(not related to the events of the story but evoking the fragility of the little girl in the story’s world)
In December 2008, a Southern Humboldt blogger began posting fictional tales of the marijuana culture. Some people were appalled. Most were enthralled. For three months her stories gripped the online community and then, abruptly, she was gone. Even though SoHumBorn pulled her blog, for months her stories were available in the cached version but eventually they, too, were swallowed into the dark abyss. Recently she gave me permission to revive them. I’ll be doing one each Sunday for awhile. Do you have a favorite? Let me know and I’ll try and include it. The stories of this culture, true and fictional, need to be saved.
This is my favorite…
She’s been up since 5:30. This is Dakota’s first year in school and she just can’t bring herself to put her baby on the bus for an hour and a half every morning. Driving her down herself still takes an hour, but ‘Ko’ can watch her Rugrats & Disney movies, so it’s not to bad. Still, it’s only October and this whole driving down the hill five days a week already sucks.
She chose Redway school instead of the small school that was closer, because she remembered her own transition from a small local school to high school. The majority of the kids at South Fork had all been to Redway elementery and they had formed strong bonds. It had already been decided who was cool and popular among them, and it was hard to break into their social word. She didn’t want Dakota going into her early teens with the added stress of being an outsider, so she’d enrolled her in Redway despite the long drive.
She takes the clothes from the dryer and carrys them over to the couch. The clean fresh warmth of them relaxes her as she folds and sorts them into three piles. Taking a hooded sweat shirt from her own pile, she pulls it on as she heads for the kitchen. She likes having this little piece of the morning alone, it’s a small part of the day that’s just hers.
She turns on the radio and tunes it to KMUD, the voice of this mornings DJ is a familiar comfort as she fills the kettle and the coffee maker with water. She smiles to herself while getting her tea and cup prepared for the hot water. She loves the eclectic, and sometimes a little wacky, shows kmud airs. It makes her husband crazy. A little chuckle escapes her as she remembers the time they were on their way to town, and she had turned on the radio to the old Joan & Michael Good Morning show. They were using that morning’s radio time discussing potholes, apple cider, and a bird they had seen, in their quiet agreeable way. She had been watching the countryside roll by her window as they chatted on, when for no apparent reason he stopped the truck in the middle road. She turned to see him tightly gripping the steering wheel and staring at her. She lifted her eyebrows, her face itself a question. He lifted one brow and slowly turned to face the radio. She had burst out laughing. She reached out and turned it off as he began his biting imitation of their morning banter.
They had driven the rest of the way to town in fits of laughter while debating the merits of local public radio.
His parents hadn’t been hippies. They were an old ranching family, in Humboldt long before the the influx that had forever changed the very fabric of this community.
Her parents had most definitely been hippies. They had bought a cheap piece of land west of Briceland from Bob McKee, moved into a bus and started living their version of the American Dream.
She’d been born in that bus. They had upgraded to a Yurt by the time she had any memories. The homestead had grown up with her, and the house her parents now lived in was as beautiful as it was unique.
Her child hood had been a t.v. free world of fresh goat milk, tofu, & solstice parties. He’d grown up watching Happy Days, eating Kraft singles and Bologna sandwiches, thinking Columbus discovered America.
All their lives, less than twenty-four miles apart.
They met at South Fork, when she’d started there he had been a Junior. They were a couple by the end of her Sophomore year, and they’ve been together ever since.
He was already a pot grower when they got together. He and his best friend had put in a little guerrilla grow their Sophomore year. It had done well and that first flash of cash went in their pockets along with a plan for doubling the garden the next summer. And so it began They’re friendship evolved into a partnership. Always growing, always looking for more places. First outside, then in. Now in his late twenties it’s all he knows.
She had a real job in town for years, but when she’d gotten pregnant they’d bought this place and she’d quit. She took motherhood seriously and focused her life on raising a happy well balanced little person. She’d spent her days taking Ko to check ups, dance class, swimming lessons, and now kindergarten.
She placed the brightly colored bowl on the counter and cracked four eggs into it, holding the bowl at a slight tilt she rhythmically whisked them with a little milk until the three colors and textures became one. Once the eggs were cooked, she sprinkled them with a little cheese , and went to wake her family while it melted.
She wakes him first, smiling, she enters their room. Gently rubbing his arm through the pale blue quilt, she leans down and kisses his forehead. “Hon it’s 6:30.” His gravelly “K… Thanks” came back from a face that did not yet appear to be open for business.
She leaves him and heads to her daughters room. The girl is curled up on her side her dimpled hands holding a plush Eeyore. Leaning down she she rubs her arm, and kisses her forehead. A petite replay. The little body takes a long languorous stretch as she wakes up. “Scrambled eggs?” Little versions of his eyes look into hers “K.”
She heads back to the kitchen, the sleepy faced girl shuffles toward the bathroom.
He’s pouring a cup of coffee. He stops as she enters to give her a kiss and hold her for a few moments rocking her ever so slightly in his arms. She smiles into his eyes as they part. “Do you want some toast?” She asks as she sets the plates on the table. “Sure, thanks Babe” While the bread is toasting she doles out the portions of eggs & places a jar of salsa and a bottle of ketchup on the table. When Dakota joins them her Dad picks her up for a hug and makes her giggle by rubbing his morning stubble against her soft neck. ” did you wash your hands?” her mother asks while pouring milk into the Disney Princess cup. “Yup, wanna smell?” Her Mom & Dad laugh “No, thank you.” says her Mom. Since he’s holding her he cannot escape as she shoves her small damp hands under his nose. He takes a large exaggerated sniff ”Mmmm… delightful.” She promptly grins, quite pleased with his reaction. “It’s my new Rugrats soap. You could use it if you want.” She offers. ” Why, thank you.” he says and tickles her neck one more time before putting her down next to her chair.
While they eat she makes a list of what they need from town. He gives her a run down of his plans for the day. It involves cleaning out of a room and prepping it to be replanted now that CAMP season is over. They’ve talked in code for so long that she understands his plans, though to an outsider it would sound like a bland day of ordinary labor.
She doesn’t allow herself to dwell on what he does. Years ago the novelty and excitement of being involved in a life of crime had worn off… right about the time she got pregnant with Dakota. She had been terrified when Dakota was born. Suddenly the possibility of being caught, and the horrible consequences, seemed to be all she could think about. The fear was paralyzing. She couldn’t go on that way & she couldn’t see any way out. They had a mortgage, car payments, insurance, & a ton of other bills. He didn’t know how to do anything else, & her skills had a worth of about 9 dollars an hour. If he stopped it was only a matter of time before they lost everything they’d risked everything for. So, she’d made a decision and stopped thinking about it. At first it was so hard, but in time, she had been able to let it go… for the most part. Every now and then, when a friend or neighbor got in trouble it would bring the fear back in a rush. Like a Levee breaking, and she would find herself drowning in it all over again. This morning she had it safely packed away.
They finished breakfast and she took Ko to brush her teeth and get dressed while he cleared the table.
She was tying Ko’s shoes when the phone rang. She hears him pick it up. When she hears his tone of voice as he says “What?” the hair on her arms stands up. She picks Ko up and starts walking toward the kitchen. “Fuck, are you serious?” She comes through the door way to find him standing holding the phone in front of his face staring at it like he doesn’t know what it is. She thinks maybe she doesn’t want to know, but she asks anyway. “What’s up Babe?” He turns and sees her standing there holding his little Princess and slams back to life. “Put Ko in the car!” He yells as he jogs across the room. Grabbing her by her sweatshirt sleeve he begins dragging them toward the front door. “What? What’s wrong?!” she’s already getting a lump in her throat and her stomach is a tight painful wad. Shoving the front door open he turns her to face him “They’re at JJ’s! You’ve got to take Ko & get out of here!” Hot tears begin rolling down her face as she runs to the car. She yanks the door open and sits Ko in her booster seat. “What’s wrong Mommy?” Ko’s little face is tight and fearful. “Nothing honey, Mommy’s just being silly, and we’re late. Hurry up and buckle.” As she’s closing the door he comes running out of the house with two large bags and a suitcase. He throws them in the back of the 4runner. while she stands staring at him. He slams the door and turns to her. She has a strange blank look on her face. The adrenaline surges again & he turns his head and throws up in the gravel of the drive way. He turns back to her and sees that she is now staring at the puddle of vomit. He grabs her and shakes her. She looks back at him and he sees her snap back into herself. Her eyes go wide and she begins to ask him what’s happened, but he cuts her off. “JJ called, the cops are at his house. I need you to take Ko and get the fuck out of here! Just go out to your folks house. I’m gonna clean up a few more things here. Then I’ll meet you there, and we can figure out what the hell’s going on O.K.?” She looks in his eyes ” All right.” Taking his face in both her hands she presses her lips hard against his. “I love you” He takes her hands from his face and squeezes them. “I love you” He moves her to the drivers seat and shuts the door. She rolls down the window. “Hurry up K?” she pleads
“I’ll be right behind you.”
She drives down the road with all that previously suppressed fear raging unfettered through her mind. “Mommy can I watch the little mermaid?” She makes a vague affirmative sound and fumbles with the little portable VCR buttons momentarily before starting the movie. The movie plays and she drives on. At the pavement she buckles her own seat belt and heads down the hill.
She sees the convoy and knows he’ll never make it. They are minutes from the house. As her tears begin pouring in steady streams down her face Ariel sings “Wanderin’ free…. Wish I could be part of that world.”