(Writing 101, Day Fifteen: Your Voice Will Find You
You’re told that an event that’s dear to your heart — an annual fair, festival, or conference — will be cancelled forever (or taken over by an evil organization). Write about it. For your twist, read your piece aloud, multiple times. Hone that voice of yours!)
I knew in my heart that it was coming, but hope was still alive that somehow that little church in southern Minnesota would vote not to call my dad to be their new pastor. I felt bad about hoping so, because I knew he wanted it. And Mom wanted nothing more than to go back to Minnesota where there were close friends and even some family members.
I had been only 10 when we moved from Minneapolis to Portland, Oregon. We hadn’t lived in any one house long enough for me to become attached, and I was very excited to be living near both the mountains and the ocean. For this midwestern flatlander, that was a dream come true.
Now I was fifteen. I’d nearly finished my freshman year of high school at one of the biggest schools in the city. I loved it there. I’d made friends and was looking forward to being a sophomore. I dreamed of being in the choir, and in the drama program. I loved my Spanish class, and wasn’t sure at all that there would be such a class in the little farm town where my folks wanted to take us.
There were other things I loved. Above all, I loved being near the ocean. It has still never lost its magical appeal for me. I’ve never gotten over my wonder at the size of these immense bodies of water that circle and nourish our land masses. I loved the rare ocassions when we could watch a storm over the ocean from the safety of a high cliff.
I loved Mt. Hood. Every day, it stood sentinel over the city of Portland and treated us to the majestic view of its snowcapped shoulders and peak.
I loved the roses. I’d never seen so many roses in one place. Every spring, the city chose a Rose Princess from among its dozen or so high schools. The lovely winner in that contest got to ride on the official Rose Parade float, along with her court of princesses. It was a major event, and one I would never see again.
The Rose Gardens were wonderful. I never got bored with strolling through the vines, bushes, and trellises overflowing with roses of every imaginable color and size. Such an abundance of beauty and perfume. And I would very likely never see it again.
Jantzen Beach was an amusement park that we enjoyed in the summer. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t as big as it is in my memory. It was a great place for a youth activity or a casual date. I don’t even know if it’s still there.
The Columbia and Willamette Rivers meet in Portland. We had friends who had a boat, and they took us out on the river often enough that I became almost as entranced by the water there as I was by the ocean. Almost. River water doesn’t always smell too good near the city.
And, of course, there was my boyfriend. My first real crush. I know, I know. I was only 15 (almost) and what did I know about real love? I knew as much as any 15-year-old could know. I loved him as much as my age, personality, and experience allowed me to love, and I was heartbroken over leaving him. I can’t even tell you how awful it was to say goodbye. I was sure there would never be anyone else, and I was destined to be alone for the rest of my life.
So. The packing up process, one I was very familiar with, began. Lots of stuff got thrown away or given away, and as we pared down our household I said goodbye to some things I knew I would never miss. Still, it was hard. Those years between 10 and 15 include the whole process of emerging from “little girl” to “young woman,” There were mementos that I struggled with emotionally, things I wanted to keep but knew I would never even look at again, in reality.
And finally, the day came. The church my dad pastored had given us a farewell, lots of hugs and tears and “promise me you’ll write.” I’d said goodbye to my friends at school. We still had six weeks of the school year, and I was dreading having to do it in a new place where friendships were already established, and the other kids had known each other all their lives. But time goes on, and soon we were on the road, heading to a new life and leaving everything I loved behind us.
I thought I would never be happy again.
I was wrong.