Growing Up In Idaho


        After about a year of living with our Grandparents our Father found a job and it was time to move on. He found a house in Idaho about two hours away. We still continued to visit our Grandparents every weekend. It was hard moving to a new city and having to make new friends all over again. We lived on the bottom half of a red two story duplex. The neighbors above us were noisy guys who liked to party. I remember our nanny going up there and lecturing them about keeping it down because we were trying to sleep.

Our Father found a live-in nanny for us named Deborah. She had short brown hair like a boy and full, tiny lips that made it look like she was blowing kisses or pouting all the time. Deborah made tuna casserole for dinner and took us up the road to visit her elderly parents. I hated tuna casserole and I hated the way she planned all the meals a week ahead of time on a calendar on the fridge. I hated her because she was yet another new person coming into the house and telling me what to do.

After about six months or so she broke the news to us that she was getting married to her boyfriend, she was pregnant and quitting her job as our nanny. By this time we actually liked her. Just like Connie it took a while to get used to having a new person live in the house and by the time we became attached, they were leaving us. Her new fiancé took us out to have ice cream; I had a chocolate shake which they brought in a huge silver tumbler and a tall clear glass. Ice cream was a rare treat for us.

            After that our Father found another live in nanny, her name was Savannah. We loved Savannah right away unlike the other nannies; she was younger (I would guess in her twenties) and very lenient. She had long brunette curly hair and teased her bangs with Aqua Net hairspray. She was on the curvy side. She had a stereo system in her room and decorated her area with Christmas lights. We used to lay on her bed listening to music and talking to her.

Savannah was very open when it came to sexuality; she told me once that her boyfriend, this guy with red hair rubbed himself against her back to get her to have sex with him.

 She took Marlene and I to get our ears pierced, we walked a few blocks down to the small jewelry store. We stopped along the way, picking up chunks of snow from the banks on the sides of the streets and pressed them against our ear in hopes of numbing them. It hurt like the devil anyway, when they put the gun up to me ear and pressed the trigger I wasn't sure if I wanted to get the right ear done but I managed to get both of my ears pierced while tears streamed down my face. Savannah showed us how to clean them with rubbing alcohol. It was nice to have a woman in the house.

            My Grandmother was sweet and nurturing and we had nannies come in and out of our lives but my heart ached for a real mother. I imagined a Mother that would braid my hair every night and tuck me in to bed. My imaginary mother would talk to me about boys and teach me how to put on my makeup. Someone who would give me advice about friends and school, who would listen to me without yelling or calling me stupid for asking like my Father, did. My own Mother was a distant memory, something just out of my reach, like I was grasping through fog for something that wasn't there. I hadn't seen her since I was a toddler and I thought maybe she didn't care about me. I blamed her for leaving us with this terrible man who constantly yelled, hit and called us names.

            We made new friends in Idaho. My best friends were Kendra, Kelsey and Susan. Kendra had short curly brown hair, brown eyes like a puppy dog, a little on the chubby side like me and her skin was darker than mine. She lived with her mom and Dad in a really nice house with a big screen television. She had her own computer and we used to play Carmen Sandiego and eat microwave popcorn which was amazing to me since we made ours the old fashioned way on the stove. Her Dad was a dentist who was always playing golf and I don't remember what her mom did for a living but they ended up getting a divorce. Kendra was devastated. Her parents felt so guilty they were showering her with material things like a water bed.

Kelsey had short blond hair and lived with her parents down the street. Kelsey took dance classes with the other girls but I couldn't go because they cost too much. We listened to Janet Jackson songs together and made up routines. She taught me how to copy crayon drawings of butterflies by rubbing the papers together. Her mother redecorated her room one day while she was at school. She dressed up her canopy bed in pink ruffles and I thought it was gorgeous. It had been done in a motif with brown horses before that and Kelsey was devastated that they had done it without her permission. I thought she was a little spoiled; she didn't even appreciate what she had.       

            My other friend was Susan, she was a chubby redhead like me and she lived up the road with her mom and her grandmother lived next door. Her mom worked at the resort and commuted to work every day. I remember the first time I went to their house, I looked around and it was spotless. I just couldn't figure out how they kept their carpets so clean. Even around the furniture, there wasn't dirt or garbage anywhere.

At our own house we always just threw everything on the floor, like we thought it was the garbage can. The only time we had to clean was if company was coming over and then we would hustle to make the place as presentable as possible. We had rotting food all over the kitchen counters, the dog and cats would go all over the carpet and the stench would hit your face as soon as you walked in the door. It was embarrassing, we didn't bring friends over unless their houses looked like a disaster like ours. At the same time we got used to it, if you were in the house long enough you didn't notice the smell so much. We had about forty cats by then, they just kept multiplying.

            It was in Idaho that I decided I was too old for dolls so my sister and I had a yard sale and sold them to a couple elderly ladies who stopped by. They were so excited to get such a great deal it made me feel like I should have asked for more. We got them at a thrift shop while visiting our grandparents. After a few days I missed my dolls and wished I had not given them away so hastily, I didn't want to grow up. I struggled with that as a child, a part of me couldn't wait until I was old enough to get out of his house and from under his thumb. Another part of me was scared to make it on my own, be independent and give up my childhood. Sometimes the thought of being an adult just felt beyond my reach, like it was impossible to imagine. What would I look like? Where would I live? Who would I be married to? I wondered.

              After we moved into the new neighborhood our Dad taught us an insult for when neighborhood kids teased us, “Your dad wears a tutu and your mom wears combat boots.” Usually his advice was to ignore them and they would go away though, which never worked.

On one occasion our punishment for disobeying our Father was to eat sauerkraut for dinner, it was so nasty just the smell made me nauseous but he forced us to eat it anyway.

            I wasn't picked on too much in the new town, they already had a victim when I moved in, and his name was Roy. One day when I was walking home from school I stopped and talked to him. I was surprised to find out that he was actually quite bright and fun to talk to. Everyone treated him like a leper though and I have to admit I kind of followed their lead because I was afraid if I associated with him I would be picked on too.

My favorite teacher was Mrs. Simon for English which was also my favorite subject. She had curly blond hair and was soft spoken like my Grandma. She donated clothing to our family several times.