Pioneer daydreams

I often daydream that someone from the pioneer days transported through time and landing in our modern culture.   One random Tuesday, they were strapped to the plow, or making hotcakes, or shucking peas, and the very next minute they are sitting in the front seat of my Chevrolet Tahoe, next to gum wrappers and sippy cups, confused and bewildered that we are whizzing down a paved road at sixty miles an hour.  I pat them on the hand and say “Welcome, my dear friend, to 2012. This is how we roll.”

In this quirky daydream of mine, I’m a time traveler interpreter, explaining to this person how modern society can be found wearing pajama pants at the grocery store, or that fried potatoes can be purchased in little stick form while waiting in our vehicles and sitting in a long line, handed to us though a little window by someone with a bad attitude and a nose ring.  I show them pictures on my iphone while we’re stopped at a red light and take them to Kerbey Lane for omelets.

While others think I’m doing something productive while waiting in the carpool line, like listening to a book on tape or praying for wisdom, I’m actually explaining to this mythical traveler friend of mine how we got to this place.  What has changed for the better through the decades and what, sadly, is left hollow and empty.

Most often I invite this person to visit when I see something strange, like when I’m driving in West Texas through a field of wind turbines or when I hear some random lady at Starbucks order a doubly-dip-mocha-frappylicious with two shots, served at 130 degrees. What would they think? I swear.  It’s as if we have developed an entirely new language.  Supersize it.  Facebook.  X-box.  Oscars.

It might not be normal to have imaginary friends visit from the 1870s.  But then again, we live in a strange place and time.  Someone should peer through the window, rub away the dust, and see what society is doing with all this modern progress.   Are we moving forward, or just faster, toward our own level of insanity and sugar and money-fueled depression?   I like the idea of living in an era that’s filled with reading, and singing, and being happy to get a stick of candy in one’s Christmas stocking.

But strangely, I don’t feel the need to be transported to their world.  I kinda like the fact that they show up here, and I can brag about how we get to ride on airplanes and order strawberry smoothies at Jamba Juice.  I can imagine what it’s like in their world, the rising with the chickens.  All that scrubbing and baking and weeding.  There is no popcorn at the movies or trips to Maine.  There are no girl nights or glasses of wine.  No nail salons or highlights.  And a life without any make-up or sparking water?  No Advil or paper towels?  Their days would be filled with mosquitos and chores.  Itchy bonnets and eerie solitude.  Any era that required you sleep in the same room with your children I’m not going to live in.  My vote’s on air conditioning and king-sized beds.

I think there must be a blend of the two worlds.  A little hot and a little cold, folded together to form a peaceful haven.  This is the world I want to live in.  The slow in-between.  A world where the strange is put in perspective, the bonnets are left in the closet, and children have room to roam the wide open spaces of our modern lives.  And at the end of the day, we rest easy in our down comforters, thanking God for grocery stores and gas-powered engines.

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7 Responses to Pioneer daydreams

  1. Simply Mella says:

    I think about how things were, once upon a time, too. I like to imagine that I could do well in a simpler place and at a slower pace. Then I remember that I can’t handle more than two nights of camping without electricity, or I take the time to read a blog post (ahem, this one) only to turn around and find my one year old has dumped her entire lunch tray onto the ground, and I am again reminded that I am thankful for paper towels (and Advil!)

  2. Lynn says:

    Volunteer for a “host day” for our Malawi guests next week, and you can practice this with REAL people. It is an eyeopening to host folks who live without pavement, electricity or running water…just like the good old days!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Isn’t it strange that we can somehow ache for the days that we never knew? I think maybe I read too many historical fiction books growing up, or watched too much little house on the prairie. Regardless, I agree that there is lots in our world today that is just plain weird. Simplicity is such a beautiful thing.

  4. I agree, compromise is key. I’m with the commenter above who can’t bear more than two consecutive nights of tent camping. Yet I often pine for a “simpler time” with no TV, no Wii, more storytelling and fires and freshly baked bread.

    {Read your post about quitting your job – thanks for sending me the link. I’m totally with you…I get it}

  5. Susan DiMickele says:

    Hello fellow writing and lawyer. It is a blessing to meet you!
    This is the world I want to live in. The slow in-between. — I can relate all too well.

  6. heather, yes, yes,yes and yes again. i *get* this and yet the now is so terribly exciting for me. i love technology and all the amazing channels it opens to us. i wouldn’t be meeting you here if we were living in a slower period.

    but if i was to pretend for today then i would be living on a wide open prairie in a log cabin and i would be fetching water from a nearby river, pausing in the long grass to stare up the billowing blue.

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