Woman with a Knife

DSCF2374DSCF2372Project Attic continues. I am overwhelmed with the panorama of memories. Today I discovered dozens of poems I wrote in college (quite pretentious–what if e.e. cummings and T. S. Elliot had a child?), many, many photos (hundreds, and I edited by looking at each and every one), a box of amazing treasures, including some really beautiful antique evening bags, and my “hunting knife” from my canoeing days. Also, several pictures of my friend Gail Larsen and I battling the white-water rapids during that period. That was one of the best times of my life. I had moved out of a repressive and emotionally abusive marriage. It was the mid-seventies and the Women’s Movement was in full swing. And I loved it. Nothing suited me better than discovering my physical strengths and my abilities to function in a single capacity. My world was turned upside down quite a few times because the 1960’s (my twenties) and the 1970″s (my thirties) were two crazy decades, the likes of which I haven’t seen since. I started out in the early 1960’s as  one person and ended up by the mid-’70’s as another. Absolutely nothing had turned out the way I thought it would.

I should add a little side trail here to tell you how I acquired this knife. I had taken a year off from working, without really thinking about how I would manage for cash. I saw a classified ad for “a real go-getter who wanted to make $$$ in sales,” and decided to give it a try. The job was selling Cutco knives, door to door. Well, that didn’t last long and I used any money I would have made during my brief career to pay for the knife samples I had to buy. At some point early on I got some sort of “prize” just to keep me motivated. I had a choice of what I wanted and I decided to go for the big guy you see in the photo. Cutco has a selling motto, “A knife for every purpose and a purpose for every knife.” So, the purpose for this knife was most likely to scale fish and do butched-up campground type things, but for me, the purpose was 100% fashion accessory.

I have always been a person prone to expressing where I am on the inside by what I wear on the outside. For this phase of my life I cut my hair short, wore hiking clothes and boots, and wore that knife on my belt whenever possible. I never actually cut anything (or anyone) with it, but it sure made a statement. Gail thought it was quite funny and made great mirth about it. In fact, I was going through a huge identity crisis at the time and the knife was very symptomatic of my plight.

She and I met because she had an employment agency and I was looking for some sort of (I really didn’t care what) change. That new job didn’t happen but she and I bonded because she was looking for a canoeing partner and I was game (I was game for just about anything). Since neither of us had a very satisfying male-female relationship going at that time there was a fairly long period that we would strap the canoe on top of the vehicle and head out every week-end for a river and a campground.  We became amazingly proficient at white water canoeing. Our ability to paddle tandem in some pretty rough water even impressed the guys on the trips. I met Fred towards the end of our canoeing days. (Truth be told, that probably hastened the end for me). I have no doubt that the growth of self-confidence that I gained from white-water canoeing prepared me to finally have a healthy, happy, equal romantic relationship with another person.

I wouldn’t trade those river runs for anything. Finding that knife really did bring back some pretty special memories. There were many other phases of my life that I saw in the rear-view mirror today, all triggered by the things I chose to keep over the years. I imagine that when I am much older than I am now I will look through these things again, along with other things I’ll add along the way, and enjoy my memories. I have been tossing out the photos and things that bring back painful memories to me. I am definitely throwing away more things than I am keeping, and while I can’t believe I actually wore it, I sure am glad I kept that knife.

8 thoughts on “Woman with a Knife

  1. Pingback: Woman with a Knife | Margaret Ellis

  2. I too have fond memories of that knife, Margaret, and unfortunately lost mine! Remember how you strapped it to your belt wearing very short shorts and people knew not to mess with you . . . important for our wild adventures. Would love to see those old photos so don’t throw them away!

  3. “Nothing suited me better than discovering my physical strengths and my abilities to function in a single capacity.” ~ I can relate. You lived a life worth sharing…love your stories!

  4. Margaret: Another wonderful blog. I can imagine how many of your readers will smile knowingly at your line about entering your twenties and coming out an altogether different person in your thirties, with nothing having transpired as expected. You have a wonderful way of looking back at all those selves and drawing something from each of them. I must admit I’d like to have seen you sporting that knife on your waist! One summer working on a ranch in New Mexico I watched the Mexican cow-hands take hunting knives much like that one and play a game I’ll never forget. Two of them would stand about four feet apart, facing each other, each standing on the plank floor with his feet spread normally. One would start by throwing his knife so that it stuck in the floor between the other guys feet, at which point the guy closed one foot to the edge of the knife. It went back and forth, feet getting closer together fast, the throws more deliberate, but strong enough to stick. The loser was the guy whose throw hit the other guys boot, or didn’t stick in the floor, OR the guy to first decide his feet were more important than this game. (I also remember how glad I was that I didn’t own a knife.)

  5. Thank you for this…… an empowering story. I came here in the mid-70s….. and haven’t made it to one damn year being the same person….. but maybe that’s a good thing. I turn forty in a little over a week…… maybe that is when life truly begins.

    I love fearless females….. you’re counted, among my loves.

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