If they didn't they wouldn't be plains

From a recent book review:
The plains stretch for many cold and lonely miles, but Haven Kimmel fires her bittersweet Indiana novels with a warm sensibility and a compassionate understanding of the people shaped by the chilly, conservative and remote landscape.

Kimmel was raised in Mooreland, Ind., population 300, "the dearest postage stamp of native soil a person could wish for."

Author of two coming-of-age memoirs, she has a homegrown yet unromantic tenderness for the rural towns rusting quietly away as family farms vanish, and methamphetamine labs and vigorous megachurches flourish, the latter so cavernous they include indoor basketball courts and other secular amenities.
I'm reminded of scene from my own life. I'm 16 years old, walking down a side street on an October afternoon...

“Hey, you!”

It was Jessica. She was with some friends from school: Olivia, Chad, Emily, Rocco, Hampton, Lionel, Chloe, Frijole the exchange student from Mexico, Biff, and Biff’s sister Gertrude.

“Hey, Jessica,” I said, “What are you guys up to?”

“We’re going to the cavernous megachurch.”

“The one with all the secular amenities?”

“Yeah. Want to come with?”

I looked at Jessica, and at Olivia, Chad, Emily, Rocco, Hampton, Lionel, Chloe, Frijole the exchange student from Mexico, Biff, and Biff’s sister Gertrude. We were all, with the possible exception of Frijole, about the same age, but suddenly they all seemed so young. Younger than me.

“I can’t. After the family farm vanished my dad and my uncle started up a meth lab, and I have to go help out.”

“That sucks...” she said, her voice trailing off. The silence was awkward, and everyone looked away, except Frijole the exchange student from Mexico, who didn’t really speak English well and probably had no idea what we were saying. I stood and watched them walk off, laughing, carefree. Like I used to be.

I felt as cold and lonely as the plains which stretched for miles around the rusting city. I stared out at the chilly, conservative and remote landscape, knowing things would never be the same.

“Someday,” I thought, “I’m going to write this all down in a book. Or maybe two books.”

Comments

  1. american fez10/10/07 8:22 PM

    Ha! I was in a black mood, but that cheered me up immensely. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're welcome.

    How does someone who grows up in a town of 300 people squeeze out two books about pre-adult life? Julius Caesar only managed one memoir about conquering all of Gaul.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Q.
    "How does someone who grows up in a town of 300 people squeeze out two books about pre-adult life?"

    A.
    By reading other rubbish in the same genre and adapting as needed. Similar to your excellent effort but lacking irony and enriched with an unhealthy dose of earnest twattle.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hilarious.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I laughed for the first time in at least a week. Thank you very much.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I was having such a bad day... c. van carter. you saved my life. Or at least the lives of my co-workers.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Your blog is like fuckin crack. You're killin' me here.

    ReplyDelete

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