Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Story that I Have to Tell

When I finally graduate, learn that lesson that I keep messing up over and over again, get past this level of the video game, and finally get off this planet and onto the next life, I plan to come back if I can. I have one thing to do. There’s someone I want to see. She’s a girl about 10 years old, living on the Sherman Ranch outside Genesee, Kansas, in 1931.

I don’t think that finding her will be very hard. I know her name. It’s Clara. I know where she lives with her Mom, her no-good Dad, and her seven brothers and sisters. They live on the part of the ranch that’s known as North Town, where the Russian and Polish Immigrants work. I don’t suppose I’ll get a chance to talk to her at the one-room school. It’s five miles from her house and she rides on the back of a horse with her little sister to get there. Too many people around.

I guess I’ll hang out by the house and hope for a time after school. Of course, that’s when it will happen. She’ll be on the back step, snapping green beans for dinner, sitting next to a large bowl of just picked bing cherries from the tree in the orchard. She’ll be thinking about clouds, thinking about what she might be if only, if . . .

I’ll be a lady, who brought over some bread from the big house. That would be best, I think. That would give me a reason for being there. I’ll charm her into letting me help with snapping the beans and pitting the cherries. She’ll tell me her name, and I’ll tell her that people call me Liz. We’ll talk a little about the hard times since the market crashed. She’ll say she doesn’t know that much has changed for her or if it ever would.

That’s when I’ll tell her a story. I’ll say. . . .

Things are going to change for you, and actually, they’re going to change fairly soon. Your whole family is going to move away from this ranch to a place up north. Illinois or somewhere like that, I think. You’ll get a job and people will love you there. They’ll call you after a flower—Daisy. You’ll be the only Daisy in town, and everyone will know you. They’ll come to see you as strong, and brave, and wise, and fun to be with.

When you get older, say 22, you’ll meet a man who has his own business. He really will be tall, dark, and handsome. This handsome man will love you deeply from the second he sees you, because you make him laugh. You’ll love him back because he’s strong enough to be gentle. He will make you feel safe and he will be proud of you. It will be a marriage of equals who are perfectly matched and strong for each other. You’ll have a life where you won’t have to pretend that bacon fat on Sunday is meat. You’ll have meat every day—at every meal, if you want it.

Many people will look to you for advice and admire you for the character that you’re forming right here and right now. So don’t lose your dreams. What you learn right now will help someone out someday, some way, some how.

“Will we have kids?” she might ask. A kid still lost in the story, in love with the dream.

“Oh yes,” I will answer.

You’ll have two sons who will be both your favorites, each for their own reasons. One because he’s so smart and so sensitive, the other because he’s so wild and so free. You’ll have a daughter too. She will look just like you, be just like you, and she will be with you until the moment you die.

“What a wonderful story,” she’ll say. “Wish it was true.”

“Not a story,” I’ll answer “your life. It’s an important one. Many people will be better because they knew a girl from Kansas called Daisy.”

Then I’ll say good-bye and walk up to the big house eating a handful of cherries. I love bing cherries.

Many people were better because of who she was, especially her daughter who looks just like her, and is just like her, and who was there until the moment she died.

That’s why I have to go tell her.
—me strauss Letting me be


Anonymous said...

beautiful Liz, just beautiful. You always manage to touch my heart in so many ways my friend.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hi mergrl,
Wouldn't it be cool to be able to do that?
Thanks for your words. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I just admire that way you structure things, Liz. You do have a gift for telling a story in the most absolutely perfect manner possible.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Wow Mojo,
Thank you. I don't really think about structure much. But I am a big pciture thinker. I like things to have form.
I guess I've not thought about it.

Thank you really.

Anonymous said...

I love it when you make me cry.

Liz-woman, this was just the ticket.

Anonymous said...

I hear in this the stories she told you, sharing her childhood and I can understand that need to go there and visit.

I wonder if people would all know one another better, appreciate them more and love them more kindly, if they could see a glimpse of the children that they were.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Thank you, Zilla,
I mean it, Thank you.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hi Ned,
One of my definitions of heaven is that I would be able to see a video of every person's childhood so that I could understand how they came to be who they are. I think you are so right about what you say. If we only knew what the world taught each of us as children, we might have room for more compassion and there would be more forgiveness.

Anonymous said...

that's a beautiful story. a back to the futurish twist to it. thanks.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Thank you rain,
Great to see you stop back again.
It was one I was thinking about all day yesterday, hoping I would have time to write it last night. This morning I sent it to my older, older brother.


Anonymous said...

Life really isn't about knowledge, is it, because in a sense, we already have that from the very first day. What life is about, as you so beautifully illustrate in this essay, is experience. As you say, "That would give me a reason for being there," or for being here, or to put another way, our raison d'etre. Neat.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hi Scot,
Thank you for making my words seem so important, and for using such fine words to do it.

You're right life isn't about knowledge. It's about our reasons for being here.

Anonymous said...

My (oldest of three) younger brother died of a drug overdose last year. I have an 8 year old son that I've tried hard not to raise in any "one" religion.

One day we were talking about what happened when you died. I said "Well some people think you go to heaven, some people think your soul is reborn in a new baby, some people think..etc" A few days went by.. he came up and said, I hope people are reborn in a new baby when they die. When I asked why he broke my heart when he said "Because then I could find uncle John and tell him that drugs are bad. And that I miss him. And once he gets used to me (his phrase for becoming friends) I'll be able to tell him about everything that's happened in our life since he died.

I hated to have to tell him that that isn't exactly how reincarnation works, even with those people that believe in it.

How I wished it worked that way...

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Oh red clover,
How I wish it worked that way too.

I hope my story brought some good pictures to your mind. Thank you for sharing your story.

Tell No One said...

When I was little I thought the world was filled with magic, I grew bigger and realized there was no such thing. My body stopped growing but my mind grew bigger until it realized there was a more intricate magic and mystery than my little girl ever would have imagined.

I see magic beyond the story in these words.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Oh Tell No One,
I'm glad you found this story. It's dofferemt than the others isn't it? It's a story about saying I forgive yuo. I love you. I understand. I'll take care of you. Really I will. It' okay to believe.

Franpro said...


Thanks for that cool.."story?"

Joel Libava

Unknown said...

This just feels like such a heartfelt post, and it's an honor to read today.

It's like I was there, on that porch...taking in a very special moment...