Monday, June 09, 2008

Unaccompanied women

"Where did she get that travel bug?" My parents still live in the small, fairly traditional community where they raised me and field the question all the time. What people are really asking is: Why hasn't she settled down yet? No husband? No boyfriend? No kids? No husband?! No boyfriend?! No kids?!

And what they're thinking is: We always knew she was a lesbian...[pause]...or a slut. It's OK, though, there was a time my mom thought that, too. Now she knows I'm not a lesbian, and for the other matter, she's settled on the more general term, "free spirit".

Mom's called me worse things, but with saccharine laughter in select foreign languages, and for most of my life I'd assumed they were Polish pet names, so it doesn't count. What I didn't know, didn't irk me. It was her privilege as a parent. Clever of her, really.

My dad spent his quintessential Canadian youth driving gravel roads from Quebec to the Yukon with my grandparents, and later hopping trains across Canada, working on grain farms to pay his way, and riding freighters through the Great Lakes, so he's more sympathetic to my transient lifestyle/travel addiction than my mom. Though her father was an adventurer, too, after making the long, uncertain trip from Poland to Quebec before WWII, my grandfather seemed content to stay put and generally so does she. Try to get her on a boat, I dare you. (Actually, I take that back. I'd hate to be liable for your safety.)

The women in my family, two and three generations ago, they were the real wild cards. Bucking convention, they each ventured out on their own for love, education or professional development - whichever they wanted most. I'm sure their neighbours in that era of marriage and motherhood had a lot of questions, too, BUT - judging by the facial expressions of my great-grandmother, great-aunt and their friend in this picture, waiting for a train in the Eastern Townships - they probably knew better than to ask.

7 comments:

Matt said...

Wow, I'd love to know what you'll do "all over the place"

Funny , but the hat on the very right looks like an upside down doggy-bowl! no?

Kate Savage said...

Careful, she might take it off and hit you with it! In which case, if you're right, that's gonna hurt.

Raven said...

Katie,
I, for one, am living vicariously through you and your "travel bug" so keep on going girl. I love reading about all of your adventures and the fact you are an unaccompanied woman makes it even more interesting.

Kate Savage said...

Raven,

Thanks muchly! That's a huge, HUUUUGE compliment.

Writing about everything that happens on a trip makes me feel justified in going on more! If nothing else, it makes the absurd seem possible, and THAT makes me happy.

I don't plan to become "accompanied" until I encounter just the right companion. :) Oh, and safe sex helps, too.

carmen said...

this post felt like it mirrored my life - the family thinking you're a lesbian because you haven't settled down, the free spirit label, being raised in a traditional community
(mine was in saskatchewan). i really like your writing!

Kate Savage said...

Thanks, Carmen!

See the thing that's great about being a so-called free spirit is that we're also kindred. Not a bad deal :)

How'd you break it to everyone you weren't gay? :P

carmen said...

haha.
i think they were disappointed that i'm not!