The Life of Liz

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~Anne Frank

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


For my senior seminar class, we have to write either about a mentor we have had - it cannot be a parent - or a famous person we have met.  I can't actually recall meeting anyone overly famous, so mentor it is! Enjoy.

I was twenty the year I moved to Denver.  I had just graduated community college in St. Louis and headed west to be near the boyfriend I had met while we both were studying abroad in Spain.  I sought to find if our romance could survive in the less exotic air of America.  It couldn’t, but what I ended up finding was vastly more important. 
I moved into the basement of my Aunt’s house to live with strangers I had known all my life.  After twenty-five years of living oversees in the Navy, my Aunt and Uncle had settled unexpectedly in Colorado, seduced by the mountains as they traveled from Japan to Ohio.  I had seen her countless times at family reunions and visits over the years, but could not recall a single time I had ever had a direct conversation with her.
Just before I officially moved, I flew out for a visit.  It was Memorial Day.  The boyfriend and I went over to my Aunt’s house for a bbq and, after depositing him in the living room with the other men and the brandy, headed in uncertainly to help with dinner prep.  As I stood over the sink, peeling eggs, I felt an immeasurable sense of rightness.  There, under the watchful eye of my Aunt, I began an initiation into the sacred temple of femininity that is the kitchen.  My mother had taught me the basics of cooking many years earlier and I knew how to feed a family a nutritious meal on very little money.  Living with my Aunt was like a master’s course.
Twenty can be an interesting time in the life of an American girl.  Having survived the volatility and hyper-emotionality of adolescence, there isn’t much to do until marriage and offspring arrive.  My life felt vague.  Even my degree was unspecific: an Associates of General Studies.  I was in a new place, a new stage of life, on the verge of womanhood without a single clue as to what to do with myself.  I wasn’t all that successful at being a girl (I watch sports instead of romantic comedies, I don’t particularly care for shopping, my hair never looks all that great), how was I to fit in the world of women?
The answer, my friend, is boiling on the stove.
While we cooked, my aunt and I talked about everything.  She called it “solving all the world’s problems.”  By watching her interact with the men who stayed mainly on the periphery – in the living room, the TV room, the backyard – I learned how to behave; how to fit in my own skin, get what I want, and yet comport myself with graciousness.  Up to my elbows in flour and eggs, I found the strength in service, the worth of beauty and the joy of endurance.
As gently as folding in beaten egg whites, my Aunt imparted the ancient wisdom that she had learned as a young woman from her mentor.  She never told me what to do, but because of her, I found direction.


Mrs. Wallace September 21, 2010 at 4:41:00 PM MDT  

Very sweet!! And I totally agree :-)

Marissa September 21, 2010 at 6:57:00 PM MDT  

This makes my heart feel good.

Sabba and Nanny September 21, 2010 at 10:27:00 PM MDT  

If it's all right for a male to comment "from the periphery," very well written (and true from where I'm sitting)!

About Me

My photo
A brand new mom trying to navigate the crazy world of mixed families, babies, and working full time. Phew! Just writing that makes me want to lie down.


Blog Archive

  © Free Blogger Templates Photoblog III by 2008

Back to TOP