Don't Box Me In

“Give me land, lots of land, ‘neath the starry skies above. Don’t box me in.”

OK, maybe the song doesn't go quite like that. Roy is probably going to haunt me now for messing with his song.

Someone told me today that I am not what they expected. No, I suppose I’m not. Is anyone ever what we really expect? It made me wonder what expectations they could have crafted from one business-related conversation on the phone. What box did they build in their mind, into which I would fit so neatly?

I think the only box that I’ll ever fit into very neatly is the kind that’s made of pine and waiting for all of us.

The boxes that suit us at any given time are like so many gift boxes. Maybe that someday pine box will be a gift of a different sort, but for today, those compartments that hold us are the presents under the tree of our life. (Wow. Wasn't that profound? Ha!)

All those characteristics, qualities and quirks are what make us unique. Each one a gift, and most of them suitable for giving.

I fit in a plain box. I’m a plain girl. I like simple, I like peaceful, I like predictable. I haven’t done anything high-adrenaline in my life, unless you count the time I did the Heimlich maneuver on my baby. I know about the simple things in life, like how to make bread or how to pluck a chicken.

I also fit in a quirky, unexpected box.  I’m a high-heels, polished nails, Chateaubriand kind of girl who also embraces the pastrami on rye side of herself. I know more silly jokes and cowboy songs than a woman my age has a right to know, but I also know how to configure a new workstation for my complicated office and the taxonomy of the platypus. (And the name of the guy who invented the system of taxonomy we use.) Why the hell anyone needs to know that, beats me. I’m the strange woman who doesn't mind having a huge spider in the house, on the theory that he’s eating all the little spiders. I don’t mind snakes or lizards. But I hate, despise and detest......squirrels. (“Hate is such a strong word.”) (Yes. That’s why I used it.) I can be serious, I can be silly and I. Can. Be. STUBBORN. I can be as yielding as an overripe avocado and I can stand my ground like a recalcitrant mule. The part that makes me quirky is that you never know when to expect which quirk.

The gift box that would represent love in my life will need to be a jumbo-sized one. From my loving parents, to my awesome Grandmas, uncles and aunties, my sister and my brothers, I grew up surrounded by a close and comfortable family. They gave me the guideposts to build a life that features plentiful love. My darling Sweet Hubs and our two grown sons are the biggest portion of that love today, but I also have some cherished friends and even a couple of damn fine dogs.

The heart-shaped box is also going to hold my love for sunsets, pickles, pretzels, bluegrass music, prosciutto, sweet wine, autumn leaves and fried green tomatoes. I love reading and writing and laughing. I also love to sing, but you won’t love it when I do it. In Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, Augustus McCrae says that the only healthy way to live is to learn to like all the everyday things: a sip of good whiskey of an evening, a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, or a feisty gentleman like himself. Gus McCrae was one smart man. When you really think about it, that is wisdom on which to build a life.

Right next to the heart-shaped gift box, you have to have this one:
A sweet blue one, to represent my two sweet boys. Being a mother is, in many ways, the most defining experience of my life. I feel like I taught my sons many things, but I learned ever so much more from them and because of them. Having children was a chance to see the world anew, through their eyes. It was a way to discover all the wonders again. It was a way to try to stamp out the things I wished had been different in me, which of course did not work. As much as my children have changed in the years of their growing, I have changed more. When our oldest son went off to war, I learned about a whole new kind of letting go. I learned about a new kind of faith, too. When our youngest son won the gold medal at the state competition, I learned about a type of pride I had never experienced. My children taught me about patience, humor, balance, patience, joy, patience. Wait. Did I say “patience”? They also taught me about peanut-butter and pickle sandwiches, but I would really rather have not known about that.

There would have to be a gift box like one of these for me, too. I come from a European style of eating and drinking. All things in moderation, savor your food, make your meal an event. Even when I eat alone, I fix a plate, eat slowly, pour myself a glass of wine and enjoy my food. Eating is something we have to do every day. Why war with it? Slow down and learn how to do it right and enjoy it in a healthy way.

I would also need to have a box like this:
Because I’m opinionated and a little mouthy and I spend a lot of time on my soap box. I’m like a trained seal. Drag out a soap box and I’ll jump on it and start barking.

It’s only one of the many flaws I keep working on.

What would the gift boxes to hold the fabulous uniqueness of you look like?

(All images from Google Commons or images)

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