It is natural to want to leave an impression as we pass through life. I have two granddaughters who look very much like me, which is a delight. One is an adult but very different in personality; one bears my name but is too young to exhibit other similarities. The person who seems most like my doppelganger is my niece, Micki Pargeter.
Micki is the daughter of my brother Del McAmis, who has lived in the PacNW for many years. On my visits to see Del – and later when I too migrated north-west – I had the benefit of watching Micki grow from child to adult. We look nothing alike, but it has long been clear to me and to all those around us that we were cut from the same cloth.
Both Micki and I are intelligent, confident, outgoing – larger than life sometimes – although old age has tempered my personality some. We have walked different paths which afforded us distinctive opportunities – she as a very engaged stay-at-home mom; me as a divorced mom pursuing career – but the similarities are more striking. As I describe Micki to others, I know I am also describing myself in many ways.
Micki is analytical and an A-type personality, which she readily admits. “When I was young, I was a perfectionist,” she said. “I believed that there was a right way and a wrong way to do things.” This personality trait led Micki to take control, to lead but it is also self-critical in nature.
“I believed that the world was judging me and I’d better live up to it. I was introduced early to literature and drama. I wanted to be a poet until I realized I would never be T.S. Eliot. I wanted to be a writer, but I would never be a Steinbeck” — and she stopped pressing in those directions.
Fortunately for both Micki and I, we also share another quality. We are both passionately curious. She says, “I think we are both open to the world. Even when it hurts us, we don’t seem to know how to withdraw. We both go through the world in a permanent state of wide open engagement.”
For Micki, the breakthrough came in the form of belly dancing. She had no preconception about the dance and thus held herself to no standard. Instead, she immersed into a largely feminine world of dance, music, laughter. She now has quite a following as a teacher of Middle Eastern and folk dances, using the name of Sakari, performing and attending retreats. She has all the trappings — the silks and satins and veils and a colorful vardo (an old gypsy caravan that she takes to retreats).
And most of all, she has joy.
My spirit double has out-stripped me in her ability to get out of her head and into her body and the life around her, which includes long peaceful walks in the forest with her dog Tess or sitting in her own garden or tending her bees, while my greatest joys are still confined to my brain and writing.
But Micki says that belly dancing has convinced her that that there is no Grand Arbiter judging her activities and that it’s better to create than not. She adds this note regarding a more recent growth step:
“When I started taking guitar lessons and realized that I am woefully untalented there (I have a great ear and perfect rhythm, but stupid fingers) I was able for the first time ever to stick with something I’m never going to be good at, and take joy in it anyway.”
— Jonnie Martin