… He was adventurous. He liked doing things. He filled the spaces of time building, planting, hunting, camping, expanding, learning, growing. He wanted to experience new foods, new music, jazz; he gave me Brubeck, from there I went to Miles and Coltrane because he opened the door.
He wasn’t content to let me stroll the hallways of aimless play. I had to pay for it first. Play time wasn’t a given, it came with a price.
We lived in a world of indentured servitude according to the philosophy that everything in life worthwhile had to be bought and paid for by hard work. If what you wanted was easy it didn’t have value. Learning how to hit a ball or kick extra points demanded hours of practice. If you made it easy you cheated yourself out of the valuable aspects of living.
Hard work, was the price we paid to live in the world. Hard work made life worthwhile. The blank spaces of time, the fun you could have, had to be filled first, by earning the right to be there. Nothing was free.
I pushed a garden tiller row by row in the back yard garden the handles taller than me. I scrubbed the white lap board of the front porch walls on a ladder in early spring, my wet hands stinging from the cold air and soapy water, while still wearing a winter coat, when I was six.
We had a discussion once while I hosed the driveway at nightfall one fourth of July, the puny fireworks of my town eminent across from our house inside the fence surrounding the big athletic field. I could go when I finished hosing. The discussion? Which worked better, a continuous spray of concentrated water or a wider spray with a back and forth motion against the dirt? I was eight and had my opinion but it didn’t match his. I hosed the rest of the driveway back and forth because he thought it best.
I finished in time for the fireworks, pulled myself under the chain link fence across the street, where I had worn an indentation in the ground, in time to be with my friends but they had already been there for hours while I had to pay for the privilege.