given to my younger cousin, Michelle, perhaps they thought that I, at twelve, was getting too old for that book and would have little use for it in my teen years. They couldn't have been more wrong. When, as an adult, I returned to Chile for a short visit and saw it in my aunt's guest bedroom shelves, the tears jumped from my face. I begged my cousin for it, she gladly returned it to me. My book is now home, always with me.
When I finally came back together with my book, on that fateful trip back to Chile, I was instantly transported to a time when all things were possible. The images, both the fully colored ones and the more simple line drawings with their two toned swaths of color washes upon them, made me - yes they MADE ME.
They made me who I was again. It is almost like as if in my teenage years, in the US, I had been holding my breath and was just going through the motions without really knowing who I was. When this book was finally in my possession, again, was the beginning of me valuing my imagination. Since then I started creating images in my mind and seeing the world differently.
Back to the suitcase.
In my memory, this suitcase, with all its' "wild" seventies shapes and colors of turqouise, acidic yellow, lime green, and blue, was not the suitcase I wanted. I wanted the other one - the one my sister got. It had the same pattern, but it was in different colors. It was red, orange, and purple.
Once I came home the other day, after picking up my daughter in Minnesota, I took out my art supplies again.
My trusty little "grocery store" tin, like a ritual, is always the first thing I open before I begin a new project.
It holds my kneaded eraser and my favorite pencil sharpener. I like how I can see the "inside of the store" when I open up the tin.
It wasn't long before I started thinking about what it would have been like to rewrite this "little suitcase" memory of my past. What could my suitcase have looked like? What would I have liked to be wearing on that trip? Who was I at age 12?
This is what I came up with:
My fingers fumbled, mirroring my brain, as I tried to draw without something to look at and sketch from.
In a world of make believe you can have things the way you want them. I would have liked to have had a red cape of my own, made out of deep scarlet colored felted wool with pink flowers at the collar,
an orange ribbon or two, trimming a band of the same pink flowers at the hem. Oh ...
and a suitcase that was TO DIE FOR. If you saw me at the airport, deboarding that plane in Miami on that day, you would have wanted to come in for a closer look.
Maybe, after all these years, you would have forgotten me, as you did not ever get to know me. But perhaps, just perhaps, you wouldn't have been able to, in all the years, forgotten my little suitcase. I have drawn it here, again, so that you can take your time and get a good look at it again, instead of briefly, in passing, at an airport held by a girl with no name but with an imagination she wanted and wants to share.
Memories on Monday - maybe this could be a good thing.