Last week’s column

Pub­li­ca­tion: Free­dom — OCR - Pla­cen­tia News-Times; Date: May 19, 2017; Sec­tion: News; Page Num­ber: 3

Reliv­ing my glory days

I usu­ally think of myself as kind of geeky when I was a girl. That term did not exist when I went to high school (also known as the Juras­sic Period), but I was a stu­dent who loved to study and was good at it.

Geeks are also sup­posed to be bad at fash­ion and social sit­u­a­tions, so I guess I don’t fully fit the descrip­tion. I can blame my early fash­ion dis­as­ters on being poor and hav­ing a mother who con­sid­ered Dolly Par­ton as a fash­ion icon.

What­ever social awk­ward­ness I pos­sessed, I grew out of it once I started dress­ing like a nor­mal person.

But lov­ing to study meant that I read any­thing I could and loved talk­ing about it with my friends, who were as geeky as me. We dis­cussed lit­er­a­ture and art and sci­ence. We talked about polit­i­cal issues, although we were too young to vote.

We even man­aged to dis­cuss reli­gion in a way that didn’t make any­one defen­sive about which pew they sat in on Sun­day morning.

I was reminded of this last week after a con­ver­sa­tion with my son. As I was relax­ing with a lit­tle TV, I got a mes­sage from him on my phone. It was a link to a website.

Hey mom, can you help me with this poem? I really like it, but I don’t get the end.”

Sud­denly, I was on the spot. Being a writer doesn’t mean I can inter­pret poetry at the drop of a hat. Could I rise up and dis­cuss this piece of lit­er­a­ture like I used to?

I read the poem and agreed, the last line con­fused me, too. After three or four more reads, I put my mystery-writing tools to work and inves­ti­gated. It seemed the poet was an unful­filled, depressed woman who wrote poems about unful­filled and unre­quited love.

This was one of those poems. And yet…

As Mar­cus and I dis­cussed it fur­ther, we looked at the words she used and what else they could mean. The lover’s eyes were brown, unlike the eyes of her pre­vi­ous lovers. Could the color refer to the earth, to a road, to the grave?

The tone was cer­tainly somber enough to lead us toward the abyss.

We con­tin­ued to dis­sect the phrases and the lan­guage. It felt like pick­ing up a puz­zle piece, turn­ing it all around, and com­par­ing it to the rest of the puz­zle before putting it into place. The dis­cus­sion came eas­ier as we passed ideas back and forth.

At last, we decided the poem was talk­ing about the author her­self, the one per­son she couldn’t have a good rela­tion­ship with. The one per­son she couldn’t make smile.

When we had fin­ished, I felt like I had run a lit­er­ary marathon, tired but proud. I wanted to find another piece of fine writ­ing and ana­lyze it. I wanted to be that geek girl again.

I sup­pose spend­ing every day talk­ing about noth­ing but intel­lec­tual ideas would soon wear thin. I’d prob­a­bly lose my sense of humor. It’s dif­fi­cult to laugh about the dog eat­ing one of your books when you’re try­ing to dis­cuss that book with a group.

Still, Eleanor Roo­sevelt had a wise say­ing: “Great minds dis­cuss ideas; aver­age minds dis­cuss events; small minds dis­cuss people.”

Every once in a while, I’d like my mind to be great.

Long­time Pla­cen­tia res­i­dent Gayle Car­line tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, com­puter whiz and horse­woman. E-mail her at [email protected].

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