Friday, June 27, 2014

What Year Is Your Favorite?

By Betsy Ashton

I don't have a favorite year. I have favorite years. By that, I mean I have years I think about with pleasure. I wonder what it would be like to relive them.

I loved my sophomore year in high school because I got my first horse. Not a horse I rented, but one I had to feed, groom and ride. I learned all about mucking out stalls (horse poop smells good, pee not at all), picking poop out of hooves, brushing coats until they gleamed and my arms ached. Horses are hard work, but what they give back in love and teaching patience are lessons never to be forgotten. Would I like to relive that sophomore year? Not really. Yes, the horse was wonderful, but to relive that year would mean taking English with a woman who was usually so drunk she fell out of her chair. Engilish was at 10. She arrived drunk and left drunker, if that's a word. No, no reliving sophomore year.

How about undergraduate years? Oh my yes, I'd relive all of those. I had wonderful professors, even the one whose favorite word was plethora. He told the class that no one would get higher than a B because then we had taught him something. What a pompous ass! I got an A. I taught him something he didn't know. He threw down a challenge; I took it up. The class: Chinese history. I still have friends from undergraduate days at UCLA. We've grown together, but I don't think any of us want to go back to that time.

Well, maybe we should. That was a period of great political and social movements when we were young and naive enough to think our sheer numbers could change the world. Looking back, we did change the world, just not in the way we imagined. If we could recapture some of that energy, maybe we could influence events happening today.

I don't need to return to one of my favorite years. In January 1981 I met my dear husband. In a bar. In Tokyo. I relive our years together every day when I look at his smiling face, when we work together in a shared office, when we eat dinner and when we lie together at night. I don't need to go back. Going forward is enough.

So, I don't have a favorite year. Parts of every year are favorites. Each form memories that are woven into the tapestry that is me. Each year, more threads arrive. I remember them all with love and gratitude. Even the drunk in high school English.

What are your favorite memories?


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max Unintended Consequences available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She lives for words and writing.


Leah St. James said...

What rich memories, Betsy! I'm sure you must use those experiences from time to time in your writing. Your story about 10th-grade English brought back horrific memories of having to give a "contemporaneous" presentation about some research project...then have THE CLASS grade us. It was so awful, the thought of speaking in public paralyzed me (to the point of real panic attacks) until about seven years ago. So one of my favorite memories is successfully getting through that speech seven years ago that broke the chain of fear. :-)

Jannine Gallant said...

One of my favorite things is something I do every day--hike in the woods with my dog. The peace and solitude, listening to the birds and enjoying flowers, foliage or fresh snow--depending on the season--refreshes my soul. Memories made every day!

allywildrose said...

Ah, very vivid memories. A drunken English teacher? Crazy. I remember my tenth grade year vividly because that was the school year following Elvis Presley's death and the kids I'd gone to school with for years knew how much I loved him, and some of them were pretty cruel about his death. Also, we had a crazy science teacher; a pretty, young, but mentally disturbed woman named Miss Owens who told the class one day that the least painful way to die was to freeze to death. We had one of our worst winters ever that year, and she was found, frozen to death, ironically in 'Owen' Stadium where Oklahoma University plays, wearing nothing but an overcoat. A strange and disturbing year for sure. But, like you, pretty much every year in my life contains good and bad memories. I also like looking forward.

Margo Hoornstra said...

I was another one who truly believed we could change the world. My favorite time would be right out of high school and into college, then, boom, I was an Army wife. Life's been going at light speed ever since. I'm like Jannine, walks in the wilderness. There's nothing better than that.

Leah St. James said...

Wow, Ally...that is really creepy. (I'm going to look for that in one of your books!)