Sunday, February 21, 2010

Middle Cotton

Just recently, I was wandering around my beautiful neighborhood, which happens to sit right smack dab in the middle of the gorgeous city of Atlanta Georgia. The day was perfect, one of those warm February afternoons we Southerners complain about if they don't come around at least by Valentine's Day. Ansley Park is an historic community, filled with wide tree-sheltered boulevards showcasing stately old mansions along with some modern masterpieces, all surrounded by lovely cultivated lawns. You might say I live in high cotton.

But only around the somewhat seedy edges. My home is a one bedroom condo situated on the border of the neighborhood, a place purchased for a fraction of what the big houses cost. I'm just lucky they let me stumble by those mighty domiciles with my eyes wide in wonder and my mouth unattractively agape. So far, no one has called the Atlanta police on me or even that nice security guard the neighborhood association keeps on its payroll.

Despite my gawking, I have to say I'm not jealous at all. I now have enough life experience to know that a big house takes a lot of time and money, not to mention commitment to and talent for keeping it safe, sound, and fabulous. It's great to be at a point where I can be happy looking at how the rich folks live without wanting to be them.

Like most little girls of my generation, at least those lucky enough to have been born into the luxury of big dreams, I envisioned growing up, getting married, and living in a big house. That was, of course, after fulfilling my dream of being a Pan Am stewardess.

Although I never met the weight standards or understood the pre-flight-safety protocol well enough to be a flight attendant, I did grow up, I did get married and I did live in a big house, sort of. It was nothing like the houses here in mid-town Atlanta, but it was nice enough. It did take me a while to realize I didn't have the aptitude or interest to keep my house up to the standards of others, even those who were friends in my small town. They knew things I didn't know, like how to clean baseboards and have the sofa recovered every ten years or so. My idea of home decorating was partially painting a wall and deciding I liked the abstract impressionistic look of it, or finding a pretty bird feather and scotch-taping it to my china cabinet. My poor used-to-be husband must've often thought he'd won the wrong interior designer at the Marriage Fair, but, to his credit, he didn't complain (much).

But what I'm trying to say here has little to do with my lack of homemaking skills or decorating taste, it's about finally being at a time in my life where I know who I am, know where I've been, and know where I "ain't gonna go", which would be into one of those big houses on Peachtree Circle, at least not for long enough to unpack my beaded evening cardigan. Furthermore, with my skill set, I'm not going to show up in a Merry Maid's uniform either.

After living six decades, I'm beginning to see I'm pretty much the same person I was at seven, twenty-three, and forty-two, a person never destined to be a big shot in high cotton, more a
medium-sized shot in middle cotton. Then and now, I'd rather be smart than pretty, clever than deep, and anything other than conventional. I remember my daddy describing himself by saying he was built for comfort, not speed. I now realize the same applies to me, which means I'll never be really focused or particularly well dressed, but I'll try to pick you up when you're down and I'll almost always endeavor to say something funny to make you laugh.

So, as I contemplate my elegant surroundings and count my many blessings, those blessings will certainly include being within easy walking distance to absolutely incredible beauty, beauty paid for and maintained by others, all of the benefits, none of the worry. Now, that's living!


Anonymous said...

I love that line about being lucky enough to be born into the luxury of big dreams. Funny how the years can whittle down the big dreams... yet the surprises and disappointments still make for a differnet kind of rich

Issy said...

I will be quoting a piece of this within the next week. Thank you for teaching me a bit about being happy with just being me in my life.

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