When the door closed I felt panic rise up from my stomach and I wanted to run back out to her and hug her. I wanted to scream, "I'm coming back! Don't worry I'm not leaving you! I'll never leave you! I'm coming back!" I just couldn't imagine leaving her. Larry couldn't take care of her... He didn't know she needed help getting out of bed everyday. He didn't know she needed someone to remind her the "shadow people" weren't real. I had to sleep with a kitchen knife under my pillow in case the man that raped her came back. Would he know to do this?... No, She needed me. I sat in my chair and stared out my little window. I pressed my fists into my eye sockets till I saw a kaleidoscope of colors. I cleared my mind. I decided that maybe pretending I was someone else, maybe someone going on a vacation, was a better idea.
I took the pain from my father's loss and I put it deep inside myself, next to the nothing place and the place I kept to hide my ugly memories. Then I went through the pocket in front of my seat and looked at all the safety instructions. I listened closely to the stewardess as she explained how to put on my seat belt. I acted like I didn't have a care in the world... I'm just a regular girl on vacation... I imagined the plane crashing and me being the one to explain to everyone, "If your oxygen bag is not inflated, don't worry! Oxygen is still flowing. Exits are to the rear! If we need to exit, lift the handle up and press out. Remember! Your seat can be used as a floatation device." :)
When I arrived in New Mexico my aunt and cousins were waiting for me by the gate. They were so excited to see me! They hugged me and my auntie kissed me and told me how big I got. I had no idea who they all were. I just smiled and tried to be helpful. I wanted them to like me. I wouldn't let them help me with my suitcase. I didn't want any part of me being there to be something burdensome for them.
The desert was beautiful. Miles and miles of sky. Far off in the distance I could see the outline of mountains. When the sun started to set, the mountains turned purple and the clouds behind them were pink. The sun made the whole sky glow with red, orange and yellow. It was like being in an old western movie with a happy ending... only I was in a mini van instead of bareback on a magnificent stallion...
The next morning when I woke up we went to the river. As my cousins jumped in and laughed, I stood there looking around at all the other people. They all looked like me, with dark hair, dark skin and dark eyes. As I stood there thinking about this I realized I felt like I belonged. I was suppose to be here.... I was suppose to be jumping in rivers and laughing and looking at beautiful sunsets.... I ran! I reached the edge of the bank and leaped in! When I surfaced I felt renewed. It was like I had washed away all the extra years I had earned by seeing all the things my mother didn't protect me from. I was a kid again.
The reservation at sunset