Monday, April 22, 2013

The More You See of Someone's Heart

Back in the days when I lived in Kansas, there was a certain peace I would feel when looking out over an open prairie.  I believe a prairie shows its beauty the most at dusk on a warm day - the tall grass venerating the dry earth, the gold outline of sun on the drifting clouds, the barometric pressure falling heavy and thick.

Sometimes the radiating heat of a paper coffee cup warms my hand on a chilly, overcast Oregon morning, and as I walk down the street, I might think for a moment of the sun arching over the Kansas prairie....

I sometimes think of this one night all those years ago when a group of friends got together - how we walked out on the prairie past the grazing horses just before sunset to a small, empty cabin so that several of us could share our art, music and writing with each other.  By the light of a lantern flame, I held a short story I had written and I read it to the glowing faces around me.  Others shared their work, and then my friend Alicia showed us a pencil sketch she had made of cream diffusing into a cup of coffee.  Some people see beauty in the things that others might not even notice.  She knew I really liked the sketch, and much later, when I was going through a hard time, she gave it to me.  While I kept it for many years, the many moves of my nomadic life eventually separated this and many other mementos from me.  To thank her for that picture, or maybe to bring it back alive in some way, I recently took this photo for her....

Alicia is the inspiration for this blog.

She and I broke bread many times together in my college years.  It was through many of our after-church lunchtime conversations that I started to realize how fascinated I was with Generation X.  In those conversations we had about life, there was something I discovered - even though she and I had grown up about a thousand miles away from each other, our formative years had a thousand things in common.  It wasn't until many years later that I began to read about the collective experience of Gen X online and in books, but this journey all started for me through face-to-face conversation with a fellow Gen Xer.  As those conversations continued, she and I began to realize that there a thousand pop culture references we could both relate to, and there were a thousand tiny details that were similar about our childhoods.  We found that we had played the same games with our friends on our elementary school playgrounds, and even meticulously folded our notes to pass to our friends in middle school the same way.  And I realized that if our formative years had been that similar in spite of growing up so far away from each other, there must be a Gen X collective experience after all.  Growing up, I had constantly seen (and had even felt overshadowed by) the collective experience of older generations.  I had not yet begun to see the collective experience of my own generation until I met her.

Often the people who see beauty in the things that others might not even notice are the ones who carry with them a deep and intrinsic wisdom.  Often the people who  don't demand a lot of attention are the ones who have the most to offer.  Some people carry a light with them that causes others to be ignited and inspired.  I am grateful that all these years later Alicia and I have reconnected.  I am fortunate to have met her on my nomadic journey.  Even though she has been through much of the suffering that our generation is known for, she remains profoundly kind and full of God's light.  

The more I have seen of your heart, Alicia, the more I have been inspired.  
All my love to you.


(c) 2013 writing/photography by Chloe - all rights reserved - except for Alicia - she can do anything she wants with it! 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

70s Rec Room Time Capsule!!

This is a look inside a circa-1970s rec room that has been a very important place in my life....

When I am in this room -  this time capsule - the calendar rolls back a few decades.  All the sudden I feel compelled to go find every friend (and View-Master reel) I lost track of from my early childhood. All the sudden I can hear Debby Boone and Bee Gees songs echoing in my head. 

The Rec Room: In whatever form it took, Gen Xers remember a room like this from their youth where they played air hockey and/or Atari.  The difference is that I didn't set foot for the first time in this room until after 2000.

This room is a serious 70s time-capsule. Sometimes we'd refer to as That 70s Room.  It is the rec room in a condo complex built in the 1970s that my friends used to live in until recently.  In an average home, most things start breaking down after a certain amount of time which is why you find appliances and misc. items in a house from any and every decade.  Hardly anyone ever used the room, so to enter it is to step back in time.  Because this room sat mostly sat empty over the last four decades, everything original remains.

There is almost nothing anachronistic about this room - a Hollywood set designer could not have done a better job of creating an era with props.  My friends have sold and left their condo and have left this time capsule behind.  But the 70s Rec Room Lives On. 

The room includes some very cool graphic pics of San Francisco - these pics remind me of an OP (Ocean Pacific) brand yellow/tan/earth tone tee shirt I had from that same era.  In this room, I can feel the roughness of macrame on my hand or the warmth of a pea-green afghan blanket on my lap.

A perfect rec room requires a kitchenette (or a wet bar depending on the nature of the event).   I can't get enough of the trend-setting mirrors on the wall.

Why did I always find this room so strangely comforting and thought provoking?  Maybe because when I was here it felt like we were back in time - like there was still time for more things to go right and less things to go wrong in the youth of Gen X.  All these graphics, and textures, and patterns would cause me to think about the fabric of time.  In this room, I would get this fleeting, and maybe childish, feeling that I could somehow go back and fix all that fell apart in those years.  Doesn't everyone get that feeling sometimes?  This is where I would be when I would get that feeling. 

There was more than one night in this room over the last years that we discussed multiverse theory.  Imagine a hypothetical situation in which Gen X did not grow up during a Crisis era of history.  Imagine all those memories of yellow and orange in the background, but no endless stream of crises along with it. 

Orange chairs cast shadows on the technicolor carpet and I feel a strange desire to drink some Tang.  While  in this room, I've marveled at how EVERYTHING around me was made in the 70s - including me and my friends.

Remember when TVs were actual pieces of furniture?  There's also a record player tucked away inside this monolith structure.  This is the godfather of entertainment centers, with doors that close in front of the TV.  This TV's glory days were when new episodes of CHiPs, Alice, and Mary Tyler Moore would air.  When several of us friends got together here, this became a good surface for setting up a laptop to occupy the kids with a movie. (Ideally retro-style Gen X claymation when possible). 

The TV is still complete with a rabbit ear antenna. Adjusting these to get a clear picture would now be considered an obselete skill...looking at this gives me a hankering for a Swanson's fried chicken TV dinner - the kind in an aluminum tray that you heat up in the oven....

The decor is still complete with 70s interior design touches.  Standing near this wall,  I am reminded of some women's bathroom I went in during the 70s - then I think of the smell of Aqua Net hairspray mixed with Charlie perfume.

And suddenly I get a flashback of sitting on the seats of a Southwest Airlines plane by myself as a six year old to fly from the city where one of my parents lived, to the city and state of the other.  In those days, I didn't just hang out with latchkey kids, I hung out with boarding-pass kids. 

Since my friends moved out of their condo there will be no more dinners or late night conversations in this room. Goodbye bygone era. Goodbye 70s room. We will miss you.

for KT and CT - thanks for all the 70s memories.

(c) 2013 writing and photos by Chloe - all rights reserved....if you know the artist who did the cool retro West Coast screen-print images above, send me a message or comment so I can give them credit!!