Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Half Broke Horses"

I just returned from my first book club. It's one of those things that I've wanted to be involved in for awhile, but the timing, focus, or mix of people hasn't worked out. But this group has fit every expectation and need. The women are easy going, enjoy laughing, have perspective but don't burden a subject and it's broadening the scope of what I read.
The book I squeaked out just in time to discuss today was “Half Broke Horses” by Jeannette Wells. I'm not going to go into a long deliberation on the book, but rather share with you what struck me about the book and the discussion as pertaining to my life as a State Department wife.
The main character, Lily, had two distinct times in life where due to circumstances she changed from having indoor pluming back to using an outhouse. One woman brought this up and how difficult she thought it would be going backwards with this type of convenience. The idea of loosing one's plumbing for extended amounts of time seemed unfathomable to the group. Cracks were made about the frustration of apartment buildings shutting off water from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. for maintenance. I agree, it is an inconvenience and hassle. Then one person wisely said “It's like having a maid, then not having a maid.” The room got a little quiet for just a moment as the reality of the concept sunk into their heads. How tough would it be to “survive” here in Bogota without a maid? These women seemed to think it would be impossible. They also seem to dread the thought of going back to the States and not having that convenience at hand. This is not the first or only group of women I have run into here who think this way. It is the prevailing mentality that women are incapable without a maid.
I sat there very quietly taking it all in. Half the women there don't know me and don't know that I don't have a maid. I'll admit there are times I would like a maid because I get a bit overwhelmed with the apartment size, the amount of dirt that blows in the windows and the laundry that is always piling up. I have no problem with people having maids and enjoying the freedom it brings. But I wonder how dependent people become on these conveniences, whether it be a toilet or a maid, and loose the ability to enjoy life. How will I fare when the Great Depression hits, my house burns down or I move back to America? Is the joy of my life dependent on these things?

1 comment:

  1. I know maids are common for Americans in Africa and the Middle East, too. Several of my overseas students have maids and therefore have trouble describing the household chores in French. They don't do them, so they have trouble learning the names! But if life is harder in another part of the world and your time is more valuable for something else....then hiring a maid would be worth it.