Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Until Now

It was coming on the Summer of 1980. I had been working my first real job for a little over 5 months and had just earned 5 paid pays off with pay. I was going to be twenty years old in a few months, my mom and I weren’t in the best of places, my brothers and I were not speaking, I was feeling close to my best friend in a way that I shouldn’t talk about and the guy I’d attached myself to for distraction and relief from the other happenings, had started the, ‘take this to the next level’ talk.

Vacation. The concept was foreign to me. My parents never talked of vacations, let alone ever taken any. Breaks from school were spent working. What the heck did a girl do, when she didn’t have to work to work?

I couldn’t talk with my mom. My brothers were hopeless. I was making every effort to avoid my best friend, difficult, since I was renting a room in the house she shared with her boyfriend. Out of options, I talked with the guy. He invited me to travel with him, his brother and other family and friends-home.

Home for them was Itta Bena, MS. Our car was part of the caravan of Cadillacs and customized vans, packed to the bumpers with coolers full of soda, beer, fried chicken, potato salad and all kinds of sandwiches on white bread.

This first trip to his hometown to meet his parents and sister was memorable. I remember it being hot, damn hot. Hot doesn’t bother me much, I’m pretty comfortable with heat and I would have been fine, except that’s all anybody ever talked about, that and the mosquitoes. When it got dark, it was damn dark. This did take some getting used to. I remember rabbit and deer meat being nasty, no matter how it was prepared. Finally, I remember that in deference to my first visit, the pigs were not allowed inside the house. Considering the size of the house, for this, I was extremely grateful.

Itta Bena, MS in and of itself was not all bad, but certainly not a vacation idea that bore repeating. So of course I became engaged to and married the man from Itta Bena, MS, conscripting me to annual pilgrimages to his parents’ place. Our eventual family of four stayed in Bud and Tip’s 2-bedroom, 1 bath ranch style house, with little to no water pressure, for 5 to 7 days. Most summers sharing the modest home, perched on the lip of a swampy lake, surrounded on three sides by trees and cotton fields, with up to 10 other family members. Some of the people I met were really pretty sweet. But the conditions were less than ideal and over 13 years he would not vary, by one iota, the arrangements. Each trip was more stressful than the one before.

The summer of 1994, I'd had enough and refused to go south. We took the kids to Wisconsin Dells instead. When we arrived, I found he’d invited his brother’s family and other Mississippi buddies to meet us there and hang. My niece and I entertained and chaperoned the kids, while the guys stayed in the parking lots or picnic grounds drinking and talking. This was our last vacation together. We separated 3 ½ years later.

Little did I know that this would be my last vacation, until now.

As you may have heard, I’m taking my baby girl, who will be 21 years old in just about 23 hours, to Vegas. We will get on a plane, (my very first time-ever), heading southwest at approximately 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Excitement doesn’t even begin to cover the range of emotions twitching her newly arched eyebrows and spiraling through my newly buffed and painted fingers and toes.

Until now, vacations meant caravans of Cadillacs and customized vans, a yard full of turkeys and chickens, pigs with house privileges, trickling tepid bath water, cotton picking stories, endless talk about heat and mosquitoes. Not to mention, snuff dipping men, women and children.

That was then, without which, there wouldn't be a now, a new friend reminds.

See you guys in 6 minutes days.

12 comments:

  1. Anonymous4:29 AM

    Deborah,

    I am so excited for you. Done badly, family "vacations" can be the worst, most excruciatingly painful and boring experiences in the world. When done right, as I think this one will be for you, it will be a time of healing, rejuvenating, and fun.

    Enjoy yourself, and come back with bags of smiles.

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  2. Las Vegas will be quite different from Itta Bena! What an adventure you two will have.

    Be safe, Deborah.
    Bring us back a good tale or two!

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  3. Yeah, Vegas Baby!

    I've always wanted to go...

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  4. Vegas baby! Send us virtual postcards!

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  5. Have a wonderful trip! Lose yourself in this new adventure.

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  6. exciting, enjoy the trip and remember what happens in vegas stays in vegas... no no no makes for really great blogs!!

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  7. Wow, your history really is the stuff of novels! (Maybe you ought to write a few!)

    Hope you and your daughter have a fab time in Vegas! Looking forward to hearing all about it!

    Love LBPx

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  8. Have a fabulous trip!

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  9. Hope you have a great time!

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  10. wow Vegas...have always wanted to make a trip there but never gotten around to it!! I love the casino's but can be pretty dangerous in 'em!!! Been told that my eyes get a glazed over look and dollar signs appear where my pupils are supposed to be!!!

    Have an awesome time....:)

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  11. Yikes!
    The lights of Vegas are fabulous!
    But that cigarette smokes is BAD. Hope you are able to enjoy it anyhow.
    Sorry to be somewhat negative, but it I get depressed there AND in Atlantic City

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  12. Vegas is bigger than life.

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Hi! Your visit is much appreciated.