Saturday, June 15, 2013

This was me, too.

Anytime you set out to write something, sometimes it takes on a life of its own, becoming what it needs to be rather than what you had necessarily intended.  It was true when I wrote a newspaper column for a living; I would sometimes sit down to write on one particular topic and end up with a column about something completely different.  And usually, my best columns were the ones that happened that way; something about the spontaneous upwelling of an independent, unforeseen idea meant that idea came from the heart and was somehow more original and true than whatever I'd originally planned to write about.

So it's no surprise that this blog about homesteading occasionally meanders off into other topics.  I am a homesteader, but have not been one my entire life.  The fact is, I've been many different people in the 52 years I've lived on this earth.

In 1978, for instance, I was this:

If you look to the right of the screen to a girl dancing in blue shorts and a white blouse, it's me.  Really. I spent two years dancing on the television show, "American Bandstand."  They were fun, glamorous years spent at nightclubs, in dance contests, and staying out until dawn with my friends.  I couldn't have put a plant in the ground if I tried, because my life was spent in the concrete of the city and had nothing to do with growing anything other than my dance repertoire.

I recently reconnected to this aspect of my past when I met up with my friend Mark from Bandstand and his husband John for dinner. Then the next day, my childhood neighbor friend Lori, who used to also go dancing with us, came and stay with us for a few days.  They tell me I am nothing like I used to be, and this is probably true.  Yet the girl in the photo above does still exist someplace inside me, and she is a valid character in my past.

And since my own dance partner, Paul, died of AIDS in 1985 and my neighbor friend is suffering from terminal ovarian cancer, I have been thinking a lot about the people we used to be, the people you see in the picture above.

And my conclusion is that I feel sorry for people who have been or are only one thing in life.   My life is richer for the various experiences I've had and the lives I've led, all of which have led me to this point. And if there's 12 different people inside you, all with different passions and interests, it's nice if they can all come out to play during one's lifetime, which none of us really know the length of.  I've been a dancer, a yuppie, a mother, a scientist, a teacher, a writer and a farmer and none of those people I was are any less valid than any other.  To claim they are is to negate a part of oneself.

Yes, I guess I am like a column that started out as one thing, then veered off towards a path no one could have predicted. My path is not what I intended it to be when I started out.  It began with glitter and glitz and is now filled with dirt and animals and sweet berries growing on the vine.  And that's a good thing.

Yet the glitter and glitz still exist somewhere down deep inside, because I do sometimes crank up the disco on my iPod and do a little New York Hustle in the pasture.  Because the girl you see above still has to dance sometimes, and it's only fair to let her get out and let go once in awhile.


  1. I love this. And damn! How fabulous to have those experiences. I feel it's only natural to live different lives within one life. But so many people don't. I live in a world far, far away from 'homesteading' and it's almost a secret passion of mine. A lot of the people in my world now would laugh hysterically at the thought of me killing a turkey or tending an orchard, but it's what I long to do. It's a gradual shift that I know I can't rush. But I do have the best hair in my beekeeping class! Lol! Some people who homestead treat it like a cult. Closed off and exclusive to people they deem appropriate. I see it as a lifestyle that embraces community on a small scale and has endless avenues for creativity. Not everyone wants to play 1860, but I think every creative person has a homesteader in them somewhere. Even disco queens :)

  2. Aww, how true that is. You are right, homesteading should be something where activities may be different for each person -- you might want to bee keep and I may make my own soap, but between us, we form a community of individuals and can share. You are right, there are some out there who treat it like a clique and judge you on how "1860" you are (great term, BTW!). And, for the record, I can see YOU doing all those homestead-y things while also being a stylist and creating a home of grace and beauty! There's room for everyone on this bus.