Nothing but birds, the distant sound of a tractor, and the huffing of a twelve-year-old who spent too long trapped in the walls of suburbia were all that could be heard that summer night. It was a brand spanking new summer, the kind that hours at your desk, cleaning out your cubby, and violin lessons were filled with fantasizing about.
I’d just moved from Valpo to The-Middle-Ova-Fucking-Cornfield Indiana. We were minutes away from a major university, but from our house it didn’t seem that way. This was still before all the land behind the house was ripped to shit to make more room for copycat box houses that dot the Midwest as a result of burned out ingenuity and greed. You could see forever. The sunsets were like watching the goo drop from the top of a lava lamp and languidly lower itself to the bottom of the soybean framed horizon. I’d never seen something so vast, so big as this world.
My parents were busy with pulling our lives out of cardboard boxes and my sister was already making a name for herself in the local sports world, a common side effect of being six-feet-tall with any semblance of grace. I had just released my hair from its years of captivity in braids and crowned my head with a giant poof contained by a single scrunchie scrounged from the head of a prepubescent gymnast. My glasses were much too small for my face, and my outfit contained more elastic than acceptable for anyone but the elderly and the obese. But I didn’t give a rat’s ass, I was twelve. I was rapidly becoming aware of my own me-ness. The self-developed outside of the parents sculpting hands.
No one else in my family was doing something like this, running a full out sprint with no destination with the never-ending hope that eventually my feet would leave the ground and let my body join the rapidly reddening sky ahead of me. It was the feeling of sheer freedom that could not be ignored. I found this rock, this big boulder like thing, just sitting out in the tall grass of the field. It was drenched with meaning and signs, I was sure of it. I scoured the surface for secret symbols, or the prayers of the Indians that once dotted the land before we shooed them off on the Potawatamee Trail of Death, a pleasant name for a walking trail. I plopped my sweatpant-laden ass on the top of my Magic Boulder, refusing to dismiss it’s sacredness, despite any rune ornamentation. The sun was finally tugged under the soybean field leaving a red and orange streak in the sky where it was as night descended. Stars poked through the dark sheet and soon I was seeing the night sky in a way that’s only possible in the boonies. Clear constellations cut across the sky and you could see all the layers of light. A giant game of connect the dots with the universe. Heaven presents itself.
The beautiful show was of course cut short by my mother hollering from the back porch, a move straight out of a Rockwell painting hung in Gram’s living room. I waddled back, the sprint out to the rock was pretty damn tiring to a kid who spent the last month glued to a computer and Zebra Cakes. I had yet to make any friends in this God forsaken place, despite my mother’s heartfelt efforts of throwing me in the Summer Strings program. I nearly shit a brick at the first rehearsal when I realized all the different instruments were playing different parts. My musical mind was blown. The hotshot musician I was in my fifth grade orchestra was suddenly being questioned as we sight-read at a blazing speed through the cowboy orgy of a piece “Josie and James”. I spent the breaks glued to my seat reading and peering out at the kids who would accompany me through the next six years of my education. Trying to decide where I would weasel my way in. There were gaggles of Asians talking fast in languages I hadn’t heard since living in California and gesturing even faster. Girls half my size with hair twice as light complaining about their mothers decisions to delay their introduction to makeup yet another year. I was feeling rather fucked. These night runs to nowhere were where I began to realize the beauty of starting over. A complete reinvention.
I set out to make myself an enigma—that quiet edgy girl who everyone tried to read. My loud ass mouth quickly killed this plan, but I made it through the next six years with great friends and better memories on the other side. It wasn’t until I left the Cross Roads of America that I realized how much growing up in Hoosierland shaped my life. As Mr. Tom Petty said, “She grew up tall and she grew up right, with them Indiana boys on those Indiana nights”. These tales are mishmash of events from the summer following my sophomore year to the present summer of freedom after my freshman year of college. The names of people who’d give-a-fuck have been changed and adoring nicknames remain. Exaggeration should be expected, but aside from that, it’s all stone cold truth baby. A combination of excerpts from my journals, twisted memories, and reminiscent recollecting with friends went in to creating this monster. Take a trip down memory lane, and in this case there’s kinda sorta a lot of tripping along the way.