the best way to describe all this? put it in subsections, of course.
Grapevine: for those summer months, i spent a large majority of late mornings and early afternoons in a little deli/italian restaurant in west plains. i spilled a pie or two, and even caused one group of customers to leave without paying. i remember the night i met up with new friends from Alton to watch a movie after getting off work. i remember when keely & her cousin brittany asked me to go to the railroad tracks with them after work. i ate salad, after salad in between my breaks while reading cosmo. i drove to and from work with all the windows down, thanks to my lack of a/c. my hair was blonde, my skin was tan. i stuffed cash tips into my apron everytime i cleared a table. i sat in the freezer, on boxes of wine, when it was slow to escape from the heat. i nervously checked out the back door and felt the sweltering heat cake to my skin moments after stepping outside. i danced with a boy during a wedding reception that i was catering, and he walked me to my car. i learned how to make coffee, and sweet tea.
Float Trip: i went with keely and some of her friends on a float trip in Van Buren. i was terrified. but i wore a bikini for the first time, in a long time, and floated on down the river with new friends. we took breaks on the rocky shore. i got hit by a canoe. it started to storm and so i escaped out of the river as soon as possible.
Six Flags: we took a trip to Six Flags in st. louie. i think we rode the big drop thing, (the Superman?), about eight times. we rode a ride that literally made you feel drunk afterwards. more rides, more rides. keely won a wonderwoman cape. :)
Thee House: i guess i never had an official nickname for the house that i stayed in that summer, aside from "Keely's house"...in any case, it was wonderful. it had the most amazing views for the sunrise. there was Corky, Ginger, Jake, Tyson, and the ducks. the gravel road, the white fence, the red carpet, black carpet and the red couches, the staircase, the laundry room where i first saw Hollser (kitty), and of course the brick back porch. for three months, this was my home. Keely's mom told me "God puts the lonely in families." :)
Oregon/Howell County Roads: i love these roads. i've driven around different parts of missouri, coming and going- but these roads, are very different roads. after you leave West Plains and head towards Alton on 160, the world looks different. green fields, rolling hills, great full trees, gravel roads to the left and right, and my heart would beat violently once i passed the Alton city limits sign. i drove these roads after the sun rose in the morning, in the afternoon once the shade was starting to cover, in the evening and everything in my car smelled like coconut, and in the wee small hours of the morning when my mind was abundant with uncertainties and small bits of euphoria. i left these roads the same way that i came in August. of course, there's more to tell. so! for that, i thought it'd be interest to revert back to an older blog, one that i posted at the end of that summer. perhaps it can tell this story better than i could every hope to tell it now:
"Summer's End, August 10, 2007:
its always been a dream of mine to be apart of something wonderful. a lot of little wonderfuls. knowing how you got where you are, only helps in getting you farther in the right direction.
i became greatgood friends with keely. staying with her, spending time with her & her family- it was all great. but never will i forget that day after church in may, when her mom said, "we've talked about this, & we want you to live with us this summer." she said that she believed God meant me to live here this summer.
oh, the excitement! you have no idea! i was absolutely thrilled!
and, i haven't always been apart of this "alton group". i didnt go to the high school with everybody else, & didnt play sports with everyone.
but it always felt so much like "a" home. a home that was different from where i had grown up. not better, just different.
this summer was unbelievable. i had the freedom to question things. i had the freedom to become who i feel i really am. i was so BLESSED to have met keely & her family, & then let me live here with them.
i ate at el charro at least once or twice a week.
i was a waitress.
i actually saved some money.
i rode terrifying roller coasters with the best of friends.
i floated down the river on a damn intertube & got hit by a canoe.
i went on a hike with two of my best guy friends.
i drove home everynight contemplating everything.
i saw the sun rise through my rearview window countless times.
i had the most amazing fourth of july.
i ate sunflower seeds & drank sprite with friends at wallace & owens until the very wee wee hours.
i spent hours & hours & hours & HOURS watching mtv with keely. :]
i went running for at least a week straight.
i sat on the floor & ate pizza while channel surfing.
i played tennis, sort of.
i spent many sunday afternoons with people that fill my heart.
i went to the races.
i rented "snl; the best of christopher walken" & didnt return it for two months.
i got really really really stomach sick one day.
i got a tan! & then lost it.
i spent countless, unforgettable hours laying on my stomach drinking sweet tea & laughing so hard my stomach hurt the next day.
i went on a walk around alton, at night, with friends.
i smoked quite a few cigarettes.
i ate a truck stop countless times.
i had a wonderful trip home.
i stayed up til four a.m. with my roommate & best friend, talking about...well...absolutely nothing
i passed college algebra!
i got so homesick some nights i couldn't breathe
i walked around wal mart with my best friends for hours, looking. at kids toys, while lyndon & steven were consumed with the candy isle.
i had bad dreams, but always someone to talk about them with.
i spent a lovely hot afternoon swimming at chelsey & shellie's house, then ate ice cream at burger palace.i i took many-a-drives to alton on summer evenings.
i laid on the grass with chelsea & watched the alton fireworks & listened to them boom in my ears.
most importantly; i learned that if i hadn't opened up my heart a year ago & took a chance, i would've had none of this. & i want this.
i loved this summer.
im going to miss alton, & living here with keely's family so much. ill miss all of you that are staying here. i really have had a blast this summer, no matter if it wasnt what everyone had expected. to me, it was flawless.
& thank you. everyone here has been great to me, so amazingly welcoming- i always felt as if id lived here forever. never really awkward or out of place. you all always did your best to know that i was invited everywhere & were so kind to me!
i dont know if ill be here forever, but when im old & certainly gray, wherever i may be, i will look back on this summer, this place, you people, & will remember feeling incredibly loved & alive. thank you.
but now, its going to be wonderful & fun to move on, & be someplace new."
and the sepia-colored picture show of those days and nights that will always replay over, and over again in my mind on the rainiest of days will always, always bring me momentary happiness.
as for that small little town, and that small little countryside- i am so happy that it let me be apart of its life for a little while.