Growing up in Germany, my father was stationed there as head of Defense Intelligence for Europe, and my brother’s and I necessarily tagged along. We lived in East Berlin before the wall, Nurnberg and Heidelberg. Most often we lived off-base in crumbling mansions rented to the Army. Underground tunnels, fake libraries, bombed stairways that led to nowhere, the houses had stories to tell. In Nurnberg, our cellar was a vault, thick, solid steel, and a wheel to open into what was once filled with Hitler’s hidden treasures, casualties of war. Frau Bette showed me the vault and told me the stories that are embedded in my heart today.
In our house in Nurnberg, the bannister was a roller coaster downing two stories, much to my delight! The grandfather clock in the dining room that seated twenty was large enough for me to hide in when I didn’t want to go to school. There was an old fashioned tiled wood burning stove that stood perhaps twelve feet high in the vast living room. I would climb it like a mountain and lay atop hidden from view – spying…
Traveling throughout Europe, sometimes by private train in the middle of the night, escorted by security, we would run to our private car flanked by guns. Other times we traveled by car, to enchanted old world cities throughout Italy, Holland, Austria, Luxembourg and of course, the small cobble towns with which Germany was replete.
It was a time of spooks and spook parties. My father enjoyed the game and took to wearing a floor length black cape with his fedora and riding crop in tow.
It was a lovely time, privileged in many ways, ordinary in others, but it formed a different me, that wasn’t like others.
My father taught me three core values: integrity, honor and respect.
There are few people that understand what these words truly mean. There are fewer that can put them into action. And there are fewer still who wear them in their heart. It is those who wear them in their heart that do not understand the value of ‘selfishness’. The dichotomy of distinction is quite vast. One can not coexist with the other. And it is my belief that ultimately the selfish desire, the cave of a hole in one’s heart, can never know what it is to truly love.
Not the ordinary love that one reads in silly magazines, or the love that the churches preach, it is a love for another human being that is so strong you pull away lest you burn alive.
And so, I am a different soul, born within something my father gave to me, a heart that can never die no matter the beatings.
Stationed back to the States as a teenager, none of us really wanted to leave, but we, necessarily, tagged along. The Pentagon was my father’s destination, Virginia was ours and I found myself in somewhat of a culture shock.
Despite my mother’s more surly choice, my father sent me to Paris at the age of 16 to study the arts and become more refined and cultured. Dance took ahold, and I quickly found my first ‘gift’.
By 21, if I was going to pursue dance fully, New York was the only option. I declined. So my father sent me to college where I graduated with a degree in Finance and Accounting. My first major tectonic shift. A world outside of Art.
Many tragedies, much joy, more drama than I care to remember, I ended up living on a Passport 40′ sailboat in Sausalito with my husband. My father had taught me to sail as a teenager, my husband was a novice. But we were determined souls and sailed daily in the Bay, up the Delta, and ultimately to the Channel Islands. Naked on a deserted island bathing beneath a waterfall we were greeted by a swarm of wild boar… On another occasion we were nearly taken out by a barge filled with the dredge from beneath the Bay. And still on another sail a submarine rose from it’s depths just 30-50 feet from our position! Quite amazing!
Many stories abound of those sailing years, near catastrophes, much comedy, and much Life!
Many moons passed, I lost a husband and was raising my three sons when I perchance was introduced to a sculptor. With much pleading, he agreed to be my mentor and train me. Four days a week, and one year later, he set me free.
I had once again found a gift, a passion. It was an enormous joy!
Immersed, I sculpted. I created. Prolific and dedicated, my talent shined! And I was happy for a time. But life interjected with my second husband’s infidelities, the dark web, disease, lies and theft. The storms were violent in their thrashing.
Still, with time, I remembered what my father had taught me, the values that would hold me together, and the unending hope and belief that one day I will be loved as I know it is meant to be, where the legacy of a life is not in simplistic selfishness, but in the meaning of why we are here. Perhaps I am a female version of Don Quixote, a free spirit, a bit off, a bit different.
What I know is the world we are witness to today is not a Cinderella fit for me – and selfishness can never coexist with pure love.