Lordy, Lordy – Look who’s pushing 40!

Ah yes, I am a Scorpio.  In my younger days, I never gave much credence to astrology but my profile is about as accurate as it can be.

I am intensely passionate, stubborn, resourceful and a worthy adversary. It’s nice to know these things about myself. Whether or not the stars dictate it to me, or my genetics simply make me who I am, I find solace in knowing, at 38 who I am.

And 38 might not seem that old, but when I think about pushing 40??? I want to barf. If I’m fortunate, this is my mid-life. What makes me sad is thinking how fast the last 38 have gone. My end will be here before I know it.

I know I’m not exactly at walker stage, but I look at my own children and see how different life was for me at their age. We didn’t have cell phones. We were just  simply out of touch while riding our bikes, hanging out at the park or whatever. We had to come home and check in.

We didn’t even have remote controls. Well, we did. I was the remote. Dad told me to get up and change the channel (by turning a stinking nob, you little turds) to the 10-16 channels we managed to receive. Then I had to go turn a giant antenna outside until I was told to stop, go back, stop.

Most homes didn’t have computers, cable TV, and certainly no internet. We weren’t consumed by posting status updates on social media. We made eye contact. We didn’t have caller ID, we simply answered the call.

Our first microwave was enormous and I was about 12 when my father brought it home. The thing was the size of a Datsun and loud as hell. It didn’t cook well either, but it was new. It was cool.

No we didn’t walk uphill both ways in waist-deep snow, but we did stand outside in whatever weather we had to catch the bus. In Northwest Indiana that could mean weather in the teens…below zero that is. Negative thirteen with a wind  chill factor of “hell froze over.”

I started working when I was 13. Can you image? I can’t get my 13 year old to do anything without a battle.

My first vehicle was a moped I paid for by picking strawberries then detasseling corn.  If you’ve never had this glorious job, let me fill you in. The conditions are generally hot. There isn’t much in the way of a breeze in the middle of an 80 acre field. The leaves of the corn stalks slice into your skin, so that your sweat isn’t only gross, it stinks like a bitch as it grazes these tiny little cuts. Your hands turn into hamburger. At the end of the day, I’d hop on my moped and ride home, the wind would dry my hair and clothes by the time I got home, but the salt in the sweat meant my hair and clothes were now crusty.

Ahh, the good old days.

My first car, which I paid cash for, was a 1979 Buick Regal. I bought it at a drug auction. The inside panels had been removed while looking for contraband and when it was reassembled, it wasn’t done with care. The car was fast, too fast for a 16 year old girl. The brakes were faulty as well.

But we brought the car home. Dad took me to my grandfather’s pole barn and held up the biggest skate board I’d ever seen. He said, “This, is a creeper.” He dropped it to the floor. “Lay down on it.” Being the bright young gal I was, I laid on my stomach. “Now roll over,” Dad said trying not to sound irritated.

“This,” he said, “is an oil wrench.” He shoved the thing in my hand. He smiled, put his foot on the creeper and shoved me under the car. “Don’t come out until the oil is changed.”

Then, in a bold move, he turned to my grandfather. “Do not help her. Do you understand?”

Grandpa agreed.

Now it wasn’t like I didn’t know what the oil filter looked like. I’d stood next to plenty of vehicles while my family did repairs. I spotted the oil filter, slid the wrench over it and tried to turn. It slipped off, making me punch the motor…hard. My knuckles bled. I used a few of the words my truck driving father used all too frequently.

Grandpa snickered.

I repeated the process until I cried and my hands hurt so bad I wondered how I’d wipe my ass.

Grandpa took mercy. He hammered a screw driver through the filter and used a hammer to pound it off. Lord only knows when that thing had been last changed. It didn’t want to budge.

When the job was finished, Dad came back. Grandpa confessed to helping me, but after seeing my hands, Dad felt like a total asshole and apologized.

I’ve worked on many an auto since that day. I was self-sufficient and never relied on a man to care for my cars. I could do it myself. I’m forcing my own daughter to learn much the same way, except I work with her. Because she is a lot like her mom – stubborn as fuck and independent as hell. But she will never rely on a man either. She can change a tire, she’s helped change a flywheel and clutch, and she’s about to do her first tune-up.

Things have changed a lot in my 38 years. That oil change seems like yesterday. I actually loathe my cell phone. I cringe when it rings in the store. I try not to get distracted too much by social media though it has become an essential part of my career.

I have to tell you, after coming to this realization, I have a lot more compassion for the elderly. Not that I had NONE before, but I have more. My life, it’s passing too quickly, and I can only imagine how the 80 year old feels, at the end of her days, remembering a day when she had to churn her own butter, or wash her clothes by hand…wondering where the time went.

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