Who am I? What was I created to be? I seem to wrestle with this question over and over and over again. I have been toying with the idea of blogging about my story and taking the time and energy to put my "testimony" on here. I guess it never hurts to try..........
So the start of me begins with my family. I have two brothers and a younger sister. I am the oldest of us four and we have all had a pretty eventful life to put it in a positive spin. We were all born in the Denver/ Aurora Colorado area and we are all products of the late 70's early 80's. My sister and I are only 11 months apart (apparently my sister was the 6 weeks after baby....) and we have shared quite a few moments and pains together as we grew up. My two younger brothers are a few years behind us, but in all we are clustered together in a 5 year gap from oldest to youngest. My parents are products of dysfunctional homes. Both of my grandfathers had tempers and had no problems expressing that anger through physical violence. This had deep and profound affects on both of my parents. My pop met my mom while they were hitchhiking in California and at the young age of 17 my mom married my 22 year old dad. My mom ran from an abusive father to a man who made her feel safe, only later to find that he was more like her dad than she realized. My mom gave birth to me at 17 - 10 months after they got married- or so the story goes. We have already covered the earlier parts so you know that my sister came less than a year later and both brothers arrived before my mom turned 23. She had a crazy teen life and an even crazier young adult experience. Later in life my mom would tell me that she never had a chance to be a kid- I guess that was an excuse to not have to be a mom later on.
Our childhood was full of adventure. In the midst of my parents dysfunction and pain they did everything they could to love the four of us. I have pictures of when I was a baby and my parents took us (my sister and I) camping. My mom told me he would take me for a walk and have talks with me about girls and the meaning of life. Of course I was only eleven or twelve months old so I don't remember one word, but I believe that he loved us the best that he could. One day after a counseling session I was remembering a camping trip and called my dad to ask him a few questions. He commented right away saying "we only tied you and Amy up to keep you from falling in the river" not quite what I was recalling, but very interesting all the same. It's funny how counseling will make every one nervous about what stories are going to be revealed to a random stranger who may or may not be able to help you get "fixed" emotionally (is anyone ever really "fixed" emotionally or are we all in some state of brokenness that influences our reactions to our surroundings?). So we talked about the camping trip and my parents were surprised that I was recalling things from when I was 2 years old.
My siblings and I spent our childhood drifting from one rental house to another. My parents struggled with alcohol and marijuana. This is relevant because we never had a lot of money growing up. My mom took on a job babysitting some kids from down the street. At this time when I say down the street it means 5-15 miles away from our house. We lived in a house on the side of a small mountain. You needed a four by four to get to the front door of our house and we were tucked away in a forest of evergreens and often snow. We would walk the distance of our driveway to get to the bus stop down at the road. For a kindergartner it felt like a mile although it was probably about 400 meters (a track length) to get from the bus stop to the house. This 400 meters by the way was up the side of a "mountain". Part of our rental agreement was to care for a pair of hound dogs for the owner. One of the dogs (the old male) was named Duke and the other (a young female) was named Amy. These dogs used to walk me to the bus stop in the morning. One of those mornings as I walked to the bus stop a mountain lion appeared and screamed at the three of us as we were heading to the stop. That was a day that I was grateful for dogs as Duke and Amy popped to a guarding stance and barked loudly keeping the cougar at bay. Eventually the bus came and honked the horn scaring off the big cat and I made it to school just fine. My parents didn't believe the story, but I remember it clear as day. My dad was a framer (construction) and during the winter months work was always slow so my mom worked also. She worked the night shift at a gas station in the next little town from us. Sometimes when she came home she would bring us Charleston Chews. My sister and I loved the strawberry ones and would always get really excited for the cheapest treats my parents could afford. Even to this day when I find those candy's I have to get one just for the nostalgia. Those were such a big treat because we rarely had the luxury of nice food. We had a month straight of beans and if we were lucky we would get cornbread with them. It took me most of my life to ever like beans again. In fact it has only been the last five years that I have actually allowed myself to enjoy the thought of eating beans. One of these months was really hard and we were having a hard time paying rent and getting food so my mom took on a baby sitting for a family down the road. These kids were a brother and sister and they came from a good family.Now my parents would randomly have "weed" stashed in these little red sandwich meat tuperware dishes that had white-sh lids that sealed shut. One day the boy (who was much older than I was) wanted to get some bologna meat and grabbed the container. I yelled at him telling him that is where my parents kept their "special" stuff. This led to my mom losing the job that was feeding us and a very un-happy parental unit to say the least. We had lots of adventures in that house although we probably only lived there for a year or so before we moved to Glenwood Springs. That will have to be another post though for another day.
One night we were all sitting in the living room. We had a potbellied wood-burning stove that we used for heat because we couldn't afford to pay for the gas it took to heat the house. We kept a large pile of chopped wood on the back porch to keep the fire burning. We also had a dog door on one of the rear doors to allow Amy and Duke in and out during the night so my parents did not have to get up to let them out. One night when we were all sleeping close to the wood-burning stove (again there was no heat and the house was freezing)the dogs began to bark at the dog door. My dad got up and grabbed his gun not knowing what was going on. As the dogs tried to get out the door we heard the animal outside let out a scream and we all knew what was outside trying to get in. My mom grabbed all of us kids and huddled us together and my dad made a dash to push a heavy chair against the dog door. After a few more barks from Amy and Duke (they made it out before the chair got pushed on the door) and a few screams from the big cat we heard silence. A few moments later there were some scratching on the door and we were relieved to find that both dogs were safe and trying to get in.