Every year, the graduating class of C*****n Elementary School would walk down the street to the R*** Ranch for barbecue and western dancing. We were chatting cheerfully as we walked past my family’s ranch and the S****’s farm on the way to the party. Most of my classmates were just excited to hang out together outside of school; others were anxious to meet the other children who were going to be there. It was a tradition for the sixth grade class to spend a day with local developmentally disabled children. Very few of us had experience with ‘slow’ people, so we did not know what to expect.
The Sun is barely streaking through my window as I wake up to the sound of plants being chewed. I roll over and peer out my blinds to see a deer staring intently at me. After a few seconds, I blow a raspberry and watch her scamper off down the packed dirt road. It is July 1992. I throw on a T-shirt and shorts, and rush to the kitchen to beat my sister to a bowl of Lucky Charms. My mind wanders to the symphony of ‘tick tock, tick tock’ and my dad beating mud off his boots in the garage. He enters, grunts in my direction, and settles down to watch the 6am news.
I sit here on a bench just outside the house amongst the vegetables and herbs – a menagerie of crisp leaves, delicate buds, and ancient roots. Surrounding the garden is an array of vines, flowers, weeds and ivies such as I have never seen; vibrant purples, golds, oranges, whites, and greens. The breeze pauses for moment and I catch the gentle buzz of a nearby bee indulging itself on a smorgasbord of delicate pollen. I’m surprised that my allergies aren’t betraying me.