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Friday, 12 March 2010

Middle Cotton

By Marcia Mayo who blogs at Well Aged With Some Marbling

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 edge 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!

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


To know one's place and to snuggle into it.
Hard won, easy to live with.
I've walked in those shoes myself, so I appreciate your well told story.

Never having owned a home of my own, I drag around a load of house envy. One of my favorite things to do is to drive through residential streets rather than take main roads when I go someplace and enjoy the view. But the realities of upkeep and housekeeping rein in my fantasies. It's so nice to just call the apartment manager when something needs fixing. I'm lucky to live in a small building (8 units) with nice neighbors and a toddler across the hall who thinks my place is just an extension of his. Someday I'd like to visit Atlanta and see your neighborhood too. You make it sound so inviting.

Wow Marcia! Well said! I too am a dismal domestic failure. I laughed in response to so much of your story - especially the part where you state, "...finding a pretty bird feather and scotch-taping it to my china cabinet..." That is how I decorate too! I am owning a home for the first time at 57 years old and now I am truly understanding what my brother meant when he said, "My GOD! I could never rent to you, Cile! Look how you ARE!" In truth, I would be better suited to living in gypsy wagon.

Some of us have different skill sets. How wonderful that you can fully appreciate yourself and your beautiful surroundings - and even share this with everyone with your superior writing skills. Thanks for the smiles. You made my day!

Your post was great--so much fun to read and relate to: you sound like someone I'd enjoy sitting down and sharing a cuppa' something with.
Our experiences aren't parallel--in my younger years, I thought I was Betty Crocker & Martha Stewart rolled into one, but after I became responsible for my own subsistance, my priorities changed, and I sold the big house on the hill, and live happily in a teeny-weeny senior housing apartment, but with a historic mansion on the property and elegant grounds for walking. A plus was being friends, for many years, with the buyer, so I could visit my beloved house without having to maintain or pay the bills!

In the housekeeping and decorating department I'm a dismal failure but in the living, and loving of life - I excel(I think). Accepting those two parts of myself took some time. Part of growing up was selling my motorcycle and buying a washing machine and dryer in my mid 40's. Loved your story - you told it so well. Following you to the point where you are now was great fun. It's a place where you are at peace with yourself. Cheers to you!

As a fellow Atlantan, I know the gorgeous Ansley Park area well and you did it justice. My dream was to be a ballerina (the fact that I couldn't dance hadn't occurred to me yet), marry, live in the big house and have 4 kids. I discovered quickly that a mid-size house was just fine and that 3 kids were all I could handle at one time. Now my 5 grand grandkids, that's different. I get all the fun and their parents have to take them back. Loved the article!

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