“…vulgar term.”

 

Some things are better left unsaid, and somethings need to be said. I remember hanging out with my sister one day back home. I was playing street hockey barefoot in the front yard with some of the neighborhood kids with a broom and a tennis ball. Mighty Ducks had just come out, and we were all trying to act like we could play hockey. Except, I never ice skated a day in my life or owned a hockey stick. Years later my Dad bought me a wood hockey stick for left-handers that was only 2.99 at Play it Again Sports. But I remember that day running around barefoot, and some of the older neighborhood kids came around and started talking. There was a pretty vulgar term I overheard them say, and it stuck in my mind for most of that Spring of my childhood into my Summer.

We were on our trip back from Montana in our blue Astro van with my parents, some minister friends, and Camie. I remember sitting in the back seat, contemplating my life as a 7-year-old. This was the early 90s, and we didn’t have portable TVs, and we couldn’t quite afford a Gameboy just yet. And so I was looking out the window looking at the picturesque scenery of the Glacier Mountain Park when I decided to ask my Mom something. I said to my Mom, “Mom.” She said, “Yes son.” I said, “What does “vulgar term,” mean?” My Mom didn’t say anything, but I’ll say, I got it good. Later on, during that same trip, I choked and eventually swallowed a big Lego… I didn’t tell anyone.

That Lego is probably still stuck in my body somewhere, and I probably should have told someone about the swallowed Lego at the moment, given it was a huge piece of red plastic. But that was my first experience realizing that I didn’t need to speak everything that’s on my mind and also to speak up if something was about to hurt me. A reminder to not fear speaking hurt and to hold peace.

“You shouldn’t play with your food.”

Since I was a kid, I spent time all over the rez during the summers. Some summers I spent with my Nana, some summers I spent with my Uncles and Aunts. And then some summers I spent with my parents traveling to reservations across Turtle Island. We always ate traditional foods and such, and as a child, I would sometimes refuse. I would occasionally push the food around with my fork to make it look like I ate, but I remember my Mom telling me, “Don’t play with your food.” It was a lesson that followed me in my adult years.

One of my college summers I spent in Nebraska for an internship. Quite honestly, I wasn’t doing much with the internship but it gave me a chance to chill with one of my bros. He was like a big brother and I think just about anybody who spent any amount of time with him has a story about his shenanigans. He always liked to be on the move, drive his war pony around and keep busy.

One day we were out and about and we met an older woman. She was super kind and inevitably invited us to her grandson’s 18th birthday. Keep in mind, we just met her that day. My bro said, “Sure, we’ll go.” And before I knew it, evening struck and we were talking with strangers outside a trailer house along the Missouri River. We ate, talked, played guitar and fished. It was a beautiful evening with some awesome Native people. We were swapping stories and toward the latter part of the night around the fire, a little German Shepherd puppy arrived. It was the cutest little dog. My bro saw the little puppy and started to pet him and wrestled the little dog with his hand. He was smiling and while keeping his eyes down fixated on the dog below he asked, “is this puppy for the birthday boy?” The rummage of party noise waned and the sound of night and moonlight replaced the talking. No one answered my buddy. He was still smiling but simultaneously looking around confused. Then his smiled turned into sole confusion.

I was also confused, did we do something? Both of our eyes wandered through the party, and eventually, the lady who extended the invitation walked in our direction. She motioned, and we learned in. She covered her mouth and in a slightly loud whisper said, “it’s for the sacrifice.” My bro who still was petting the puppy until the moment of her whisper immediately stopped and said, “oh.” We were a little taken back, or at least I was. I never heard of that, just because we don’t practice that in our tribe. When we left, I was still confused, but my buddy explained to me they were  Sioux and it was part of their traditions. I told my bro, “You shouldn’t play with your food.”

“…hey those are my shoes.”

We just celebrated Gordie’s third birthday. Any monumental moments in the kids’ lives, I always reflect on how I’m as a father. I had tremendous experiences as a kid traveling, visiting and adventuring into new places and I hope I do the same for my kids. And I become nostalgic about those places I was privileged to visit, and one place that has always been adventurous in my childhood is Whiteriver. And it has been just as adventurous in my adult years.

I was once on a trip visiting friends in the White Mountains. There was a wedding my friends were attending the evening I drove in. I said I would wait at their house, but they mentioned I could attend the wedding with them. I asked if they were sure, but they continued to insist, although I had jeans and random grey short sleeve shirt. As I walked through the church foyer, and through the double doors entering the church, someone yelled, “JD’s here, he’ll help.” I didn’t know what they were going to ask but the groom came up to me and let me know one of his bros didn’t make it and they were a man short. He kindly asked, “would you mind being a groomsman.” I said “sure, but I only have jeans and this shirt.” The guys were wearing suits and tuxedos, but I proudly walked down the aisle with one of the bridesmaids. Now I’m in some random wedding photos in the wedding of a beautiful couple whom I can’t remember their names. But I’ve always known cool and funny stuff happens like that in Whiteriver, even among some of the tragic events. It’s because my Dad spent much of his 20s and brought us as kids to be reservation quite often.

One story I always remember him telling us was about blueberry hill. Blueberry hill during the 70s, I’m not sure if it’s still this way, is where many of the community outcasts and winos would hang out. They would drink morning to night, moon to sun and heat to snowflakes. My Dad was in his mid-20s pastoring in the White Mountains. He often went to blueberry hill because he liked to talk, pray and hang out with those who were struggling with life. He walked his dog out there to his friends. Occasionally his dog would go out to blueberry hill on his own and of the guys would bring him back home. Eventually one of the gentlemen from blueberry hill passed away. The friends asked my Dad to hold the funeral service which he agreed. My Dad asked one of the Apache ministers friends to attend the service with him to interpret. They got to the burial site in the middle of winter and conducted the ceremony. At the gravesite, while snow was drizzling down on the body 6 feet down, one of the friends yelled out, “hey those are my shoes.” He jumped down in the mist of snowfall and grabbed them. Someone else said, “hey that’s my jacket.” He jumped down and grabbed them. My Dad’s friend who was supposed to interpret walked away because he couldn’t believe what was happening but was also laughing with some of the other Apache attendees (the mixture of tragedy and humor is something I’ve only ever seen this with Natives). And my Dad, not quite sure what to make of it at the time, finally got them settled down and finished the ceremony. I mean, why waste a good pair of boots or jacket… like my buddy said, it’s kind of like letting a good organ go. But it made me think about what we will leave for another generation and what will we take from those who are living. And I hope I leave something tremendous for my kids, including my shoes.

“…bag of smashed butt holes.”

I’ve always felt like I’ve done well when I’m sick. I don’t complain about it. I know I need rest. When I was a kid, I would just lay on the couch until I felt better. If it got worse, my Mom would take me to get ibuprofen from the Phoenix Indian Medical Center. But I usually recovered fine after a few days of laying on the couch and some sleep. I didn’t learn till the military how fortunate I was to have that time to recover from sickness. The worst cough I had was in the army during basic training; it’s also where I learned the worst insults… or the best depending if you were on the receiving end.

In week three of basic training, I got a cough, like everyone else it seemed. But having a small cough was worse in the army than it was at home. Reason being that we were only getting 4-5 hours of sleep interrupted by intermittent fire guard duty to watch weapons, wash clothes and clean the barracks. I sat there on top of my crisply made green wool olive drab blanket, nicely cocooned by my black military issue sleeping bag.

They don’t tell you this, but you don’t make your bed every morning. You could, but that would be stupid. There’s so little time between wake up, morning wiz, brushing teeth and shaving (even if it’s just natural beard hair) that making your bed was nonessential. So you make your bed perfectly once, and you sleep on top of it in a sleeping bag that you can stuff away in the morning. A semi-overweight kid in the platoon tried to make his bed each morning to which our drill sergeant said, “Private, you look like a can of biscuits that’s just popped open.” Surprisingly that one semi-overweight soldier who made his bed and was late most mornings only lasted a few more months past basic before getting washed out.

But I laid there in my black sleeping bag coughing every 1-3 minutes, enough to keep me from reaching any deep REM cycle. And just as you feel your body tire from the back to back sleepless coughing nights, someone taps your back for doing work that could have been completed when the sun was out. Even though according to the drill sergeant our clothes needed to be cleaned because our barracks smelled like a, “bag of smashed butt holes.” Coughing in your sleep is the worst, but it’s worse when you’re in the army.

Towards the end of the 9-week cycle, I remember standing in freezing weather with just my Army shorts and shirt shivering and coughing at sand hill in Fort Benning, GA. My desert blood wasn’t used to any cold weather, but there was no way I was going to sick call to risk being recycled. After finishing basic with a 6-week cough, I eventually ended up getting nasty flu during officer candidate school. Our platoon sergeant sent me to sick call where I received a magical Z pack that gave me 24-hour sweats, bubble guts and lucid dreams that ended with no cough and healed body. I always try to remember that some people out there are still walking around with sickness and haven’t found healing. It’s an awful burden to hold and life to live.

“…shave your eyebrows.”

I was mischievous most of my childhood but it also meant I was entertaining for my parents. I was conducting my nightly routine a 6-year-old goes through. Mostly messing around, asking for water, using the bathroom a lot. All that to try to stay up for a few extra minutes. We were living at the 6th drive house. I was wearing an old oversized t-shirt going on my fourth or fifth trip to the bathroom. This time, not that is wasn’t there all the other times, I saw an orange and white Bic disposable safety razor sitting next to the sink. The same one I watched my Dad use in the morning. My Dad could grow a full beard, something I still can’t do at age 32.

But I saw the razor and thought I would try it on the only facial hair I had in those moments. My eyebrow. I took the safety razor and guided it along the left side of my left eyebrow. I looked in the mirror afterward and thought to myself, “It didn’t work.” I put it back on the counter and walked out of the restroom. I nonchalantly walked back into the living room to wait until my parents told me to go to bed for the fourth or fifth time. But instead I was greeted with my Mom’s puzzled look and question, “Did you shave your eyebrow?” To which I replied, “I don’t know.” My Mom insisted, “Did you use that razor?” I said, “sure.” She continued, “Well I think you shaved it.” Her and my Dad both laughed and told me to go back to bed. It’s the reason my left eyebrow still grows a little differently than my right. And then I witnessed it at a camp I was working at on the Nez Pearce rez about 14 years ago.

I was in Lupwai Idaho working at a Native youth camp. As with all kids, there was one Native kid that was particularly rowdy. He was continually sneaking away, disrupting the instructors and just being generally mischievous. He was assigned to my team and shadowed me most of the week. And as rowdy, as this kid was, he was equally hilarious. As we were gathering for the morning activities I saw him stroll by and I said, “Hey, did you shave your eyebrows.” He started laughing and said, “yeah.” I mean it was obvious, people look funny with no eyebrows. And I just laughed. The rest of the week he used a sharpie to draw in his eyebrows. When he was angry, he would draw his eyebrows with a gradual slope and quick drop at the end. When he was happy, he made them little hills.

My point is if you don’t think you’re funny or you want to be funnier or if you want to be more entertaining, shave your eyebrows.

“…melting the sweat beads on my back.”

My family and I affectionately call our childhood home, “the 6thdrive house.” For most of my adolescent years, it was a tan home with dark brown trim shaded by a large ash tree. The backyard had partial grass, dirt and a large swimming pool that felt like bath water in the summer; minus where the palm tree laid shadow in the deep end. The house, at the time, was situated on the edge of an affluent school district relative to where we lived prior in the city. I have fond memories of our home and although we were fortunate to live in that house we occasionally had to leave. Mostly because we didn’t have an air conditioner.

You don’t realize how important an air conditioner is until you don’t have one in the middle of the desert summers. Swamp coolers don’t work when it’s as hot as it gets in our summers. Trying to wet the unit only works when it’s less than a 100 degrees and we consistently maintained temperatures well above that. It could be worse though, my Mom grew up in a one bedroom mud house, so it’s difficult to complain. Nonetheless, my Mom always sought to find us cooler refuges during the scorching days.

The library, dollar movie theater, and mall served as our oasis. My Mom would take us to the library on 19thavenue and let us read for hours. In my case, look and trace pictures. One summer she enrolled us in the Suns reading program where we received bookmarks of Suns players such as Charles Barkley, Dan Marjele and Kevin Johnson for every few books we read. Honestly, sometimes I would sit there with a book for a few minutes staring at pictures, run up to my Mom and say, “I finished reading.” She would sign my paper and I would go get another bookmark. To this day I have a collection of Suns bookmarks that I hustled from the Phoenix public library.

The mall was another place my Mom took us. Usually, we just sat around or went to the arcade to pretend we were playing video games. It was strange but as kids, we somehow always knew better than to ask for anything. I knew we didn’t have quarters to burn at an arcade, so I just grabbed the joysticks and watched the computer characters until I grew bored of the blinking “insert coin,” banner. I knew if I was going into a toy store that I would never walk out with anything at that moment. It just didn’t happen. One of the few times I remember walking out of the store with a toy was with my Aunt. When I was around 9 years old I spent a few weeks with my cousin, Uncle, and Auntie out near Laguna Dam. My cousin and I had mowed the lawn and cleaned up the yard a bit, an often unrewarded job around the 6thdrive house, so it was a special moment when my Aunt bought me that GI Joe. The mall was a great place to escape our house for a few hours but it still wasn’t as great as the dollar theater.

The dollar theater on Bell road was amazing. It was literally $1 to watch a movie. My Mom would load my sisters and me in our van. If we were going to the movies, we always stopped by Walgreens for one snack each. Peanut M&Ms was and still is my Mom’s favorite and became a crowd pleaser among us kids. Inside the theater was a lobby area selling overpriced food and drinks. We would wait for the movie attendant to call out the sitting of our movie. As you moved through the hall to the respective theater, there was a stream of lights that made you feel like you were about to jump to light speed. Once I got to the theater I always felt a rush of cold air slowly melting the sweat beads on my back. The cool air felt so good that you could barely hear and feel your feet sticking to the cement floors. Those were awesome summer days.

Eventually, we did get an air conditioner when I was 12 years old. But I can recall our childhood without the a/c and I appreciate it. You can also see some of our family social mobility. As kids, my Mom and Dad didn’t have a swamp cooler, my sisters and I had a swamp cooler, and my kids have an air conditioner. But I often wonder if that a/c will make my kids spoiled. I fear they will be unable to take the heat if they lack exposure because of my desire to give them more.

“it’s still dressed in that same 70s green”

My Dad had a relatively usual routine every morning. He was an extremely light sleeper and almost always woke up early than the house. He would sit, pray and read in an old chair my parents bought from a yard sale before he started putting on his work clothes. By the time he was getting ready, I would start to roam and rummage through the house. I would occasionally wander into his room while he was sitting in that old chair putting on his shoes. My parents always claimed they would reupholster that chair, but to this day, it’s still dressed in that same 70s green it displayed the day they bought it. Sitting in that green chair, he would put on his dress socks and then his black shined wingtips using a shoe horn. I remember watching him stand up, put on his belt, neatly place a handkerchief in his back pocket and pull out a dress shirt and tie for the day. He delayed putting on his dress shirt for most of the morning for fear of getting it dirty. First, he would walk around in a white tank top doing his morning chores and inevitably eat a bowl of cereal. But I remember him following this routine most mornings of my entire childhood.

This past Monday morning I woke up. Not any earlier than the rest of the house, but also not any later. I woke up when we all woke up. I wandered out of my room and could hear Vanessa grinding the coffee beans, followed immediately by the wafting smell of Costco coffee brewing. I walked out of the room and could see the kids still sitting out the couch in their PJs like little zombies waking up. I rented a bounce house for $140 for Easter the day before for the kids and all their friends and it appeared they were recovering from a candy and dehydration hangover. Nothing says, Jesus has risen like a bounce house. Minus the 15 minutes of lethargic kids, that Monday morning it didn’t even look like we had 30 people over the night before. Vanessa and I embraced with a small kiss and a “good morning.” I told her, “I’m going to get ready.” She said, “sounds good.” After the kids woke up a little, she took them outside to play in the bounce house. Normally I would bounce before getting the day started, but I didn’t bounce on that Monday morning. I just watched the kids for a few minutes, because I needed to get my mind focused.

I started to get ready. I laid out my most excellent new dark blue jeans, my blue shirt to wear silver cufflinks from my undergraduate, a Patrick James vest a family friend bought me when she found out I got a job as a tenure-track professor, a reversible black and tan belt, new underwear with sharks my Mom bought me, my striped dress socks and my tan wingtip boots. I put on each piece of clothing and then sat down to put on my tan wingtip boots. I love those boots. Easily the most delightful pair of dress shoes I have ever owned. I sat down, and as I began to tie the dark brown lace on my tan boots, I realized that I was getting ready on the same green chair that I used to watch my Dad get ready on. I smiled and then almost immediately my son, G.W. walked in. I said, “Hi Gordie, you all bounced out?” He said, “Hi.” He watched me as I laced up my other boot. I finished putting on the vest and ultimately decided not to wear my cufflinks and rolled up my sleeves. I told Gordie, “Come on, let’s brush our teeth and comb our hair.” I took out my brush and started combing Gordie’s hair for a bit. I told him, “Sometimes an Indian man has to brush his hair.” Something that I heard a San Carlos Apache kid tell me in my mid-20s. I finished combing our hair and brushing our teeth. I sprayed a little cologne on both of us and said, “ready.” Gordie replied, “ready.” I walked out of the room and Gordie bolted back outside to play in the bounce house. Before I walked outside to tell everyone bye… I could see Vanessa and Luna through the opened glass sliding door enjoying books, coffee, and breakfast on the grass in the cool breezed morning. I walked toward Vanessa and let her know I was leaving; she braided some prayers into my hair and whispered, “good luck.” She gave me another gentle kiss. I told the kids I was leaving, and gave them each a kiss goodbye and told them, “I love you.”

As I walked out of the house to my truck for my 30 minute I-10 drive to ASU, I reflected back on watching my Dad get ready for work and realized that my kids would one day remember me getting ready. And it makes me wonder, “will they remember this day,” the morning of the day I successfully defended my dissertation. I hope they remember me well despite my faults as a Father… as I remember my Dad.

“DON’T LOOK, DON’T LOOK!”

We were headed to the White Mountains to promote the college on the Apache reservation. I was 8 years old during that hot summer June, so it was going to be nice to head to cooler-warm weather in Cedar Creek, AZ. A place that I loved to visit as a kid because of the tarantulas, cliff jumping, and chance to chase cows. We jumped in our blue Astro van and cruised on the 60 from Phoenix to Globe, AZ. A trip we had taken a million times before.with my Dad… my Dad who has always been interesting to take road trips.

When we were little he never stopped unless we had been on the road for a minimum of 3 hours. One time, my sister Camie had to stick her butt out the window because we weren’t stopping… I peed in bottles and we always had a plethora of snacks. We listened to the same cassette tapes and I remember drawing in my notepad for most of the trips. I often collected coke bottles and used my pocket knife to make gadgets and what not. We never sat in our seats. We always had these makeshift beds of layered blankets laid between the rubber floors and seats. It’s where we slept for our longer trips. It was a different time back then.

The trip to Cedar Creek wasn’t a long one, it took us about 4 hours with a stop in Globe. After our stop, we headed through the beautiful windy Salt River Canyon. The drive through the canyon was filled with sheer cliffs, flowing waters, and on occasion, waterfalls would burst through the plateaus after heavy rains. After our quick stop in Globe, we embarked on the scenic drive. My sister Camie and I crushed a family size box of cheez its in the beginning half of our trip. About halfway through, just over the Salt River, I felt it coming. My stomach turned, and the cheez its turned on me. I threw up a good half box of cheez its on the rubber floor of our blue Astro van. There’s not really pull-offs, especially then, in the Canyon. So my Dad kept driving. My oldest sister Joy grabbed Camie, and yelled at her, “DON’T LOOK, DON’T LOOK!” But Camie looked, and she threw up the other half of the box of cheez its. Bits of cheez its were running back and forth on the floorboards as our van slowly climbed up the canyon. We pulled off, my Mom got a towel and cleaned as much as she could. My Dad was a little flustered, just because we always ran tight schedules during those trips. Once we finally got to Cedar Creek, my Dad asked his friend for a hose and sprayed the floor clean while my friends and I built a wikiup in their yard.

My Dad is much different to travel with now. He stops every hour or two, he doesn’t get flustered during traffic, car wrecks, or missed turns. He also flies whenever he can. I tease him about changing his road warrior ways, but he told me, “I don’t get flustered or mind getting lost because it means I could have missed a wreck or someone may need me on the other road.” So if you get a little lost, take a few wrong turns or someone delays your trip with throw up, don’t get flustered. It’s just part of the journey you’re meant to be on.

Camie and I still love cheez-its and to this day… Joy can’t be around them.

she turns to me and asks,”JD, will you go get me a Mr. G’s bean and cheese burrito.”

My Nana passed away a little more than 8 years ago. She lived in a small two-bedroom house that my Tata built in Winterhaven, CA. In the past year, I’ve been having more dreams about her. In my last dream, she was about to pass away. I was sitting at her bedside, and she turns to me and asks,”JD, will you go get me a Mr. G’s bean and cheese burrito.” We laughed together in the dream. I’m so grateful that I spent my summer months with her as a kid.

The house was on the border of the Quechan reservation, California, Arizona, Mexico, and the Colorado River. My family loved to tell stories about how much she loved to dance and her escapades. Apparently, she was quite lovely at wrestling matches in the 40s and 50s. In one of the events, my Tata had to intervene and carried her out because her loud, threatening voice was berating what she called fake wrestlers. She continued to taunt them, and argue that she could work them over. The event caused a small ruckus. I never knew that side of her, just the side where she made Saturday breakfast, made sure all the men were served and ate before the women, and turned the bedroom wall a/c on the coolest setting before we came to visit.

As a kid, our family always stayed with her. Outside of the guest bedroom, her house was always warm in the summer and a little colder than normal in the winter. I would sleep on the daybed right in front of the wall a/c and roll myself into a multilayered burrito of blankets. To be that cold and that warm at the same time, gave me some of the best sleep of my life. There wasn’t much to play with in her house. She had a couch full of taco bell chihuahua dogs that were for only observation and an old black and white tv that only played novellas. I often went around back of the house to play in the dirt or build fires in her old stove. The backyard was mostly barren with soft dirt that was as pliable as beach sand with a little water. Your feet would sink a little with each footstep. I would crawl through and jump on the old broken down car and dirt bike my Uncle left from his high school days; pretending I was cruising around town. Every year, I looked forward to those few weeks and months of hot summer days beneath the sun sweating in vehicles and building dirt castles for my hot wheels cars.

I continued to visit her through high school and eventually through my college years. When the opportunity to do my student teaching on my rez was presented, I didn’t hesitate to ask my Nana if I could live with her for four months. It was some of the most memorable times I had. Not because we went on a lot of adventures, but just because I never spent so much time talking and in silence with someone. I loved to ask questions about our family. I asked her what it was like as a kid in the great depression. I wondered why she could speak Spanish and English so well. I asked her why she didn’t remarry. And then we would watch novellas, and she would tell me that I don’t speak Spanish correctly. She would gossip with me about anything she could. A girl I was dating at the time stopped by, and she didn’t hesitate to tell me that she didn’t like her family.

But then there were times I would get home from San Pasqual elementary, the school on my rez, and she would be sitting in her chair. I would lay on the love seat with my legs hanging over the arm. As soon as I would plop myself on the couch, a plume of dust would rise and settle over my dress clothes. We would sit in the hot living room with the door open to let the dirt filled breeze cool us down. It would be a few minutes and sometimes hours of silence. And I loved that, and I miss it now when I come back home to my reservation.

“I stood on the giant boulders; then started jumping…”

I think we all had and have moments in life when we didn’t listen to someone’s warning and ended up embarrassed. Sometimes those warnings come from friends, mentors, siblings, and especially from parents. And there’s been a few times in my life I didn’t listen to someone’s warning.

Coming from the Sonoran desert, I’ve had my share of stories involving cacti. When my parents would take us to the southern part of the state, my siblings and I would get a chance to eat prickly pears. Anytime I had a scrape on my leg, my Mom would send me to our front yard to break a piece of the aloe vera cactus, and then rub the broken end on my cuts and scrapes. My sister and her friends once pushed this jerk kid into a patch of prickly pears. I’ve ran into small saguaros with bare feet more times than I would like to count. I once got a jumping cactus stuck in my leg when I tried out for my high school golf team (needless to say, I didn’t make the golf team and played football). But probably the most memorable experience was when I was 6 years old.

I stood on the giant boulders; then started jumping from one boulder to the next pretending there were giant alligators beneath me. My Dad said, ”Don’t play on those rocks.” I said, ”Okay,” and got down. My Dad went to his faculty and staff meetings and I climbed back on the rocks. No sooner than I started jumping again, I fell off one of the giant builder. I scraped my leg through my jeans and could feel the warm blood start to drip down the side of my calf. No big deal. My jeans would stop the bleeding. I started jumping again and the second time around, I would regret it.

I jumped and I fell, but this time to the backside of the boulders. Where there was an abundance of barrel cacti. Thankfully I only rolled a few times, but it was enough for thorns to get stuck all around my legs, butt, and back. I wobbled over toward my Mom and let he know what happened. My Mom took me to the room we were staying in, and plucked as many thorns as she could find. I don’t know if it’s more embarrassing to have your Mom pick thorns from your butt with your pants down. Or admitting you didn’t listen to a warning you had minutes earlier. Either way, both happened to me. And anytime I don’t heed someone’s warning and end up embarrassed, it’s another reminder to stay off the rocks.