29 March, 2018

$10 shoes

I read to the little girls in the dorm almost every night and they have their favorites, which I end up reading over and over and over and…so much so that I can read most without even looking at the words.  One of them is “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back”.  I have read it so many times to them, I could recite it in my sleep.

There are things that I would have never given a second thought to in regards to content in the books I read, nor would have the American kids I have read to over the years.  But here in Cambodia daily things are different, such as we don’t take baths in a bathtub.  Here’s we take ‘bucket baths’ where you take the water scoop and scoop the water out of the tank and pour it over your head and body, soap up and then repeat.

So…when the Cat in the Hat leaves a pink cat ring in the tub, I always must explain what a dirty tub ring is.  Without ever seeing a bathtub (except for in books) it is kind of hard for them to imagine.  I tried to explain it like the ring in my coffee mug when I have old coffee sit for days…but I think that just screwed up their perception more.

There is one part of the book that has -each and every time- reminded me of my dad. 

“Let me tell you some news.
To take spots off a wall,
All I need is two shoes!”

Whose shoes did he use?
“This is very bad news.
Now the spot is all over
DAD’s $10 SHOES!”

and then:
 'His $10 shoes will have
No spots at all
I will rub them right off
On this rug in the hall.”

Why my dad?  When the book was published in 1958, ten dollars may have bought a very nice pair of shoes, maybe they were quite expensive, but in 2018, a good pair of ten dollar shoes really doesn't exist.  But you know what, Dave Lies would have found a nice pair of $10 shoes and by damn, not only would he have bought them, but he would have told everyone about those amazing shoes and how much he saved on them.  He would have worn them everywhere and boasted of his bargain hunting.

The Christmas before my dad died (a mere month later), he proudly displayed such a bargain.  He wore his -now infamous- pink shirt and informed everyone how damn good he looked!  Not just “I like this shirt”, but an over exuberant “Hey, take my picture, I LOOK DAMN GOOD IN THIS SHIRT!”  and then on to explain just what a bargain that shirt was.  

Maybe that shirt was only $10, maybe it was less, but regardless of the price, my dad’s frugalness lives on in all our memories.  All those wonderful priceless memories.

In many ways, I have inherited my father’s frugalness -it just took a while to rear it's head.  Now this is something he would have never believed!  I don’t think I could have believed it myself, years ago. How could a grown woman survive without earning an income? How could someone truly live off the generosity of others? That is what is great about the unknown…about finally letting go and allowing the universe take hold of your life and guide you in the right direction.  Guide you outside your comfort zone and in my case, to the other side of the world.

Letting go of negativity is my goal for 2018.  To really focus on what is here in front of me at small moments in time.  To allow myself to be truly happy by reveling in the small pieces of joy that are constantly around me.  Not to just nonchalantly open my arms to a child needing a hug, but to see it, to feel it, to hug back consciously, to love back fully.  To allow those small moments of each day heal me and now that I have turned a ½ century, I need all the healing I can get!

When my dad turned 50, my mom had a huge multi-town-wide surprise party for him at the local dance hall.  It’s hard to believe that I just hit that milestone and although my 50th birthday was nothing like that, the surprises big and small trickled in, from a decorated house, 

to a coffee treat prepared just the way I like it and presented to me while I was getting some much needed accounting done.

to a ‘birthday book’ so chock FULL of surprise well-wishes it made me cry! 

Like my dad seeing one friend after another come forth at his party, page after page revealed one unexpected birthday wish after another and I read such wonderful words from friends and family near and far.  Words I truly hope I live up to.

It is a bit uncanny how I got to where I am today, not just physically, but mentally.  When I quit working (after 7 years) for a billionaire family, many people questioned “What is wrong with you?”, “Why would you quit!”, “How could you give up THAT job?” as if a ‘job’ was the end all and be all of happiness.  I have never regretted my decision to quit my luxurious (depending on your taste) surroundings, but you know…looking back, if I had stayed there, 16 years later what would have been written to me on my birthday?  I highly doubt anything would be on my cards except for “Happy Birthday” and something like “congratulations on being surrounded by superficial things and money instead of love”. 

Like my dad receiving hug after greeting after smile that evening, small deeds move me,  but are sometimes received quietly.  Kind words are special, and picturing the smile of a loved one warms my heart.  The world is so scary and complicated and hostile and wonderful, that just being healthy and supported makes it a little less scary and hostile, a little less complicate and a lot more wonderful.

To everyone who has or continues to give me financial, emotional and physical (I am getting old!) support, I thank you from the top of my heart.  Without it, I would not be able to be here!  I would never have known how it feels to splurge on a $3.50 latte, a $25 room and have found out how my feet feel in shoes that were gifted to me.