Thursday, May 7, 2009

Long Drive into the Past

Today on the way home from our Mother's Day luncheon at Montessori (details on that tomorrow), Brynna asked me if we could take a longcut home, a pretty one. We were already past the point where changing paths home is easy, so I traveled a little further up the main road and then turned right on the High School Way. That's not the real name of the road, in fact the real name is Turkey Foot, which makes you wonder who in the freakin' world would name a road after a spindly part of a stupid animal.

Anyway, in high school, I had two friends who lived in this general area. I traveled these roads so often I could almost do it in my sleep. A few times I may have tried. I passed the railroad tracks where my best friend's car stalled making us all think we were going to be crushed to death by a few tons of locomotive. I cruised past the house with the ducks who, for some reason, would much rather hang out in the road, than on the pond ten feet from the road. I turned left at the old gray horse (how old is that horse, anyway?). I went around the curve where I dreamed I died. (Ironically enough, I was almost hit in that curve, which just serves to prove that dreams can come true, even years and years after you have them.)

I drove through two culverts. If you've never driven through a culvert, I don't know how to describe the activity to you except that Brynna calls it through the bear cave.

Then, finally, I found the thing that literally stopped me in my tracks. That's right, the car stopped dead on the road, as if of its own volition. That blue mailbox. My friend, Missy's farm. I couldn't see the house because it's about seven miles off the road (I may be exaggerating, I have no idea). I could see the house right on the other side of the driveway that has been falling down since the first time I visited the farm (16 years ago) and still hasn't fallen. I saw the curve in the road that always signalled leaving society behind to me. But mostly, I saw that huge, bright blue mailbox.

It was all I could do to not to drive up that long windy driveway and see the house.

I committed my first act of arson there. It was an accident. Missy's mom, known to the whole world as Momma-Do, had a beautiful five story birdhouse in the back yard. It had a snake in it. We knew that the snake would scare off the birds and eat the ones that weren't scared off, so we wanted to get the snake out, so Momma-Do could watch the birds in her beautiful birdhouse. We set fireworks in the birdhouse, the snake slithered out, and we decapitated it with a garden hoe.

Then Momma-Do offered to take us to town to rent a movie. Movies are apparently distracting. We left and when we returned a pile of ash was perched atop the fence post where the birdhouse had previously lived. We were terrified, depressed and astounded all at the same time. We all stared and then turned as one unit (there were probably four or five of us there) to look at Momma-Do. We expected her to look horrified, to burst into tears, to call all of our mothers and make us wait in the driveway until they got there.

Instead, she laughed. I will never know how upset she really was. But I do know that she looked at all of us and knew instantly that we hadn't done it on purpose and that we were more sorry than words could express and she forgave us all in a single second.

That's just one of a hundred memories about that farm. About that house, that world that Missy lived in and we got to visit. Some of them are funny (burning Barbie at the stake) some are upsetting (everyone leaving me sleeping outside when they heard wolves - I still haven't forgotten that crap, girls), and some are just ridiculous (the flying cat in Wuthering Heights). But they are all a part of me, of how I ended up the way I did. Blame her, in other words.

I only paused for a moment in the road, but it was long enough to remember everything, to feel the familiar pull of that gravel driveway and to wish, if only for a second that I was sixteen again, driving a SkyHawk and dreaming of getting away from this town forever. I'm so glad that dream never came true.

This is Sharlene, Greg, Roy, Nathan, me, Lisa and Laura and Roy's bug, George at Missy's. I guess Missy is taking the picture. Don't ask why we are dressed like this. The only thing I remember are those yellow John Lennon glasses.


Liezlbug said...

Jessi, I laughed - and cried a little, when I read this. Momma-do was my second mom/grandma, Missy's house was my second home. It really was an escape and I have great memories of that place. I think I too would be compelled to drive right up that drive way. Its one of those places that time never seems to touch.

And I remember the picture: you were filming one of those Arachnid-Boy or something, and we found "costumes" in the old clothes above the garage.

I also vividly remember Nathan (the "Hand of God") lighting that Barbie on fire...that was a sad moment for me. All the memories of all the Barbies of mine that he had destroyed.

This comment is practically a blog post in itself.

Strangeite said...

You have no idea how hard I laughed when my wife handed me her phone and showed me that picture.

Jessi, I had no idea that you had a blog and have not had an opportunity to read much; but, I am thankful that I have found it now.

If you will allow me, I must offer one point of correction. I do not believe you are wearing yellow John Lennon glasses, but official AP Biology safety goggles.

Oh yeah. This is Roy.

Jessi said...

You're right, they are biology goggles. I looked at this picture and thought "I could swear that my John Lennon glasses were green." I guess I was right.

Suze said...

Holy crap, I will never forget burning down that bird house...

I can't help but wonder, have you committed acts of arson since? Or maybe I don't want to know!


Jessi said...

Well, I used to sneak out of Grandma's house and write my name in hairspray on the sidewalk and catch it on fire. (Psst... Mom, pretend you didn't read that, it will make your life happier.) But that's the only thing I've burned down. Semantics, probably.