Sunday, June 04, 2006

My own private Idaho

You're livin in your own Private Idaho. Idaho.
You're out of control, the rivers that roll,
you fell into the water and down to Idaho.
Get out of that state,
get out of that state you're in.
You better beware.

You're living in your own Private Idaho.
You're living in your own Private Idaho.
--Private Idaho, B-52's

If you have never lived here, you probably don't think of Idaho as being hot. It is. At least southern Idaho and Boise are. It has been in the 90s here. But unlike my childhood here, I now have air conditioning. It helps.

I imagine they had air conditioning when I was a kid. We just didn't have air conditioning. We had fans. They managed to keep the hot air circulating until night. Then we had windows. But the heat got to me. It slowed everything down to a painful pace. Too slow for my young mind.

Summer in Boise was a dead time to me. Everything turns brown in the heat. It rains in summer here, but not enough to make the place green. It's like that now...brown. Boise's aura has always been brown.

The photo above is of Table Rock, the landmark plateau that overlooks Boise. The white cross has been there for as long as I can remember. It stands there as if waiting for members of the Klan to light it up at any time. But as far as I know there are no KKK in Boise. There used to be a pretty larger contingent of John Birch Society members, however.

I'm actually at the airport in Boise now. They have free Wifi access, which is very progressive. I drove to my mom's before coming to the airport and said goodbye. I left her standing in front of her house moving the sprinkler around.

I guess I accomplished what I came her to accomplish. I sat with my mom for hours listening to what she could remember about her family and growing up. I brought home a few more old photos that I will scan and add to the family archive I have begun.

I guess the sense I have ended up with is that my mom remembers what she can but has blocked much of her childhood out. It was not a happy time for her. Mom mother has always giggled when she is nervous or uncomfortable. She giggled when she told me of the blackeye her father gave her when he thought she was dating a mormon boy.

She also giggled when she talks of the nicknames all of her brothers and sisters had growing up. Her's was simple "Fat." She never was fat, but she always saw herself that way because of her childhood.

Her brother Edgar's nickname was Bert. Mom said that she and Edgar were inseparable as children but she couldn't say, "brother." It came out "Brrrr" which people interpreted as "Bert." The name stuck.

Bert never went to high school because "the old man" didn't believe in education in the same way he didn't believe in associating with mormons. My mom snuck off to go to high school. She was the first one in her family to graduate.

I learned, or relearned many things about my mother, including how she met and married my father. So it was time well spent.

Still I am glad to leave this place and the heat that slows down your brain, despite the air conditioning. I'm sure I will return, but Boise will never be home to me again.


Hayden said...

Hearing the stories can be overwhelming sometimes. Or at least, it was for me.

Like looking through a smudgy window, hard to interpret in the way they were lived. My mother's father "left home" when he was ten to start earning his living. Mom was impatient of my curiosity and surprise - 'it was a big family, they were poor,' she shrugged indifferently, but the shrug wasn't convincing. I always thought that the real stories were in the silences, the pauses, sometimes a nod. The things that couldn't be said.

Alex Pendragon said...

That's right, Tim, you can never really go back. Oh, you can fly back, drive back, stroll around and perhaps remember places the way they used to look, but no, that place isn't there anymore. Home is a state of mind, that travels with you and settles down wherever you feel comfortable.

By the way, that car you drive......that thing gotta hemi? hehe

Anonymous said...

Welcome back!
I think our families must have a lot in common. My mom grew up in Idaho and had a tough, tough childhood. She is surprisingly open about it, but that might be because she realized that she could join the Navy in WWII (she was a wave) and use that experience to start a life other than 30-40 years working for Or-Ida like many of her older sisters did. She was able to get a college education on the GI bill and become a homeowner in Oregon. Except for the occasional visit, she never went back to Idaho. I don't think she thinks of it as home either.

Time said...

Hayden, That is so right on. Hearing the stories are overwhelming and I do think the real stories are between the lines.

THE Michael, I loved that Hemi. I could have lived in that car.

Kristy, Thanks, that is funny. My father started out in Portland (where he was adopted) and ended up in Idaho. He joined the navy too, but didn't take advantage of the GI Bill to go to college. I don't think he or my mother ever even considered leaving Boise. It was never really a question of if for me, just when.

Zagu said...

Dear Tim,
Nice to have you back. I've been following along on your blog and am moved by your posts.
I've lost both of my parents now. Mom back in the '80s. Dad, a few years ago. I had the chance to ask my Dad a few things, trying to uncover something about his life.
I think in my case the story of my parent's life was the smudge, the way it was smudged, the very act of smudging. The way my Dad lived his life was pretty much by distorting and bluring the truth about his feelings. So in a way, even as he was revising the history as he went along, he was very much being himself.
I'm grateful for this time that you have had with your mom.
As for me, I will be leaving in a few days for a month. I will have very little Internet access. (Can you imagine, a whole month without Dizgraceland? jeez). Just wanted you to know that I will be thinking of you and all the other wonderful people who hang out around here.
Take care.

Time said...

Dear Zagu,

Thanks, it is good to be back. It is good you had that insight about your father. I read something in Psychology Today a few weeks ago about how it is common for people to recreate history in their minds. I suppose it is a way to cope. Sorry to hear you won't be around for a month. Hope everything is okay. We'll all be here when you return. Take care.