Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

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by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Firsts


My Dad is staying with us for a while.
It is a great comfort to have him here.
I’m not quite as worried about him when I can see him.
Not quite.
While he’s here, we’ve been going through an old box that my Mom left me when she passed away eleven years ago. I had given it a cursory glance at that time, and then put it away till ‘later’.
‘Later’ finally arrived.
Amongst her notes and papers, we found a large, brown envelope with the word, ‘Diane’ scrawled across it. I peeked inside. Then started pulling out pictures, old report cards, even the program for a play I was in over thirty years ago. It was a treasure trove from my life. Beginning - as was obvious by a picture of me taken soon after I was born - on the very first day.
Oh, the memories.
Near the bottom of the pile, I found three letters that I had sent to my family during the excruciatingly painful semester I attended college far from home.
In one of those letters was the very first article I ever had published. Written by a very homesick seventeen-year-old country girl, far from home and missing her family. And simply titled:
Homesickness
I feel as if, somehow, I’ve been wronged. Don’t ask how or why, because I’m not even sure I know. I can guess, and maybe to put it down and get it out will help.
Have you ever stood at the edge of some huge canyon and, despite peril to yourself, looked out over the sheer drop? Do you get a feeling of weighing a ton, then a pound? That’s me now; weighed down, then buoyed up. Draggy, then light and carefree.
It’s rough.
I can make a guess at what’s wrong with me, ‘cause I miss Mommy, Daddy, family, friends, horse, cats, dog; any home attachments. I wish for a picture, letter, anything.
If I were to see a doctor, he could take one look at me and say, “Homesickness!”
There. It’s out. I’ve said it and it wasn’t so bad. The feeling hasn’t diminished at all however. My roommates claim it will, because it’s caused by my first absence from home, but I wonder if they get (or got) the same great touch of emptiness, not belonging, sadness, even the border of melancholy.
I doubt we all react in the same way to situations. In fact I know we don’t, so no one really knows exactly how I feel.
It’s like being a great, empty bulk, like a ballroom (or a canyon); or as if I was growing to meet the new on the outside, but with my inner part still at home, where things are at a normal and easy size to allow me to cope.
Maybe a visit would help ease the loneliness. It stands to reason that a gradual cut-off would be a lot easier than a sudden break.
Wouldn’t it?
As time slips by on its well-greased wheel, perhaps the sense of solitary confinement in a crowd will also go. I don’t know. Maybe having said what I did and getting it all out will have helped. Perhaps half of conquering a problem is just facing up to it.
Diane Stringam
September, 1973
###
It didn’t work. Getting it written down, I mean.
At the end of my first semester, I high-tailed it back to my familiar places.
Back to my family where I was happy.
It is still home and family, and memories of the same, that keep me happy.
Back to the box.
I’ll let you know what else I find . . .

14 comments:

  1. Diane, I love this little twist to your blogs! Love, Chris

    ReplyDelete
  2. Diane, I love this! It is a little different from your other writings. I really like it! Love, Chris

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm so happy you nabbed your Dad. I feel better, too, knowing he's not alone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Joanne! I'm so much happier with him here. Who knows what mischief he could get into when I can't see him . . .

      Delete
  4. I'm glad you have your Dad with you...you'll be a little more at ease knowing what he's up to. Of course, knowing what he CAN get up to could be a little unsettling lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah-ha! You know him well, Delores. You know him well.

      Delete
  5. What a wonderful treasure your mother gathered for you. It's good your Dad is there, giving and getting companionship.

    I remember homesickness the first year of university, too. Oh, it was hard.

    Looking forward to further revelations!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A treasure, indeed!
      And I'll never forget that first year of college. Why do we not appreciate things until they're taken away?!
      I'm looking forward to further revelations, too!

      Delete
  6. That is awesome Diane, I really love the letter you wrote, you are right... no one knows how another feels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Launna! Except that they are all in various levels of 'misery'! :)

      Delete
  7. Back to the past, envelope of memories, and sharing them with your dad. Enjoy revisiting your life. It sounds like it will be a nice trip.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Total enjoyment. And no car sickness!

      Delete

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