In December 2008, a Southern Humboldt blogger began posting fictional tales of the marijuana culture. Some people were appalled. Most were enthralled. For three months her stories gripped the online community and then, abruptly, she was gone. Even though SoHumBorn pulled her blog, for months her stories were available in the cached version but eventually they, too, were swallowed into the dark abyss. Recently she gave me permission to revive them. I’ll be doing one each Sunday for awhile. Do you have a favorite? Let me know and I’ll try and include it. The stories of this culture, true and fictional, need to be saved.

Growing Up in SoHum

Pulling off the pavement she put the SUV in 4-wheel drive & unclipped her seat belt. “Can we unbuckle now?” the kids call out from the back. “Yes, but keep your parts inside the windows.”

The slanted golden light of the afternoon made the drive out the bumpy dirt road a gallery of natures raw beauty. Fall was always her favorite time of year.

After she’d picked the kids up from school they had gone into town in search of the perfect Halloween costumes. Now with the costumes and a large load of groceries bouncing around in what the kids called the “wayback” She was heading home. As they rounded the sharp turn and started down the long hill to the creek, she glanced up to see a long caravan of white trucks headed toward her. Her stomach did a slow sickening roll as they began to slowly pass her on their way to town with the loads of plants and supplies. She could feel the colour drain out of her face, and then rush back, turning her neck and cheeks a bright hot red. Looking straight ahead she drove on, refusing to glance at the men in the trucks, though she was sure they were staring at her. The Kids didn’t say a word. Time seemed painfully slow as they passed truck after truck in frozen silence.

The last of them in her rear view mirror she began to breathe again. As they continued homeward her mind raced. What would she do if it was her home? Should she go back to town and call some one? No one who would know where they had been even had a phone. Better just to see now and get it over with. When the drive way comes into view her fear deepens. The thin mud holds the tracks of multiple vehicles where there should be only hers from this morning.

At the gate fear turns to panic. It is wide open, this gate is never left open. She stops, staring at it she roughly rubbs her face with hands that shake and feel like ice. She turns and looks at the frightened faces of her children in the back seat. They are still silent, and looking at her, with worry clear on faces far to young for this. The possibilities roll through her mind. Has their Father been arrested? She wishes she had been brave enough to look in the vehicles she’d passed. Had they left officers behind still investigating, or loading things up? She needs to know, but doesn’t want the children to see her get arrested.

She gets out of the car and opens the back door. “I need you guys to do me a favor O.K.?” they both nod their agreement. She pulls off her watch and hands it to the oldest. An eleven year old who now seems very young and small. “Here take this. I want you guys to sit behind those bushes right there and not make a sound. If I’m not back here in fifteen minutes you run to neighbor Julia’s house & call Grandpa to come get you. All right?”
They nod together with their pale faces and large eyes, then do as they were asked, and go hide on the hillside behind the thick huckleberry bushes.

She jumps back in the car and heads to the house driving faster and faster as the reality of what she’s done, and is doing, slithers through her brain and insides. Rounding the last corner the house comes into view. At first all she sees is the large number of rigs parked all around her house. Panic heightens… then she begins to realize she recognizes the cars and trucks, they are her neighbors. She slides to a stop in the dirt and jumps out.

Seeing the group all standing at the edge of the hill she runs over to them. They all start talking at the same time. They are telling her the story of the neighbor (who’s home they could see from this hill) who had been busted today.

She cries as she runs. Jumping on the Quad she flys back out the driveway to the gate. When the kids see her they jump out of the bushes and rush over. “It’s O.K. it wasn’t us! Load up!” After a brief cheerful exchange over who got the coveted seat on the front rack they headed home together. There they joined the group on the hill, as everyone took part telling the story of the unfortunate friend and neighbor, while watching the last of the sheriff & DEA agents bag and load evidence from his house down the valley.

That day changed how she felt about things. She saw how crazy it was. She began to fear that what she’d done to her children would forever impact them. What kind of life was she giving them? She decided she didn’t want them raised in constant fear. She packed up her life and moved out of the hills she loved. Those kids are grown now. They tell this story, and it comes out as a comedy. It always gets big laughs. She tells it too, I look in her eyes and see the guilt she feels… not funny. Growing up in SoHum.

UPDATE: The next SoHumBorn Sunday story is here.