I was an odd little child.
I spent a lot of time outside, lost in my own mind. To anyone else, the loose piles of sticks in the trees, the circles of rocks in the dirt, and the drooping piles of weeds plucked from the empty lot probably looked like the work of vandals. To me, it was my Pippi in the South Seas shelter or my prairie Ingalls homestead, depending on the day. Having my own world was magical. I could bend it to my will and change it on a whim.
Yes, my other favorite way of staying off my mothers nerves was to bury my nose in a book. Those little house books pulled me in. I identified with Laura in many ways. ( I swear it wasn't a conscious decision to name my daughter Laura, but it may have stuck in my heart.) My older sister was sweet and very, very good. I... was not. I was no juvenile delinquent by far, but I had a habit of asking bold questions that got me more than I bargained for at times.
You don't ask nuns why or parents a lot of "why" questions. That much I knew for sure. I honestly NEEDED to know where the rest of us came from if God made Adam and Eve, and they only had two sons. I truly HAD to know why mother decided we needed to "get out of her hair" when I hadn't TOUCHED it. I hadn't even combed my own.
Ahhh, I get it now. Sit still and shut up. Gotcha.
I was thrilled when they made the Little House books into a tv show. TV was almost as good as books most of the time. Those two grainy black and white channels were just made for a little girl to sit a little too close to and visit other places.
There came an episode that really solved all the problems in my 8-yr-old head. Laura's baby brother died, and all the grown-ups were sad. Laura figured she had let everyone down because she hadn't prayed hard enough and that made her baby brother not get better.
Being the half-pint problem solver she was, she set off to climb to the highest mountain, figuring God just HAD to hear her if she got as close as she could.
Well...THAT was my problem!
I hatched a plan.
The highest point in town was Water Tower Hill. That hill killed your legs if you tried to ride your bike up to the top, so it HAD to be close enough so God could hear me.
I had a list of requests in my heart. He needed to fix the sweet older lady, Mrs Sallee. She was sick. I didn't know her very well, but whenever I saw her, she hugged me with her smile. Her skin was darker than mine, which fascinated me, and her hair was a wonderful grey cloud. God could make her better while he worked on my other stuff.
I wanted to live with my Grandma and Grandpa all the time. If God couldn't do that for me, then maybe he could arrange a tearful hug like Laura got when Pa and Mr Edwards came to find her on that mountain. I didn't know if that Jonathan guy who helped Laura was a man or really God, but I knew this was a plan that just couldn't fail. Old mountain man or no, I was going to be heard, finally. Things were about to improve in the Weber household, thanks to me.
I decided to bide my time until Saturday morning. My eyes popped open just as the sun started to show. My heart was pounding as I tried to time my breathing with the snoring coming from the other rooms so as not to wake my sister as I slithered out of our bed.
I tiptoed down the stairs, avoiding the creaky boards that might tattle on me, crept through the kitchen past the smelly garbage bag and the pile of dishes I might be clumsy enough to spill and sound the alarm.
My heart raced as I eased the screen door closed behind me, then the rush of freedom and purpose hit like a giddy wave.
Off I went to climb a mountain.
Up the soft, wet gravel street I flew. I was just like Laura, crouching to drink from the stream. Mine may have been a trickle of cold water coming from the melting snow drift halfway up the hill, but it was JUST like the show.
I huffed and puffed my way to the top of the hill, where the town's water tank reached up to the grey sky. For a minute, I considered trying to climb up a bit on the ladder, so I could be sure God got the best reception. On second thought... I'd just pray a little extra hard to make up for my lack of altitude. After getting stranded on that ladder trying to climb on the roof of the chicken coop, I didn't trust them anymore.
There wasn't a majestic rock like Laura perched on with her hair wild in the wind, her buck teeth shining in the sun as she set about making her case to the Lord about how she figured he should go about fixing things so her Ma and Pa could be happy again.
Ahh, a big slab of broken cement jutting out of the ground near the sturdy iron foot of the tower. Perfect!
It was a little damp from the mist, but I settled in to get to business. I addressed God politely (See? I can behave!) then started to ask for the things I had planned, but all that came out were tears. I managed to choke my requests out clearly enough, by the time my eyes quit leaking. I settled in to rest a bit before I went home to see if it worked.
I didn't have to wait long. Here came Dad in the car! That was pretty quick service. Why hadn't I thought of this before?
With a song in my step, I headed for the happy reunion just like Laura and Pa had. Things were going to be better now, thanks to God and Little House on the Prairie.
Hmmm.. he's pretty quiet.
Mom sure doesn't seem happy.
They wanted to know what the hell was wrong with me. Only someone sick and wrong would scare her parents like that. After Dad was done yelling, I think he went off to work, and mom thanked me... for getting her in trouble again. I was always doing stupid shit that made Dad get mad at her.
I spent a lot of time in my room that day wondering how my plan had failed.
I guess it only worked if you had a REAL mountain.
I'm still a weird kid at heart.