Musing on American culture and history is an addiction I picked up in the American Studies Dept at the University of Hawai'i - Manoa. Having never lived a mainstream American lifestyle, I was ensnared by the idea of connecting the dots on why people act the way they do. I came for the Historic Preservation degree. I stayed for the wonderful, weird world of American cultural studies. Connect the dots in a continental portrait. Bliss.
One of the things I play around with is how the bivouacking of America into suburban barracks has cut us off from our past. Which is part of a larger idea on how the WWII generation civilianized their shared military experience as an organizing principle for the infant world power.
Think of suburbs as military family housing. More modest, shared spaces for lower ranks and increased luxury as you rose in the ranks. Officers (management) directed their enlisted labor. The nuclear family mimicked the platoon and its leader with the wife and kids as loyal troops.
But it cut the kids off from seeing the people who raised their parents. The nice part of a small town is that everyone has feet of clay, and everyone knows it. The grandparent mediates the child and the parent. Nothing cuts the sting like Grandpa explaining that your Dad was just as obtuse and fussy at that age. Particularly when Dad is following a military model of authority.
Hierarchy is hard to maintain if there are alternative models to follow. Thus the hopeless clinging of the far right to a 1950s fantasy. Every change in the rank and file upsets good order and discipline. Behavior that made us global heroes does not translate well into civilian life, as the 1960s tells us.
So now for something completely different. A multi-generational household of musicians and warriors. Living with the ancient courtesan that is New Orleans and her musicians and gypsies and pirates.
Max and I have already gone round on a few things. We have the ruins of a fountain in our back courtyard that is now a shallow hole. It was the best part of the back, and I miss it. We agreed to rebuild it.
Max started the litany of precautions we should take. I balked. I will not coddle this little one. I will not shape my life to protect her. I will cheerfully kill for her safety. She will learn her place in the dance. She will learn to dabble feet in a pond, to feel comfortable with water. I intend to teach her the dangers, but also how to recognize them and deal with them. I'm going to teach her to pay attention to details. And how to connect the dots.
We decided to make the fountain a hybrid wading pool. It will be her personal pond, as well as my beloved fountain. It will be nice for those hot August days. I grew up playing in a creek. Her Mom says she is a water baby, like her Paw Paw. So I'll introduce her to all the aspects of Water, including oceans and bayous and swamps and ice and snow. This is going to be a hoot.
Taking on a daughter and her child was never in my projections. But I was always a sucker for noble gestures. My sibs remember me as the looney who would keep attempting the impossible. Over and over. It's given me lots of reasons to laugh at myself and curse myself and maybe, just maybe, I will be able to leave the Earth a better place than I found it.
Off to start cleaning my shambles of a house. I've got an example to set. The old war horse is responding to the call of duty.