We’ve all heard the stories from our elders that start “Back in my day, I had to walk 5 miles in the snow and it was all up hill and I didn’t have shoes…” Or something to that effect, right? I mean, my grandparents can’t be the only people in the world who tell these whoppers, can they? “I didn’t think so.
But after the day I had on Tuesday, I’m beginning to think that maybe there just might be some truth behind those large tales. I think after reading this, you just might think so too or at the very least, you will get a good laugh (at my expense, no doubt, but a laugh nonetheless.)
Okay Tuesday. (You will recall me telling you how I first got into genealogy because I was recovering from a head injury, right?) Well, I am still in ‘recovery’ and some days its like I haven’t gained any ground (no worries, most days are getting better and better). Anyway, hindsight is 20/20. Tuesday was one of those days when I probably should have just phoned it in- but I didn’t. First, I overslept and missed the bus. After finding a ride, I ended up in downtown RVA, where I missed the bus again! Ugh. But then another (different bus) came along and my brain remembered that I had rode this bus before and had been able to walk to where I needed to go. So I got on this bus. Except, my brain remembered wrong and I ended up being 40 minutes away from where I actually needed to be. Seriously. No way was I walking this. Nope. Just wasn’t going to happen. So I waited at the bus stop for the right bus to come along- 45 minutes later. ( Yes, it is understood that I could have walked in the time I waited and yes, it is understood that the city needs a better, more convenient transportation. But both of those are beside the point and reserved for a later conversation. Maybe.) Anyway, 45 minutes to wait. In the cold. What to do? Catch up on my email, right? Of course. Except, I only really read one article. It happened to be from a fellow genealogy blogger about what kind of genealogy work could you do when you only had 15 minutes. So I started thinking about what I would do with only 15 minutes to work on something genealogy… Duh. I had 15 minutes. So, I started working on the very thing you are reading right now. (I know, it’s Friday. A far cry from Tuesday. Just keep reading, okay?) Anyway, that’s when I started thinking that maybe there was some truth behind the stretches of imagination the old folks love to talk about.
But back to me waiting for the bus… I started digging for a pen in my suitcase of a purse and when I finally came up with one- the only one- it didn’t write! Of course. So I pulled out my phone, pocketed my gloves and began to click clack away. And 5 minutes in, the bus came. Once on the bus, I had to put everything away and pay attention, cause you know, the brain thing. Except, I wasn’t really paying attention, I was thinking. A dangerous thing in and of itself, I know. And, you guessed it. I missed my stop. Three stops later, I get off the bus. Oh good. I looked up and there was a building I needed to go to anyway. Go in. Take care of business. Need a potty break. Walk into bathroom. Use the bathroom. Come out of stall to go wash my hands and walk past guy using the urinal. Yep. I walked into and used the men’s bathroom- without even noticing it. (If you haven’t already, you can go ahead and start laughing.) I was so embarrassed. I ran out of the bathroom and down the stairs and hid under them- all so the guy in the bathroom wouldn’t see who the crazy girl who used the men’s bathroom was.
After I was sure the bathroom guy was not looking for me ( and by the way, if you are bathroom guy or you know bathroom guy, please convey my embarrassed apologies.) I got my stuff together and decided it was time for me to call it a day and just go home. As I walked outside, the bus to take me to the place I most wanted to go drove by. Excellent. Change of plans. I decided to walk to the place I originally needed to go and go ahead and reschedule my appointment. A mile and a bunch of thoughts later, I was able to reschedule said appointment and on my way back to the bus stop. Just as I was cresting the hill to catch the bus, it drove by me. Again. And so I found myself waiting another 40 minutes for the next bus to come along. Great. More time to meditate on the legendary stories my grandparents tried to pass off as truth… Anyway, by the time I finally made it home, my brain hurt, I was cold and I had no desire to do anything except curl up in the fetal position and sleep. Which is why, here it is Friday and I am just writing about Tuesday.
So the truth in those fables. I am certain that my grandparents never walked 5 miles uphill, both ways, in the snow, with no shoes on and it was raining and they had to carry the groceries on their head and hold a crying baby or whatever else they happened to say at that particular moment. But I started thinking about what they really had to do. My grandmother told me once that she did in fact have to walk to school and that some kids didn’t go to school because it was to far for them to walk. My grandfather was in the military during WWII- I can’t imagine all the things he had to do. Both of them are black, living in a time where one HAD to know their place in a Caucasian world, again, can’t imagine it. Which left me thinking about their parents and grandparents and all the hardships they had to endure. I am sure there was no such thing as calling in sick or phoning the day in or even staying in bed because you just couldn’t. The point is, they ENDURED. So, maybe the tales were (a bit) exaggerated, but now, as an adult, I get it. It is all in perspective. Change your perspective and your outlook changes too. And once you change those things, you will find you really can do anything.
So, Tuesday, even though I was physically and mentally exhausted, I made it. I endured. Thanks to the dead people who were talking to me even when I didn’t really want to hear it, because it is through their chatter that I realized this important lesson. I wonder what, if any, lessons you have learned from exploring your own gaggle of dead people. Please leave me a comment and share- I can’t wait to hear them!
PS- If you are interested in reading the post I referenced earlier, you can read it here. http://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/2016/01/19/5-things-you-can-do-in-genealogy-when-youre-short-on-time/