I grew up on the move, in the midst of a custody battle, never staying in one place for long. The only time I went to school was in Ketchikan Alaska, 5th grade, under an assumed name. We spent one year there, slipping in quietly and making our exit on precisely the same day the following year. I had a little brother who was ill quite often, and a sister born there, which contributed to my farther abandonment.
It was heavenly. If God were going to make His home here on Earth, I think he’d choose Alaska. Everything is so huge, so majestic, it makes you feel very small and leaves you in a state of awe. Even the mosquitos are bigger and badder than you.
School was everything I dreamed of and more. Academically I was always way ahead, so that was no problem. Girls however, puzzled me, so I ran with the boys. It’s not that I didn’t like girls, they mostly didn’t like me, and I found them to be incredibly boring. Boys however, were fascinating. We’d play king of the mountain on this giant hill of ice and I had the wind knocked out of me often. Sometimes I’d win the mountain and they would circle around trying to reclaim it with a ferociousness that surprised me.
We pretty much lived on the waterfront, under the wharf, looking for whatever trouble we could find. We’d steal people’s garbage can lids and sled down hills, feed ourselves off samples available in little shops, and hijack the ferry to nowhere, pretending it was a pirate ship. The ferry to nowhere of course, is the ferry that takes you to the Ketchikan airport, made infamous by politics, Sarah Palin, and a bunch of hyperbole about bridges to nowhere.
One day I found the boys under the wharf and interupted their pursuit of smut in a stack on National Geographics, by informing them that there was an abandoned Hostess truck in the parking lot. The driver had forgotten to lock the back door and gone into a bar. I do so hope the statute of limitations has expired on petty theft, because we ate so many Twinkies and Ho Hos that to this day I cannot stand the things. Snowballs are the worst, the very worst. I can’t even look at them without cringing.
We were fearless back then and quite shameless, too. When boys are 11, before that nearly impenetrable wall of male pride and ego sets in, a girl can walk right up and inform them that they’re doing their hooliganism all wrong. With all the wonder and curiosity of childhood they’ll look up excited and say, really? Show us how to do it better!
Never one to back away from a challenge, that is precisely what I did.