"I do not want to be the big looking glass of civilization but just the little pocket mirror of everyday life." -- Peter Altenberg
Turning corners in our lives is an everyday occurrence. We go to the supermarket, turning various corners to get to where we want to go. We go to the movies, another set of corners to turn in a different part of town. We go out to eat and more corners to turn. Turn right. Turn left. Turn here. Turn there. Don't go too far or you'll miss the corner. Corners in our lives are everywhere.
But what about the corners that mark our lives as we grow up and grow older? The corners that will change what we are doing? Change where we will live the rest of our lives? Change the people we meet? Change our career (Should I? Shouldn't I?)? Go to college? Get married? Have children? Buy that new house or stay where we are? Turning corners changes our lives. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes for the worse. How do we know until we turn that corner?
Childhood is filled with corners. They may look small to someone else but when you're 5 years old, a corner can seem really big. Corners are everywhere. If I use up my favorite pink crayon, will I get a new box of crayons? When we go to the movies, I sit on Dad's lap and Jean sits on Mom's lap and when a scary part comes on the movie screen, Dad puts his cap over my face so I can't see the scary part and I can smell the shampoo and Brilliantine on his cap. I turn a big corner when I sit in a seat and not on Dad's lap.
Junior high is a big corner to turn. Now you aren't in the same room with the same kids you have been with all through grade school. Now the kids from all the elementary schools are suddenly thrown together and you meet new kids you didn't know existed. You don't stay in one room all day. Now you go to separate rooms for each class. Mr. Benfer, who teaches algebra, is a corner all by himself.
One morning we go to assembly and we hear President Roosevelt talking on the radio. Our country is at war with a country we only know from our geography books, Japan. We have air raid drills and we sit on the floor in the hallways, our arms over our heads to protect us from the cement blocks and wooden timbers if a bomb hits our junior high building. Because everyone knows that Japan has Midland marked as a target because The Dow Chemical Co. is in our small town.
Senior high is next and we enter a new corner of the world. We have study hall in the cafeteria because there are too many to put in the regular study halls. There is a boy with blue eyes and blond hair and one day he takes a book I'm reading and I chase him all the way outside and we both come back to the cafeteria, breathless but happy. He likes me! I like him!
Graduation is life changing. Some go to work at Dow. Some get engaged to marry the boy they dated in high school. A few of us leave for college. Central Michigan in Mount Pleasant is so far away, I only come home on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. M-20 is a gravel road.
Then life seems to go faster for some reason. We get married and that's the corner that will be the rest of our life. Only that doesn't always happen. My sister worked with a young woman who planned to take the afternoon off one day because it was her three-month wedding anniversary and she and her husband (both 19) were going out for dinner. It never happened because about 11 o'clock there was an explosion where her husband worked and that evening she is planning a funeral instead of celebrating their anniversary.
Some marriages last. Girls and boys you went to school with celebrate 50 years of marriage. A good friend is married 67 years. Who could imagine being married all that time? Some marriages end. Divorce is a corner that you don't think you will live through.
A corner we never thought about when we were 16 comes upon us suddenly. We are the older generation. The generation that remembers when everything of importance happened on Main Street. When a date meant a movie at the Frolic Theatre and a dish of ice cream at Smith Dairy. We remember a small town where everyone knew everyone else. When kids played under the streetlights at night. When your mother sent you to the grocery story and as an enticement, gave you an empty milk bottle which was good for a nickel when returned, and you could have that nickel to buy whatever you wanted at the grocery store.
We lived in an age where few of us were sophisticated. Someone told me about the time a cousin visited him and stayed overnight. They went to a movie at the Frolic and when the lights came on and the movie was over, his cousin whispered to him, "Let's wait until the actors come out from behind the curtains."
Corners continue to change our lives. We lose people we love. We don't become world famous as we dreamed we would when we were 10 and 11. When everyone would know our name. When we would be rich. When nobody could tell us what to do. We didn't know that growing up meant there would always be people telling us what to do in one way or another. At work. At home. In the family.
And then we turn a corner and we find ourselves strangely contented. We don't have to have everyone's approval to be happy.
We turn a corner and find out a piece at a time that a few good friends are all we need. Brothers and sisters we once fought with now become closer than we ever imagined. "I love you." "I love you, too." "I'm so glad you came to see me." "It feels good having you here."
After awhile, if we're lucky (and blest) we come where we always wanted to be. Home.
Virginia Florey is a freelance writer from Midland. Three Pocket Mirror books are now available. "Childhood - The Distant Land," "One Foot In Eden" and "We Were Young Together" are available on Amazon, Kindle or by contacting email@example.com
Source : https://www.ourmidland.com/opinion/voices/article/The-Pocket-Mirror-A-life-of-many-corners-13009283.php