Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bluegrass, City Lights, Cowgirl Boots ... and all that jazz

I live my life in chapters. Sequential. Chronological. Inextricably linked. Illogical in that I tend to do things a wee bit out of order. House ownership sans husband. Child without marriage. Relocating my small family of two from metro New York to one of the O states with zero job prospects, friends or contacts. You get the picture. Out of sync. The swirling shards somehow piecing themselves into the most marvelous pattern. Not jagged in the least. A most pleasing composition. Of that, I am proud. No jarring edges. Overlaps sometimes need folding, wrinkles smoothed. Bemazed? Nope. A glorious juxtaposition of the dichotomies that are ... well ... moi! A walking paradox.

My life has been extraordinary, in a small way. I have lived large and not so; came of age in the psychedelic 60s when all things were possible; matured in the sophisticated city humbled by finding out that they are not; and now appreciate the exhilaration of life off the beaten path - a tapestry of experiences, enriched sensibilities.

Born and bred in Kentucky’s rolling bluegrass, I had a most magical childhood. The eldest of Bobbie and Billy's four children, three girls and a boy. A litter really. Less than 4 1/2 years from top to bottom. Nested and nurtured with frequent family adventures near and far inspiring my life travels. Forever enriching my core. Honing my imagination. Instilling confidence and self-reliance. Embracing diverse people, places and experiences. Outward thinking.

My gracious southern upbringing, amid waxy magnolias, cucumber and watercress sandwiches, bourbon balls, swimming pools and the best of friends embedded a calm security within. Yet there was the prevailing notion that the world beyond was brightly hued. More vivid. One not as easy to navigate. Where burrs and briers were dangerously close to the path, humanity not as gentle, lives less refined. This would be a most exciting place to explore. To experience. In which to come of age.

So as the Alice that I am, I held my nose, scrunched up my face and imbibed from the bottle that warned ... and scurried down the rabbit hole. Venturing through the looking glass to peer at life from the inside out. Armed with deep intellect, the grace to think for myself, compassionate sensitivity, chestnut hair hovering just above my ass and a killer smile, I set forth on my own path joining the bands of merry 'boomers on our inaugural foray into a world delirious with promise, promiscuity ... and pot!

First stop: a women's college near New York City two weeks after the Woodstock nation emerged peacefully from a rain-soaked dairy farm upstate. A new order set in motion. Ivy league mixers replaced by nascent rock and roll legends grooving at the Fillmore East, pre-MTV apparitions streaming across our hallucinogenic-induced minds.

Frequent visits to Greenwich Village with fellow soul-sisters from the upper echelons of society melding inconspicuously (or so we thought) among drugged out hipsters and runaways. Weekend hippies fresh off the train from the suburbs. Silken hair. Clean faces. Fringed suede vests from Bergdorf's over the finest silk blouses with balloon cuffed sleeves and oversized collars that would scare a clown. Landlubber jeans that sat low, very low, on the slimmest of nubile hips flowing into the widest of bells draped over Swedish clogs. Braless, our Pucci undergarments stored neatly in college dorm rooms, hiding. We were offered many things. None of value. Mary Jane (oregano), $25 and breakfast, our college's unwritten promise "ring by spring or your money back".

I had landed in a 1950s former finishing school that may as well been located in Virginia. How the hell did I know that they were striving to educate women to have intelligent conversations with our doctor-lawyer husbands? WTF? Must've been in the fine print. I had signed on no dotted line. I was outta there.

But as Daddy wisely counseled - don't look back. This time I headed to a college mecca. The bastion of intelligentsia. The hub of the wheel. To university in brick-clad, ivy-covered Boston. Alive with protest, allure, rocking tunes and long haired boys. I grabbed life by the balls.

My sweet, darling college boyfriend ... a brilliant attorney-to-be who, hands down, has the most gorgeous eyes I have ever gazed into, the deepest intellect, most caring soul and with whom I shared tremendous passion, aligned sensibilities, the fleeting innocence of young love ... became a very short term husband. Unprepared for the unexpected realities of a broken heart and mourning the loss of our dreams, I submersed myself into my studies. And closed the deal ... with high honors!

Freshly minted MBA in hand, I emerged a working girl dressed for success in a man's world with my floppy tie and Brooks Brothers tailored suit ... with a bod for sex and a head for business. And, I excelled. The fast track. My path greased not by sleeping my way to the top (who the hell lets them dip their pens in company ink anyway?) but the old fashioned way bringing profitable new business to the conservative Boston bank who paid my mortgage and opened an office for my burgeoning merchant banking activities in the newly emerging telecommunications and electronic entertainment sectors in the mecca of all things financial = New York.

I had arrived. The city of my dreams. My pulse quickened and I soared. Manhattan, the city of the brightest lights, people and aspirations. I was home. Infatuated. Energized. Inspired. My very own sex-in-the-city. And then ... poof ... whoops ... with child. But Daddy-o left six months before my darling son was born into the hottest summer on record and a lovely coop in Carnegie Hill. Never looked back. Never made contact. Not in the nearly twenty two years since. Got lost in the world; absorbed in his flight of fancy. So there I was flying solo. Murphy Brown-style. Dan Quayle frowned. Oh. Did I mention that the Boston bank closed the New York office? Post-1987 Black Monday fallout. Lemons precariously near. Add sugar, mint leaves, a few cubes of ice with a twist and swilled. Refreshing. The vodka would come later.

Enter vodka! An attempt to create the semblance of normalcy (note to self: no need to appear mainstream ever again) backfired. Made a pact with the devil. I'll leave it at that. No peeking behind the curtains. Not worth revisiting. Not for a moment. Marital disarray forced a detour out of my comfort zone to the edge of the prairie where the wind races and the dust swirls. There I rediscovered ... me ... in the buckle of the bible belt. My possessions packed in my wagon (albeit a Volvo 850 Turbo; not a Conestoga) and an eighteen-wheeler. My son in one hand and gumption in the other, a modern pioneer woman seeking a new life in a new land.

No guts? No glory. Jump-started my career (which had been on hiatus for ... count 'em ... 8 years), I rolled up my shirt sleeves got more than a bit of the red earth under my finger nails and immersed myself in the good ol' boy bid'ness community and became an honest-to-god member of Oklahoma's economic landscape. Hell, I was even the finalist two years running for Oklahoma Woman of the Year. And received a Commendation from the reddest of governors with gratitude and appreciation for my contributions. Big wow. My son flourished. He played football with the Okie farm boys, caught the ugliest catfish ever in the blood red rivers and dressed up as a rodeo clown for Halloween!

We delighted in our new home in the southwest in a state that had not yet celebrated its 100th year and where the capitol was still minus its dome. Like the Sooners before us, we had stolen a bit of the wacky charm and grit of Native America and left more than a piece of ourselves behind in the friends we made, the new ventures I helped found and our John Doe's squarely on the steel cross-beam that now supports a shiny new golden dome atop the state house proudly paid (but of course) by the black gold flowing from derricks on the front lawn.

When my son left the plains bound for high school in New England, I repacked our belongings into corrugated cartons and relocated to the tranquility of the coastal Maine of delicious summer vacations. While treasured walks with Bailey (my ubiquitous and much cliched black Labrador retriever) in the salty air along the coast or into snow frosted woods near my antique village home invigorate my spirit, my soul needs enlivening after nearly a decade away from pulsing city life and the roar of the crowd.

This is my story and I'm sticking to it! The bare bones upon which to drape the fabric of my life. Nearly sixty years in slightly more than twelve hundred words. Amazing. Succinct. Passamentry to be added when relevant. And only if!

Bring on the next chapter. And, the next! The integration of my multi-faceted self. Held together by scotch tape and Elmer's glue, I am an amalgamation of the different beats I have marched to, danced to, made love to, cried to, stressed to, laughed to, and sipped martinis (or milk or TaB or iced tea) to over the nearly six decades that compose my life. Banjos and fiddles, soul music, folk, blues, classic rock, jazz, Latin, classical and last but definitely not least ... country western from my Oklahoma days sliding not too gracefully across the slickest of floors sprinkled with corn meal and soot. And, the beat goes on.

Wow. Today's musings required more than a few olives!! You still with me? If so, cheers ... until tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. There's a stride being hit here. What a fascinating life journey you're on.