Did you have a good 4rth? Here in our desert we had the coolest July 4th since 1895 at 86°F. It rained for much of the day and the skies were incredible. There is nothing like the clouds in the desert skies. Since we don't have any trees, you can see the whole storm as it moves in. Pretty spectacular!
This was the view I got to oogle as I drove home from Jazzercise today.
Ok, back to the story.
You'll recall that I had been left 'holding my bag' in the road by the chivalrous Mr. Holmes.
So, what's a girl to do? I walked to the door, tromped up the steps and turned the knob. Locked.
Well then, knock, of course. I did.
It was an eternity before Mama answered the door. When finally she opened it, she simply stood there, drilling me with the most vacant eyes I can recall having ever seen. I was on the ground, she standing above me in the doorway and we seemed to be suspended together in a moment that would never end.
'H..Hh...Hi Mom', I stuttered. No response. I tried to explain what had happened, all the while standing there in the burning sun at the bottom of those broken down metal steps while she quietly surveyed me with a confused expression.
She obviously wasn't happy to see me there. She couldn't understand how it was that I'd come back. What was she thinking, I wondered. She seemed to be in utter shock.
I finally had to ask her whether I could come inside. It was the strangest experience because I had the distinct sensation that in her mind, I was an intruder in her home.
I went into my room to put my things down and unwind. There was a bathroom in my room, which I used. Then, very soon after having arrived, my mother came in and sat down on my bed.
I've never been able to describe quite what it was like during that time. Mama's eyes were vacant, her voice soft and slow. The closest thing I could compare it to was a trance-like state. Her movements were very deliberate and she just seemed determined. But I could make no sense of what she was doing.
The reality was that I'd come home to a full-blown nervous breakdown. I've thought for many years that it was my arrival that caused it, but in hind-sight, I suspect her state of mental incapacity was in full swing when I arrived, perhaps actually kindled by my departure days before.
Mama didn't want to leave my room. She only wanted to pet me and keep me locked up. She'd sit and brush my hair and talk, but I have no memory of what she said. Perhaps I blocked it. I just remember her brushing my hair for hours. I remember that she wouldn't let me out of my room, wouldn't feed me and didn't even want me to get up and use the bathroom.
She would get up and leave the room, but repeatedly tell me to stay where I was. Even after dark when it was time to sleep, she wouldn't leave, but just kept 'petting' me. Not in a sexual way at all, just running her nails gently over my skin and a hairbrush through my hair.
This went on for a couple of days. All the while, I begged her to take me to school. I didn't feel I could leave the house and get help because she watched me continually. Using the phone was out of the question considering her vigilance.
It was terrifying.
I felt imprisoned with no idea how to proceed. 'Please mama, they need me to go to school and finish my work! PLEASE take me to school!' I kept pleading with her, hoping to reason with her.
All during this time, I don't recall being allowed to eat, to leave my room or to bathe.
Finally, on day three, she relented to drive me to school.
We got into the little blue X-tra Cab Toyota Truck and started slowly down the road. She drove the entire 13 miles at 25MPH or less. Most of the road was a 55MPH highway but she wouldn't budge over 25MPH. Again, I urged Mama to go faster, fearing someone would hit us, but my requests fell of deaf ears.
Relief flooded me when we finally arrived at the school. I fairly leapt out of that truck as quickly as I could, telling mama 'Come get me after school. I'll be here.' I fled into what I hoped would be a sanctuary for me. I needed someone sane to give me a place of safety, to guide me as to what to do to help mama.
I found Miss Hansen right away and explained in detail what had been going on. I assumed she'd know just what needed to be done. But somehow, Miss Hansen seemed to think I was making it all up or blowing it out of proportion. She sent me promptly to my desk to get started working as though everything were ordinary.
Tears of frustration filled my eyes. I was helpless. I was vulnerable and evidently, no one seemed to think I was worth helping. Or so it seemed. The old familiar feeling of being 'prey' fixed itself within my heart once again.
But I was desperate and couldn't give up, so next, I found Mr. Hanson, Miss Hanson's father and the principle of the school. But again, I was rebuffed. Somehow, the stories of an eleven year old girl simply weren't to be believed.
Even now, as I type this story, I can feel the gnawing sensation in the pit of my stomach. What to do? How to make them understand? I feared for my life. I knew that mama had fallen as far off the deep end as I could imagine and yet no one else seemed able to recognize it.
I didn't have too much longer to wait. By 11AM, Mama had returned to the school, presumably to retrieve me. It was just as we were about to have lunch. The students were filing into the hallway, where windows looked out on the limestone covered parking area. As I looked out, there was my mama, her truck just about dead center in the parking lot.
But she wasn't just parked there. She was occupied in an activity which was proving to be fascinating to the entire school. She was on her knees, in the dust, and appeared to be bowing to the truck. She was 'walking' on her knees around the truck, arms outstretched above her head touching and lifting off the surface in turn, her lips moving in some unknown incantation. For all the world, it seemed she was worshipping that little blue Toyota.
And every student was suddenly glued to that window. And one frightened young girl simply wanted to melt into the linoleum.