Our lives are like patchwork quilts, and each square has vital significance. No matter what each individual piece looks like, make the overall pattern of your quilt be true to its creator. ~ m.o.I went through a mid-life crisis last year, or maybe I should say a mini-mid-life crisis because I didn’t leave my husband and children in a candy apple red Jeep for a life on the beach in Southern California with a cute blonde-haired golden retriever. Instead, I stayed here in Utah with all of my children, my brother, my husband, three dogs, six cats, several rabbits, chickens, and guinea pigs.
Throughout the year I reflected on nearly every memory I have; I guess you could say my life passed before my eyes. Instead of dying at the end of that experience, though, I have resurrected many aspects of myself that I hadn’t thought about in years, and hopefully I will live a more vibrant life because of it.
One thing I’ve noticed about myself and many other women is that they change after they’re married. It makes me wonder if perhaps there is a spell in those wedding vows that makes a woman forget who she is. From then on out she is so-and-so’s wife and after children she adds the title of so-and-so’s mother, often forgetting that once-upon-a-time she was called by her given name. There is nothing wrong with being those people’s wife and mother, but buried down deep there is very often a long forgotten and neglected woman.
When I got divorced nearly fifteen years ago from my first husband I discovered this phenomenon. It took me nearly a year to reunite Melody (first married name) with Melody (maiden name). Melody (maiden name) had given way to Paul’s wife or Josh, Amber, and Jared’s mom. I had forgotten who I was. I was lost for many months, feeling like I was a broken woman. Since that experience I have tried to never lose touch with Melody, all the Melody’s I am, ever again.
It seems that whenever anything “bad” happens to us during our lives we want to resort to things that are comfortable and familiar. So for me, during this mini-mid-life-crisis I just wanted to go home, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out where “home” was. I haven’t really felt at home since I was a little child. Home seems to be a place where you feel most at peace with the sights, smells, and sounds. It’s a place where people know you and care about you. It doesn’t seem to just be a house to me, though, as much as it seems to be a community. The last place I have felt mostly at home at was Kentucky. The pace is slower. The people seem sincere. The grass really is greener. But my mother is aging, and so are my children; they want to stay put right here with their friends. This seems to be their idea of home. So here is where I’ve stayed.
In all my thinking of where I’d like to make home be, I have found that I am a double-minded country girl. I’d like to say I don’t have a need for the big city, but that is where my difficulty comes in. I love the theatre. I love Universities. I love REALLY BIG libraries that don’t seem to have a tight budget. I love the diversity: the music, the food, the culture. Way out in the middle of nowhere is wonderful, but so is the big city. I think my ideal would be to live on a 120 acre farm in the middle of nowhere with a big city half an hour away and to be able to afford the theatre and a good restaurant even when we work from home. A place where our children have ample opportunity to work, play, and learn close by home, while isolating them just a bit so that they learn to make family members be their best friends. A place where I can homeschool, bake bread, milk a cow or goat, garden, tend the rabbits and chickens, and get a doctorate all at the same time.
I have a theory concerning why some places feel like home while others don’t. It’s actually a theory I came up with in the middle of my mini-mid-life crisis’ process: people imprint just like geese do. The place where we live when we are little, the kind of life we lived, the kind of house we lived in, the kind of food we ate, that is our personal version of “normal”. I am testing my theory by revisiting my past residences while contemplating changes that goes back to what I know. The only catch in the practical application of my theory is that my husband didn’t grow up in the same area as I did. He loves the big sky where you can “enjoy watching storms roll in from sixty miles away.” I love being tucked under lots of trees; I feel a bit naked and uncomfortable underneath that great big sky. Living in Kentucky was my Eden, and while Steve enjoyed it too, he longed for the big sky. Now here we are in Utah with the big sky, and I am looking for my green grass on this side of the fence line.
This past year wasn’t a bad one, necessarily, but it did wake me up a quite a bit. Last year I turned 37: half-way to 74! Never again will my face be without wrinkles or my hair without grey unless it’s a gift from Botox or Clairol. It was a hard awakening. At 18, even though many people told me how much I looked like my mother I never believed them, so it was very disconcerting when I turned an age old enough to remember how my mother looked at the age where I am now and I start to see some similarities. Holy cow! Whoda thunk it could happen? Not that she was bad looking, she was just a few pounds heavier than perhaps she should have been, her hair had some silver strands, and the crows feet in the corner of her eyes had begun, just like I have now.
All in all I’m glad for the reflection. Looking at life in the rear-view mirror often helps us to see where we’ve come from and gives us direction to where we want to end up.