Saturday, August 26, 2017

Reinventing Myself Wasn't in the Plan

We've been in Missouri for three months now.  I really didn't know what to expect but one thing I never would have thought of was the possibility of reinventing myself.  I never expected to have a new view of myself.   Instead of thinking, "There is always a Plan B", which of course, there IS, my first thought these days is "There are no strangers, only people I haven't met".

After I left California, things seemed to change back there for everyone.  Places weren't visited.  People didn't see each other as much.  Routines changed.  I was saddened by this and didn't understand why but slowly I realized that the one constant in all these observations is that I wasn't there anymore.  Instead of viewing myself as someone on the outside of things, I started to realize that in reality, I was the glue that held certain things together.  As I stepped back from my old life, I arrived at a clear understanding of just how I really did fit into that former life.  And, I arrived at a whole new view of who I was then and who I am becoming.

Living here, I'm discovering new possibilities of what can fill my life.  No one was more surprised than me when I agreed to teach 2nd graders Sunday school.  Never in my life have I EVER wanted to work with little kids and yet here I am. And, it's fun. Someone apparently saw something in me that I didn't know was there.  
I started going to city council meetings, forming relationships with a waitress and a grocery clerk.  People at church were so welcoming and interested in Don and me.  We felt included and part of a small but very active Catholic community.  I joined the ladies group that handles fundraising activities and endeavors.  And in three months, there have been three big events

In the midst of all this, my friend Jane really took me under her wing.  Southern views and ways are not California view and ways. How people interact with each other, how people are related to each other, the importance of the generations, going way back, and the feeling that these people are still alive and with us today is like nothing I've experienced before.  And, of course, people talk about everybody, but seriously, I haven't heard any trash talking.  People can be blunt, especially if a behavior is deemed unseemly, but people are also very forgiving and very kind.  There is a connectedness here that I found very unfamiliar and Jane showed me the road map.

I've been a source of amusement to many.  Lots of laughter has happened at my expense but none of it mean-spirited.  Cotton. - I want to grow a plant.  Sweet tea - OMG, I'm choking. That River - yes, the Mississippi, it's sandbars, its barges, its river dikes, its CURRENTS. Pecans - my endless questions of how they are gathered and processed.  And, explain to me the cotton picking and corn harvesting machines, and, don't forget about soy beans either.. The accents - and all the forms of English I have heard since arriving here.  Mice and snakes and the fact that I don't mind either but they do have their place and that is out-of-doors.  Oh, and bugs and cicadas and squirrels (tree rats to the locals).  And finally, my total inability to figure out what direction I'm going.  It's so bloody FLAT out here.

Everyone belongs to something here.  First off there is your church.  It's just about the first thing people want to know about you.  Lions - a free meal every Thursday night.  American Legion and the VFW - another free meal.  Covered dish suppers at church.  Tons of food and left overs given away.  MORE free food.  Rotary meets too.  I don't know what night they meet but I'm sure it includes a meal.

The local library is the heart of the community.  Book club, historical society, movies on Sunday afternoon (there is no cinema in town), rental of fishing rods and bicycles, an Eclipse party, and a crew of staff and volunteers ready to help with whatever you need and knowledgeable in the extreme.

The thing that surprised me the most, outside of teaching catechism to 2nd graders, of course, was my willingness to get involved in - wait for it - football.  I WILL confess that I skipped the first game but Don went.  We won  It was 64-14 at half time and Don walked home  Winning was a foregone conclusion.  But feeding the team brought it all to a whole different level. For one afternoon, I became a football mom!

Go Caruthersville Tigers. The football team will be here in a couple of hours. Lots of hungry footballers, cheerleaders, coaches, etc. to feed before they get on the road to Maldon for their away game. C'ville has lost to Maldon 4 year in a row.  We have great hopes for this year, according to those who follow these sorts of things.  After all, there are 22 seniors on the team.  That is a lot of combined experience.




By 3:30, the hall had filled and the kids ate like it was their last supper.  Many of them came by before they left thanking us for the sandwich spread, shaking hands and giving the occasional hug to one of the ladies they knew well.  They took all the leftovers for after the game. They are going to be a really hungry group, win or lose.



And finally - This is the awesome Coach Jimmy Jackson.  When we moved to C'ville he recruited several young men to help move us in.  He graduated from the same high school he now coaches.  Big shout out to Jimmy Jackson and the terrific young men of his athletic program.



My life is very different.  I find I have a greater sense of inner peace.  There are friends in abundance and a solid understanding of my value that comes from the warm welcome we received.  I was never a stranger, just a new someone who needed to be explored and, in a very particular Southern way, approved.  Little kids like me.  The community fascinates me, the land confuses the heck out of me, crops and farming ways interest me, crawly and/or flying critters unhinged me but I don't mind a mouse or a snake.  In fact, I wouldn't mind a snake outside for mouse control. And football. Well, I'm going to learn all about Friday Night Lights at the next home game.

20 comments:

  1. FROM MARIE. -

    You are a true blessing and a dear friend. You are missed a lot.

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  2. Replies
    1. It's all coming together, Q. Life is full of surprises. 💗

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  3. AWESOME post, Annie! Now I want to see you again so we can visit and talk!! WAH! I am so glad things are going so well, because it is so hard to change at our age. And teaching the kids, I am SO proud of you!! For your next post...how many members in your church? I imagine a lot, because it is likely the only Catholic church in town. How many kids in your class? And FOOTBALL!! The old Annie is gone, but what a FUN and exciting change!!! YES, I can see now that this was totally in God's plan for you.

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  4. This is delicious Annie. I soaked up every word. You are beaming through each letter and photo and my heart is full. XO

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  5. You're starting to live the life I found when I moved to North Carolina some 35 years ago. I told you Southern ways are good. Glad you're living it.

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  6. Sounds heavenly to me Annie! I'm so happy for you and your husband. God certainly had different plans for you both and are both adapting as perfectly as He knew you would!
    Marcia in Cali❤

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    Replies
    1. 💗❤💞💖💕💖💖💓

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  7. I will say this post reminds me of a time long ago when I lived in Kansas. Football is everything in those midwest communities. Have fun!

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  8. From Linda Burnett

    Chester and I LOVED it! Thank you for sharing all this, having lived here all my life,I take so much for granted. Welcome to The Bootheel !!!!!!!😊💜

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  9. FROM PATSY WILHELM:

    I enjoyed your lovely words! So glad you are learning and fitting in and with a such enthusiasm! Your life is full and wonderfully complete! God Bless you and Don and glad to call you my friends.

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  10. Annie, I think I love this post more than any you've ever written. It's so from the heart and soul. I admire your picking up and moving across country (dare I say it) at your age! And by that, I don't mean old, but I mean old relationships, friendships, knowing who your dentist or doc is and where to go to get what you need. You've become a stranger in a strange land and found it not so strange after all, just different. I'm glad you're setting in so well (although I don't know about the football -- it was an effort to go when we had a kid on the team!). Really, so very happy for you!

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  11. FROM MADONNA

    really enjoyed your thoughts, and glad you are closer to help the young people. you are an inspiration to this ole lady

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  12. You are a true blessing and a dear friend. You are missed a lot.


    āļŦีāļŸิāļ•

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  13. All sounds very interesting and hospitable and a different world to Ca.

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  14. It sounds like an emotionally healthy community, with people aware of each other and looking out for each other. I think it could be a good place to arrive later in life, when those things start to matter even more.

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    Replies
    1. Very true. We are genuinely happy here. It's not a perfect world but it's very much a better world.

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  15. Southern ladies rock, and you are one now Ms. Annie!!!

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