Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

4-1-13 RMB Broken Want
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
For Easter I gave the boys’ baskets that were actually small plastic toolboxes, filled with assorted goodies including raisins, granola bars (the kind they like), marbles, puzzle books, some taffy and one chocolate bunny.  They will get toolbox baskets from now on. That was their favorite part. Boys…have tools will travel. They appeared to be a pint sized work crew; all toting their tool boxes up the sidewalk to their house.
In an interview online where you were promoting the book Santa Clawed you were asked about holidays. You mentioned you preferred to do the work with your animals and let others have the days off to be with their families.  That’s nice of you and I think I would like to be right there working with you rather than out “celebrating”.
I have never been fond of any holiday. Easter reminds me of having to put on a dress for pictures in my childhood. I’ll give you one guess how long that dress stayed on me. I was never sent to cotillion, hadn’t ever heard of it until I read your book Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser. I did hear of charm school, but escaped it ever being a part of my life, whew! I was once asked, by a man of course, why I didn’t walk as gracefully as my mother did. My response was a shrug. I respected him too much to respond disrespectfully, but the answer seemed pretty obvious to me ‘Because I am not my mother’.
Christmas time means a parade of presents and you can never give enough to some people for all they give you year around and others you are obligated to give something to regardless of their behavior the other 364 days of the year. I wish there really was someone keeping a list and checking it twice.
In childhood I remember being scolded for not being thrilled enough with my gifts, while I kept thinking ‘Why are you giving us gifts when you fight over money all the time? Shouldn’t you be taking these gifts back to the stores, getting your money back and fighting less???” People have never made much sense to me.
I do enjoy seeing true delight in others though. My “adult” sister loves to put together a holiday village, complete with buildings, parks, streetlights, ponds, you name it. She adds buildings related to the people in her life. There is both a bookstore and psychic reader shop for me. It is something fun to do for the fun of it. 
Halloween was a drama I could have done without. Taught not to ask for anything, then one night of the year you walk up to total strangers and ask them for candy??? I thought the practice absolutely insane.  I tried to get out of trick or treating, didn’t like the dark, nor any costumes. Mom stopped forcing my participation in the ritual when I reached ten.
I wrote a short poem once about my “want” being broken. I don’t want things as others do, never have. I didn’t want the candy my friends wanted at Halloween, hell I didn’t even want my friends, or rather the acquaintances I was entrusted to. Being the youngest there was always someone assigned to “watch after” me. The only one I trusted was the “adult” sister, but I guess she had to have her own life sometimes.

I didn’t want presents at Christmas or any other time, but someone always asks you what you want. I started answering “Socks, colored socks, all colors.” I figured it was cheap, so it wouldn’t cost them much. No one sees your socks; it didn’t matter if they got me ugly ones; a person can always use socks; you don’t outgrow them; I thought it a perfect answer. My folks actually got perturbed with me, insisted I tell them what I “really wanted” for Christmas or my birthday or whatever.
I couldn’t do that. What did I “really want”?  I wanted peace; I wanted to be able to give it to them; I wanted the fighting to stop; I wanted the drinking to stop; I wanted everyone to be nicer; I wanted everyone to have enough food-an end to world hunger; I wanted the turmoil to settle in my home and everywhere; I wanted the wars to stop. What do you say you want, when you can’t get what you want? More pat answers…pencils, notebooks, things for school. They saw through that too, but still didn’t understand.  My poor adults, to have been so cursed with such a pill as I was.

I did some work on my house to make ready for family in need of a place to stay; for the sister that now lives with me and, before her, my nephew while he and his wife did an internship in San Diego. In the shuffle, I ended up in a bedroom that had no curtains. I mentioned to a wonderful man helping with our fixin’ up that I needed something to cover my bedroom window. He grabbed two large cardboard boxes and covered the window. “That will work until you get curtains.”
That was over three years ago. Guess what covers my window today? If it works, why fix it? I actually like them and I don’t know why, but I know they cost nothing and they suffice for my needs, what more could I want? A devilish part of me thinks I like them because they are so contrary to expectations. It’s not an acceptable window covering…I don’t like acceptability. I like functionality, oddity, uniqueness, specialness.  
Hey this could be why I like you too. You are definitely unique, more functional than most, special to say the least, however I would not say odd. I think others odder, trying too hard to be the same at the cost of their specialness.
I should know better than to start a letter near midnight…when I tend to ramble. I’ll get better at this I promise. Less rambling and more insights, my goal for future letters…as I sit on my bedroom couch looking at the two cardboard boxes covering my window…and I can’t help but smile.

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