You and I grew up in very different times and very different homes. You have two older sisters, and often commiserate with my little brother on just how bossy big sisters can be. Your home was not the most loving of environments, and as such you spent much of your childhood outside, freely roaming your hometown. On hot summer days, you and your cousin Don loved to ride your bikes off the end of the dock into Lake Coeur d’ Alene. In your teen years, you spent most of your time at the hoops on the lakefront, playing basketball with your buddies in your black hightop converse.
Our different upbringings have shaped us to see the world through vastly different lenses, and as such, we sometimes butt heads. However, I’m realizing that despite our clashes, deep down we share some remarkable similarities.
You thrive when your life is orderly and structured, and I also function dramatically better when I get to follow a routine. For you, every morning at 10AM sharp is cookie time. If you’re not going to be at home at 10AM, you always plan ahead and bring cookies with you. And then, every afternoon, shortly before dinner, it’s chips and salsa time. Chips and salsa time is especially fun if we’re camping because you like to buy funky chips for us to try. One of your staple favorites is pork rinds, and, because of your influence, I am also a fan of pork rinds. (Yes, I know what pork rinds are made of, but I choose not to think about it.)
From you I inherited my insatiable desire to explore. You spent quite a few years of your life working for the US Forest Service, and as such, explored the woods of North Idaho for a living.You and grandma often take off in your travel trailer to see new parts of the country, and you’re also better than anyone I know at being a tourist in your own city.
I have many memories of riding in the back of your big grey truck to go on adventures. The cousins and dogs would pile into the back, fighting over who got to sit on the box and singing at the top of our lungs as we drove up the mountain to pick huckleberries on Deer Ridge. You would always back us right up to the edge of the gravel switchback when parking, making us shriek with fear. There was that time you got pulled over for having us in the back and talked your way out of a ticket. You’re good at that. One of the mantras you live by is “some rules are meant to be bent while others are meant to be broken.” But you never put us in danger.
The cab of your truck always contains three things: old gatorade bottles filled with water, road atlases of the Pacific Northwest, and a blue plastic box with a broken lid full of hard candy. The first is because you, like me, always like to be prepared. The second is also indicative of something we share – a love of maps. And the third is something you are never without – sweets. You always bring candy on hikes and bike rides to distribute at the halfway point. You have a special affinity for Mexican candy because it reminds you of the many missions trips you led to Chihuahua City, Mexico. But your all-time favorite hard candy is Atomic Fireballs. When I was younger, I was always too scared to try them, but one day I finally took the plunge, and they quickly became my favorite as well. When I left for college my freshman year, you gave me a ziplock bag of Atomic Fireballs to remind me of home. I purposefully rationed them so I could eat them on particularly hard days and think of you.
And now I get to see you so soon! Only 18 more days until I get to come home and have more adventures with you!