essay no. 2: Wet Like Seals

Provo, Utah

Wet Like Seals

I never wore a seat belt when I was a kid. Instead, we flopped around the back of the car like cutthroat trout on the bottom of a boat. And it was there, behind the back seat in my parents’ station wagon, back with the sleeping bags and suitcases, that my older sister told me she was from another planet. She was sent here, she said, to observe. She would not harm us, she said. She would, in her role as a sister, tease from time to time, but only to fill her role as sister.

I didn’t believe for one minute that my sister was an alien. When I laughed and said I didn’t believe her, well, that just made her mad. See. She was really my sister after all. Would an alien care one way or another what I thought?

We were driving West. California. I remember we sang “This Land Is Your Land” and listened to old radio programs like “Fibber McGee and Molly” that my mom had checked out from the library. I was eight years old.

The car didn’t have air conditioning unless you count rolling down the windows. It was the middle of the summer. Hot, hot.

In Nevada we stopped at a gas station. It had a cafe next door. That was back in the day when you’d roll up to the pumps and tell some kid “fill ‘er up.” So we rolled in to the station and my dad told the kid to fill ‘er up and we all went inside and I drank a Coca Cola for the first time in my life.

It was cold inside. You only had to be in there five minutes before you kind of wished you had a coat. Chilly for a few minutes, sure, but when we left, I mean the second we walked outside, the chill vanished in a soft wall of crushing heat.

My dad told us to follow him. We walked around to the side of the gas station and he took a water hose and sprayed us all down. Back in the car, dripping, happy, wet like seals, I heard my dad tell my mom, “Fellow inside said it’s 114 in the shade.”

Jump ahead. 2009. Now, I’m driving. Now, I’m looking back in the rear view mirror and seeing my two boys there in the back seat. They are strapped in. Car seats and buckles. They joke and tease. And sing. They’re singing a song I taught them.

    There’s a girl downtown
    With freckles on her nose
    Pencils in her pockets
    And ketchup on her clothes
    She’s a real nice girl
    Pretty as a plate
    The boys call her Katie
    When they ask her on a date
    And who knows, Katie
    Maybe you could be the one.

It’s a small moment. Simple and, for me, beautiful. So when my family celebrates Thanksgiving this week, I’m going to be thankful for driving in a car with my two boys. That, and air conditioning.

Song lyrics by Hayes Carll

Justin is more than an artist.  He gives you the gift of seeing yourself the way you've always wanted to be seen.  Because of that, you leave your session instantly thinking that you've made a new friend.  And everyone needs new friends.  

*Catch up on delightful's weekly essays here.


kelli said...

Justin, I'm not sure if it's fair that you're born with all sorts of creativity, but it makes me like your art/you even more.

I'm teaching my boys that song...

LGH said...

Justin, oh that essay conjures up so many great memories of a different time. Thanks for the reminder of family and music; a great combination.

David said...

Hey Justin, You sound like me as a Mom..seems strange when people my kids age talk about the old days. I'm glad you all lived to talk about it compared with all the ways you weren't protected in the old days. (Hilma)

Ammon said...

"are you more amazed at how things change, or how they stay the same?" I am thankful for the good changes and the good oldies. Thanks Justin.

John said...

There is nothing at all fair about the multi-talented unbearably gracious Justin Hackworth. To be in his orbit is like being a weed in a garden of roses.

missy said...

I was just thinking a few days ago about family road trips listening to cat stevens and peter paul and mary. good tunes. good memories.

Thanks for reminding me of happy memories. and just how much music plays a role in that as well.