Summer 2012 : Fight
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Summer 2012 : Fight
Oregon Humanities: Summer 2012
I grew up in a home where no one fought—ever. This didn’t mean you got along, but that’s another story. My grandparents emigrated from Norway and taught their sons and daughters a reserve that, for lack of a better stereotype, was brutally Scandinavian. My late husband was descended from Poles and Italians. He believed that responses to a challenging, complex life included a range of intense emotions. He had an ability to move on, not hold grudges or become defensive.
So for the first decade of their lives as siblings, when my son and daughter seemed to be mired in one constant fight, I would think of these two styles and figured that, so long as there were no physical blows, arguing might be a way to avoid some of the issues that make up the “other stories” told from that place of extreme reserve. What did my children argue about? I can’t remember and neither do they.
I do remember one time on a stormy coastal road, crossing over one of the Pacific headlands. The argument in the back seat rose with the elevation. I pulled over off the highway. It was pouring rain, so I grabbed an umbrella and my book. I said, “Knock on the window when you’re done.” I took the small flashlight from the glove box. I stood outside the driver’s window, popped open the umbrella, and read. About three quarters of the way down the page, I heard a rapping. I looked through the window. “We’re done,” mouthed my daughter through the glass.
I used to think parenting would be easier than it was, that I would make fewer mistakes than I did. All of that thinking occurred before I held the actual children in my arms. But this was one moment in which, by accident, I stumbled upon something that worked. When I wasn’t listening to them, my children lost their best audience. Sometimes solutions come, not from planning, but because you just want a break, and take it.
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Oregon Humanities magazine examines topics of broad public interest from a variety of perspectives and approaches. Recent issues of this publication have focused on stuff, nostalgia, and civility. Through good and thoughtful writing, Oregon Humanities magazine enriches our understanding of important subjects and stimulates conversation and reflection among readers, their friends, families, colleagues, and neighbors.
For more than a decade Camas Davis has been a magazine editor and writer for national magazines such as National Geographic Adventure and Saveur, and local publications such as Portland Monthly, Edible Portland, and Mix. In 2009, she traveled to France to study butchery. Upon her return, she founded the Portland Meat Collective, a traveling butchery school.
Eric Gold is a freelance writer in Portland.
J. David Santen Jr. has written about books, business, the environment, and communities for the Oregonian, the Portland Business Journal, and other publications. He lives in Portland.
Jill Owens works in marketing for Powell’s Books, where interviewing authors is the most interesting part of her job. She’s originally from the South but has lived in Oregon for eleven years and is here to stay.
Photographer Jim Lommasson received the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for Shadow Boxers: Sweat, Sacrifice & the Will to Survive in American Boxing Gyms. Previous publications include Oaks Park Pentimento. His photographs have been widely exhibited in museums and galleries.
John Frohnmayer is chair of the Oregon Humanities board of directors.
Margot Minardi is an assistant professor of history and humanities at Reed College, and the author of Making Slavery History: Abolitionism and the Politics of Memory in Massachusetts (2010). She is currently working on a history of the nineteenth-century American peace movement.