Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Defining Moments: Part 3 of 5, Surprise

Surprise

It happened in the van—we were driving along some random wooded country road en route to our home on Cobb Blvd while the sun shone proudly, streaming rays through the leafy branches. A contradictory symbol considering the disappointing news I was about to receive.

Actually, it didn’t come out as official news, per se; it was more a comment on the possibility of moving to a different house. Still, the prospect of such a thing rattled me to the marrow, as I had never considered a nomadic lifestyle for the typically static Brigham Clan. There weren’t exactly visions of us in loincloths, scavenging for berries and edible roots while taking turns hauling the supports and canvases for a portable yurt on some wooden trail wagon, but I still felt a burgeoning sense of dread, as I had only lived in one home up to that point in my life. Home was Home, so considering living somewhere else was a little frightening.

I must have been around 10 or 11. Maybe 12. Regardless of which age it was, I was in a state of complete and utter shock. Weird, unstable families moved. Not us.

But, my dad had re-married a couple years earlier, and with four children approaching adolescence simultaneously (Jackie, the youngest, is now 20. I’m the oldest at age 23. There are four of us. Do the math and you’ll understand that we’re talking about a significant number of teenagers all at once. My poor parents), one full bathroom wasn’t going to come anywhere near affable for six grown people. Plus, my parents had doubts about the public school system in Kankakee (think “Dangerous Minds” but instead of thugs carrying guns, they carry nuclear missiles and portable PA systems that play Celine Dion loudly and repetitively).

Plus, there was the bike-jacking incident in the summer of ‘93. About 37 thug children rolled up on me balanced on about seven bikes like circus monkeys (though these were slightly less cute and entertaining), and they put me in a headlock until I rescinded my own bicycle. It was a beautifully neon yellow Trek Jazz with a drink holder and gearshift, and it was my baby. I loved that bike. It has since probably been melted down and sold to trophy makers. Sigh.

As an adult, I can see that the reasons for moving were legit, but back then I was not happy about moving to Podunk-a-dunk, Illinois. That was, of course, until I saw the new house, which was much bigger, had more bathrooms, and supplied me with my own sleeping area. Privacy was a new thing to me, and my first tastes of it were extremely enjoyable. I could write, draw, listen to music, or run my minimum-wage slave sewing plant in peace (I’m just kidding! I never listened to music!).

I spent much of that first summer alone—all my best friends lived 15 miles north of me, and I was without a car. But in time, I made a lot of good friends, went to a high school that was the perfect fit for me, and I ended up loving the house and my room. After ten years, it’s even starting to feel a little like home.

That is, until my folks decide to downsize and get rid of this house, too. Then it’s back to fantasies of berry picking and buffalo hunting, which I am absolutely not looking forward to. That yurt is heavier than hell.

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