None of the kids ever called their parents “mom” or “dad”. We all called our parents by their first names. I didn’t know any different, that’s just the way it was. My mom was Deborah and that’s what I called her. I suppose when 40 or more people share one house it could get confusing having all the kids call out “mom”.
I was so happy to live in our cozy bus. We had a woodstove and Deborah would heat up bricks on it. In the middle of the night she would place them under our feet to keep us warm. She even wrote a song about it. All I remember is the line “hot bricks to warm your feet”. She was a beautiful woman who played guitar and sang. Getting tucked in at night I always asked her to sing me my favorite song “Beautiful Dreamer” or tell me how humans were created. I was fascinated by this story of monkeys turning into humans.
I also always wanted her to explain where I was before I was born. I liked to look at photos of my sister when she was little opening presents around a decorated Christmas tree. It looked so grand and fancy! We had nothing like this. I had never seen so many presents! We decorated Christmas trees with strings of red berries from dogwood trees. I even got to use needle and thread to make them and would also try to make popcorn strings but it was too hard to not eat the popcorn. But we didn’t have presents under the tree like that! Why wasn’t I in these amazing pictures? I wanted to be in the pictures with all those presents that were wrapped so pretty with bows and ribbons! Where was I? Well, I was told, you weren’t born yet. Well, I wanted to know, where was I, in your belly? No. In the ground waiting to be born? No, you weren’t in the ground. Well, I had to be somewhere, where? I never got a truly satisfactory answer although I did learn about souls and reincarnation. My mom would tell my brother and I that in her next life she was going to be a bird. But she couldn’t tell me where my soul was when she had all those presents under that fancy Christmas tree.
I liked to go in the bushes by our bus to ponder the meaning of life. I’d crawl into this little hidden clearing where the other kids couldn’t see me and sit there bewildered and amused that I was the only me in the world. And at how funny the words “you” and “me” are. I would wonder if I could travel in time and change everything and wonder if maybe I did each time I thought about it but didn’t know it because I wouldn’t remember a previous reality if it had been changed. Sometimes I thought that every one else communicated telepathically with their minds and I was the only one who was left out on these secret communications with only our crude language to serve me. I wanted to be a part of the secret telepathic conversations that everyone must be having.
I could vividly see a glow around everything, people and animals but especially trees. The trees had a really big glow around them. I would ask my mother to explain what the glow was around everything. She probably told me stuff about spirits and auras but I really wanted hard scientific, tangible explanations. The glow was so strong, I really wanted to know what it was.
Outside of our bus my mom would set out a white plastic potty and make me sit on it til I went poop. I was so embarrassed when the older boys from our house would walk by and laugh at me. Our path from the house went right by our bus to the road and was quite busy. I was so ready to not use that stupid potty in front of other people. But then I had to use the outhouse. It was far from the bus, dark and stinky. There were sticky strips that hung from the ceiling covered in flys that disgusted me.
There was two stalls but only one door. If you used the first stall then someone else coming in would see you. For some reason that was the one I always had to use. Perhaps the other one had the wood hole cut out bigger for adults to sit on and was too big for little kids. Sometimes while using the outhouse, neighborhood boys would lift each other up to spy through the screen. I didn’t like the outhouse at all. I was afraid I might fall in down the deep pit into all that poop. What really disturbed me though was thinking there might be an outhouse witch who lived down there. I thought that at anytime she might reach up and grab my butt with her long boney hand.
At night I still wore cloth diapers with plastic pants but my mom would pee outside in the woods behind our bus and wipe with the leaves until she realized that those leaves were poison ivy and that was way she itched so bad down there.