+ confessions of a red-headed stepchild: ashland you bitch! the innocent years

Thursday, September 23, 2004

ashland you bitch! the innocent years

Looking back on all the crazy years I spent in Ashland, birth until 22, my brain hurts and my heart skips beats. This town is so much of who I am today, but much like any serious relationship it is questionable whether a friendship can evolve and be maintained once the intimacy is gone. I want to write about my time there and will probably break it up into a few parts so here goes part one. The Innocent Years.

Ashland is a beautiful town "nestled" between two mountain ranges, rivers, lakes and only a few hours from the Oregon coast. It is inhabited by a large group of very liberal, artsy people, yet it is surrounded on all sides by racists, right-wing, rednecks. Stepping outside of the boundaries of Ashland can be a scary and potentially dangerous experience. So I spent most of my time IN Ashland, oblivious to life in the real world.

My family lived in Ashland when I was born. So it was home to me from the beginning. My mom was on her second marriage with my dad and had two daughters before me, Moriah 6 years old and Annie 3 years old. My mom tells me that I was the easiest baby she ever had. She said I always laughed and smiled. She said I was so content that it really scared her, she thought something must be wrong. I think I was just saving my energy.

The early memories consist of my mom gardening and being a do-it-all wonder woman. She made homemade ice cream, root beer, and always provided for us the most clean and comfortable living enviornment a lower-middle class family could wish for. It wasn't until years later that I realized how hard she struggled to do this, most times alone.

As a young girl I got into a lot of trouble at school. I was in counseling a lot and felt as if people were always questioning the hows and whys of my actions. I felt like I was possessed at times, like I would hit someone and have no idea why I did it. My parents were divorced when I was four years old, my mother remarried and after being the baby for five long years a new baby came along. I think this really hurt me. I think I went to school and tried to get the attention I felt I was lacking at home.

My oldest sister Moriah, scared me. She listened to heavy metal and always wanted to change the channel to MTV while I wanted to watch cartoons. Her bedroom was slathered in magazine clippings of bands like Judas Priest, Metallica, Ozzy and the like. She started running away repeatedly, shaved her head (except for the bangs) and beat me up whenever she saw me. My mom spent evenings crying, either on the phone with police or in counseling while everyone would try to get Annie to talk about how Moriah's absence made her feel. She just sat there staring at the wall, sometimes a tear would slip out, but mostly she just ignored us all. Annie and I became very close during this time, but it was always at her discretion, and Moriah's absence was not brought up. We would play the games she wanted to play, watch her cartoons (she always got to be Jerry and I always had to be Tom, even if I called Jerry first), but I didn't mind because I thought that she was the most amazing person in the world. I thought she was so funny and smart and beautiful and I was just happy to be in her presence.

Summers were happy times, we slept outside, ate berries, went swimming, rode our bikes and life was probably as normal as it would ever get.