Friday, July 27, 2012

After They’ve Seen Paris

Lately, I have been thinking about a song written shortly after the United States entered World War I.  The lyrics go something like, “How ‘ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?”  My interest in that particular tune relates to Kira, who recently returned from a conference at the University of Maryland.
Barry and Steve Folk Art Traders
Don’t get me wrong, I have no interest in keeping Kira at the trading post indefinitely.  Indeed, when people ask whether she or Grange, or any of Barry’s children, will take over some day, I assure them there is virtually no chance of that happening.  Selling Navajo rugs, baskets, folk art and turquoise jewelry is not in their long-term plan.  Consequently, Barry and I are prepared to die trading.  In fact, I have made arrangements to have him stuffed if he goes first.  I figure I can prop him up next to the cash register or have him mounted in his office chair.  Either way I will have someone to talk to if Priscilla retires and business is slow.

If I am the first man down, Barry has indicated he intends to have me cremated and deposited in a Nancy Chilly pot.  Once that is accomplished, he will likely place me on a shelf and thank the trading post gods every day that I can no longer pay too much for baskets or “loan” our profits to needy artists who will never satisfy the debt.

Although I know the kids will leave one day, I prefer to keep them close until they graduate high school.  With Kira, that is becoming an ever larger challenge, and I worry I may have grown too attached to let her go without significant trauma.

Since she is preparing for cross country in the fall, most days Kira and I jog together.  Long ago we grew fond of sitting on the trading post porch after our runs, cooling down and discussing issues that concern her.  In the past our conversations have included somewhat mundane topics like grades, dating and how she might secure more spending money.  More recently she has wanted to talk about complex issues like religion, gay marriage, President Obama’s healthcare legislation, the U.S. Supreme Court and her mother.

Since finishing her stint at the University of Maryland, however, Kira’s primary focus seems to be ensuring she makes it out of Bluff.  Earlier today we finished our training a few blocks south of the trading post.  As we walked towards the Twin Rocks, I pointed out how the sunlight was illuminating the cliffs and said, “Isn’t this a starkly beautiful and absolutely peaceful place?”  “Yes,” she agreed, and promptly advised me that in spite of its beauty she wished to go to a university far, far from this small town.  I assured her I understood, since I vividly recall leaving this area in my early 20s to establish myself in California.  As I crossed the state line for what I thought would be the last time I would ever be considered a Utah resident, I felt a great relief.  Finally I felt free, liberated. 

Considering my own history, I was inclined to remind Kira that in the book Paris, My Sweet:  A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate), Amy Thomas had said, “I guess it goes to show that you just never know where life will take you.  You search for answers.  You wonder what it all means.  You stumble, and you soar.  And, if you’re lucky, you make it to Paris for a while.”

Having gotten a glimpse of the city, it is certain Kira must now experience Paris on her own terms.  In reality I would not have it any other way.  Who knows, however, having lived independently, she may one day come to realize that many Parisians enjoy a visit to Bluff.  At that point, this quiet and peaceful farm may seem a little more interesting.

With warm regards,
Steve, Barry and The Team

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