My mother and I made our way up to the mountains and stayed with a man named Doug. The Arrow Head Mountains were beautiful! Through breaks in the trees you could look down to San Bernardino below and see all the smog everyone lived under. I felt like I had escaped from somewhere I didn't know I needed escaping from. Doug worked at the ski resort; he was an average man with brown hair and brown eyes and had a tendency to act childish, which I liked. He lived in a house with his father who seemed to me to be about 100 years old. His father sat in the same chair all the time connected to an oxygen machine. He smelled like pee and something sweet. It wasn't the kind of sweet smell that made you think of candy or something delicious, it was the sweet smell of death and decay. A sweet sickening smell. I hated to be around him.
My mother settled into to her own regular routine of sleeping all day and I spent my time going to work with Doug or riding around doing errands with his neighbor Beth. Because Doug worked at the ski resort, I got to ski for free. The first day I followed behind a group of beginners taking a class and learned the basics. Then I left the bunny hill in search of something more challenging and by the end of the day I thought I was going to be at the next Olympics winning gold! I felt so free when I was skiing. It was so easy to pretend I was someone else.
With the wind whipping though my hair and the trees flying by me at a million miles an hour... I could have even been a bird. I imagined I was the little lost bird from "Are You My Mother" by P.D. Eastman. Is the woman at the ski lift my mother? Is the waitress at the Ice Bar my mother? Is the lady in the pink snowsuit and matching hat my mother? No.... My mother is a drug addict who's been asleep for three days straight and talks to imaginary "shadow people" who I cannot hear or see. My mother is a hitch hiker and a prostitute... a liar and a thief. Actually, my mother is a child and I am her mother, so that makes me my own mother... or does that make me motherless...?
Doug's neighbor Beth was an interesting woman... She had a lot of brown curly hair that she teased up all around her head like a big halo. Beth liked to garden. She wanted her front yard to look like a field of wild flowers, but she didn't have the money for the flowers. So she use to drive me around to shopping centers and have me hop out of the car and rip plants up by the roots and throw them in the back of her jeep. Then we would take off by what Beth called, "Putting the petal to the metal!" I thought it was exciting. I felt like I was playing some kind of game like capture the flag. I was Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to poor!
Beth didn't arrange the flowers in beds or in any type of design. She just picked a spot, dug a hole and there it went. By the end of the summer instead of it looking like a field of wild flowers it looked like the Lawn & Garden Center had thrown up on it. Parts of the garden resembled a cemetery with the way the flowers were spaced about and other parts looked like maybe the flowers were just a cover up to hide secret landmines and booby traps. I liked Beth.
Beth was recently divorced and had lost custody of her little boy and told me that I reminded her of him. She was a drug addict like my mom and I was happy for her little boy. I hoped his dad wouldn't die like mine. I asked if I could meet him one day.... Maybe his dad could meet my mom and see that I needed saving too.