Personal Memoir

Final Draft:

Second Draft:

My Sky of Diamonds

Springfield. It’s an odd name, the meaning lost in what the title actually represents. I suppose it doesn’t matter what the name was, it was home. When I visited my grandparents, Springfield is where I came. I knew the city and all its streets unbelievably well for my young age. It was all I could hope for in a home town. Not huge and extravagant, but diverse enough to keep it interesting. If it ever proved too boring, Branson was never too far away. Coming back when I was older, people would make fun of Springfield, those who had previously lived in the big cities of America, and how it was just a southern, hick place to live. I always defended it because it meant more to me than any of those other crazy, overpopulated urban places ever could. I couldn’t tell you if this is where I am meant to live out the rest of my life or if I would even want to, but I know this place will always be my home.

When I was little, five or six maybe, my family and I lived in this little one story house in Springfield, MO. This was the place where my mom’s and dad’s families branched out from living with my grandparents. It’s the place my aunt’s and uncle’s have all lived together with my parents in one town. From then we all moved on to different zip codes, neighborhoods, and even states.

I had a good, close family. We were tight. For years I remember it being just the four of us: Mom, Dad, my sister Kate, and me. (One or two dogs were thrown in along the way, of course.)We stuck together, we did almost everything together. As we all grew up and out, we become more and more of our own people than our dear foursome. Until that point in our lives, we were still an ‘us’.

I remember sharing a room with my sister for a few years. I had my own room when I was a baby and a toddler, but once I was of age, it was bunking with Kate for me. I can still remember the day it happened noticeably clear. Kate’s room was huge, big enough for two no doubt, and right next to mine. An easy move they figured, and it would give my parents extra space for office stuff or whatever. I think my mom wanted to grow plants in there. Yea, I never got the indoor plant thing either. An easy move? Yeah right. I held on to my bed posts for dear life, unable to grip or reach anything else in my room. Even with my extensive death grip, my dad still found a way to transport the bed in between the two rooms, with screaming me still attached. Before I could pop out a few pity tears, I was in Kate’s room. The pouting proceeded for the rest of the day: no difference. I was still in our room.

After our time was up in Springfield, we followed the rest of my family out of that town. From there we landed in Joplin, MO where my dad had gotten a job to manage the Dillon’s supermarket that had just opened there. Almost my whole family found careers in the grocery business, at least one person in each family had worked at Dillon’s. The strange thing is that other than being able to navigate myself around any supermarket remarkably well, the only thing I learned from my grocery-oriented family was this: never work in the grocery business. I guess it turned out to be one of those jobs where you start out as a bag boy looking for some money to buy a car and next thing you know its 20 some years later and your name tag still reads “Employee of Dillon’s”.

It was one fairly uneventful year in Joplin before we took off for Leavenworth, KS a small army town outside of Kansas City. If you have heard of people talking about Leavenworth, it’s usually something involving this phrase, “Leavenworth: Home of the Penitentiary”.

Leavenworth was unlike anywhere I had ever been, it was old and flat, whereas I was used to hills and modernization. I made friends in that town that I still keep with me today. Spending five years there, I finally gave up on hoping we would move and decided to look for that silver lining in the gloom that was Leavenworth. After a while it wasn’t too bad, it was just like anytime you live somewhere for a good amount of time, you simply can’t imagine life anywhere else, even if you would rather be somewhere else.

Five years later I was still in that same town. I had friends there no doubt, some good memories, bad ones, and some I knew I would never forget. I knew, I’m pretty sure we all knew that Leavenworth wasn’t the place for us. Something was just wrong, out of place. We had finally decided to get out of there; from there we were planning on moving to Olathe, KS which is where my cousins lived. It wasn’t far from Leavenworth, maybe a half an hour, but it was bigger and different from the sad town we were used to. It was time to get out.

I can still remember to this day my mom and I were sitting in the living room just watching TV or something like that, and I remember feeling bored or frustrated and I just looked at her and said, “I want to go home.”

We looked for houses, tied up loose ends; we had done almost everything we needed to to move. One day my dad had informed us that he had met up with a district supervisor of Summer Fresh Super Markets and he was lining up to manage a store on the lake town of Kimberling City, near Table Rock Lake. More importantly, Kimberling City was less than an hour away from Springfield. Olathe would have been great, I would have been with my cousins, one of which has been known to be my best friend. Instead we were heading south to Missouri, more important than anything: we were going home.

Okay so I guess not home. Summer with my grandparents at the lake, and then we would go to Springfield. We already had made all of the plans to get out of Leavenworth and go to Olathe, sold the house and everything was packed. Now that we don’t have a house, we just went to my grandparent’s. It’s one of the most beautiful places in my opinion, a stone three-story house right off the lake and about ten minutes from Kimberling City. 

It truly was an amazing summer, one of my favorites. Family coming in and out to spend time at the lake, friends of my grandpa and grandma, and just spending everyday whenever I wanted down at the water.

            Have you ever been asked that question; “If you could choose one, would you rather have the ability to fly or be able to breather underwater?” That was a dumb question for me. I will always choose the water. There’s never a better feeling than being underwater and just listening to the water, feeling it around you, moving your hair whichever way it chooses.  In a way it is like flying, just in reverse. Some altitudes are too high and you can’t breathe, like in the water. Instead of going as high as you want, you can go as low as you want and in any direction you want. The thing about air though is that when you stay, you tend to fall fairly quickly. In the water you can just float, gently sink if you so choose and have the lung capacity for it. You can’t hear anything underwater, not clear anyway; maybe muffled motors in the distant or the ending clap of a perfectly executed cannon ball. The downside to water is the view, can’t see much even if you have the bravery to open your eyes. That’s the upside to flying, all the beautiful things you could see as far or close as you want to see them. Water will always be it for me though. Flying can be exciting and beautiful, but water is enchanting.

Each beautiful sun-filled day added up to one more day until school would start and we needed to move into to our new Springfieldian residence. I would live at the lake if I ever had the chance, even being fair skinned I got used to the sun burns and constant application of sun screen. Even so, Springfield was the place for us to start a new chapter in our lives. Kate was starting high school, I was starting junior high, Dad had a new job, and Mom was busy with setting up our new home. We weren’t really an ‘us’ anymore. I slowly became ok with that; we were being our own separate persons. I was ok with it until I figured out we were on our way to never being our foursome ever again.

To this day I’m still unsure of what happened, unless you had the chance to crawl inside my mother’s head and pop around for a while you never will either. She just . . . changed. For better: I guess some. For worse: most definitely. I never handled change well; must we flash back to the room- switch incident? I tried my hardest to keep it together, but I was the youngest, who did I have to be strong for? I wish I wasn’t so caught in what I felt to miss so much of what my dad was feeling. For a while he didn’t know what to think, none of us did.

Kate seemed fairly unfazed. She had never gotten along with mom. A car ride is what I remember of them, where they would break out in one of their infamous fights and I would sit in the back seat saying Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers, hoping one of which would make the screaming cease. I understand now that they are just two of the same people, still fighting whenever put in the same room. Both were blunt and outspoken, stubborn and selfish, an immense difference from my dad and I.

From then on we learned to function as a threesome. Having a fourth one around to pick up the slack would be nice, but we were determined to do it ourselves. And we did.

Our lives really started to fall into place after that. School always came by as difficult for me, not academically, but I hated trying to make new friends after moving somewhere new. I started finding people I could trust and just hang out with, a huge achievement for me. Kate settled in just fine, but you could tell she began to loosen up without mom keeping constant watch on her; the whole house became more relaxed.

My dad had the biggest trouble; he would just sulk at home each night watching TV after he came home from work. I was 14 at the time and didn’t know what purpose I could serve for him other than trying to pick up on house work, and gladly did. Occasionally we would fall back into a foursome of sorts, but not the one I distantly remembered. The one now was filled with more dysfunction and awkwardness then the previous one. All of us began to realize, one more reluctant than the others, that normalcy would only make its way back into our lives it we didn’t try to exist as a family of four anymore.

We were still a family after that, the word just taking on a different meaning; and we were in fact home, but the three of us together made that happen, not necessarily my beloved town. The moving, the yelling, the room switching; I began to realize those weren’t just changes to see if we could adjust somewhere but they were obstacles to get us where we are now. Where we needed to be, should be.

Published on February 11, 2009 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

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