I grew up from the ages of seven to twenty-one in a four-room apartment in south St. Louis, Missouri. Our little apartment was newly built and clean when we moved in, but it didn’t stay that way long. However, it was home to us, all we knew, and we knew love there.
Many problems attended our family, as I’ve shared before. Our holidays were filled with my parents drinking even more than usual, which was significant. My sister and I, however, never experienced any direct abuse. Sometimes, things could be funny in such a small house, one in which the living room sofa served as my bedroom most of the years we lived there.
When I was 17 and a senior in high school, I took a program called DECA, the Distributive Education Clubs of America (I think!). We were supposed to learn business principles, get jobs, and become familiar with working in various phases of a retail environment. I took it because I had all my credits and only wanted to go to school for a half day.
We were supposed to have a job for the other half of the day, well, at least have a job where we worked about twenty hours a week. I got a job at a Hill Bros. Shoes store — don’t even know if they’re still in business — and I was still working there leading up to Christmas.
I got to see all the new shoe styles as they came in, and of course, I got a discount if I wanted any shoes. I definitely was not and am not into shoes as a hobby; obviously, I had nowhere to even keep more than one extra pair of shoes beyond what I wore back then. However, that year harness boots were the rage, and we got some at our store.
I thought they were incredible. Mainly because they not only looked good but were super comfortable. I could not usually wear boots; since my teenage working out years, I’ve always had well-developed calf muscles, and boots won’t go around them. These were just the right height and a little flared going up the bottom of my calf. I calculated how much I would need to save for about six weeks, and I put the one pair in my size in layaway.
The reality is I hated working at the store. At my advanced age of seventeen and all the wisdom accrued to that point, I couldn’t believe how rude and stupid people could be, colleagues and consumers. The only thing that kept me there until Christmas and the end of my semester were my boots. Oh, good grief, I remember what a disaster the store was the last few days before Christmas. I was convinced they threw shoes on the floor and walked away just to piss me off. I would quit right after that, not only the store but also second semester of DECA.
However, I always loved to learn, to improve on what was already in place, make it better, so when the manager showed me how to light a tin of shoe polish on fire and then apply liquefied polish to the boots and buff them to a previously unknown gloss and depth of protection, I was hooked. Hell, they almost looked like patent leather. Boots! Holy shit! Far out and Excellent! I got really good and fast at polishing shoes.
Now, the one thing I hadn’t done was told my mom I was buying the boots. She would have thought them extravagant and expensive, but hey, it was my job and my money. I thought if she saw them all shined up, though, she would be in as much awe as I was. …(to be continued).
Well, this is not the end of the story, but I have had an unusual night that includes a wrestling match with pulling out a leaking toilet to replace it with a new one, which I went and bought and lugged upstairs. Then, I broke the floor flange in the process of wrestling the old toilet; I removed both the toilet and flange. Yeah, the old toilet won the round, but the match will be finished tomorrow morning. However, it means I am out of gas and time to finish my little story.
In the meantime, I would encourage you to do something this holiday season, whatever you may celebrate. Try to step outside of yourself for even a few seconds at a time; be an observer and set the scenes in your mind. Allow some perspective and reflection of how your time is going to be crafted into an endearing, special memory of love.
My parents are both returned to Spirit, now, but I still laugh with them over the memories. It’s special and something that can be cultivated. I would urge you to do it for yourself.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!