South by South East

It seems eons have passed since I was in Moscow. In Boise I laughed and screamed till I was hoarse, and then the bus… the station, filled with deralicts… how is it that these people look this way, I wondered; does their appearance stem from their particular vices, or is it because they are unattractive that they can’t get a break? Should I be afraid? Of that guy, with the missing teeth, standing too close, or those kids, with premature beer guts? I don’t know. I don’t want to squeeze next to them for 23 hours. How uncharitable. I got on the bus and it was nearly full — one of the kids with the premature beer guts beckoned from the back of the bus. No thanks, I thought. I glanced to my right. Boy, about my age. You will be safe, I thought, and sat down. He asked where I was going. Durango, I said. Why, he asked. Kanakuk, I replied, suspecting already his response: “me too,” he said.

He was the only other person travelling from the Northwest for staff week besides me and my two friends from Idaho. He was from Vancouver.

Skip ahead 11 days, past the culture shock of extreme sports as viewed by sorority girls from the south. It’s my 25th birthday, and I’m greeting first-term kids at the airport. I look at the list of 3:55 arrivals, and out pop the names: Rocky Low, Carolina Low. No, I think, no way. I know these kids; I held Rocky in the hospital after he was born; I heard Carolina, after the Oklahoma city bombing, talking in her 4-year-old intensity about everything she’d seen on the news. My mothers’ paintings hang in their house, and trees my father planted line their driveway. But I haven’t seen or heard from them in years and years. I remember everything: the kindness, the generosity of their parents, their huge cerial cupboard, Montana saying, as we played hospital: “I’m sick because some bad guys glued a cigarette to my teeth and made me smoke it.” The Ice Capades with Alison. I’d never seen such spectacle. Everything. My goodness. How good they were to us, and I never knew it until afterwards, they were so gracious.

And here they are, and I got to pull weeds for them.

Skip 4 days, to now, in Iowa. I’m writing to pass the time until my cousins get here. I haven’t seen them in 16 years. I am very curious. Ten minutes maybe, now. Or an hour. Hard to tell. Oh, here they are. must go.

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