A few years ago- June 11, 2014, to be exact- the Writing 101 class on WordPress was in full swing. Treating my blog like a second Twitter since I hadn’t formed good blogging habits yet, I posted five posts a day full of worthless drivel about whatever meaningless teenage angsting I was doing at the time and threw in a chapter from the story I was writing at the time. I’m not going to link to any of it, of course, since I value my reputation and would rather not have my first crappy steps into the blogging world revealed. Of course, having received my assignment for Writing 101, I had two options- actually go out of my room to head to a public place and write down my observations, or complain about my family cleaning out the office next to my room so that the older of my brothers could have a room to themselves instead of sharing. 14-year-old Vane chose to do the latter, so here I am today, trying to
write right a wrong. (I suppose that “write” could be an acceptable choice as well, although the quality waits to be judged in the light of a midnight retelling of a corrupted memory with frozen fingers…)
On July 6, 2014, I found myself sitting on a cheap plastic chair, staying away from the ledge of a river boat so that I wouldn’t accidentally run the risk of having an inconsiderate brother knock into me and then accidentally having my personal belongings tumble overboard into said river. The name on the side had been faded from many decades of use to the point where I couldn’t identify on the docks which one of the boats would be taking my family on an idyllic trip downriver, and heading downstairs to the bar and having a drunk person look at it didn’t make the name any note discernable. All the people here were either drunks, middle-aged parents trying and failing to control their children, or teenagers trying to earn a summer keep so that they could flee the next as soon as possible.
“Vane? You okay?” My father caught me staring at the scintillations in the river caught in the sunlight, but these were clearly different from the ocular migraines that I’d suffer from frequently during middle school. “You’ve been staring for a while. Do you want to trade seats? Maybe take a few pictures?”
“No, Dad, it’s okay.” I clutched my purse tighter to my chest, trying to obscure the smear of blue Sharpie reading “one more day left” on my left forearm intended to count down the days until tomorrow. Mom had mistaken it for a shoddily-done tattoo on the loading dock, making a big deal about it to nobody’s amusement.
“You look a bit pale.” In retrospect, my father had a few less gray hairs in his beard back then. The job market had never been particularly nice to us, and being an English teacher didn’t exactly have our family rolling in the dough. We always had a roof over our heads and food on the table, however.
“I’m fine. I promise.” Lies, lies, all lies… This vacation was at least useful for distracting myself from the shame of being coerced into wasting two weeks of my summer vacation. Those fated hours had been spent waiting for a certain unnamed friend who had gotten grounded to have her contact to the outside world restored. This was before I had come out as bisexual to my friends and parents and had fallen head over heels for this girl, and she’d fallen out of her parents’ good graces by being outed as a writer of shitty smut for inconsequential fandoms.
“Alright. Just let me know if you need anything.” Dad pulled out his phone and gave Facebook a quick swipe as the trip downriver would take about two hours and we were only ten minutes in. I didn’t know most of the people who showed up, and that was probably for the best as all I ever heard about some of them were vague lofty stories from other unknowns in my family about mistakes made in rough patches of their pasts. I was never a good judge of character, anyways, and following the few clues I was given just ended up in disappointed faces and wasting what ended up to be a whole month in wait for someone who forgot that she held pure trust in her hands.
On the river banks, my attention was caught by a stray group of kayakers making their way down the river with us. They’d brought little packs of lunch, and as we drifted down in our fairly-massed boat and pinned painful memories to leaves and let them drift away, they parked in a little cropping of rocks and started to eat. A nice little ideal family… and that family blended into a small island of paradise in the middle of our destination lake and then the sheer stoic face of a tree-framed cliffside bordering the river on both sides. As we neared the landing where we’d all climb into our sticky vans and continue living a mundane experience at home, I leaned back in my plastic chair and drifted off to somewhere between delirium and a fitful nap. Those little children who would be too young to remember this always escaped the control of their parents, anyways.