Home on the Range
“…where the deer and the cantaloupe play…”
I constructed this in my spare time at work, using supplies from around the office. On Thursday morning, my co-worker brought me an unexpected treat of sliced fresh cantaloupe and so I was inspired to create this for her. The deer and cantaloupes are free standing and rearrangeable.
I attended a Christian summer camp for two weeks of every summer during part of my adolescence. We were situated in the Texas hill country along the Frio River, which gets its name for being fed by cold-water springs. The going slogan was that camp is, “The best two weeks of your life,” and that statement had a lot of validity.
Most of the kids that came to the camp were like me, white adolescent suburbanite protestants, or “wasps,” and most everyone was from somewhere in Texas. We all got along well and had similar ideas about the world.
My second to last summer, however, when I was 14 years old, a camper came that was unlike any person I had ever met. She was my same age and bunked in the adjacent cabin. She definitely broke the mold. She was from California, her legs were covered in unshaven blond hair, she didn’t wear a bra despite the requests of counselors, she went to a liberal school where, supposedly, so did Harry Nilsson’s daughter; she mourned extensively the massacre of daddy long leg spiders that had been used as part of a prank; even on the rocky paths she wore no shoes, citing that people only needed shoes because they wear them; she didn’t eat meat; she carried around a small blank book in which she kept ideas, poems, and drawings; she gave her counselors bracelets made of wool she had spun herself, which were mocked for their greasiness and odor; and her user name was “LunaLuna” followed by a string of numbers.
What impressed me the most was a decision of hers to live minimalistically. She had vowed weeks before to get rid of one possession each day. Already eliminated was shampoo and conditioner. This was why she kinda smelled. Instead she used a plain bar of soap. This idea of willful minimalism was foreign to me. There, even in the remote setting of the camp, I was surrounded comfortably with “things.” My trunk was always overflowing with clothes and amusements, and I gladly anticipated the arrival each day of a care package filled with bright colors and sugary indulgences. It had seemed so obvious to me that one would want to have all these things.
When I met LunaLuna was when I met the East. Sometimes I think about finding the paper with her e-mail address on it and writing to see where she is now. I could see her still living in California somewhere. She was so extreme to me that I don’t know which way she took it. Maybe she is drugged out or with a baby at this point. Or maybe she is the head of an organization dedicated to living alternatively. Whatever the case, when I imagine her, I see her as sitting outside in sunny greens and yellows, barefoot and calm.
Minimalism is something I’m working on. “Lose all attachments,” “Less is more,” “Reduce, reduce, reduce.”
In my five years in Boston, I have accumulated quite an amount of belongings. Some of them are undeniably useful- underwear, a mattress, a coat, shoes, contact lenses. Others, I use less frequently- a bag of fabric pieces that “might come in handy,” a bingo set, an apple corer, for example.
Sometimes I think how the American Indians used to burn fields of underbrush and vegetation just to clear them and make the soil rich, and then I wish that a controlled fire could blow through the mass of my belongings, eliminating the roughage of things I don’t want or use in one fell swoop, while leaving the vitals intact. I once shared this notion with my mother. A week later, she questioned me about it having heard in the local news of a string of arsons. While I won’t probably choose fire as my tool, craigslist or donation to my favorite thrift shop ought to do it.
FURTHERMORE: The Collyer Brothers. This story of extreme packratism has stuck with me ever since I first read it in high school. It is a story of two reclusive brothers living in New York in the early 1900s, unknown to societyâ€¦ until an emergency report of a dead body on their premises leads to a search that exposes over one hundred tons of junk kept in the house. Read it here: The Collyer Brothers