Everyone in AmeriCorps in our branch, is charged with what is called, the culture bag. We have a time set aside where we discuss our lives with the rest of the group, and this morning was my turn.
Of course I’m probably 50 or so more years older than they are, as I often find myself. I don’t have an answer why I’m always involved in something that draws a younger person.
Anyway, on the outside of my bag was a photo on my mother and dad on their wedding day, and then a photo of my brother, Jack and myself. On the other side of the bag were my sons, daughter’s -in-law, grandsons and granddaughter.
Then I had one side with the advertisement for La Boheme, the opera I saw in Iceland that was sung in Italian and showed up on a screen in Icelandic. Also on that side is a ship in Scheveningen, an area where Will and I lived in Holland. I donated all of Wills’ father’s navy papers to that ship,which is now a museum.
Also scribbled on the bag were the plays I have been in: I was the girl in “The Seven Year Itch”, “Picnic”, and danced in “Paint Your Wagon” and “Guys and Dolls”. I didn’t include all of them, just the key parts here.
Inside the bag was the t-shirt my flight instructor drew on when I accomplished my first solo, the current book I’m reading by Tom Brokaw, some knitted socks from the Island of Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands, and the certificate that awarded me by taking the shortest booked flight in the world. It took one minute and thirty seconds to take off and land at the next island in the Orkneys.
The bag also held my own book, “Too Close to the Sun” a Dutch boy becomes man during WWII.
Many of the large photos of my yearlong journey and two painterly pictures were included in the bag.
I added a photo of a huge, bright red Rhodochrosite stone photo that was mined in an Alma, Colorado mine. Alma is my middle name, I told them, and it is where my grandparents met.Alma,Colorado is the highest city in elevation on the northern hemisphere.
I also told them that I was born with the first name, spelled, Laurene, but I changed it myself at the age of seven to Laureen. The reason for this is because I was told that my name was a combination of Laurence and Aileen. Then, why, did they change that to ene at the end, was my question to myself? So when I went to school in the second grade, I simply began spelling it een. on the end. The teacher discussed this with my mother, and my mother discussed it with me, and I simply told her she must have made a mistake. “I guess you’re right,” she said. And it’s been spelled that way for nearly 70 years.
The audience was attentive, and I think a bit relieved that I didn’t cover all of the 76 years of my life.