Saturday, December 12, 2009

Travis, part 1

The long dusty drive out to Aunt Laverne's had exactly three landmarks: the tin roofed Wilson's barbeque shack bellowing its sweet smoke from the pit where dark skinned men tended its fire in the sweltering Texas heat, the graveyard built near the lake with limestone so solid graves had to be blasted from the rock instead of dug out, and the crossing of the train tracks where Uncle Travis had been killed when he was just 11 years old.

Tori had heard that story many times when the car rumbled over the tracks, as if the sound cued the sad retelling of the family's history as they crossed into the land that had been her great grandfather's after he had sharecropped himself into land ownership here in the middle of the flat Texas landscape of Limestone County.

Travis and his big brother Price, 17 at the time, were spending their summers on the ice truck, a lucrative business for that part of the country. Iceboxes had to be regularly resupplied with blocks cut from the truck's precious glacier and as a summer job, Tori thought, it had to be nice to be able to lean up against something so cold in the midst of the infernal heat of a Texas summer.

Details were always sketchy, but when the truck stalled on the tracks with the train bearing down, Price somehow leapt from the cab and Travis did not. Tori often wondered if they had been racing the train, having fun, laughing when tragedy struck. She often had visions of the moment the engine died, the joyful laughter turning to terrified stares. Did Price scream at Travis to jump? Was he just frozen on the spot? Every time she thought of that question, she thought of the ice and when she was really small, thought perhaps that was where the saying came from.

So poor Travis was buried in a hole that had to be dynamited open from the earth before his small coffin was lowered into it and when Tori was finally freed to roam (while the endless adult "visiting" continued on the front porch as the afternoon wore on) she visited Travis' grave. The pecan grove was between the house and the graveyard and at the right time of the year she would collect the big paper shelled nuts in her pockets and sit on Travis' stone and talk to him while she ate them under the shade of the tree planted next to his grave. She would wander down and search the edge of the river bed for the just the right stone, sometimes smooth, sometimes with interesting angles and bring it back to him, describing in detail the color and weight and look of it before tucking into the shade tree's crevice. And every visit she would pull out their collection and lay it in a line across the tombstone, talking about each one again, as if he could hear her.

When the sun began to lower she said her goodbyes and wandered slowly back to the house, waiting until the voices began calling to her before she made her appearance. If they had lost track of time and not noticed her evening absence, she would slide down against the rabbit hutch and wait, hoping to be missed.
Friday, December 11, 2009


I have spent part of this evening surfing random blogs, peeking in to people's odd little lives, and being struck by the utter banality of craziness.

It's so tiring.

And I think that is why I am so reticent to become a daily blogger.

I don't want to bore myself nor anyone else.

Nor do I want to write endlessly about how I should write more, or write better, or any of the myriad of "should'ves" and self-flagellation that seem to litter the landscape of the blogosphere.

Enough of the should'ves. Do it or don't, but stop incessantly whining about it either way.

Everyone is crazy, everyone is bored, everyone is unique, just like everybody else.


I am not in the camp of thought that somehow the world is sliding down the slippery slope, that everything was somehow better in the past, because one would have to be completely blind to the rise and fall of mighty civilizations, far better and worse than our own, to not know that cycles and waves are at the core of all humanity, of the universe.

And yet, the rise of this nauseating, boring self absorption, or perhaps the ability for people to share this self absorption so easily, is what grates on my last nerve this evening.

So instead here I am complaining about people complaining, silly girl.

In short, I'm healthy, getting healthier, with my sights set on rocking a hot bathing suit poolside at the resort in Phoenix this April. I have dear, intimate friends with whom I can commune both close and far. I live in a place that brings me endless joy. I read, I write (not publicly, as you can tell), I exult in music daily. And best of all, I am madly in love with my family, who loves me, in return, unconditionally. I am blessed.

And none of that bores me in the least.