Friday, October 21, 2016

What makes my life mine. Or, life as a frontier woman.

I started out today feeling very negative about Bailey Kathleen.
This was for various reasons, most of which had to do with me not feeling productive enough.
As Alex texted me encouragement, he asked me if I think I'd have some of the same worries if I was a farmer's wife on the frontier.
His point was to point out some of the blessings and curses of living now when we do. As I started rattling off my initial answers to his question, though, I thought it might make for an interesting blog topic. So here goes.
If I were a frontier farmer's wife
by Bailey Brewer
If I were a frontier farmer's wife, I don't know if I'd be upset about it or not.
I'm not sure I'd recognize my calling as a writer in such a context. Seeing as I probably wouldn't be aware that I had such a calling, however, I don't know that I would feel the need to grieve anything. I do wonder, though, over thinker that I am, if I would feel some sort of phantom grief, as if I suspected there were another life for me even if I hadn't ever seen it modeled in the other women in my life. I suppose that must be how people have ever come up with new ideas, yes? It has to be an original thought for one person before it can be modeled for others to follow.
Similarly, as I doubt we would have many books nor time to read them, I wonder if I would recognize my love of reading. Maybe I'd be a vivid storyteller instead. I can't imagine my imagination wouldn't be as intense as it is (I don't say that to say that I have great story ideas, because I don't believe that about myself. But I have a good imagination in that I can quickly jump to worst case scenarios in my head).
I wonder if I would be more introverted. It seems to me that intro- and extroversion are pretty pedestrian and have always been with us, but what if they haven't? What if we've socially constructed them, and once we started living in larger communities, all the extroverts came out of the woodwork.
Wait. But people used to travel in packs, so never mind, scratch that above thought.
Conversely to my initial thought, however, I wonder if people adapted to their surroundings in remote frontier life and developed more introverted personalities in order to survive. I've never thought of evolution as a social thing, but hmm.
As I've gotten older (in my real, 2016 life, not in my hypothetical frontier life), I've developed a greater interest in domestic things. Making things shinier, more organized. Washing sheets. Spraying carpet stains with vinegar, then pouring on baking soda, enjoying the sizzly sound and then wiping up the spot. Cook things for hungry people and watch them smile as their bellies fill.
All that said, I rarely exercise these domestic abilities of mine. I really enjoy doing what I want. I don't like other things or people to create schedules for me.
I just wonder if, without my 2016 context and awareness of what I could be, if I'd feel put upon as a wife, or if I'd just go with it. I do think that exhaustion is timeless, and I would feel that and I'm sure that would make me feel haggard and act nastily to my family at times.
One thing I know I'd be down with in the country life: needlework.
Mm hmm. Sign me up.
I also think I would intrinsically love cats.
I guess, overall, I wouldn't have the luxury I have now of thinking so much. Sure, I'd be thinking all the time because we're always thinking, but I don't think I'd sit around and read and ponder and pontificate out loud. And even when it comes to needlepoint, whereas in 2016 I can let my mind wander as I do that, if I were a frontier wife I'd be most often mending and making clothing. Once I had proven myself with a few samplers, they'd move me on to actual duty work, and I think it'd be hard to separate the garments in my hand from my knowledge of the children who wear them and whom are my constant responsibility.
I wonder if I'd love my husband. Or if he'd just be a protector. A hunter. I wonder if I'd fall in love with him over time. I wonder if a lot of people once had that experience. Maybe "soul mates" are a modern luxury, too, and there's something to be said for shared experiences, combining DNA and births of children, turmoil of a crop lost to locusts -- maybe all that brings you together, no matter what. And maybe, if one of you is a chatty extrovert who expresses feelings and the other's a listening introvert, who respects your feelings, maybe there's no direction possible other than love.
Here's hoping that would be the case. And here's hoping I'd find a quill and some paper in that log cabin, as I'd really like to write, no matter what year I'm living in. Because, as far as I can tell, writing makes my life mine.

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