Friday, March 8, 2013

In My Town

As a blogger – and I use that term in the loosest way possible; you know that around here you can never sit around waiting for a new post from me- one who wants to inspire, I am always in search of great blogs to read and inspire me.

I like blogs that will guide me towards my next new project that I can create in my craft room, or that will inspire the next new look in my home or in my wardrobe.

I have, however, in recent months, veered more toward a new genre, a deeper, more thought provoking one. In my search I came across what has now become my absolute favorite blog: Find Time for Tea. Kimberly Coyle’s blog has everything that I love to find in a blog. It is beautifully designed, simple and non-presuming; it’s like a peaceful walk on the beach where I can catch every ray of sunshine on my skin and enjoy every grain of sand that oozes through my toes. Refreshing, considering that so many blogs out there have turned into the sensory overload I would expect to find at the Las Vegas Strip. Kimberly is a writer, and she inspires me to think and to be thankful, but mostly, she is always throwing fuel to the burning heart of the writer in me.

Her posts almost always manage to trigger a million runaway thoughts that I spend my day chasing after. Very few times am I actually able to round them up. But today I am going to try.

A few days ago she wrote THIS post. You must read it. I am going to try answer her here today. Perhaps it really isn't an answer at all, but this is where my mind took me. It is a day to reminisce.

I grew up in Viña del Mar, Chile, a large city, for Chilean standards. I have been in many small towns in Chile, and let me tell ya’, Viña del Mar was not one of them. The Greater Metropolitan Area of Viña del Mar and it’s next-door neighbor Valparaiso, plus 3 other surrounding “towns” ads up to over 800 thousand people. Viña’s population is roughly around 300 thousand. During the 1980s, when I lived there, it may have been a slightly lower number, but even so, it was still one of the top 3 Metropolitan areas of Chile.

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This is the view from one of the playground's of my school.

I think, however, that to a child, the numbers, or the size –any way you want to measure it- is probably irrelevant. I lived in the same home for the 12 formative years of my life. I was in Viña from right before starting 1st grade...

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First day of first grade, the headmistress is holding my hand, my mom is the gorgeous one with the groovy pants and awesome 70s hair.

 .....till right after I graduated from High School.

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Graduation day. Me, Marcela and Matias
Villanelo Alto, 633, it’s spongy grass, it’s peach, lemon, plum, and overpopulated fig tree, grape vines, and more rose bushes than you could ever count, it’s dangerous glass encrusted back yard wall, hardwood floors, open windows with it’s sheer curtains that flowed in and out in afternoon breezes of the Indian summer was the biggest and most important part of my town. Its extension was the 8-minute walk to school, and 20-minute bus ride to the beach. One friend one block from school, the other, 3 blocks from her. One friend lived in the next town, and the rest, close enough to all.

My Town smelled of fresh baked bread, salt, fish, and once of week, of burning trash. My Town was filled with palm trees, city buses and hungry people. In my Town the milkman delivered his white goodness in a hand pushed cart. I loved my milkman, Carlos, he was good at spoiling me every now and then by secretly gifting me with some of my favorite flan. A lovely Town it was, indeed.

In my town we put sugar on our corn, toasted wheat on our watermelon, blended bananas into our milk, and ate hot dogs with mayonnaise, tomatoes, and avocado.

In my Town we drank our Coke hot and our water carbonated. We ate our chrimoyas with oranges and called it a “happy chirimoya”; we grated our apples and called it dessert.

In my Town we went to the beach on Christmas Day. Under the hot sun and salty breezes our spare change was spent on anise bread, cuchuflí, or a cute pair of handcrafted earrings or or necklace purchased from a local artisan.

In my Town, the ocean was too dangerous and too cold to swim in, the sand was yellow and course, but felt oh so hot and safe after braving the 5 minutes of torrential, chilling, and exhilarating danger of the Pacific Ocean. In my Town, when I went to sleep at night, I could still feel the receding waves as they fought to get around my steadfast legs. 

In my Town, we squealed when we ran down the sand dunes.


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5th grade. Although you can't see them in the back, this is where we went to play in the sand dunes. Me and Karina.

In my Town Winter break was in July. My sisters and I would fight for the spot in front of the space heater every morning and would stand, jimmies hoisted up to our waist, till our hinnies turned bright pink and we could take the heat no longer.

In my Town we watched the World Cup on portable TVs during school hours.

In my Town downstairs windows were barred and, sometimes, policemen walked around with machine guns.

In my Town there was trash and stray dogs in the streets, hungry children constantly knocking at my front door begging for old bread. Mothers nursed their three year olds in the open as lovers made out on the bench beside.

In my Town, at night we were easily woken up by the moans and groans of the creaking, arthritic bones of the earth.

In my Town we wore uniforms to school, we had chalkboards, and a library the size of a small bedroom. We were home every day by 1:30 and ate lunch with our families.

In my Town we walked everywhere. And although I may not know how many knots were in every tree, I do know there were 69 steps I had to climb every morning to get to my classroom. I could probably recognize every crack in the road from my house to the butcher, the bakery, or Marcela’s house.

In my Town we ate spaghetti on Mondays, and on Fridays, fresh fish handed over right from the hands of the fisherman himself.

In my town everyone’s mom was “aunt” and everyone’s dad was “uncle”.  I drank “té con leche” with them every afternoon. Every greeting had a kiss on the cheek attached to it. A child (and most adults) in my Town enter a home saying “permission”, to which it’s kind owner answers “forward”, as in “come on  in”. Lovely families lived in my town.

In my Town best friends are not so much as thick as thieves as they are like “fingernail and dirt”.

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 My bffs, Marcela, Rocio, me and Paula, December, 1987.
That was my Town.

Was it big? Was it small? I didn’t know. I didn’t care. All I knew was that in my Town my parents loved me and were happy. In my Town I was safe and cared for. In my Town my clothes were always laundered and my house was always clean and I had THE best of friends.

God lived in my Town.

As children, our town is always small, regardless of how big it is. Our little, self-centered minds are probably not capable of going beyond that. I think that the older we get, the larger our town becomes and as our lives become harder than we thought they would be and more complicated than our small town minds could have ever imagined, we long for the simplicity of our childhood and the safe haven of our small town world.

To be continued....


  1. Oh my word, Susan.

    I can picture everything you describe here. I especially love the image of you laying in bed at night and feeling the receding waves on your legs. Fabulous! You're upbringing fascinates me.

    Thanks so much for pointing me in the direction of this post. Be sure to do the same when you write the sequel:) And thanks too for your incredibly kind words about my blog. It's so nice to know someone is reading, but more than that--enjoying it!

  2. Shame on you for making us wait so long for a posting from you, but thank you for taking me to Viña again for a few minutes. I remember your sisters talking your milk man into letting us ride on his cart as we raced down the hills, THAT was a thrill! I can never get enough reminiscing...
    Abrazos y besos siempre,