55 – domesticity and joy

The number of posts on this blog have finally exceeded my age… I was talking to Cor last night about a particularly harrowing episode when I was 18, when the only thing I had to eat for a week was a bag of Doritos and a bottle of apple juice. He said with the price of Doritos being $3.50, I could have purchased a lot of other food.  I came back with the statement that 30 years ago, the price was a lot lower.

The original cookbook that my mother got from Imperial Sugar when I was 5 years old.
The original cookbook that my mother got from Imperial Sugar when I was 5 years old.

Regardless of the outcome of the interplay, I have become someone who (technically at least) has been an adult for more than three decades.  But the discussion triggered a cascade of memories that underlay the shock of realizing how old I am.  I can’t even tell you if the Doritos and apple juice memory was real, or if it was just a verbal shorthand, a snapshot of me at 18.

I do know that 35 years ago, I couldn’t sew worth a damn. I proved that over and over in homemaking class in high school.  I broke every sewing machine Mrs. Curtis put me on, until she finally guided me over to the treadle machine.  I broke the belt on the treadle shortly after.  In the end, the home ec project that I had to complete to graduate was putting family photos in a photo album.

I also didn’t cook, other than jokes we played on the football team members who came to eat what we had prepared–we added enough cayenne to the meatballs that they were past inedible and nearing torture.  We also whipped shortening until it looked like whipped cream, and put it on top of the peach cobbler.

I actually did win the General Mills high school competition for homemaking classes, because it was a written test. My mother laughed until she nearly got sick over that one.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know what needed to be done with sewing, cooking, all of it.  It was a matter of being able to complete my thought through actions done with my hands.  The last time I actually enjoyed cooking was when I was five years old, making cookies out of “My First Cookbook” while Mama supervised.

baby quilt created for a much-loved niece who is with child
baby quilt created for a much-loved niece who is with child

And here I am–so much I’m doing that I’ve not done in forever, or never done, and I’m doing them all now: Making bread, making my husband’s long-sleeve workshirts into short sleeve ones for the summer, crocheting, quilting, and even better, I’m actually finishing things that I’m crocheting or quilting… I think it’s because I can now sustain a thought for more than five minutes.  I can and do finish my to-do lists without thinking “I’ll do that tomorrow, not enough energy today.”

I am content with what I’m doing, and with who I am while I’m doing it–and that, for me, is a weird state of being. For the last six years, and for quite some time before that, as well, my high spirits have been very high and my lows have been devastatingly low.  And it seemed I was constantly ricocheting off one headed for the other one.

The prior generation to mine noticeably lived through the hippie years, “tune in, turn on, drop out,” “never trust anybody over 30,” and once they passed their 40s, the determination to “find themselves.”

I think I found myself.

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