Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Lone Ranger

Happy Fourth of July!

On this most American of holidays, I thought I'd share with you another very American product - The Lone Ranger.

I have to confess, The Lone Ranger was before my time. I never heard it. I never watched it. I never played it. But, I recognize it as a truly American creation. And, since I feel good about very little the US government is doing these days, I thought I'd celebrate the Fourth by sharing these with you. I will refrain from talking about Bush, since it is the Fourth, and  because my brother and sister in law, Jim and Mattie, and Mattie's brother James, and I had a lengthy discussion about the administration today so I kind of got it out of my system. What did I do on the Fourth of July? Counted the days until regime change - 565 in case you're wondering.

My brother, Jackie, picked these Lone Ranger puzzles up at a sale. Each box has four different puzzles in it - they are the kind where you try to get the little BBs into holes.  These were made back when we trusted people to actually parent, and when kids had some amount of common sense. So, they have real BBs in them and the casings are metal and the fronts are glass. The backs are cardboard, but since they were made for children who didn't do things like tear open their toys for amusement it wasn't an issue.  Today they'd be encased in some indestructible plastic that has a half life of a million years. When did we become so stupid and so lacking in common sense that we couldn't be trusted with toys? Obviously, not all children are this way, but we're doing all this for someone. These were probably also made before shampoo was labeled, "lather, rinse, repeat."

In these puzzles, The Lone Ranger is doing everything from protecting people as they pan for gold, to fighting mountain lions. Why don't we do cool stuff like pan for gold anymore? Or fight mountian lions. OK, really, I don't want to do either of those, but they sound far more interesting than sitting in an office all day talking on the phone. People used to pan for gold, now they write email. We've lost something major in that translation.

But, back to The Lone Ranger... geez... his talents seem to know no bounds. What a guy to have around. And look at him - that's a real man - you can tell. He can handle anything that comes up, including wild beasts.

I'm reminded of something Oprah said on her trip across country with Gayle - "There's something about a man who can handle a horse." They were watching some cowboys in Oklahoma work cattle at the time as I recall. All I can say in response is, "Amen, Sister."

Although I didn't see/hear The Lone Ranger, the fact that he is pictured on his faithful stead is reason enough for to me assume he falls into the category of  a man who can handle a horse. I believe that would be "Silver" with the four hooves.

One of my favorite things on these boxes is that you can see the price - 89 cents - written in pencil on each one. I don't think you can even get a pack of gum at the check out stand for 89 cents now.

I'd like to go live - just for a little while - in the world where you could get something cool for 89 cents, where you could give it to your kid without worrying they'd kill themselves with it, where The Lone Ranger rode about the countryside protecting damsels in distress, and where all men could handle a horse.

Eight Years

Miranda and Jacob are my great, great niece and nephew. Yes, I have an odd family tree - lets just sum it up by saying I was born late in my parent's lives, after they had already raised my brothers and my brothers were married with kids. If you think on it, you'll understand. I came into the world an aunt, was a great aunt by the time my teens hit and... well... you see the trend.

Miranda and Jacob have no idea who I am - they know I'm grandpa's sister, but other than that, I'm a mystery. There's no reason they should know who I am. The last time I saw them was in May of 1999. Jacob was in diapers. I've not seen either of them since they've been old enough to be forming memories.

When I realized it had been eight years that made me think about how long eight years is and how much can change in that amount of time.

Eight years ago I was still working in radio, and although I was thinking I'd like to do something else had no specific thoughts about what that might be, other than I was looking in to going to grad school. Ironically, I was considering getting my counseling degree. I now work in the mental health field. Life has a way of working out.

Eight years ago I had just returned from a trip to Egypt and would go to Central America that fall, although I didn't know that yet. On both of those trips I met people who have been instrumental in my life since. People who gave me reason to think differently, to ask different questions, to perceive myself differently. Each of those trips had specific moments where my world shifted. Dramatically. I remember getting on the plane in Nicaragua, thinking I'd never see some of these important people again, only to find them in my life again here and there - one in Nashville, one in Amsterdam, one in Seattle.

Eight years ago my mother was still living and doing well. I was someone's daughter. I was someone's priority in life. When you have parents, someone is concerned about you every moment of every day on some level, regardless of how old you are. The first time I went on a trip after my mother died I remember being in the airport and realizing I had no one to call to tell them I had landed safely. No one was worried about me. No one was thinking about if my plane had touched down. No one was waiting for the phone to ring. It was shocking to be no one's priority - I had known it intellectually, but the reality of it hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried like a baby in the car on the drive home. But, alas, this is the circle of life. It's not that no one cared about me at all, but I was not anyone's priority anymore. I'm still not used to it, but it's just the way it is. That's not something anyone in your world can fake. It just is as it is.

Eight years ago I was not a home owner. I was still living in an apartment where I had lived with a boyfriend who had broken up with me after we had lived together for a long time. It was for the best for both of us - he was just strong enough to do it - and eight years ago I was almost past the serious pain of it. Going to Egypt gave me a new lease on life in many ways. I'm a big believer in geographic therapy. But I hadn't even started to entertain the idea I could have a house.

Eight years ago I hadn't even met the man I would next fall in love with. In eight years we met, fell in love, had a passionate five years together and split. A lot can happen in eight years.

Eight years ago I didn't have a blog, I hadn't ridden a steam train, I didn't have creative sisterhood, I hadn't travelled Route 66, I wasn't involved with Chicks, I hadn't seen the Anne Frank house, I hadn't walked the streets of Brussels and I didn't yet know some of the people I now consider close friends. I lived in another neighborhood. I worried more. I sang less. I worked with different people. Oddly enough, I longed for much the same things I do now.

Eight years has been time enough for my heart to break and heal three times. I sometimes wonder how many times it can do that successfully, but it seems to be a champ at the process. I sometimes wish I were a person who didn't ask so much of it, but life seems very fleeting to me and I try to soak it up at a pace that means I live life at 110 mph all the time. You get a lot in that way - and life is a swirl of bright colors as they rush by. But when you hit the wall going 110 it really, really hurts. Really hurts. But I don't know any other way to be. Life for me is all about getting as much living in as possible and the only way I know to do it is by "running wide open" as my brother says.

Eight years ago I was in my thirties. Eight years from now I will be in my fifties. Those sound like very different things. I'm sure if I do this exercise then I'll have a new list of changes.

Eight years doesn't seem like a long time, but it's long enough for a kid to go from diapers to real conversation; and it's long enough for a life to change dramatically.