is this what they mean by “life is a journey”?

Friends of mine often get confused when I mention my past. Where was I living when? What was I doing where? Was it the second time I lived there? Which state and which high school? Hell, even I get confused. Clearly, a diagram is the answer. A diagram can solve nearly any problem. OK, maybe a diagram can’t wash your car, but that’s what my assistant is for.

The drawback to presenting a diagram of my life is that it sort of screws up the whole anonymous nature of this journal, as anyone who’s heard me ramble on about my childhood, confusing or not, might find the diagram familiar. On the other hand:

  • Everyone who reads this journal knows me in person.
  • Nearly every email I’ve gotten from someone who’s stumbled upon it accidentally has started the email with something like, “hey, is that you,” so I’m not exactly fooling anyone anyway.

So, I figure a diagram isn’t going to make much difference at this point. So without further ado, the diagram.

fantastic diagram

This diagram makes my life seem so much simpler than it has actually been. The speed round follows.

The early California years

I was born in Long Beach, at home, which should tell you just how much my parents were hippies. They soon moved to Bell Gardens, but I don’t remember any of it, and by the time I was two, my parents had split up and my mom had moved in with her parents in Bellflower. I still think of that as my home, really. It’s the only house I’ve really known my whole life. By the time I was four, my mom had remarried and we moved to Downey. Where I went to kindergarten. But I never graduated, because we moved.

The Oklahoma years: part one

This interlude actually began in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Things I remember: fucking loud thunderstorms, fishing. This began the moves of “my stepdad kept thinking that if we moved somewhere else, life would be totally different and happy”. I guess no one ever gave him that whole “whereever you go, there you are” Hallmark card.

After only a few short, storm-filled months, we moved to Broken Arrow, OK, where I went to first and half of second grade. Things I remember: walking to school in the snow (uphill! both ways!), discovering there is no Santa Claus, having my first crush, then dumping him because I brought flash cards to his house and he said he didn’t want to learn to read (not want to learn to read?!), wanting to get to the red book in reading class. Only we moved before I got to it.

Where did we move? Jennings, OK. A town that at the time had 200 people in it. A quick Google search shows that they now have 382. They’ve nearly doubled in size! Current average house price? $36,000. I spent the latter part of second grade at Jennings elementary school. A school so small that each class had two grades in it. I was in the first/second grade room. I mostly remember helping the teacher. And being cold. And that the lunchroom served beets. In third grade, we went to a Christian school in nearby Manford. My parents headed up the children’s program at the church and my mom helped out at the school, so I think we must have gotten our tuition for free.

We had a brief interlude within an interlude when we spent a summer in Kennewick, WA, but I’m not sure if that counts as a move. I recall that it was hot. And that I found $5 in a grocery store parking lot and bought a Buck Rogers toy. That was the highlight.

The middle of fourth grade, we moved to Perry, OK. Where we were homeschooled through the end of fifth grade. This period is also known as the ridiculous travel trailer years, during which my “moving makes us happy!” stepdad thought that if we sold our house and bought a travel trailer, we could move any time we wanted and not worry about pesky things like finding housing.

But at that point, reeled in by the crazy housing prices in Perry ($14,000 for a four bedroom!), he quit his oil well-style job and began a life of home remodeling. Which only lasted for three houses, one of which we had to live in. But my fifth and six grade self became well acquainted with the world of remodeling. A world I hoped I would never enter again. My hope, of course, has since been dashed. I went to regular public school in Perry for the first half of sixth grade, and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, didn’t learn much in the actual class, having already learned it, but this is the school where I started playing flute and getting sent to speech therapy.

The wonder days of remodeling were cut short when my stepdad likely was offered some cash to get back into the oil fields. Which takes us to:

The California years: part two

We ended up in Bakersfield, CA. Where I spent the second half of sixth grade. This period is also known as the years of three junior high schools. Yes, three. I would explain it but it’s tiring to write and boring to read. My parents were crazy. Just accept it. Things I remember: learning algebra in the school library for state competition, since there was no actual class on it at the school, getting involved in journalism for the first time, being band major with the whistle and the huge mace. More speech therapists.

I then followed my friends from the third junior high school to high school, where I had a lovely half year. Half year? Well, sure, we had to move back to Oklahoma.

Oklahoma: part two

As with every good Oklahoma move, it must start in Arkansas. I may have left this out of the diagram. We moved to Fayetteville, but of course, it being Arkansas, we only stayed a few months and then went onward to Oklahoma.

This time we moved to Tahlequah. Where 9th grade was back in junior high school. That’s right. My fourth junior high school. Fourth. Seriously. I was able to get back to high school for 10th and 11th grade, where I learned the fine arts of ditching school while maintaining a 4.0 gpa, drinking, and working crappy fast food jobs. I also learned about boys. Near the end of my junior year, my parents moved — you will not believe this, but it’s true — back to Bakersfield. However, I stayed in Tahlequah through the summer because I was taking college classes. I am amazed they let me stay, especially since they completely reversed course about letting me live away from home the summer after high school. But then I remember that they’re crazy and it all makes sense. I drank a lot that summer.

California: take three

Incredibly, I went to the same high school my senior year that I had gone to as a freshman. Built-in friends! First time that had ever happened. This is the year I partied with KORN in a crack house in Riverside.

I then moved up to Lodi, where my parents had moved yet again, and went to college in Stockton. I blew through college in three years (anything to be free of the crazy rule) and moved to… Downey (see above, re: kindergarten years). I was working in Fullerton and my company soon moved to Irvine. I then moved in with my boyfriend in Newport Beach. We moved to Costa Mesa, then broke up, and I moved elsewhere in Costa Mesa. I still miss Orange County. I could have lived there forever.

But no, I had to enter…

The become an adult to get control, then give up control years

I really didn’t want to leave Orange County, or my job, but my boyfriend moved to Dallas. And I told him I didn’t want to move, but he was all insistent, and I figured, what the hell, I was used to moving. Of course, then we got married and moved to Madison, WI. Another place I didn’t want to move. And then we briefly, sort of moved to Atlanta, but not exactly, and ended up back in Madison. And then we moved to Seattle. And got divorced.

And I still live here, so maybe I’ve gotten some control back. It’s hard to know. But Seattle is the city I’ve now lived in longer than anywhere else in my entire life by far (five whole years!), although I’ve lived in 4 places during that time.

And at this point, I can honestly say I have no idea what’s going to happen next. Life is a journey. Some people just travel a bit more than others.

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