The Road Revisited

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

"I Bet You Have Moms All Over the Country, Don't You?"

I woke up in the driver's seat with frozen toes and a kink in my neck, but I didn't care. I had plans to meet Julie, Bill and Mike for pancakes and bacon that morning and plans to hike Mt. Rainier that night, so nothing could ruin my day. I actually ended up eating two breakfasts that day, as while I was getting my clean clothes together for a shower, the big family from across the way, the Humels, invited me over for waffles and eggs.

Roy was there, along with his son and very pretty daughter-in-law and their four kids, as well as his wife, who was busy inside making breakfast. Through the screen door I heard her tell one of the small daughters to ask me how I like my eggs. The shy girl, about ten, emerged from the camper and picked her way slowly down the metal steps. "How do you like your eggs?" she asked in barely a whisper, cheeks flushed, eyes shifting, face painted with a shy smile.
I tried to ease her shyness with a warm smile of my own, only half on purpose. I was feeling very shy myself, overcome with welcome. I had nothing to give these people in return. "Over-medium. Thank you."
She looked down at the ground and whispered, "Okay" before turning quickly to scamper back to her grandmother.

There was also another old man, a thin, white-haired man in a well-worn cap and boat shoes. He sat crossed-legged in a lawn chair, leaning back and watching the activity through large, dark glasses. He said nothing, but a smile played at his lips. I assumed he was the blonde mother's father.

Roy and his son, Rob (it's too cute) asked me tons of questions and pretty soon the conversation turned to marriage and children. I spoke about The Old Standby Conundrum, how it seems all my friends are getting married while I'm a reckless little girl who sleeps in a Civic and can't maintain a successful relationship with a man, much less a stable, healthy man to save my life. How I manage to fall for the jobless, the uneducated, the alcoholics, the pathological liars, even a convict. They laughed as I regaled them with horror stories, but I wasn't laughing on the inside. "Part of why I'm out here is to figure out why I do that," I told them. "If I can learn more about myself, then eventually that has to reveal itself, don't you think?"
Rob nodded. "Yeah. But you're still lucky."
"I know."

And to prove my point, both Rob and his wife, Melinda, looked awfully young to have four children, only in their early-thirties. I watched Melinda tuck her blonde curls behind her ear and kiss a boo-boo. She was such a natural, and didn't look at all harried or sullen because of her kids like so many young mothers do. She and her family had just celebrated her thirty-second birthday, but she could still pass for twenty-four. "How does she do it?" I wondered. "Your children are beautiful," I told her.
"Thank you," she said. Her voice sounded like music. Why couldn't I be like her?

Rob was somewhat more what I would imagine a young father of four to be: overwhelmed, annoyed at what his life has become. More than once during our conversation he remarked on how lucky I was to have freedom from responsibility. I didn't like the way he looked at me sometimes, as though he was undressing me in his head. I could easily picture him not thinking twice about leaving his wedding ring in the car on a night out with the boys in the hopes of getting a hand-job from a random girl in the back booth, just to regain a sliver of the feeling of being young and reckless. Yet he had made his choices. He had married Melinda of his own free will, not because of an unexpected pregnancy. And here he was, with a gorgeous, kind wife and four beautiful, polite children. But it didn't matter. Like so many men, he doesn't see the good in what he has, too busy dwelling on what he doesn't. For as lucky ss I am, he doesn't realize how lucky he is.

When the conversation lulled, Roy leaned back in his chair and yawned. "Yep, this here's four generations of Humel's right here."
"This here's my father." He gestured to the white-haired man sitting quietly beside us.
"Oh my gosh! Really?!" I was amazed. It was so nice to see such a large family gathering, even if the third generation was creeping me out.

Eventually I excused myself because I was late to meet Julie, Bill and Mike down at the common room for (more) breakfast. I thanked Mrs. Humel for her fantastic cooking, then jogged down the hill. I found the three of them in the game room, Bill and Mike wrapped up in a hot game of Air Hockey and Julie playing Mrs. Pac-Man. Breakfast was just about over but I grabbed a coffee and a couple eggs since the cooks were getting ready to throw them out anyway. (I hate to waste food.) Julie turned briefly to say hello, then went back to eating ghosts. Bill laughed his terrific laugh every time he or Mike made a good shot or defensive move on the hockey table. Mike won and we all clapped. Then together we made our way back up the hill to our sites. "You did pretty good at that Mrs. Pac-Man!" I said to Julie.
"Oh, yeah, I used to play all the time! My girlfriend and I, when we were working, we'd take our lunch breaks and go to the arcade. We'd laugh, because our kids were in school but we were at the arcade playing Pac-Man!"
"So what're your plans for the rest of the day?" Bill asked me.
"Well, I'm going to Mt. Rainier. And I guess I should go into Leavenworth, too, just to check it out since I'm here."
"Oh, yeah, you gotta see the town," they all said.

Julie asked for my blog URL so she could keep up with me. "I bet you have moms all over the country, don't you?"
She was right, but it made me blush. "Eh. People check up on me sometimes."

I didn't want to drive away. I wanted to take them all with me. But, like always, there was no room, so I just waved goodbye.


At 9:08 AM, Blogger kellywester said...

Oh, I really liked these two posts about Bill, Julie, and Mike!


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