A Yearning For My Front Steps

This morning I have an inexplicable yearning to go outside and sit on my front steps and breathe in life.

It is the appearance of the sun in what has been a cold and bleak and cloudy Minnesota which brings to mind spring and thoughts of flowers and warm weather. However, I can’t explain my feeling that I need a front step sit. I have a perfectly good outside porch to enjoy but something in me tells me I need steps.

Though the sun is shining today my front steps and porch are crusted with ice. It is still winter and there is still snow on the ground. I like the beauty of winter as long as I don’t have to haul my old body outside. The pull is real to feel the fresh air on my face so I may dash out, raise my face to the sun and dash back inside to the warmth of my fireplace. Still, I feel the call of the front steps or the back steps for a peaceful sit.

Outdoor furniture awaits my porch sitting so why would I abandon that in place of the front steps? I think it has to do with my past and memories.

Living at my grandmothers and then when my family moved, we didn’t have fancy outdoor furniture. We would go outside and sit on the steps and talk and enjoy the evening. The front steps were better than the back steps because you could chat with those passing by or you could wave at the cars going by. Occasionally they would stop and talk.

There were interesting views. At my grandmother’s house I sat on the front steps and watched the trains go by or watched the animals. My mom or uncles would come in from the chores or the garden and we would talk for hours on the front steps. At our house my dad would sit with me as we watched the neighbor kids play or visited with those in the neighborhood, sometimes calling across the street. There were no cell phones or outdoor phones to distract us.

I do sit on my front concrete steps occasionally in this day and age for a quick moment when I am shaking out a rug or waiting for someone to pick me up, but most of the time I sit on my comfy chair on my outdoor porch or my patio. I have to say that for some reason it isn’t the same. Perhaps because of the front step memories.

I have no good explanation for yearning for my front steps unless it is perhaps missing those that used to share my experience. I also shared many front step conversations with my best girlfriends. If those steps could talk they would reveal so much about the past lives of the step sitters.

Perhaps when the ice is gone I will forgo my porch and patio for an occasional step sitting. I have a feeling it will be a good way to breathe and appreciate the simple life of the past,

“A journey to a thousand miles begins with one step.” –John F.Kennedy

Only The Lonely, As In Child

Something About Nothing in The Albert Lea Tribune the week of April 17, 2017

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Whoopie! There is an Only Child Day, and I happen to be an only child! We have a day to celebrate so we don’t have to feel bad anymore when all those people post their pictures on Siblings Day. But what do we do with an only child day?

I think there are many misconceptions about only children. One of the ideas is that only children are spoiled. I was spoiled when I was an only child, but I think it had more to do with the fact that I was born to parents who were in their 40s who knew I would be the only child they ever had. Also, they lost twins earlier in their marriage. Contributing to the spoiling was perhaps the fact I was left with family or alone a lot because my parents were busy working.

There were perks of being an only child. I had a lot of toys. I didn’t have to vie with siblings for attention. In my case, I lived my early years in a household with a grandmother and an uncle who also — especially my uncle — did many special things for me.

He made me my own ice skating rink in the family garden. I had a swing and a homemade teeter-totter and a merry-go-round. My uncle also built me a winter slide from the top of the hay rack, which let me slide down the track across the entire pasture. If I think about that now, I can’t imagine anyone would let their child slide on a homemade contraption like that for safety’s sake today. It’s amazing I survived and never once did the sled leave the track.

I have memories of helping load hay and learning how to drive a small tractor. I spent a great deal of time with my uncle when my parents were working.

As a teenager, I spent most of my time either alone or with my friends. My parents were busy taking care of my grandparents and uncles and running their shoe store. Those who envied my spoiled life or those adults that blamed my parents because I was spoiled, didn’t see the other side of the picture.

I had a wonderful life as I grew up, but being an only child also has its ups and downs.

I spent much of my time with adults, so I learned to talk to other adults, which helped when I became an adult, or in volunteer activities when I was a teenager. I learned to handle death, as it was never hidden from me when a family member died, and I was included in plans. I got to travel with my parents, although at the time I didn’t appreciate all I got to see because I didn’t have other kids to mingle with on our journeys, unless we were visiting relatives. And, I didn’t have to fight with my siblings for toys, bedrooms, time with parents, television shows and whatever it is siblings fight about. I have imagination because I spent so much time playing by myself.

I still feel the downside to being an only child. It can be a lonely life. I spent so much time alone that as an adult in my younger years I did not like being alone. I wish I could experience the feelings others have for their sibling being love or hate or ambivalence. When it came time to making decisions for my mom, I was alone in the decision-making process.

I miss having a brother and sister to share memories with — good times and bad. Most of my mother’s and father’s close family are gone. I miss family get togethers at holidays with other relatives. And I must admit I don’t understand when brothers and sisters do not keep their connection going throughout their life.

My friends had to become my brothers and sisters. I don’t know how I would feel about a brother or sister family member, but I would imagine it is the way I feel about some of my friends. However, there still is a difference as friends have their own siblings and families they spend holidays with.

My being an only child influenced how many children I had. I did not want to have only one child because I felt it was a lonely life after your parents are gone. I am fortunate to have three children and five grandchildren. I still have family.

Can you miss what you never had? I do. Or maybe it is the idea of what could have been and what I see with others who are blessed with siblings. Sibling love is not always rosy, but usually that close family member has your back when the chips are down. In spite of the fights and feuds, the love is there.

I can’t quite figure out how to celebrate Only Child Day. Buy myself a gift? Buy a lottery ticket? Do something I did as a child by myself?

I think I want to celebrate next year and find another only child to share the day with. It’s more fun when there is two instead of one.

Alone With Myself

SOMETHING ABOUT NOTHING

by Julie Seedorf

Published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of March 27, 2017

I was home alone last week. Although my adventures weren’t quite as exciting as the “Home Alone” movie, I did have fun. Grandpa was cat sitting with the catkids. He left his cats at home to keep an eye on me. And they did. They stuck to me like glue.

I like to be home alone occasionally for a period of time. Earlier in my life I did not like being alone. I think perhaps I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin, but now I enjoy solitude for small periods of time when I don’t have to worry about meals, dishes, a clean house or doing what might be expected of me. I can be messy. I can be neat. I can turn my music up as loud as I want without worrying about another’s ears. I can clean in the middle of the night without waking anyone or I can sleep all day if I choose. We all need time with ourselves to rejuvenate and be free.

I took my home alone time to make a mess while cleaning closets, cupboards and whatever. When I clean, everything comes out and it is scattered throughout and then I put it back, but when I am alone I can leave it sit and come back to it the next day because I don’t inconvenience anyone.

This past week I found old papers from my mom’s house. I had stuffed them into a closet after she died, intending to read them a later date. I found my grandfather’s last will and testament dated 1923. I never knew my grandfather. He died in 1924.

I read through my mom’s old teaching materials. She taught in country school, and I was told she and my dad dated for 13 years. I found proof of that. It was her old calendar from 1934 where she detailed her day and what the weather was like, what family she stayed with each night when she taught, and the notations about her dates with my dad, where they went and the movies they saw. Yes, they had movies in 1934. I felt close to both of them as I read and I found a little part of my mom’s life before I was born, which gave me insight as to who she used to be when she was younger. They got married in 1946, so they did date for a long time. The problem in that era with getting married was religion. She was Catholic and he was Protestant, and she had a very Catholic Polish mother.

Then I hit the jackpot. I found all my writing papers dating back to high school and beyond. I forgot I took some classes through the mail at the University of Minnesota where I earned credit, and was amazed to find my grades were As. Why didn’t I lock that into my brain to give me confidence that possibly I could be a writer? The most valued paper I found was a speech I wrote about my dad at a time when he was ill. I was a senior in high school, and he died a couple of years later.

Having the house to myself with no interruptions gave me the time to savor the memories. Otherwise I might have tossed and not read this papers because I wanted to get things cleaned up. Like the kid in the “Home Alone” movie, I did have a few missteps. We will save my burned food adventure for another time, and I have instructed all those involved to silence or I may never get left home alone again.

My spouse is now home, and I am glad he is back. I am sure the fur will fly occasionally, although we always have a lot of fur flying because of our cat babies, but taking time for ourselves always leaves us happy to be back together even if he does hang the toilet paper one way and I do it the other. After all I hung it my way for a week. What could be better than that?