When I was younger, I collected lots of wonderful treasures, including dolls and picture books. My father started me with my first collection: stamps. I never was particularly interested in that hobby, but I was very interested in being the center of my daddy’s attention, so I took the stamps he brought me and dutifully placed them into the binders. Lord only knows where those collections are now…
When I was a little older, I became a tomboy, which was only natural since I was the middle child born between two boys. I collected scrapes and bruises from following them over fences and through blackberry bushes or by following the culverts and tunnels that guided the Town Creek from Sam Houston's home and museum and our house. I also collected a toughness that comes from playing firecracker shootouts and having an occasional firework explode in my hand rather than in the air flying toward a brother’s head.
As I entered my teens, I collected lots of personas along with fitting names, trying to find the right fit for the individual I would become. My cousin and I gave each other sassy names to fit the images we had of becoming saucy women someday. I was Kitten; she, Bubbles. My older brother Stone’s friends named my younger brother Pebble and named me Rox. We felt very cool among our friends who had no siblings and were faceless to the older crowd. My friends had fun giving me derivatives of my given name Joyce: I was called Jerse, Joycie, Juice, and Jice. Because I was named after my mother, my daddy kept trying to get me to adopt the name Junior, but I was past my tomboy days and had no desire to be known as Junior.
I collected my first boyfriend at sixteen, and my favorite name, Baby, came out of his mouth in that easy Southern drawl of his, pronounced, “Baay-be.” Occasionally I was known by another “b” name for my cattiness, especially when it came to trashing some other girl’s reputation because she didn’t fit the standard I had set for teens outside my clique. Shame on me.
During my young adult years, I collected college degrees and years of experience in classrooms as both a student and as a teacher. I found that the best way to become an expert in anything was to teach the subject. As a result, I became an expert in college marketing and collected a slew of awards and plaques from state and national organizations while I climbed the ladder in administration and made a reputation for myself. For about a decade, I was one of go-to women in the Texas community college movement. I also collected two sets of divorce papers.
At mid-life I collected illnesses and maladies: fibroid tumors, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, diabetes… but thankfully, I also had a collection of friends who would not let me give up, lie down, or step off the path but, rather, to move on to the next collection, which is the greatest one of all—the collection of memories.
I may be battered, but I’m far from through!