Friday, January 14, 2011


I have this postcard on my bathroom wall and I made the copy in 1984 when I worked for the Iowa Department of Human Services.  The original was in the cubicle office of Mary Osborne, a woman I befriended, and she was destined to leave her alcoholic husband and marry another man who hid his whiskey bottle behind the paper towel stand until she found it.   The phrase below the picture said, she was often gripped with the desire to be elsewhere. I liked the black and white print and I liked the saddle shoes and  I liked the words gripped and desire in the same sentence.  Perhaps the card was meant to communicate how Mary and I felt about the many hours we spent in our cubicles although we did have some pretty good times.  Once after hours we giggled and emptied pepper packets into the coffee can of a woman we could not tolerate who always pushed herself to the front of the crowd when someone had bad news taking delight in the misery.
At 19 I was pregnant and unwed and thought about escaping with my college roommate in her yellow VW bus to Oregon. Her name was Moria, but she thinks her mother made a mistake and meant, Mariah.  She and I hitchhiked across the state when we were supposed to be studying and smoked rolled-up doobies stored in her paint box.  I had no idea what the Oregon trip would encompass but it seemed easier than staying behind and explaining to everyone what was going to happen.  It's a good thing I didn't go because I would never have liked that northwestern rainy weather. Moria came to town after I left my husband and wanted to meet with me and I did not have the strength to survive her energy.  I mumbled, I can't, into the phone.  I never heard from her again.

As a young woman I sometimes felt overused and saw my life stretching in front of me with very little breakage like the Iowa prairie on which I resided.  This terrified me and I jumped too soon taking large and dangerous steps that propelled me down an unknown path. My escape over the wall left me a woman alone with all the wrong friends and the lives of my children up for grabs. "Cavalier," the divorce judge had called me.  I didn't like that fellow.  He and his questions and his five minutes of decision-making left me callous and bristling against the unfairness of the system.  I had to look that word up in the dictionary.

I don't think about escape anymore.  I had underestimated the depth of a soul and behind the wild fire that propelled my leaving was a longing for sameness.  A place where children and parents  never grow old.  Somewhere near a lake and a beach and tree-covered hills from my childhood memories.  Days spent in the warm water, popcorn stories around the campfire and nights sleeping under the patchwork quilts stitched by great-grandmothers. You can't have that, silly girl, it's long gone.   But, there is Dad and my grandchildren, the promise of a new puppy in the warmer months and a garden to be planted. I am a lucky woman.


MrDaveyGie said...

I love the days gone by, spent at Lake Delhi.

LoRFLoR said...

This post reminded me of one time when a professor during my college years said I was cavalier.

I also had to look it up when I got home.

I've enjoyed your last several posts! At least one of us is posting...

dawn marie giegerich said...

Strange word, isn't it? Not exactly a compliment, who cares. Where are you? Are you teaching?

LoRFLoR said...

no - not a compliment, as I discovered as well. and that's exactly what i thought: Who Cares.

I am teaching - just getting on top of things - and back into the swing of life. oh the swing of life - you have to go with it whether you like it or not. but i am mostly liking it these days.