Monday, January 5, 2009

all I wanted was to be having fun in the wild

i'm sitting at the philly airport (2hr delay so far) chuckling to myself as i transcribe a story that my friend ben's little sister wrote. annie, the author herself, gave me a signed copy of the story when i was over for dinner around xmas time. i loved it so much that i have been carrying it in my wallet, sharing it with others when conversations lull or when otherwise appropriate.

the anecdotes annie offers up throughout the story are ignited by her colorful choice of adjectives (my fav being the description of her sister ellie's brilliant red hair after her first year at Boulder: "...her red hair was wild and disorganized like a forest fire.") i hope you will enjoy this story as much as i have.

"Slice of Life Essay" by Annie White.

There are some advantages to being dragged along to the weddings of my older siblings' friends. In the past year I have been up close and personal with a seal in the Pacific Ocean and a grizzly bear in the Montana wilderness. I have even had the opportunity to dance with my dad who was wearing two left shoes.

School had just let out for the summer. My friends were making plans like crazy-sleep overs, lazy afternoons at the pool, shopping trips to The Mall of America. My parents, on the other hand, had dragged me to a wedding in Missoula, Montana. They thought we should go a few days early and make a real "vacation" out of it.

We arrived in the middle of a June blizzard. Our plans to hike were destroyed by the wintry weather. On the third day of boredom my parents decided it would be educational to drive to Yellowstone and see the Grizzly Bear Museum. I was skeptical, but it sounded better than more reruns of "I Love Lucy". As my dad backed our rental car through the rutted tracks of mud, I sat alone in the backseat wishing I were home chilling with my homedawgs.

We had driven about twenty miles when I perched my eye upon a thick stump. Suddenly, the stump moved. That's when I realized it was a grizzly bear. It was shaggy and brown with a hump on its back like an old lady with osteoporosis. Its paws were massive with huge Captain Hook claws that dug into the crusted snow searching for food. I fumbled around for my camera and quickly snapped an image of the fierce grizzly.

We continued on to the Grizzly Museum where bears lumbered through a man-made wilderness of plastic and concrete. They looked like they were on drugs with the life sucked out of them. Instead of feeling awe, I felt sorry for their clumsiness.

The bears were like me trapped inside a rental car going to the wedding of people I barely knew when all I wanted was to be having fun in the wild.

It was a perfect late summer day in Santa Barbara, California. The deep blue ocean shimmered like a million shards of sapphire. The ocean floor had turquoise shadows and the sand squished through my toes like silly putty. Seaweed and other debris floated by like toy sailboats in a bathtub.

"Hey, Dad! Look at the black lab!" I shouted.

"Cool, what's it doing way out here in the ocean?" My dad asked, puzzled.

As we paddled closer, I noticed that the "lab" had whiskers and wrinkly skin like a bulldog.

"Oh, Dad," I screeched, "It's not a black lab. It's a seal." My dad quickly scampered through the shallow water to the safety of shore leaving the seal and me in his wake. I realized that things are not always what they seem to be. It is important to observe carefully or you just might miss something.

The day of the wedding arrived and I put on my salmon colored dress with white polka dots. My older sister let me wear her pearl necklace. She wore a belted black dress and an elegant bun in her hair. She spent hours primping to make herself look perfect. My brother, Ben, wore a navy blue sport coat and a bow tie.

"Looking good, Bro." I told him.

My mom wore a zebra striped dress, which was kind of odd looking, but she is not one to dress up so I made no comment. My sister, Ellie, had come straight from college in Boulder and her red hair was wild and disorganized like a forest fire. She put in a strappy navy blue dress and sandals. She looked great.

All six of us were crammed into a small hotel room with one shower. The last one to get ready was my dad. He caught the last few drops of hot water, slicked back his hair, carefully covering his bald spot, and climbed into his grey suit. We were running late with twenty minutes until the bride would walk down the aisle. He rummaged through his suitcase searching for his shoes. As we piled into the car we all looked down at his brown loafers with tassels and began to laugh uncontrollably. I will always remember learning to dance with him at the wedding reception looking down at his feet in two left shoes.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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