When I was a kid I changed schools a lot.
On average about every two years, seven schools before my senior year.
My mom was a Montessori teacher and taught me in her Preschool and
Kindergarten. Then in first and second grades, I went twenty miles each way to another Montessori school in Muskogee.
The school was called Children’s House and it was run by hippies.
They had several acres and we had a garden where we grew our own food, a fort where history was taught and you got to it by going through a maze and over a swinging bridge.
The barn was where art was taught.
We had an indoor pool, science lab and a silver dome where we ate and had classes as well.
The sheer fact that I went there is mind boggling if you knew how conservative my father was and still is.
He has never ever worn blue jeans, seriously.
The hippies were great and I left my home as a six year old having no idea how bizarre the dichotomy of my life was. I even traveled in a made over school bus out to the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest and the Pueblo dwellings. We slept on boards that were covered in carpet and hung from the inside walls of the bus by hooks, we let them down at night at it became like bunk beds in a dorm room. I remember having a booth mounted with bench seats in the front but have no idea what we did for a bathroom.
We ate spam out of the can.
I broke my arm falling at the Petrified Forest and the group left me in Flagstaff, Arizona to have surgery and wait for my mom.
I was in traction for weeks and when my dad tired of having my mother away, he flew out a doctor in a private plane and I was discharged and flown home and put into a hospital in Tulsa.
A much easier commute so my mom could be home every night.
When I recovered I decided I wanted to go to public school, in town, like my friends did.
So in the third grade until the fifth I did.
I hated it.
I was so bored.
In the sixth grade I went to Tulsa to a college preparatory school, Holland Hall.
The kids were so rich and my reality expanded again except this time it was to notice how much I didn’t have.
I mean our housekeeper only came like every other day.
They had live ins and drivers and I felt inadequate for the first time.
Twelve is not a great age to feel worse about yourself than you already do.
I struggled to fit in and just couldn’t. The boys called me Tex.
Eighth grade I went back to public school in Wagoner.
Teachers that taught my parents were still there teaching.
I skipped class all the time.
I asked to get my GED at fifteen in my sophomore year.
I just couldn’t take it anymore.
When you have a father with connections, things can happen.
I would go my junior year to Broken Arrow High School. A public school forty-five
minutes out of my school district and three thousand students in just two grades.
This time I could drive myself.
I loved it.
I met four girls the first day who would be great friends all year.
We skipped class our second day.
My parents divorce finalized that year so when school was out my mom and I moved to Boulder, Colorado.
I wanted to go to the University of Colorado and so we moved to establish
residency so out of state tuition wouldn’t be an issue.
We landed in the most liberal city maybe ever. It was beautiful but I was glad of my time with the hippies. It prepared me well.
Funny looking back how easy it was for me to make friends from all walks of life. I had a party at my apartment my senior year and a pom pom girl and a pothead who were friends in elementary school but hadn’t talked since then were laughing and catching up and asking “so why aren’t we friends anymore?”
It was great.
I loved it.
My mom who only got me in the divorce had to go back to work.
There weren’t any jobs.
Her only coat was a mink.
Everyone told her she looked like the owner, not an employee.
So Jesse got her a job with his company, in Atlanta.
I finished high school on my own.
It was only for a couple of months but I hated being separated from my mom.
I hated being alone.
I moved to Georgia the day I graduated high school.
My parents flew in and drove me across country with a rage that can only come about after twenty-seven years of a failed marriage.
I sat in the middle of them in a U- haul truck for three days.
There are no words. There just aren’t.
And I never gave the University of Colorado another thought.
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