February 4, 2008

Corley [kor-li] - proper noun


events and such that define my being 10-15

It has been a while since I took time to reflect on my past. Tonight seems like the perfect night. Texas, in true form, is gracing us with some beautiful warm weather, despite last week's freezing temperatures. This makes me feel creative and nostalgic. Lucky you.
Some things I bring up maybe posted already, but they need to be included, so suck it up.

-When I was nine my mother got involved in her first serious relationship since she and my father divorced. It is an adorable story, no doubt about it. My mother and her sister went out dancing for her birthday, and while at this country bar a couple of drunk guys started harassing them. Since the guys were obviously not going to go away my mother took action, and went up to the first approachable looking guy she saw. "Play along," she told him and the quickly went into, "My goodness! I haven't seen you in forever! How have you been?" She struck up conversation with this man, Mack, asking him all sorts of familiar questions: "How are the kids? Work? Where are you living these days?" He answered them all honestly, and at the end of the night she gave him her work number so that they might go out some time.

-At this point in my life we were living a nearly meat-free existence. We ate chicken or fish once a week or so, but it is expensive, so we didn't have a whole lot of it. This was fine with me - I never really liked the stuff. Mack isn't that kind of guy, though. He hunts and he eats meat at every meal. This was new to me. During Christmas break Mack took me and his daughter, Brooke, who was a year older than me, hunting with him. It should be fun, right? Like camping is fun. It rained the whole weekend, and we spent most of our time in the camper (It hardly deserves that title) playing cards and making up songs about how cold it was. We spent a little time up in the deer blind, and Mack shot a doe, which he hung outside the window we slept next to. This sort of got to me, but I just tried not to look. The morning we were to leave Mack took a walk around the property while Brooke and I got ready. "Girls, we're gonna head out a little early. I thought I heard running water, but I couldn't see any. I don't want to get flooded in." We packed up the truck, doe and all, and took off. About a third of the way to the main gate we came to a dip in the road that was full of moving water. Mack shed his camoflage cover-alls and waded out the deepest part, which came up to his thighs. He came back and put his cover-alls back on. We sat in silence for a minute or two. "Well, there is no cell phone reception here. The water isn't too deep, and the current isn't very strong. We are going to try and cross."

Is everyone shaking their head? Thinking of news reports, and how they always tell you to turn around if there is water over a road? Well, we didn't really have that option.

So we drove out, and half way through the water the truck stalled. Mack did a little cursing, and told us to grab our things. He then picked us up (this time without the luxury of taking off his cover-alls) and walked us to the other side. We began waking. Brooke and I dramatically over-reacted, not realizing that the dangerous part was over. I did some audible praying as we walked the six rainy and cold miles toward the main road. Finally, a man in an old modified mail truck stopped and asked if we needed help. Mack told him about our predicament, and the man left for a larger vehicle, meeting us again about a mile later. He took us back to his house so that Mack could call my mother and tell her what had happened, and then drove us into town to get a room at a hotel until my mother could get there. She did later that night, and Mack bought us all dinner at what seemed to be the only restaurant in Junction, Texas. We got home late that night, but I had one hell of a story to tell when school resumed.

I have always been an unreasonably superstitious person. I took this whole event to heart. This was an omen that I should not participate in killing animals, obviously. I didn't even like meat much, anyway. About six months later, when I became a vegetarian at eleven, this was part of my reasoning.

- Mack and my moother married on June 9th, 1995. I thought it really inconsiderate that they married nine days before my birthday, stealing my thunder. Oh, to be an adolescent.

- Brooke's birthday is about a month before mine, May 20th. That year instead of going on the annual HUGE family beach trip, we were going for Brooke's birthday as a group limited to Mack, Mom and us girls. School had just gotten out, but Brooke and I were already bored during the day at home by ourselves. We were planning to leave on a Friday after Mom and Mack got home from work, but Brooke and I were so bored, and so anxious to go to the beach, that we were tearing out our hair. We decided that we would make some food. I can't remember what it was we had decided to make, only that one of the things we needed was on a top cabinet shelf next to the stove. Ever graceful, Brooke decided to climb up onto the counter to get it, but when she went to lower herself back down to the ground, her foot slipped, and she knocked a nob off of the stove, starting a gas leak. I can remember backing away from the stove, and grabbing the phone (which you are not supposed to do!) to call my mother. She called the fire department and my grandmother, who came to wait with us. I was more afraid that my mother and grandmother would see how messy the house was than I was of the fact that our house was filling with explosive natural gas. When the firemen arrived, they were unable to find the cut-off to the stove, so they cut off gas to the entire house. My mother called a service man to come and re-light all of the pilots. As chance would have it, this man had worked for the construction company that had built our house back before they went under in the eighties, and knew his way around. About 45 minutes later he called Mom into the garage to look at the water heater. "M'am, if I were you, I'd consider myself lucky. See, this copper line here? The gas flows through it, but ours is corroded. It would only be a number of days, a very few number of days, before you had a very serious problem on your hands. Mostly likely, an explosion." This hot water heater was directly under the bedroom I shared with Brooke, and we were trying to sell our house so that we could move into one that would actually fit the whole family. In any situation, explosions are bad. My mother and Mack had to spend a lot of money that weekend. Not only did we still take our trip, but they also had to buy a new stove and a new hot water heater. The fact remains that Brooke and I saved the world that day, or something close to it.

- That same summer my mother told me that I MUST pick a summer camp. She was tired of me sitting around all summer. So I picked the most expensive camp I could think of: riding camp. I immediately fell in love with riding. Guess who pays for it now? Me.

- When I was thirteen one of the most important people in my life since Annie Tannie passed away. "Granny" babysat both me and Sara from the time we were 3 months old. She was old fashioned when it came to kids, but it worked. I was potty trained in a day, I believe she gave me an ultimatum. She was an incredible woman, and offered to be my "substitute grandma" when Annie Tannie died. Once, when I was about four, I brought some costume clip on earrings that Annie Tannie had given me, to Grannie's house. Of course, I left them behind, and she put them away, telling her granddaughter, Emily, that I was too young to appreciate them, and she would give them bak when I was older. A few weeks after her funeral I got a package in the mail from Emily containing a note and the earrings. Now I am old enough to care for them, and I plan to someday wear them on my wedding day.

- At fifteen I zipped into my over-achiever stage and began taking classes at Austin Community College. Before I finished high school I had taking five semesters of American Sign Language, some History, and computer courses. I started at UT in the fall of 2002 as a sophomore. Sadly, I had slumped out of my over-achieving stage.

So, here we are, at 15. Only two more segments to go before I have caught up with myself.

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