Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Old Buildings

I love old buildings. They speak quiet stories through my mind. This building stood in a village of similar buildings. As a little girl I remember horseback riding in the area. As a little girl I thought they were mysterious even then. The history of this old frontier town is as rough as the finish on the building. And some of the town's secrets are as securely boarded up as the window. I guess because of the "oral traditions" of this town the secrets are not secrets, only conspiracies of silence. I used to make up stories that these buildings might contain. Now, as I reflect on my history in this town, I have stories of my own.

We think we have to have so much now. I remember living simply - a three room house (my grandmother's), a wringer washer, hanging clothes out to dry (of necessity), of walking to town and carrying home groceries and a watermelon (no car). Excursions to the "dump," now called a landfill, to look for items to recycle. I thought it was fun and a treat, those trips to the "dump." Crazy quilts made of old woolen garments to keep me warm at night, rugs woven skillfully out of rags on linoleum floors (not vinyl then). Buttons cut from coats, shirts, and blouses and reused. Pillowcases made from the unworn parts of sheets.

Woven into the fabric of that life are the conspiracies of silence of a family. I think we all have them. I wish we didn't. It's not fair for children to be left guessing. They often guess the wrong things. But it is life. And it is families. And it is generations.

When my husband and I moved back here in the late '70's, still before the time of the "landfill," my grandma wanted to go dumping. So we loaded her up and off we went. We found quite a cache of blue jeans, with an odd stitching on the pockets. Taken home, and washed and sanitized - my husband wears them until my cousin tells him they are from the "pen." (The penitentiary.) In horror, they were quickly disposed of much to my thrifty Grandma's dismay. Now, I am smiling - they would have sold on EBay for a fortune today.

And the missions people were afraid we wouldn't make it in Albania - they didn't know we were from Wyoming! We were used to squatting to pee alongside the road - there were no rest stops then. Not much traffic either. We knew how to pump water, and how to walk instead of ride, how to settle for something in the meager selections of goods in the stores. How to have patience. We'd seen and used an outhouse or two. We had pulled our fish from the streams and fried them over an open fire. We were tough.

No comments: