Friday, August 5, 2011


She was born in California. You would think that growing up as part of a large family that she would do anything for attention, anything to be noticed. She was the opposite. She was very shy. She was content to spend time alone, to read or participate in some other quiet activity. "She's very quiet, doesn't talk much. She needs to speak up more," teacher after teacher would write in the comments section of her yearly report cards. Thankfully, her parents didn't push her. They let her be; let her be who she was. If quiet was her game, then quiet she would be. Yet, she knew how to have fun; fun with fun people.

As she grew older, was old enough to hang with some of her brothers, she would do what the boys liked to do. She would crawl in the dirt, and make mud pies. She'd slither through the bricks piled up in the backyard, covered with a blanket; and strategize some kind of plan, like secret agents, with her brothers and a few of their friends, in the fortress they built.

She would follow a brother to a neighbor's house and help pour salt on some snails, watch them shrivel. So cool! Yet, somehow weird, and mean.

One time one of her brother's friend's mom was going to take the boys to an area, a dirt-filled area near some train tracks. "Yay!" she cheered when they said she could tag along. The mission: to find as many trap-door spiders - trap and all - as they could. She loved the danger of it all! Boys are so much more fun than Barbie playing girls. At least, that's what she thought.

When her younger brother and her would tag along with their older sister, their only sister - well, her only sister, anyway - to the grocery store, she and her brother would eat the grapes, and sometimes a piece of candy or two; secretly, of course. Her brother would ask grown up sis "Can I have this? - whatever this was - she'd say "No!" When she asked grown up sis, for her brother; secretly, of course, she'd say "Oh, sure. Get what you want." In her adolescent opinion, probably not her brother's, her only sister was cool.

After school one day, a neighbor boy wanted to dump ketchup all over his body and stick a cardboard knife in his pretend bloody chest. He wanted her to scream and point at him when a car drove by. She did. She did it again, and again until one car slowed down. Then she ran home. That same boy was tricked by one of her older brothers. Her big bro' picked up a dead stiff as a hard-covered book cockroach from the ground and made it look like he tossed it into his mouth, then chewed it. Crunch. Crunch. Her brother dared the neighbor boy to do it, eat an ugly bug. The boy did. Yuck! She laughed so hard.

The teenager down the street sewed together the cutest blue and white checked very young girl two-piece bathing suit. She thought that was pretty neat because she thought that teenage girl thought she was just a punk kid. The teen even took her to the local pool to try the suit out. She felt shy, for sure; yet very special. Oh, and the teen's dad used to give her and a couple of her brothers chocolate chip cookies. He seemed to enjoy the days when they would knock on the door; he would invite them in, have them sit at the kitchen table and give them the tasty, tasty cookies with milk. He even asked, "How has your day been?" She liked how kind he was.

She got to eat vanilla ice cream in a pretty little dish, at a neighbors, a few doors down, because two of her brothers decided that jumping on the back of the ice cream truck would be a fun thing to do. They fell off when it turned a corner. Her parents had to take them to the hospital, one for a head concussion. Her brothers were always doing something crazy; that's what she thinks.

One sunny summer day she went with her sister and some brothers to the beach; Huntington, she's certain. The day was a good one; playing in the water and building sand castles. When they were ready to leave, ready to pack up the car - it was gone! The car, that is. She learned what hitch-hiking entailed that day. Kind of fun, she thought. Different people helping out a group of young kids.

One summer, during the annual corn festival, she felt tired. She was hot, too. Luckily, her dad had purchased a pretty little sun shade for her. A frilly-edged umbrella. She plopped herself down on the grass, under a big, big tree. She was wearing a homemade-turquoise-color-printed dress with red knee-highs. Little did she know that someone, a newspaper photographer, had taken her picture. She smiled when she saw her five-year-old-self in the paper; the local paper her dad was reading the following Monday.

She still lives in the town she grew up in. She didn't leave because she was afraid; afraid to take some chances - like some might say. No, she stayed because of the comfort stability provides. The stability she now offers her own family.

California holds her memories. California is her home.

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