Thursday, March 22, 2007

Leaving the Northwest

Moving to Green River, Wyoming from Oregon was culture shock to say the least. I left a place where I was surrounded by evergreens, flowering fruit trees, mountains, established neighborhoods with swingsets and lush green lawns (and one lucky family with their own swimming pool), and landed on the moon.

Driving from Salt Lake City to Green River was a three hour lesson in shades of brown. We sat in the back of my dad’s Chevy Blazer, the floorboards six inches below our butts. I had to be in the middle because that’s who I was – the middle kid. My older brother didn’t warrant messing with and, besides, I worshipped him. He sat on the driver’s side, Walkman clamped over his ears uselessly because the volume was turned up so high that everyone in the car could clearly hear Ozzy Osbourne wailing and shrieking his way through each and every song. My brother’s legs were so long he had to sit diagonally, his head propped against the window and his limbs splayed out across me to the other side of the car.

My little sister got the other window seat because she got carsick. She had to be able to look out the window or we would all be marinating in the contents of her stomach within fifteen minutes. I was fairly well practiced at alerting Dad to pull over as soon as her tawny brown face began to morph into something that looked more like the Incredible Hulk. Dad was a fast driver. Not a crazy driver, but fast, and the highway between Salt Lake City and Green River, Wyoming was the perfect playground for him. Few cars, flat road, straightaway as far as the eye could see.

The back rest was too short for me to lay my head against, but I desperately wanted to fall asleep on the way to our new house. I knew that if my head lolled to Chris’ side and landed on his shoulder he would shove me away in disgust. Leaning on Katy was out of the question, too. She was a wisp of a thing, all bony shoulders and long silky hair that always found its way in to my mouth.

I imagined myself the hub of this group, the midpoint, the axis. We operated as one, but in case either of the edges started to pull away, I would anchor us and work to pull us back together. Each of them was in their own sphere, my brother filling his head with the loudest, most unrelenting music he could find and my sister desperately trying to envision herself somewhere else, anywhere else. I existed to hold this together. Without them I was nothing - an axis without wheels. I had already lost one of this clan and I wasn't about to fail again. My new mission was to bond us together and never get complacent. I had to be on the lookout for any breach that might tear us apart because I couldn't afford to lose another member of this tribe. Whether they chose to go to the moon or Hell's gate itself, I would follow. If only to keep the remains of us together.


Suzy said...

Great visual you paint. I'm sorry you had to be the one that felt you had to anchor everyone. No time to be your own child.
Great post.

Stacy said...

HI, first time here. Love this:"a three hour lesson in shades of brown"
I'll be back. I have to know what happened, who you lost, what happens next.

Kim said...

That is an awfully heavy weight to carry on those young shoulders. Amazing writing--I want more, more!

Scott from Oregon said...

I like the way you are finding yourself comfortable in your own writing. It really shows.

Keep it up and good luck with hubby's stuff. That must be hard for the both of you.

Michelle O'Neil said...

Beautiful writing Kari.

I hope the little girl you were is able to breath now.

Deb said...

You have me riveted and waiting for more!

Jerri said...

Such a weight to take on your young shoulders, Kari. You pulled me into this story so fully I could feel your sister's hair in my mouth.

More, please.

Carrie Wilson Link said...


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