Yeah, that title is maudlin, because I’m not that old either for family life expectancy or for current life expectancy. Of course that might be changing, if the world governments are determined to eliminate the troublesome people who refuse to appreciate them. Or as my mom said “Because things are going to go backwards, instead of forward at least for a while.
At near sixty, I am, in fact, reaching the life expectancy in the village when I was little. (Though my family tended to live to their eighties.)
The problem is that I’ve lost a good 12 years. Not of life, but of production. I can tell you why. It’s not like I woke this morning with them gone. No, I first got ill and it was difficult to diagnose. And then…. And then life took over and there were moves and houses fixed up to sell (something that’s looming up again, and needs to be done probably by this December.)
I am not a country woman. Well, at least not now. I was born in a village, but it was 20 minutes by train to the big city. (Second biggest in the country) and from age of 12 or so, for various reasons, I lived mostly in the city.
Until the present year, when the wheels came off the nearest city (and most large cities in the US) you could release me to the wild in any city in the US and I would settle to the places I’d identified as places I liked: small neighborhoods, usually trapped within a city, where people who actually work live. I’d find the cheapest but decent diner, and settle in.
We did this several times, in fact, when my husband had a traveling job and I needed a break from my sons who were then very young. I’d go with him for a few days, and settle in to write and read, and walk around.
Of course, our life was bi-modal, since also left to my own devices, I relax by going to museums and zoos, and aquariums and being rather insufferably eyebrow about it. Then again, that pretty much describes my family, who lived in working areas, but spent most of their money on books.
As a side note, I do not identify with “the lower classes” for the simple reason I don’t believe in classes. And manual workers tend to view me with a bit of suspicion when I open my mouth. Mom’s brothers were in the trades, and they thought I was plain nuts. Dad’s dad was a carpenter, but he had intellectual curiosity, so he didn’t.
Me? I can refinish a table, or floor a house, but yeah, I own too many books and spend too much time pondering silly things like the state of the world, to ever fit in with working men who aren’t like my grandfathers, well educated enough to follow what I say.
I was once accused of identifying with the working classes, because I pointed out that no working class bar ever would turn on and beat to death a young couple who wandered in and gave them no offense. Or in other words, because I pointed out the world’s stupidest award winning story was stupid. That was…. special.
I also don’t identify with rural people. We grew a lot of our own food, but the land we actually owned or had the cultivation of (different things)was never more than a common US backyard. It’s just that Portugal is lush and fertile, so a US backyard would produce enough food for a family of four except for the meat (A few chickens and rabbits, but mostly we ate fish and that we bought, since the sea was about 10 miles and 2 hours away by the transport available to us.)
I did my bit for digging and planting and harvesting. I was as a young teen, as strong as most males, and had greater endurance. The biggest thing I did relating to agriculture, though, was the grape harvest. Various ancestors on selling property had retained “the right to wine.” Or else, they had bought rights-to-wine. I was never sure which. But we had grapes in at least three places around the village (might have been more. I’ve slept a lot of times since then.) Which meant grape harvest day (usually an emergency, as you had to pick between might-be rainy days, and preferably after a week with no rain (because rain makes the grapes swell with excess water) everyone would take a day off from work and school and we’d harvest. A day or two, then there came the stomping of the grapes, and a big celebratory dinner.
But despite my involvement mostly with that, I lived in a village, where the time of life was marked by various harvesting seasons. In spring you got novelties (carrots and such) followed by oh…. peas in summer (and tomatoes) and then melons and watermelon, all of it rounding off to chestnuts in fall, to roast in winter.
Anyway — to bring it back — I used to love Fall, with the wheat ripe in the fieds, grapes ripe in the vineyards, and the heady smell of all this, warm and brought to completion, in the air. I could get drunk on the air of Autumn, then, and the feel of the warm air, and the sounds of people singing in the fields.
This occurred to me as I realized a novel that I stopped writing “for a couple of hours” is half done and 8 years old.
Because ideas and honestly, the way I work, full novels, download into my brain when I least expect it, I have enough novels waiting I feel like I’m in a tower library pulling dusty tome after dusty tome down.
I am trying. Truly. But in re-reading Kate’s books for publication, the ones in which she tuckerized me, I realized how much I’ve changed, how much energy has gone out of me, and I’m not sure where.
…. but it must be done. We weren’t given forever. There is a chill in the air, but it’s still warm, and the fields are ripe.
I’d best get to it, before the rain comes.
Maybe stories don’t exist as independent entities, as I perceive them. Maybe if I don’t write them they just vanish, and no one the worse off.
Or maybe they will go hunting for some other mind to bring them to life. That’s fine.
Or maybe not, who knows?
I’ve been given a mission, and even if everything is going backwards now, it’s time to do it.
If you’re a praying sort, pray for me. I need all the help I can get.