Saturday, September 23, 2006


We all have those boxes, crates, storage bins, etc. You know the ones, they are covered with dust an inch thick, bulging at the seams, pushed back under our beds or behind holiday decorations in our closets, or in a crawlspace under the house. The contents of these seldom seem boxes have little or no relevance to our lives now, they contain fragments, pieces and momentos of our pasts. They contain memories and dreams of a younger version of our selves. They are like Vegas, fun to visit, but you don't want to live there.

Digging around in my papers from college, I came across several things which, as I look at them now, seem so different than who I am today. In some cases I can barely recognize the voice of the person writing the paper, essay or journal. In others, she is clear as a bell, easily just a younger version of my current self.

Looking back at that time of my life (the limbo between 18 and 23 for me), I can remember many things. I can remember what was important to me, I can remember how I felt. I can remember questioning everything, an exhausting practice which has no time in my current life. I can remember my roommates, and the drama between them. I can remember drinking beer with my friends in the knotty-pine benches (scrawled with names of past patrons) of our favorite tavern, philosophizing about life and relationships. I can remember how felt at the start of each new quarter, with a fresh set of classes and professors to devour. I can remember my last apartment, a studio all to myself, the best of all my apartments where the bathroom was exactly the width from my hip to toe (I knew this because that's how long the bathtub was if you sat in it to take a bath - exactly long enough for legs only). I loved that teeny tiny little studio.

But there are things I am sure I have forgotten, long shoved into the deep dark recesses of my mind never again to see the light of day, and that is where these boxes from my past come in handy. They help me remember. They help me see the evolution of myself from then to now. They remind me what mattered then and they cause me to question where my values lie now, ten years later.

June 21, 1995 (English 499 -- Women's Prose and Poetry About Nature, Dr. Terry Martin, Professor), from my journal in response to these questions: Is there such a thing as a woman's view of nature? How does traditional gender socialization in our society help women relate well to nature? Is there a feminine way of being in relationship to nature?

-----I am not sure what the answers to either of those questions are, or if there are any answers. I suppose that I may have the or a better understanding of their meaning as the quarter continues, but as for my experience until now, I do not know.

I was raised in a typical suburban home with a tantalizing backyard and a great view of the lake. My parents are still married (to eachother) and I have one brother, Ryan, who is 3.4 years younger than me.

As a child, and even now, I was extremely curious about the outdoors and all the mysteries that it held for me. If I wasn't playing in my backyard, I was in somenoe elses, or exploring the huge vacant field at the end of our neighborhood. I was never afraid to be outside, except when it was well past sunset. We were encouraged to be creative in our outdoor surroundings wherever we were.

I did not notice behavior differences between my brother and myself regarding nature. Nor, the way we were raised. My parent's never once told me that I couldn't do something because I was a girl - or vice versa for Ryan. We were treated equally and I don't think that as a child or adolescent I developed any truly "feminine" ways of dealing with nature. However, I do agree that traditional societal roles encourage males to conquer nature and females to be afraid of it. Society also encourages people to become one with nature, so my question is: how can you conquer something and become one with it? Is this possible?

I do not think that as I am becomming older, at the ripe old age of 22, that my experience with nature is changing. I am not sure if I can put it into words, but as you experience more I think that you realize how much that you don't know and this is amazing and humbling.

Looking into my future, I see the possibility of a feminie relationship with nature. But looking back into my past, I see no seperation in ways of relating to nature among my family, my experience.

I am curious to find out what will become of my feminine, nurturing link to nature. Where it will take me and what I will learn. -----

Okay, I could be a politician the way I dodged those questions, but still, my outlook is crystal clear. Keep in mind that this was a "journal" not a graded term paper (thank god).

Evolution of self is necessary, and although the girl writing that thought her "relationship" to nature would be more feminine and change in comparison to her past, I am glad that it didn't. Can you imagine me, with my 2 boys, being like that? I do appreciate the nurturing side of me that doesn't want them to rip legs off of spiders, or trample native growth areas or disturb wetlands. But, I am thankful that they are out there, in the mud, in the trees, with the bugs - and their little sister is right beside them.


jen said...

what a gorgeous post. it's interesting how being reminded of who we were stimulates us thinking on who we want to become..and the journey of becoming is the most beautiful part. glad i found your blog..

Mommy off the Record said...

Great post. It's amazing how our thinking can change in only 10 years. I hope to find the "masculine" side of me a bit so that I too can let my Little Guy loose to play in the dirt - but I have to admit that I still get a little perturbed seeing grime underneath his fingernails. I still have a ways to go :)

C2 said...

Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Kudos to you for having a love of the outdoors, and being able to pass that on to your children, regardless of gender. Lucky kids~

Kevin Charnas said...

Right on...Right. On.

Lisa said...

This was a fab post. Its wild the way our thinking changes over the course of a few years...

sunshine scribe said...

This is a spectacular post. One of my favourites of yours.

Evolution of self is necessary.

Christina_the_wench said...

Wow, I coulda wrote this post. High five that your kids are out there playing in the great outdoors in this time of video games and internet. I frequently shove my daughters outside as well.

One day, I know they will thank me for it.

Great post. =)

Kristin said...

I love how you say,I can remember questioning everything, an exhausting practice which has no time in my current life.

I can relate.

Beautiful entry and such an interesting topic... I sometimes wonder if today, I could even pass some of the classes I took back in college.