Friday, June 10, 2011

from LaConner to Texas

We lived in the double-wide on Maple Street for five years. The kids -- toddlers by now -- had a sand box and a swing. We had a vegetable garden and several apple trees. I had a shop in the back where I collected and repaired used fishing tackle. Susan used a corner of our bedroom to make puppets and other craft items .... .... I took my kayak out on the river and spent a lot of time fishing .... We often trudged across the field to visit Keith Brown when he lived in Fishtown ..... I worked at several weekly newspapers as a reporter. I also worked part-time for my parents fishing magazine ... When my parents retired in 1984 and sold the magazine, I took my share of the proceeds and started a fishing newspaper that served the Pacific Northwest --- it was, editorially, an excellent publication. It was a complete expression of what I believed was the best possible description of the northwest fishing community..... Even today, so many years later, I can tell you how good it was .... but there was hardly twelve people who bothered to read it or subscribe to it or take out ads .... A disaster, a complete business failure, it really hurt.

I need to pick up the pace and get this story moving again.... We lived in the double wide for five years -- a perfectly nice home if you like living in a tin can. I never liked it very much. That was my ,mistake -- buying a house that my kids liked and my wife liked -- but I didn't like it or love it . You should hold on to your home with all your might, but you have to love it first, and I never loved it...... Then the fishing publication failed, and I had this immature urge to flee. And compound that with my wife's constant complaint about "life in LaConner." She thought it was a snobby, snotty, in-grown, cliqueish little town -- too many stuck up people .....She wanted to go back home to Oklahoma, which I could not abide .... So we made what I think was a very bad decision -- to move to Austin, Texas, where Susan could feel more at home, and where an old hippie like me could feel welcome.

We should have never left LaConner. It was January, 1986. I got a menial job at a software company. We rented a nice apartment. The kids enrolled in a new school. We made friends. I began playing the piano again.....Austin was easy living......I got tired of the software company, so I got a job as a reporter at a weekly newspaper -- a really good paper too, but they decided not to keep me -- it's a long story -- basically they were just using me until their son finished journalism school -- I wish I has known that .... Anyway, I quickly got another job at another newspaper -- but it was in East Texas -- in the swamp! Back to redneck city -- alligators, mosquitoes, Cajuns, rice fields, water moccasins, high heat and even higher humidity, in a little town called Anahuac, just across the bay from Houston. And we moved AGAIN.

We moved again, from Austin to Anahuac. My wife -- it's hard for me to write this story without dragging her into it -- a woman I still respect and cherish even though we have been divorced for many years -- but I thought she would be the anchor in this partnership. I mean, most women, then and now, are good at keeping things -- they like furniture and curtains and other home-stuff. But not my wife, she would be happier living in a tent. If I ever said let's go, she would say, Okay, I can be packed in an hour --- we'll just grab the kids and get in the car..... So there was no one working the brakes....We just kept moving....That's what we were good at.

This story is getting repetitious. I just kept moving and changing jobs. We're only on town Number Nine and we have twelve more towns to get to. Are you all getting bored with this?..... There's a lot of bad parts that I'm leaving out -- a cycle of depression and anger that I kept going through. And all the marital conflict.....Let me summarize. I was not an angry man when I got married on February 14, at the City Hall in Chicago in the year 1976, but by ten years later when I was leaving in this mosquito-ridden swamp called Anahuac in east Texas --- by this time, in 1986, I wasn't just angry, I was almost nothing but angry, except when I was depressed.... There's no one to blame, except myself, and I just kept moving.

It was October of 1986. We were living in Anahuac, and I was driving ten miles every day to my job as a reporter at the Libertyville Vindicator, a weekly newspaper. The editor, Ernie Zieschang, cared about high school football and the Rotary Club. I don't know why he hired me -- we didn't get along, and after a short while, for the only time in my entire worked career -- I was fired! Ernie just gave me two weeks pays and told me to clear out..... living in east Texas and being employed is a condition that can be endured -- but being unemployed in that miserable country? Not acceptable by any means.

We left. We decided to go back to the Skagit Valley. Susan refused to return to LaConner. I said would Mount Vernon be okay, and she said yes (Mount Vernon being a larger town some ten miles from LaConner). I went ahead, driving across country in our old Buick. Susan and the kids took the train to my sister's house in Los Angeles. She took the kids to Disneyland, and then they headed up north to the Skagit on another train -- to the Cold Comfort Farm where we spent the next few miserable years. Talk about a dump .....

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