I was climbing Moro Rock in the Sequoia National Park. I hadn’t gone very far when I came upon a family hanging out on a wide spot on the stairs.
I’d noticed this family before.
The older teenage daughter looked like she’d just stepped out of a Culture Club video circa 1984. Her eyes were heavily rimmed in black. Her short hair was a vibrant blue. She was wearing an over-sized flannel shirt with large black and white plaid, billowy black pants with small white flowers on them, and black Converse sneakers. On her head perched a large-brimmed black felt hat.
The younger child was of ambiguous gender (but I ultimately decided she was a girl) with natural red hair on the brink of dreadlocks–it looked as if it hadn’t been combed in a week. That child had a stuffed toy snake wrapped around her shoulders.
Mom seemed to be a redhead too and wore square reading glasses, but what I remember about her was what she said as the little shuttle bus pulled in. Run to the front kids, she instructed her children to push past the folks who had been waiting before them, there’s only sixteen seats on this one!
Of course, I and a family of four had been waiting for that shuttle 15, 20, 30 minutes, but mom didn’t care. She was bound and determined (perhaps hellbound is a better term) that her family was going to be on that bus.
I huffed and puffed and weezed and panted and made it a little way past them. Then I found my own little wide spot, hugged the rock next to me and stood there to rest for a moment.
As I stood there, I heard Mom say, You can do whatever you want.
Then I heard her screech, I said you can do whatever you want!
I looked over. The children had stood up and were about to follow Mom (and I realized at that moment there was a Dad too) down the steps.
Mom then screeched Just because I have vertigo…
Apparently Mom’s vertigo had debilitated her, and she’d given the kids a choice: go on up without her or follow her back down. If this mom was anything like my mom, she’d offered a choice, but anyone who picked the wrong option was in for some mental and emotional punishment.
The Dad said, We’re all going to stick together…
Mom sounded as if she might cry when she said There’s no reception out here (referring to their cell phones, I presume). If we get separated…she trailed off, making it sound as if the family separated had no hopes of ever finding one another again.
She must not have remembered the days before cell phones, when folks who worried about getting separated designated a meeting spot.
Postscript: I ended up on the shuttle bus out of the park with this same family. Thankfully, I’d brought my MP3 player and headphones so I didn’t have to listen to their conversations on the two hour ride back to Visalia.