Friday, December 29, 2023

This Is a True Story, A Christmas Story of Sorts

I did not grow up with snow.

Snow and ice are slippery.

I like cold but not ice cold 

(Unless it is a soothing drink on a hot day).

I do not know how to drive in snow,

Nor do I know how to judge

When more snow is coming.

When I was a teenager a friend and I 

Hiked out of the Grand Canyon 

In the December rain after Christmas 

And as the elevation increased

The rain became snow

But by then we were soaked,

And because we had been hot before it rained

We were sweaty.

So the freezing was all the way to the skin

And our Southern California-thin cute ski parkas 

Did not help

Nor did my friend’s dad and his second wife

Who had hiked on ahead when we were at the half way point down below

Leaving us to make our way up and out in the oncoming snow which we did not have the skill to predict.

Neither did they, I hope.

Weakened and determined with no food or water, but snow to munch on,

And this was taking hours, 

I dug my hands into my pockets wishing to find something to eat and discovered half a packet of lifesavers candies, which they were.

We reached the top 

Energized by a little bickering near the end,

And made our way to the motel room 

Where her step-mother sat at the vanity combing her hair 

Only to put her hair curlers back into her bangs—always keeping them there—and a scarf on her head asking what took us so long.

And my friend’s dad picked a fight with her because he didn’t like her boyfriend—

Who wasn’t even there!

So after we got warm

We went out that night

And hung out with


Rather than spend the evening with him and her.

The dad and step-mom drove us to the bus station in Flagstaff the next morning.

We waited all day for the overnight bus to North Hollywood.

We had enough money to split a stale sandwich and get two hot chocolates from a vending machine.

We rode through the night with the smokers

Because it was 1978

And the murmuring conversations

And the nodding and the sleeping passengers.

And the dad and son dressed alike who kept patting each other on the shoulder excited about their trip.

We eventually nodded off

and awoke to see bright sun shining in a crisp blue sky and an ugly North Hollywood greyhound station looking just fine to me thank you.

And at that point we called my dad

Who arrived seemingly instantaneously.

He drove my friend to her mother’s house

And me to ours.

We told the story—well most of it—

And I don’t remember what he said but 

I imagine the teetering of maturity and childishness in our story made an impression; it

Did not lead to scolding but instead to a peaceful sleep 

all day and into the night for me, 

after breakfast at home.

December 28, 2020