A little history before we jump into the present or think about the future.
For thirteen years I was the only grandchild. For the remaining reign of my premier grandchild status, I am still the only girl. In the eyes of a proud grandfather, that combination rules the roost. No matter what it was I pined for – to dance on the kitchen table, candy, a new bike – Opa acquiesced to my every whim. In defense of the frequently outrageous requests and/or subsequent behaviors, my response would be “Opa says yes” to curious or often furious family member inquiries and admonitions.
I often spent weekends and entire summers with my grandparents. Much of that time was spent following along when they made daily visits to their local small businesses. There were two laundromats and a “business store” that sold typewriters, calculators, desks, lamps, and the like. I always entertained myself no matter which store we were visiting. At the laundromats, I filled the soda machines and lined up all the detergent boxes by color. I think i drank my weight in Tab during the process. In the business store, I would hide under one of the many desks sneaking cookies or freshly sharpened pencils. I honestly accredit my entrepreneurial spirit to my maternal genetic lineage and my love of typewriters to those moments spent napping in sync to their diligent hum.
Before typing would enter my skill set, I had to first tackle handwriting. In elementary school, I was sent to the office to be fitted with a special brace for my hand. I wasn’t holding the pencil “correctly”. In order to conform my script grip, I had to wear a metal whisk-looking device while writing. I eventually learned to hold the pencil like the rest of the class. If not, just to avoid being teased for being singled out by the Special Ed teacher.
Later, as a teenager, I learned to type at the behest of my mother. She was educating adult learners at the time and my father and I were often the guinea pigs for her custom programming. Since the typing course, I could never forget: the quick fox jumped over the lazy dog – the classic pangram designed to show off every letter of the alphabet. Typing was a skill that later evolved into a mandatory necessity. Throughout school, typing or “word processing” as it was referred to was a chore. But then I discovered that I could type out my poems. Once this realization came to me, it opened a door that has yet to be closed.
Now, from daily keyboard usage, my wrists are red and sore. My pisiform bones have become raised, shiny bumps from the continual rubbing on desktops. Much to my Special Ed teacher’s chagrin, my hand written words have suffered from lack of use. I often cannot read my own hand writing, so I rely on typing as essential to my survival.
Last summer I purchased a Remington 10 40 from the flea market in Ocean Grove. That's a vintage typewriter for all you who were born after 1990. The turquoise color beckoned me from across the dusty, junk-laden tables and I knew instinctively, I would not and could not leave without it. My husband, ever the realist/strategist, pointed out that I shouldn’t pay full price, no matter the high Pinterest value of the item. Yet, a dull cloud had settled around my ears and all I could think of was the clickety-clack of the keys and the bell of the return sounding. I would write masterpieces! I would leave scattered love notes to my husband around the house! I would have the envy of my cousins who would receive hand-typed birthday wishes from my hipster machine! It wasn’t until after the cloud had lifted and we were carrying the heavy blue case to the car that I realized I had crossed a line, and, paid full price to boot.
Today, it sits in my studio mocking me like a blue-green postcard from the Carribbean. Even after a Martha Stewart-like cleaning, the sticky arms only fly up and down with extreme pressure; the tape ribbon only making an impression with the right amount of keystroke. However, there were a few love notes and a half-composed poem. I’ve left the hopes of a masterpiece to my digital keyboard. So sometimes I question if it was a good decision to pay $55.00 for a typewriter from the 1960s just so I could look at it? Then I smile and think Opa says ‘yes.’
Originally posted 12.2014