If nothing else, the events I mentioned in my previous post have stopped me dead in my book writing tracks. Nothing thawed out. I now have the water turned off to the house at the main. Tonight is again supposed to be super cold — and my house with its poor pipes is a sitting duck for absolute freeze in every one of its pipes. There is nothing I can do – but stew.
I certainly have not had the heart to return to the work I was so engrossed in last night. Until the words that belong in the Lloyd family story are set to the music of their accompanying photographs, there is no possible way anyone other than my siblings could begin to imagine what our living environment and conditions actually were. In fact, as I worked my way through details I have never thought about before last night, I realized that I have never truly let myself know the bigger picture of what all of the Lloyd children lived through.
There are a few pictures here that are descriptive of a very late transformation process of our ‘home’
These pictures tell a bit of the story about how the original Jamesway got up the Alaskan mountain to our homestead
This shows the location of the Jamesway that continued to go through changes for the next 9 years
It is far too big a story to tell here — but last night my youngest sister called. It was through our conversation that I was set upon an intense thought and study journey until midnight that contributed to my dilemma of my frozen water pipes.
Not only did our family move over and over again a nearly countless number of times during our childhood, but as of last night I began to realize how insane the changes were that happened to that Jamesway even during times we actually did live on the mountain (instead of one of many rentals ‘in town’ over the years).
My sister helped me focus on a very specific period of time that belongs to an incredible memory both she and I share, and one that I have not spent time thinking about because I know it is not nearly time for me to write my own ‘crime report story’ — certainly not of my teen years — yet.
That period of time was the winter of 1967. All these years I knew we lived in an apartment that year in the small town of Eagle River — and not on the homestead. My sister was in 6th grade that year and I was in 10th. As my sister talked with me about our ‘sister memory’ the focus on the exact time this memory event happened led me to understand that somehow during this 1966 – 1967 winter we DID spend time on the mountain.
Did we live in two places at the same time? Thanks to our psychotically mentally ill Borderline Personality Disorder mother that did happen on occasion.
Did we live in the apartments but spend time perhaps on weekends or holidays from school on the mountain?
Did we move entirely out of that apartment on the 1st of April 1967 and back to the homestead? I say this because as I have been so involved in working with the family photograph history it is clear we were in the apartment on March 23, 1967 – when one of my brother’s turned 6. (Dang! Too busy writing this – burned my corndogs! Writing carries certain risks….)
Meanwhile, back in memory lane….. I have worked my way through hundreds of disorganized, undated family pictures as I specify where each one of them is to be dropped (after scanning which my son will do) into their exact spot in the text of 7 volumes of my abusive mother’s writings. At the moment my sister called last evening I was contemplating the final pile of scrambled pictures (no idea WHEN they were taken) as I worked to complete this stage of the books’ process.
We talked. Afterwards I wrote and thought so intensely I let my water pipes freeze.
I was not DONE figuring things out. From what I can tell at this moment all that existed of a dwelling on the homestead at that time in 1967 was the very middle section that I THOUGHT corresponded to a revision of the original 5 sections of the canvas Jamesway. Our father had raised up the sides of the canvas and added wooden walls with windows in them. When I gave up to head to bed last night at midnight (finding my water pipes already frozen at that time) I was at the point of being STUNNED that it appeared the only structure on the mountain in April 1967 contained a total of 320 square feet.
Before I tell you how many of us were living in that thing — I will say that it took me hours to realize there were six sections of Jamesway in the middle part of this ‘house’, not five as I have always thought. If you look at the 3rd link I posted above, you will see what I mean when I say each of those canvas sections was 4′ wide. The whole structure was then 16′ wide as the floor boxes laid end to end were made of 4′ x 8′ sheets of heavy plywood.
NOW I realize that rather than living in 320 square feet, now that I see there was an additional section on the left end of the house (from the front), I see we lived in — 384 square feet.
That’s it. Stuck in that tiny structure without electricity, running water or a phone — in the Alaskan wilderness on the side of a mountain with NO NEIGHBORS anywhere around us — were eight of us as we moved back to the mountain probably April 1, 1967. The oldest was 16, I was 15, then came my sisters aged 13 and 11 — and then the two youngest who were 7 and 2. Plus the madwoman and Father.
384 square feet.
Never before last night have I faced the reality of this fact. This horrific fact.
It was within this crucible that the ‘sister memory’ climaxed. It is important to know the kind of context my work is creating for our family. There was so much chaos and continual moving around — and as I am beginning to realize even continual morphing of our mountain dwelling — that none of the Lloyd children can place any memory exactly in time OR IN place.
This has led me to another profound epiphany since last night. I understand a big part of the reason I left home at 18 to enter a completely foreign world of adulthood while not having a single CLUE consciously that I had been abused — is that the homesteading part of my childhood alone was so profoundly NOT SOMETHING ANYONE COULD COMPREHEND or relate to — that I never bothered to try to tell anyone ‘where I had come from’ in any way. Not telling them (or even myself) about my severe abuse history was a part of this exact same process.
I realized last night that not only did I come from ONE completely strange universe — I came from TWO of them.
Who else was I going to talk to who grew up being able to count 27 moose grazing in their homestead fields as they were all visible out the dining room window? Who else was I going to talk to that had a clue what being abused from birth by a psychotic BPD mother was like? I didn’t try. Not on either account.
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