I guess the only place to start this is somewhere around the beginning of time…mine that is. Holy shit that was a long time ago. I think they were actually still filling in dinosaur footprints then. Yikes!
Yes, I was born to parents who married young as a means of escape. My father had just returned from the ‘great war’ and stole my mother away from a home where love and abundance were not exactly the talk of the day as she tells me. As a matter of fact my mother’s feeling of loneliness and abandonment, provided by a mother that did not necessarily like children, was basically the catalyst for their union. My mother, who was French-speaking, married this young handsome soldier and together they forged their way out into the world. They packed up whatever possessions they had, which according to her was not a whole hell of a lot, and moved to another province to further their escape from parental control.
In 1952 my oldest sister, the calm cool and collected first child ,was born and it was then my mother began to get that weird inkling in her gut that something was up. Something was boiling away on the back boiler and she’d have to wait and see what would transpire as time rolled along. It wasn’t exactly clear what was going on in their relationship but it became very apparent as the years rolled by. She was not happy!
In 1954 my next big sister popped into the world all googly and gangly. I showed up in 1956. What a fine year that was, at least in my opinion. I thought I’d struck gold because I was the baby and we all know what that means. I would be the one to get spoiled, get everything I wanted, be doted upon by both my parents and my siblings. Did I take advantage, you bet I did. I milked those years for all they were worth. I went places they didn’t even though there was really no place that great to go on the kind of budget my parents had to work with, but still, it was something. That was all well and good until, oops, eight years later, my baby sister was born. So much for the spoiling shit. I’d been moved up the ladder to ‘half-of-the-middle-child’ status. There would be no book dissing my parents unless my sister was willing to share the load of writing at least half of it.
I grew up with this weird-ass nickname that no one seems to really know how or why it came into existence. It was “Kinny”. WTF? What the hell did that mean? Was it an insult? Was it derogatory? Did it mean I was kin, or related to these people? Couldn’t they have come up with something more lyrical like, I don’t know, pumpkin, or sweetie pie, or angel [since I was such a perfect child], but no, Kinny stuck for years and years.
Maybe that was the beginning of the mental foraging I went though in order to uncover my true identity. Growing up in overalls and hand-me-downs was the way it was done back then. How much land, or cattle, or pigs determined your status in the grand little town we resided in. Oh yes, it was grand alright. We had a corner store, the one where my sister and I got busted for stealing watermelons, and there was a volunteer fire department. The doctor had an office but usually you just called him up and a short time later he’d show up at your door with his little black bag tucked neatly in his arm pit. He and I had a pretty good relationship because I was a pretty clumsy kid. Yes there are parts of my body that read like a roadmap of my younger days. If I could fall, or it could fall on me, well, that’s usually how everything seemed to happen.
As kids we rode our bikes everywhere or stuck our thumbs out to get around. Back in those days we never thought about the worst case scenario. Never dreamed some stranger would want to steal us and do bad things. We were just young and dumb farm kids. I’m sure there were plenty of perversions unfolding all around us be we were blind to them. We didn’t watch the news, read the paper, or listen to gossip. That was something that adults did not us. Well, actually on the gossip end, when we could get away with it, we would quietly pick up the phone and listen in on our neighbors conversations. Yes, that was back in the day when there were party lines and we shared air time so to speak. It’s amazing what people will say when they think no one else can hear them. We’d discover who was pregnant, who was in jail, who was breaking up, who was fucking who–it was always interesting to know these things even though we never really gave a damn about them. So long as they weren’t talking about us–who cared.
Anyway it was the time of my life when I didn’t have to worry about what was coming next because nothing really ever happened. The most excitement I can remember was playing baseball. I had acquired a bit of a reputation for my pitching and even got a trophy one year that had a pink bubble coming from the lips of the statue they handed to me; a tribute for always having bubble gum in my mouth during the game. Yes, that was my sure thing. Blow a bubble–throw a strike. Those were the days.
Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s was a rather amazing time. We of course, during that era, had our own version of previous ancient wars, the ones we would eventually learn about in school. We had Vietnam, and we became part of a movement that entailed peace, love, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Although I was never into the whole drug thing, many people drifted in and out of consciousness for nearly a decade until they started figuring out that they were never going to have a life in this fucked up annihilated state. Now, you gotta remember that Canada was not in the war, but because there were so many young men that fled there in order to keep their freedom and to stay alive, we felt very much a part of the United States. The thing I remember most about these boys is that they were pretty damn good-looking. Didn’t do me a bit of good though because I was still jail-bait. You see, this just proves that timing is everything.
Anyway, the 70’s came and went in a flurry. When you’re in your twenties time flies as you stumble about trying to discover just who you are. I tried on marriage to my childhood sweetheart. Yep, I hit nineteen and thought I knew it all. Of course, it turned out that I didn’t know anything yet and got divorced a year and a half later. Somehow I could not stay married to a boy who had moved from husband status to brother status inside of a year. As much as we professed to love each other we both eventually agreed it was time to move on and so we did.
Working and living in a steel town where fabulous careers were unheard of just d-u-l-l-e-d me out. Your choice was to work at one of two steel factories, become a nurse [okay so that’s a great career and I would have made a good one I think], or you could work for someone who would wreak the benefits of all your hard labor. That was not what I had in mind for myself. I had dreams, BIG DREAMS, and I was not about to squander the rest of my twenties at a dead-end job. I took a leap of faith, bought a one-way ticket to paradise, and jumped on a plane to sunny opportunistic California. I knew it was my destiny. I wanted something bigger and better than settling on ho-hum, have a baby or two and put on 300 pounds kind of life. I admit now, it was a pretty gutsy move because I only had a few hundred dollars to my name. That didn’t matter though. I was going on an adventure to a new place with my two suitcases, to a place where I didn’t know a soul, TO START A NEW LIFE. That’s the beauty of youth, you think you know everything, know what you’re doing, and you’re stupid enough to believe it. Yep, that’s me. I’ve always loved to stretch my belief in myself and this challenge was right up my alley. Hell I’ve been here now for more than thirty years, married to the same guy for all those years, with two lovely children, so I guess it’s safe to say that things worked out.
So there you go. Now you know how I got here, the rest will come in the form of short stories based on my observations about life, love, family, parenting, and whatever else decides to fall out of my brain only to land on my fingertips.