Flashback Memory: A Crummy Field Trip...


I'm one of those people who has suppressed a lot of my childhood memories.

The thought of that statement annoys me. I never wanted to be someone with fractured thoughts and memories, but the more I look around inside my brain the more it's become apparent that I've got compartments to be unlocked.

Even when I try hard to focus on the past, I cannot think back to before I was four years old. I've got a couple of memories during that time, but most of my recollection comes in from the time I was five to now. There are many breaks in between though. Sometimes I takes a person mentioning something that has happened or some random tidbit that will spark a conjuring of thoughts.

Allison told me a story the other day about an owl that her dad found in the yard. It was rather large, and in my estimation probably a Barn Owl. It died mysteriously and landed on his property. This caused a flicker in my brain and I began to remember a field trip I went on in the second grade. I would have been seven years old and during this time my mom would have been a full-blown alcoholic as well as a drug addict.

She wasn't addicted to crack cocaine yet. Crack wasn't that well known on the drug scene in 1989. Marijuana, and "White Crosses", which were amphetamines, were a a daily devotional. Mom would smoke, snort, or gag down anything you put in front of her. Needles didn't fit her style though so that form of Heroin was out. Everyone's got boundaries.

Dad worked for Coca-Cola as a beverage systems specialist and things were rocky at the workplace by now. Mom's alcohol and drug related shenanigans proved to be too much for a regular work schedule. He and mom had already lost the house and the car due to reckless lifestyles and an inability to conform to adulthood. They were party people and they were bad with money. That combo removed us from a nice bi-level in the suburbs to a $300-a-month dilapidated trailer. Oh how I don't miss that place.

I woke up the morning of the big field trip and I was so excited! Dad had taken me to lots of parks and nature preserves, but there's something about a class field trip that gets you all keyed up to solve the world's problems. You're a better human being the morning you wake up for a field trip. You don't have to do actual school work and you get to explore something new...what could be better? Breakfast perhaps. That would have been too much though.

Dad was off to work and mom's sole responsibility was to get me to school to catch the field trip bus. We would be heading to Governor Bebb Preserve to explore some old village and take the lay of the land. It was going to be great. We were going to check out their little wildlife sanctuary and have a picnic and make pioneer toys and learn about different cultures.

Mom wouldn't wake up though. I was awake. Of course I was awake, I was charged for my upcoming adventure. But I couldn't wake my mom up. She just wouldn't get up. I shook her and I yelled and I pleaded and I just couldn't get her to wake up. This happens sometimes when you have an alcoholic/drug-addict parent. You miss days of school ever now and again because they are sick. This happens sometimes. It's expected sometimes and it's not surprising, but it can't happen on the day of the field trip!

"Mom, WAKE UP!!! Please wake up."

Mom finally came to about two hours after the bus had left for the field trip. I let her know that she was the worst mother in the entire world and that she had ruined my life without saying a single word. I have the ability to do that. I've got a great sourpuss stare that could burn a hole in someone from a hundred yards. Mom decided that she was going to remedy the situation by driving me out to my field trip to meet up with my class. I didn't want to let her do this for me, but I eventually gave in and we were on our way to Governor Bebb.

Upon arriving there we couldn't find any of my class. We did find the bus though. My mom recognized the bus driver as an old friend from high school and they began chatting about things that didn't have anything to do with my field trip. They gave me the go ahead to wander through the park and try to find my teacher or at least someone resembling a responsible adult. I walked around for a little bit and I couldn't find them. I didn't go very far. When you're seven a couple hundred yards seems like a long way.

I headed back to the bus and I couldn't find my mom or the bus driver. I ran around in a mini-panic attack and I found my mom and the bus driver behind the bus smoking dope. They didn't notice me and I ran in the other direction. I remember feeling as if my mom had the ability to turn any normal person into a person who was also terrible. I ran in some other directions and I never did find my class.

On one of my lost paths I came across a strange wooden fenced in dome thing that looked like it housed animals. I moved towards that and I realized that there was a Red Fox in there and some kind of Owl. I walked up to the animals and stared at them. They looked lonely and confined, but for some reason I wished I was in there with them. I remember wanting to be an animal of some kind many times throughout my childhood.

After hanging out with the animals for a while our conversation seemed to become awkward. I ran back to the bus again and I noticed my class heading in the same direction. I went over to them and I tried my hardest to blend in. Excuses were made about where I was and why I was late and I joined them for lunch. We had a picnic in the village and things became somewhat normal. My mom talked to the teacher and I'm sure it was interesting since we probably didn't have the same story together. Mom went home, or wherever she went while we were at school, and I rode back to school on the bus full of kids piloted by a high chauffeur.

When I got home my mom asked me not to say anything to my dad because it would start a fight...so I didn't. I never did. For some reason I always sided with mom growing up.

I thank God for times like this now. Discernment is one of the birthday presents I got when I stepped into Christ's goodness. Time and time again I see that people with alcoholic or drug addicted parents seem to have an increased level of astuteness. I can read people, it's just one of the things I'm good at. I think that not knowing whether you'll be hugged or hit by your parent gives you an intensified sense of awareness. This God of ours uses the worst for the best. He turns the bitter to the sweet and then uses it for His Kingdom. Dang creative of Him if you ask me.



9 waggish utterances thus far...:

Helen Ann said...

This broke my heart into little bitty pieces. I'm sorry that you experienced all of that ugliness as a child...But it is beautiful the way God redeems even the most horrible things.

DanThoms said...

Did Mr. Owl happen to tell you how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? That was a good story of a somewhat repressed memory. Its weird how things will just come to you. Brains are strange things.

Ryan Allen Doan said...

It's funny how those little things trigger crazy memories like that. Sounds, smells, tastes all bring back some sort of memory.

Allison said...

I didn't get around to reading this until today...I was trying not to cry at work as I read it. I lover beans you.

mamawinkler said...

I love you and I want you to know that I consider you MY son. I want to love you like my mommy taught me how to love a child and I will do just that the rest of my life.

Brea said...

Ok, I don't know you, but I feel the urge to give you a hug. And smack your mom. And then praise God, because He is good.

And then I scrolled down the your previous post, and I now want to hug those kids because they're cute enough to eat. Babies in funny hats rule!!

Found you through Ree ... too funny, all your (really cheesy!) mustang questions. :)

dlyn said...

I found your blog from a comment you made on PW's blog. First - I do want to thank you for sharing this memory. I grew up in a functional family for the most part, but know many people who did not but we restored by God's love. I will be checking out your blog a lot more - it looks like a great one!

Lee said...

Sometimes success can be defined as just surviving.

But the fact that you are here, and spilling your guts, and helping others not only survive, but find life... well, that's a portrait of grace.

Thanks.

Jessica said...

I know this is an old post but I just found your site (through pioneer woman!) But I just wanted to say I can SO relate...only my alcoholic/drug-addicted parent was my father...who also molested me. But I found Jesus when I was about 17. Praise God! I can't remember much before I was about 9 or 10 years old. It's kind of scary. Thanks for being so open and honest on your site, it's a blessing!