Let Me Out!

Wooden cabin at Lake O'Hara, Yoho National Park, CanadaOur German friends stood in the same spot as a few days earlier, smiling and waving  – goodbye this time. The train started moving and Neils ran along the platform, his long legs sprinting. The kids banged on the window, laughing as they watched him finally give up and raise his arms in a haphazard wave.

Once out of town, I slipped on my headphones. Homeward Bound of all songs played. The melody brought a feeling of melancholy. At the moment I wanted to be someplace else, someplace far away – where life wasn’t screaming in my face.

* * *

Our Volvo clunked down the highway. Now sixteen and captive in the back seat, my sisters and I had to endure Mom and Dad’s bickering for five painful hours as we headed out for a Fourth of July weekend. My parents reuniting was the dumbest idea of the seventies. Sure, the parade of Mom’s weird boyfriends ended and some order was resumed at our house, but things now seemed worse than ever.

I felt every bump our car flew over. Dad wanted to hear the baseball game and Mom wanted to listen to her Gladys Knight tape. Mom wanted to keep her novel on the dashboard and Dad complained about the glare it caused in the windshield. When she didn’t move it, he grabbed it and threw it down. Mom retrieved it and slammed it back on the dash.

Five hours of this.

God, I missed my headphones. Barb buried herself in her teen magazine. Carol just stared out the window. I really didn’t want to be taking this trip. My twice-divorced Grandma (Mom’s mom) had just married a multi-millionaire. We’d heard about their flights to DC on his private jet and had seen photos of them posing with President Ford. I’d met Hobie briefly at their wedding reception held on the top floor of the tallest hotel in Portland. Needless to say, my new “grandfather” was preoccupied most of the night.

Hobie had invited the entire family to his lakeside home in Oregon, Cousins, Aunts, Uncles – everybody was planning to come.

I wasn’t looking forward to this weekend. Museum-like houses and snobby people made me uncomfortable. What would this important man think of our dysfunctional family?

We turned inland and drove through a forested road. After a while a shimmering green lake appeared. The afternoon sun warmed the green trees. A small gravel road lead to a small peninsula which Mom insisted was the way. Dad kept driving and we ended up on a dead end road. As our car slowed to turn around I just wanted to jump out.

We rounded a bend and Mom confirmed we’d arrived at Hobie’s estate. The car stopped and I peered out my window, I saw no mansion, chateau, or palace – rather a redwood sided cabin with bright turquoise trim nestled between rhododendrons and cedar trees.

NEXT: A Lake, A Cabin and a Little Hope


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