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Southern Roadtrips-Chapter Four
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Southern Roadtrips-Chapter Four
This chapter, while describing a small portion of my time in Chattanooga, does better to describe my feelings about myself and my parent's divorce.
[1,442 words]
Kevin Myrick

K Myrick

I'm currently a College Student enrolled at Auburn University in Auburn, AL. I'm studying Political Science, but thinking of changing my major to English, or double majoring. I'm interested in computers, the outdoors and of course, writing. I read a lot instead of watching TV, because in truth there is nothing more of value to watch on TV anymore.
[December 2003]
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Thinking About My Father (Short Stories) A Sort of Essay/Short Story about the relationship with my father. [979 words] [Literary Fiction]
Southern Roadtrips-Chapter Four
Kevin Myrick

Chapter Four
Broken Gnomes

I entered my mother’s house on the Friday after New Years, with every intention of doing everything she asked of me. I also had every intention of meeting a person named Rachel, whom I was told knew a few things about me already. Apparently, Rachel worked at The Disney Store with a friend of my mother, named Karen. And Rachel knows my resident director, Jeff. Jeff and I are good friends, and therefore when I mentioned to Jeff that a friend of mine had gotten a job at the Disney Store in Chattanooga, he put it in the back of his mind.

Later I would learn that Karen had met Rachel, and thus a connection was immediately made. And therefore, I was the subject of conversation. Something of which I am not sure I should be comfortable with, but I think I have nothing to hide and therefore do not care so much. Alas however, I was unable to see Rachel in my tenure in Chattanooga, all because of a little gnome named George.

George had been a present to my mother from myself when I was working at a small gift shop called Blueberry Row. I had gotten the job during Christmas last year under some unusual circumstances. The circumstances of which allowed me to continue my employment there until I had to leave for my new career as a burgeoning college student. During this time I was able to acquire for a few hours of my services gnomes for myself and my mother of which all were very interesting. The one I presented to my mother I named George. George is made out of plastic, sits on a toadstool smoking a pipe. Quite an interesting fellow if you ask me because he reminds me of the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass. So when I arrived to Chattanooga, I found to my distaste the broken gnome on the floor of the kitchen, and my mother jokingly asking if I could perform my “magic surgery” on her poor gnome.

“The George Repairs”, as I have decided to call them that, started the next day when I arrived. It was unusually warm and muggy for Chattanooga in January, and it reminded me of Beaufort in the autumn. The trees were bare, unlike the trees in Beaufort during autumn, and it added a somber tone to the occasion hinting that something was coming. I began work on the gnome, trying hard to make the glue stick. The harder I tried, the more damage it seems I did to George, and I’m afraid that I will have to replace George with Tim, the same gnome but with a broken ear.

So, with the cheap cigar smoke permeating from my small outdoor work area, and the epoxy not working, I snubbed the cigar out and went inside, hoping that time would heal the wounds of George and he could be whole again. And in the meantime, my mother and I went out to eat with her friend John.

I’m not exactly sure how to describe the relationship between my mother and John. I would say that John is dating my mother, but then again I’m not sure if that is how they describe their relationship. John however, has an affinity for charity and it seems every time I have seen him he has something he needs to get rid of. This time, it was speakers and belts. I sometimes wonder if he does this only to curry favor with me, and therefore does not realize I don’t care what my mother does, because it is not any of my business.

* * * *

I have never before discussed my parents divorcing each other with anyone, and still feel reluctant to do so. At times, my family is responsive to the emotional pain we feel, but at other times they are not. I have not felt exactly forthcoming with my feelings with my family, knowing our propensity firsthand to share our feelings, knowledge and secrets with others in the family. I’m beginning to believe with the amount of information I harbor, writing about anything that has to do with my family could be disastrous. At times it is necessary to air one’s dirty laundry, and finally I am willing to come to the process of doing that.

I love both of my parents, and in fact say that to them every time I hang up on the phone with them. I have no need for explanation to anyone for any actions I take though, but yet felt compelled to tell my mother exactly why I had chose to move to Huntsville. Besides the usual “I wanted to go to Auburn, and this was the evil way of screwing the school out of out-of-state tuition.” That answer is obvious. There are other, more painful answers that go along with that one. There was the pseudo-suicide attempt when I was twelve. I decided to play chemistry set and accidentally made mustard gas, which I couldn’t get to blow up. The winds that day on Fripp would have killed a couple of hundred people with the potency of my elixir.

There was the other reason though. I was losing my mind, something which I joke about often. There are those of us out there who say what we think, and therefore are sometimes labeled “crazies.” So, as a reply gesture, I make sure people think I a bit off-balance, and thus confirm their beliefs. But am I crazy? No, I’m far from crazy. But I was losing my mind. And if I had stayed on Fripp another summer, I would have lost it completely and started sniping people with paintball guns. Fripp security would have loved that idea, and I probably would have been shot.

But overall, I left because my mother wanted to leave. She had wanted to leave since I was twelve, since we had moved to that hellhole. I do respect Beaufort as a town. It’s a wonderful place to live. But for a teenager who should have been living in a large city rather than a small town supported by Marines and tourists, I was going crazy. I saw it in my mother’s eyes, the way she looked at me. I saw it when we used to sit in the Jacuzzi at night, quietly listening to the beach noises on Fripp. The noises that spoke loudly as the point of the island broke the winds of the sea and the waves crashed on the rocks at high tide. I saw it from the very moment I knew my father was an alcoholic. And then I knew it was time to go as soon as I could.

So when my parents separated, I knew it was a matter of time before they filed for divorce. And a month after I graduated high school, my mother and father were free to do whatever they wanted. Am I sad sometimes to see that a couple who had been in love for a long time fell out of love and then stayed together for the benefit of their children? Yes. Do I fear that one day, I will be that stupid? Of course I am scared of that eventuality. But I learned one thing from that, and that is people still love each other, but they aren’t “in love.” With all of my experiences, with all that I have lived through so far I sometimes feel like George. A broken image of the yard gnome-me drops at every other turn when something that I feared would happen does, and therefore I feel more and more depressed every day. I wake up every morning though, trying to keep my composure about me, and venture outside of the Commons to smoke a cigarette, knowing that I’m free to do what I want to do, and knowing that one day I’ll actually be out of college and can find someone to love me, just the way my parents loved each other for a long time. It doesn’t have to be forever, it’s hard to love someone, especially me with all my faults, forever.

So I leave the city by the Tennessee with the thoughts of its beauty and charming people, the lovely afternoons I had their as a child playing war in the backyard. I leave it with the intentions of returning to see my mother soon. And mostly, I leave knowing that one day, things will be better. And I head back to school, waiting for another trip to come up.


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© 2004 Kevin Myrick
January 2004

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