We moved a lot when I was a kid. Conflict resolution typically came in the form of leaving town. Most years we started a new school, some years we’d stay for two. Sometimes we’d come home from school and the other parent would be waiting there, car revving, waiting for us to jump in and go. Other times the tell tale signs of the filled, black-plastic garbage bags, sitting at the front door, would announce our next adventure. The informality that embodied every move instilled a strange dichotomy within; a heightened appreciation for the spontaneous coupled with a deep desire for stability.
About every six months or so, Mom’s live-in boyfriend Bob, would revisit the idea of moving us all to a tee-pee on a parcel of land in a National Forest. The idea, as he understood it, was that there was a historical Blackfoot treaty that gave tribe members the right to one-square acre of land, on a National Forest, as long as it was homesteaded. It sounded like the remnants of a drunken conversation he had had at a bar with his Blackfeet buddies. Had we not been so well versed in picking up and moving on a dime, I might have ignored the fantasy but instead, the idea rightfully scared me. Moving us out of civilization, cult fashion. I knew that Jerry would be gone, going wherever he needed to escape the option, but recognized that Jason and I would most likely be a part of this dangerous plan. I’ll have to give her credit, it was an adventure to which Mom actually gave pause, no plastic garbage bags waiting for us as we walked in the door. However, Mom started dropping hints, daydreaming out loud, “wouldn’t you love to have a bit more space to run around, maybe get a horse?”
Bob envisioned moving us to a plot and living the life of his ancestors. Bob on a horse, right… Sitting at our Formica topped kitchen table, a bottle of Coke in hand, Bob would dream out loud. As if the chemical catalyst for the reaction in his head required the nicotine molecule, he would deeply inhale his Marlboro and exhale his plan, laying out the specifics on a yellow lined notebook pad. Wiping his greasy black comb over from his eyes, he’d plot out the square acre and fill in the details. A parcel bisected by a stream, a tee-pee at the heart. To the west, a small fenced corral for horses and a lush meadow to the south, delineated by the flowers drawn. We could fish every day, we could plant a garden, gather and dry herbs and medicinal plants. Trees would have to be removed, the wood to used throughout the winter. The idea itself was intriguing, like someone offering you a handful of candy.