Sometime during last week, I honestly cannot figure out when, I came out of my stupor and made an attempt at writing a new about me page. The one that had previously been up, The Alleged Blogger (which can still be located in the drop-down menus), I had literally written nearly a year ago when I started this blog.
Well, I certainly wrote a bio. On the surface, it’s about my family and how they have shaped me and the way that they view me. But really, it is truly a piece about my own views of me.
It’s also just over 2,000 words, which is why I won’t make it my official About. But I will give it its own drop-down, and present it to you (in its very lengthy entirety) here.
A Free Spirit
I hate wearing anything on my shoulders, my neck, or my back. Most especially my shoulders (strapless dresses in the middle of winter, yes, please!). I honestly cannot think of the reason for this. In the summer, when it’s very hot, I lay in my bed at night (or whenever I sleep) and pull the sheet down so that my front is covered but my back is exposed, and I can feel the air from the fan on it and on my shoulders and the back of my neck. I don’t have any aversion or dislike to the breeze on the front of me, there’s just something about feeling it only on my back that makes it especially delicious.
Now that I’ve cleared that up. . .
I titled this page A Free Spirit for many reasons. I have been called a free spirit for as long as I can remember, by people who know me well, by people who know me in passing, and by people whose knowledge of me lies somewhere on the middle of the spectrum. It isn’t such a bad thing to be called, actually I think that it’s wonderful, especially because I have truly felt like a very free spirit for as long as I can remember.
I begin by giving my parents due credit for that.
There was my wonderful mother (she isn’t dead, I just say was because I’m referring to the way she raised me when I was young), and my incredible father. They gave me gifts that defy description. The most important things they gave me are the things that make me me. . .
They immersed me in creativity and culture while I was still inside my mother’s womb. My father is a truly gifted musician – he could have gone on and done some really incredible things, professionally, had he not fallen in love with my mom and decided that raising a family meant so much more (for the record, he made the right choice for himself and he knows it). He’s in his 60s now, and still plays incredible, amazing, mind-boggling electric bass and acoustic guitar. He plays in the basement, and I listen, completely enthralled. He also plays live, with no less than four different bands.
My mother’s creativity manifests itself a bit differently. She reads, reads, reads (she passed that trait along), and she becomes so completely immersed in literature, in such a way I think writers merely dream about a reader possibly falling into the fantastical world that they have created with their meager allotment of 26 letters. Accordingly, I grew up with a passionate love for printed words and pages in any genre, variety, diversity, or assortment (yes, I was that girl, the one who read every word on the cereal boxes at breakfast). Still, I know I haven’t yet attained those alternate literary realities with the utter profundity of my mother. One day.
She also used to write wonderful poetry, and I sometimes wonder why she stopped, but then our lives often take us down unforeseen avenues. I truly believe she has found her peace in the choices she made, but it matters not in this particular milieu, as I have absolutely no desire to awaken such a sensitive component, now resting (I hope) peacefully in her soul.
For all my creativity, I am also extremely analytical. That’s the catch. I used to demand a reason or an answer for everything, though I am now learning not to be quite so contentious and quarrelsome as I once was. When all of the other children relentlessly pestered their parents with Why?, I wanted to know What if?
But I am once again learning to let go and trust the author. If you cannot do that, then the book is nothing but paper, ink, and a dust jacket.
(There is a story behind that ‘once again’ thing, but this is neither the time nor the place for telling it.)
The things my parents gave me that matter most, they gave me without much in the way of pre-meditated consciousness. They taught me well, and they taught me by their example. They gave me love for all mankind (and all animal-kind, as well) by living and showing it to me every day.
They gave me the ability and liberty to run free, and try my very best to figure out on my own (much as I was able) this enormous THING that was the world; then run back to the safety of their presence and ask question after question about the things I couldn’t make sense of in my mind. Mom and Dad knew that the way to really understand something was to figure it out on your own, as much as you could, then ask for some help.
Most importantly, they gave me respect and understanding, and difficult though (I know) it was at times, they gave me the confidence to become my own person, and allowed me the freedom to trust in my own judgment and instincts.
And then I crashed and burned, and they picked me up, and loved me, and took care of me like never before.
Alright, I know that I have a propensity to meander through my writings and wander from what many would consider as the subject or the point. At times even I wonder where the hell I’m going.
So, most particularly for those of you skimming this page who much prefer a sort of quick, minimalist “novice’s guide” to my very deeply felt passions, comforts, beliefs, delights, and loves, you will find some fascinating facts directly below this next sentence.
For those of you who have stuck with me for the long haul and actually read all of this, I am wildly appreciative – not to put too fine a point on it – and I hope you enjoy the way the whole of the story ends as much as I do.
- I love to read any- and everything I can get my hands on, though it is not as easy for me to breathlessly devour a book as it once was. I need to focus on deeper breaths and smaller bites. Or so it would seem.
- I adore music. On a good day it is a basic, fundamental necessity for me. When I’m not doing so well, it is cathartic, tranquilizing (yes, it actually can be both), and a consummate form of therapy for me. But being, y’know, me, I am compelled to pass along an unhappy and disheartening truth about the current state of most – not all, but far too much – music. From the song ‘Last Man Standing,’ by Bon Jovi, whether it means anything at all to you, my lovelies, I iterate, “So keep your pseudo-punk-hip-hop-pop-rock-junk and your digital downloads.” Urgh. I think my age is showing a bit. It’s either that or my love of good music (probably both).
- I do not subscribe to the idea or concept of coincidence. Just doesn’t fly with me. I do believe with all of my heart, my soul, and my being in serendipity, though. It’s one of my favorite things in all of the Universe.
- Very few things fill me with wonder and joy the way a surprise glimpse of a shooting star does. And yes. Of course I always make a wish.
- My babies unequivocally fall into that just-mentioned category of “very few things,” filling me with more wonder, joy, and elation than a million shooting stars ever would.
And finally, we are at the place in this extremely long, and yet somehow still strangely cohesive piece of writing, signifying that we have made it to the part which means so much more to me than anything else. It isn’t a prize, nor an award, nor is it what most everyone would think of when they imagine an honor. No medal, no plaque, no ribbon. It’s “merely” an endearment. An endearment that my wonderful grandfather doesn’t even know I’m writing about. Which is a lot the point.
I love both of my grandfathers very, very much. But my mom’s dad, he has always seen something else in me. Something more, something different, something that no one else in my entire life can see except in glimpses and shadows. And it goes both ways. There is just something about him that I know and see and understand. Sometimes I feel like he knows me better than anyone in all of my life. And he watched me, from when I was a baby, all through my years at school, during these last terrible years of struggle. Struggle I would shield him from if I could – though that would really be dishonesty and an insult to the man – struggle I know my family, especially mother has tried. . . not to hide, but to downplay so he wouldn’t worry so much.
Maybe were it another family member instead of me, maybe it would work. But he takes one good look into my face (no matter how much I’m smiling and delighted to see him) and he knows. He knows it all, and he doesn’t need diagnoses or labels to understand the pain that I’m in, and how hard I fight it every moment.
My grandfather is the most wonderful human ever to grace this earth. He will be 93 soon, and he is sharp and independent and pretty content with his life, overall. We don’t have long, deep conversations about the meaning of life and the challenges unique to me or my disorders. Mostly we talk about his dog, a sweetheart of a pug. But in so very many ways he knows me better than anyone on this earth. He lives in Pittsburgh, and I live Here (which is much, much too far from him). But each time we visit him, every time he sees me, he always gives me a hug filled with a strength that belies his frail frame, kisses me, and says, “God bless ya, Ruby.”
So, back to the endearment he has placed upon me we come. I am a free spirit.
You can look and search and hunt and peck through real live dictionaries, online dictionaries, forums and physical places for “free spirits” to come together (one I may call the police about, actually). Most “reference sources” (and I use that term very lightly) don’t know a free spirit from a cult member.
Of interest to me, after checking out some more legit resources, The Merriam-Webster Dictionary provided me with the first known usage as 1970 (of course even their sources could be mistaken). Here is why this interests me, though. If the first known usage was in 1970, my grandfather would have already reached the ripe old age of 51. His children were hippies, and in some instances, counterculturists.
In any case, in the 42 years that have passed since 1970, he has seen free spirits, he has seen word permutations and form misrepresentations, and I know he has absorbed and understood all the connotations and nuances and come away with the purest sense of the term.
And here is me. His granddaughter beloved, most saddled and strapped with weakening, debilitating, terrifying, horrific psychiatric illnesses and psychological ailments that I struggle with and fight every single moment of every single day. But the man who knows me best in the world, the one who truly sees my soul, calls me strong and free.
Maybe I should believe him.
Don’t you think so?
My mother says that when she and my grandfather talk about me on the telephone, he always says to her about me, “She’s a free spirit, ~.” And if he says it, then it is 100%, absolute, inarguable truth.
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