You know, when I was a child I moved around a lot with my Mom, but it was always the American plains we stayed in. I have many bad childhood memories, filled with oceans of tears and entire worlds full of my anxieties and child born stress, secrets of abuse getting overlooked and then eventually, as an adult, simply ignored as if nothing happened. But I also have memories that are wonderful, these are what I keep secret now, they are mine.
I remember chasing some invisible monster through a cornfield as a child, getting silk worms stuck in my hair and clothes as I played. One year we took all of a farmers hay rolls and pushed them into the ditch of the terraces, hay went everywhere!
There was this tree, a Weeping Willow Tree, my favorite growing thing ever and always, that grew in my aunts, husbands Mom’s yard in this tiny town called Corning, Iowa. It was huge, it stretched high into the sky and its branches grew up tall and then the viney limbs arched down to the ground in big swooping arches creating this canopy. I could feel as worthless and abused as ever and I would go to the safety of that willow and look up and be completely covered, protected. I swear, sometimes I could sense it listening to my soul bleed. I would take my shoes off and stand in the mossy grass and leave deep footprints in the earth and comb the long arching willow branches with my hands, it always felt like I was visiting a warm grandma or being swaddled in a cozy quilt with warm mug of foamy hot chocolate, it felt like home.
Home, was always rare in my life, so I only visited the tree a few times in my life. It was rare when we’d go to that place. I only vaguely remember the house, the woman’s face, but I clearly see the tree.
I had hopes and dreams…I once wrote an illustrated book about the adventures of a hot dog. I wrote and drew it on manilla construction paper, stapling the edge together. I put it up for sale at a garage sale, when I came back a few hours later my Mom handed me a dollar and said some man bought it, in case I made it big later in life. I was…maybe 4 or 5, max.
Shortly after I began reading adult novels, like John Grishams “A Time To Kill” and “The Pelican Brief” and Dean Koontz “Tick Tock” and Steven Kings “Misery”. I also read younger stuff, like Goosebumps and The Babysitters Club. I learned the strangest thing, flow charts…lol. My Mom was learning to program computers in the 80’s and they required her to use logical flowcharts to prove her program ideas, I was fascinated with the geometry of the shapes used, the diamond for bimodal decisions, squares to end a process…I didn’t learn it entirely, but enough to remember the process 25 years later in college.
It was a time when the world was endless and limitless, when my mind wasn’t infected with the doubts of others. When I could still imagine and see vividly the imagination of others, when talking to angels wasn’t crazy and sleeping was a burden and waking up was an absolute joy, every day. When everything was an adventure, from sticking my hand out the window in the hot highway breeze and waving it through the humidity, sometimes pretending I was surfing, sometimes cutting the wind in two. When spiders were cool and mice were interesting and the dishwasher didn’t make sense because why wash the dishes before you wash the dishes? When the last thing on my mind was a stain on my shirt or the holes in my shoes or the cereal I just ate. When, still having a kool-aid mustache and bib overalls with one strap undone and your pant legs rolled up was normal.
I remember those times too. I’m reclaiming them, they’re mine and nobody else’s. I hope you have your own, I’d love to read them…
Feel free to contact me, a little human contact is always welcome
Jeff aka Ruth Utnage 823469 C-601-2
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272