Project 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.