ARIZONA CHRONICLES PART IX

2 Oct

The house was finally finished.  My mother cried as we walked through the empty rooms, our voices echoing.  I marveled at the new carpet and the smell of fresh paint.  We had a breakfast bar and a room for a table.  There was a large wood burning stove in the living room.  There were two rooms with closets and I nearly wept at getting my own room, until it was announced I would not be getting my own room.  Di was too afraid to sleep in hers alone and I would have to share one with her.  Oh yeah, and she insisted on a nightlight.  My first night in the room, I cursed my parents for having a kid afraid of the dark.

The first day in our new home, I stood outside in the gravel driveway and looked around at the houses.  Across the street, a blonde boy played with his dark skinned sisters.  Next-door three little girls dug in the dirt beneath their swing set.  I could see a dark curly haired boy riding his bike up the dirt road.  A place where I was new.  Where I could reinvent myself.

I made a conscious decision to forget about the sadness and put aside my anger.  The new house with its new appliances represented a clean slate for us all.  My mother was happy for the first time we moved to Arizona and it affected the entire house.  My father began making pies and leaving poems on the refrigerator for us.  This is what happy is, I thought.

I met the curly haired boy first.  His name was Robby and he lived with his grandmother and his sister.  He did not know where his mom or dad had gone.  He invited me to his house and his grandmother gave me a cup of punch with a scoop of ice cream in it.  I remember the smell of patchouli and carne asada always cooking on the stove.  He showed me his older sister’s room and it was a revelation.

Her dresser was covered in perfume bottles and bongs.  There were pictures torn out of a Playgirl magazine taped to her walls.  Robby showed me her record collection, but my eyes could not tear away from the myriad of penises before my eyes.  They were in all shapes and sizes.  Who knew!

We rode our bikes down to the blonde boy’s house.  His name was Bobby and he lived there with his very religious parents and the two Native American sisters they had adopted.  He resented their very existence and I remember him sweetly telling the youngest to eat a grasshopper, which she did with relish.  Bobby called his friend Stoney who came over to meet the new girl.  Like that, I had forgotten about Daniel and Dylan.

I came home one afternoon, covered in dirt and exhausted from riding my bike through trails no child should ever be on.  My parents oblivious to the dangers of mountain living, simply said be home by dark.  My mother and father were fighting.  My granny and his brother were coming to visit.  To see our new house.  My mom did not want them staying with us.  There was bad blood going back years, but my father told her she was being unreasonable.

This is as good as time as any to dissect my mother’s psyche.  She grew up with alcoholic parents who nearly killed each other.  Her brothers and sisters are all in their own way as damaged as anyone.  My mother would like to believe she escaped the same fate, but she is wrong.  If there is anything my mother clings to, it is that she is right.  Always.

Therefore, she is qualified to sit in judgment of all those before her.  This pertains to strangers, friends and especially family.  She did not like my father’s mother, who yes, was an alcoholic in her own right.  Yet, it was this same disease she excused from her parents.  My mother specifically did not like anyone in my father’s family and made no bones about it.  Her contempt was always barely concealed and the tension could be cut with a knife.

My father has survived his marriage by conceding a lot to my mother.  However, he was not budging on this one.  My granny and Uncle Daryl were coming to visit and that was final.  I remember the slam of the bedroom door and my mother standing there gape jawed.  She had turned to me as if looking for me to say she was right.  I merely shrugged.

My granny arrived with my uncle exactly three days later.  They pulled into the driveway in a Pinto and empty beer cans stashed in the seats.  Daryl was the youngest of my father’s brothers.  Longhaired and good-looking, he said his quick hellos and then left for the bars.  My granny hugged us with a Camel cigarette clinging from her mouth and exclaimed we looked like the natives with our brown skin.  My mother sneered, pouted and harrumphed through the visit.  I had never been so entertained by her hostility.

If my granny asked where the coffee was, my mother shoved it in her hand and slammed the cabinet door.  If my granny poured beer into a glass, my mother shoved a coaster beneath it.  If granny lit a cigarette, my mother went outside to smoke a half pack.  The entire equilibrium of our world had been thrown off its axis and I would giggle in delight at the sparring between the two of them.

They stayed a week and in that time, I saw Daryl maybe twice.  He was awash in booze and local women and did not even bother coming home.  My granny on the other hand insisted on trailing my mother everywhere.  I think she too was taking some perverse pleasure in pushing my mother over the edge.  Then the talk of us returning with them to visit in Kentucky began.  I could see my mother really wanted to go, wanted to see her parents, but the thought of being in a car with my father’s family was almost too much.

Until my father decided, we were indeed going back to Kentucky for a short visit.  We would drive back with granny and Daryl and fly back to Arizona.  I was excited about the trip, I had not seen my mom’s family in a couple of years and the thought of a road trip and diner scrambled eggs was enticing.  Until I realized we were driving back in the Pinto.  You know the car that in certain crashes the gas tank exploded.

Also, let me mention this Pinto was years and years old and quite small.  Riding back to Kentucky would be my father, mother, granny, Daryl, myself and my sister, sans car seat of course because there was no room.  Therefore, while granny and my mother and sister shared the back seat, I sat on the floor on the hump.  I would be sure I lost my virginity on this trip, if it had not hurt so much when I actually did.

So there we went, across the same highways we had traveled on to get to Arizona.  Except this time, my sister and I were trapped in a ticking time bomb with four smoking adults who bickered and fought along the way over a course of three days.  Yes, there were diner scrambled eggs and chocolate milk shakes, but as we crawled toward Kentucky, I prayed for a bed and some peace and quiet.  I realize that was too much to ask for.

By the time we arrived, I had strep throat and a double ear infection.  As I was passed from relative to relative, I felt as if every bone in my body was bruised.  I slumped on the couch as my papa tried to feed me McDonald’s cheeseburgers.  We had not had McDonalds in two years and I could not even taste it.  By the end of the first night, I could not swallow and was spitting into a bowl.  Not what I had in mind for my first visit back home.

The worst part was we were only in town a few days since the drive had taken us so long.  It was a blur of fried foods, loud voices and pleas for us to not go back.  My mother cried, but she had begun to believe Arizona was her home now.  She loved her house, her friends and her tennis.  Still sick, I did not care about anything but getting home to my bed.  That, and flying on a plane for the first time.

As we said goodbye to our family at the airport, I trembled as we boarded the plane, confined in our small seats.  I was still ill and probably feverish at this point.  Yet, as I looked out that window as the earth fell away and we were in the clouds, heading back to our new home, I felt infinitely better.  Everything was an adventure I discovered.  That hunger began in me.  I wanted to do more.  I wanted to do everything.  I wanted everything.

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One Response to “ARIZONA CHRONICLES PART IX”

  1. Arthritis Pain Relief : October 31, 2010 at 4:44 am #

    breakfast bars are the best stuff that can give you energy in the morning :

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