The Reluctant Writer: Something Else to do When I Should Be Writing

March 29, 2009

Home improvements

Filed under: Columbia,feminism,writer's life,writing — cynthiaboiter @ 14:49
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We’re in the process of having our house, a Queen Anne Victorian that looks more like it is 116 years old than the only 16 that it is, repaired and re-painted. Some of the wood has rotted and the once bold green and white paint has faded to dull and slightly yellowish.  Doing these home improvements brings to mind those times, almost 17 years ago, when we were building our dream home and our two little girls were playing in the sand along the foundation and standing in invisible rooms claiming the spaces that would one day be their own.  Too many cliches about the passage of time come to mind, but I find myself happily here and now witnessing the evidence of its passage when I look at my house, and my children.

Not for the first time, one of my kids has taken a hit or two because she has chosen to stay in South Caroline rather than venture into the big wide world to put down her roots.  (Which makes me question — from where did she recieve her nurtrients thus far, if not her roots?)  Both of mine & Bob’s kids, no credit to us, are bright and talented young women — they aren’t phenoms or Doogie Howsers or anything — but anyone who knows our daughters also knows that they are two of the world’s many, many young people who have something specific to offer and will likely leave the spaces that they occupy better than they found them.  Like we’re all supposed to do.

This specific woman-child has always been an idealist — always had a passion to change the world for the better. On the cusp of adulthood now, she, like her sister, has made choices that have pleased and surprised us along the way: coming back to undergraduate school in South Carolina after attending an amazing arts high school out of state was only one such decision that both of the girls made.  Their options were as wide then as Annie’s are now at the end of her successful undergraduate career.  (Bonnie has another year to go.) But again, Annie has decided to stay in South Carolina, this time to pursue a PhD from her home university — and to fulfill a commitment she made to her home, the state, a long time ago.  Rather than take her talents to another person’s home, she wants to practice them here; to make this world, the one she works and plays in on a daily basis, a better place to be.  Public service has always been a distinct possibility and dream for her and, though young, she is wise enough to know that South Carolina likes leaders who stay true to their school, as it were.

There have been nay-sayers.  She has been encouraged by many advisors to get out of Dodge while she can.  See the world.  Cut the apron strings.  Leave. 

The funny thing is that no one who really knows Annie has suggested this.  Because if you know Annie you know a few other things as well. 

First, seeing the world has been a part of her life since she was in the second grade and sat on her first windowsill in Paris observing students of the Sorbonne.  At 21, she has traveled to more than a dozen countries on many more than a dozen expeditions, both with her parents and without.  She embraced the lesson that travel is a sacred part of living life when she was a child.  She also embraced the idea that part of the joy of travel is the joy of coming home.  Home is a huge part of who Annie is.  It’s a concept to which she is stubbornly devoted.  Secondly, the child could be absolutely mummified in swaths of apron strings and neither her dad nor I could ever presume to tell her what to do.  She has always thought for herself and we learned a long time ago that the one sure way of getting her to dismiss our advice was to try to get it into her head. 

So here we all are, 16 years since we moved our young feminist daughters into their pretty pink rooms, assessing and re-assessing our homes.  It takes a lot of energy to truly live somewhere — as can be seen by both the work we’ve done and the work we need to do around our home.  Dedication, realism, sacrifice, joy. 

I don’t doubt Annie’s decision for a minute.  And it wouldn’t matter if I did.


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