Monday, April 26, 2010

Where The Violets Grow (V)

I was nine or ten
the first time I ran away from home.

My mother had been sent off to St. Louis
for cancer treatments
and the six of us youngest children
were placed under the stern authority
of my older sister Jewel.

To say she abused her power
may be exaggerating-
but at the time,
she seemed to delight in enforcing
dreadful and ridiculous rules
that Linda and I eventually refused to follow.

Now, I suppose the grief over missing our mother
and having the family unit turned upside down-
may have played a huge part in why
Linda and I remember Jewel
as a savage, belt-wielding commando.

But at the time,
all we could think of is escape.

As a surprise, the oldest kids had decided
to paint the living room for Mom.
That meant two things:
(1. )Linda and I were in charge
of the other little brats
and (2.) No one was allowed in the house
for a whole afternoon.

And. believe me, there are only so many places
to hide from screaming, snotty siblings.

Plus, after being the Indians
and tying those wild, little Cowboys up
as tightly as we dared-
we finally had to let them loose-
or incur the wrath of the Jewel-Nazi.

The living room looked great.
All fresh and pretty for Mom...
But for some odd reason,
we weren't allowed to take our baths
in the bathroom that night.

Instead, Linda and I were directed
to a large, galvanized foot tub
in the back yard.
A bar of soap.
And a garden hose.

That was it.
Revolution was imminent.

There was no way on Earth
that Linda and I were going to
strip naked outside
and take a cold bath.
(Even if we did smell like
sweat and dust and dogs.)

Once Dictator Jewel had round up
the smaller kids for the day,
Linda and I made our move.

We ran away.

Ran and ran and ran.

-All the way across the road
to the empty lot.

There was an old well there,
an empty wooden soda crate,
and mounds of purple violets.

It seemed like the perfect place
to make our new home.

As we sat there in the beating sun,
we made important plans concerning our future.
We would stay there during the daytime...
squatting down to hide in the violets
whenever Jewel came out of the house-
and we would sneak back after midnight
to get food and clean clothes.

But pretty soon the sun set.
The lightning bugs came out.
We were hungry.

And we were getting kinda scared
of the dark.

We had probably been across the road
at our new home
for a full thirty minutes or so.

once it got pitch dark outside,
we had no other choice but to return to our prison
and let Jail Keeper Jewel administer her
methods of madness.

Not long after that day,
Mom returned home.
Jewel was knocked down to her place
on the totem pole
and Linda and I were back in
the circle of love...
...Watching TV and playing in our room
and taking hot baths in a real tub.

We never ran away again.

I learned a lesson those long years ago.
I learned that you can't run away from your problems-
You have to stay and face them.

Even if they are as evil and notorious as
G.I. Jewel.

Yet, there are times in my life, even now-
that I wish I could escape stress and responsibility
and decisions.

And run away to
where the violets grow.

P.S. (You know I love you, Jewel!!!)