Here it is the first of August, and most of the projects are in the finishing stages. The posts that were planned this season have been on hold most of the summer. My re-arranged studio sits exactly as I left it weeks ago. But, the good news, depending on how you look at it, is this week the forecast for temperatures here in our Valley are expected to reach record highs. 108° for tomorrow! How can that be good news? Well…it means staying indoors, hugging the AC and having time to write!
When I left off explaining why playing well with others has never been my long suit I was a few months into First Grade, and my parents had been forced to make a complete life-style change. I’m calling this chapter —
After reaching the ripe old-age of six surrounded by adults, sharing in adult activities, adult conversations, and probably believing myself to be an adult the change in locations threw me head-long into a relationship with lots of cousins I barely knew, a city school with hundreds of strangers and a classroom filled with children!
I did not know how to interact with children. And, worse, I did not like interacting with children.
The photos I found in Daddy’s collection show a stand-offish posture and, in many cases, a look of complete bewilderment.
Mother, who had been my winter-time companion, playmate and friend all of my life was now working from daylight until after dinner, seven days a week, running a small road-side cafe along the Santa Fe Trail. She was doing all the cooking, baking, book-work, cleaning and who knows what else.
She was angry, snappish, and rapidly turning into someone I hardly recognized. As an adult, I can honestly ask, “who could blame her?” I think Dad was helping where he could, but I’m fairly certain Mother did not see it that way.
If the move was hard on my parents, a new school was a difficult adjustment for me. Waking up by myself, dressing myself, going to the cafe for breakfast and then walking to school alone was an enormous hurdle for my six year old mind. I didn’t understand at all, and I must have acted out my frustration rather vigorously, because after several months, without a word to me, Daddy took over the roll of companion, playmate and friend. He never relinquished the job until he passed away when I was in my twenties.
After a couple of years Daddy bought a small trailer, parking it behind the cafe. He said it was so we could take family vacations. I think we took one trip. But it proved to be a wonderful purchase in my eyes. I imagine he knew it would be like that. His little box on wheels gave me a sanctuary, out of the line of fire, yet close enough for him to check on me regularly. The Trail Cafe saga lasted until I was in Third or Fourth Grade. It’s strange how the emotions connected with staying out of Mother’s way so I didn’t upset her, hidden safely away in the trailer with my crayons, my books and my dolls, all came flooding back when the slides triggered my memory.
Somewhere around my Third or Fourth Grade year the trailer and Daddy’s Pontiac, which he loved, were sold to provide money to open “Cline’s Dinner House.” They rented a big old two story house in another school district and we made another move and another life-style change. I changed schools for the second time, without ever having figured out how to play well with others. My peers simply did not understand me. That’s okay. I didn’t understand them either.
There were only a few photos from that period. None of the “Dinner House.” None of the family. Mostly the pictures were of social occasions with adult friends. I know there was never a time that I was left out of those occasions. So, yet again, my un-childlike nature was being reinforced.
Writing this is, again, difficult. Looking at the child I was, with grown-up understanding, brings sharply into focus the various reasons for so much I’ve wondered about over the years. Guess it’s time to say, “Thanks, Daddy, for recording those growing up years for just such a time as this.
Enough for today. Another day I’ll spend some time examining Middle School and the High School Years. Talk about teenage angst!