In the summer of 1978, we had spent a cool weekend at my uncle’s farm. We often went several times during the spring and summer to help them with chores. This trip we shucked corn for freezing and strung and snapped green beans for canning. I sat on the front porch with the women working, miserable because the women would talk around me, conversations above my head and my 7 year old understanding. I had to sit there and work with very little fun to be had. After hours of shucking corn and snapping beans I was done while the women retreated to the kitchen to finish the work. The farm was lots of work but we also had fun riding the tractor, playing in the barn or playing cards in the living room. This weekend had been exceptionally boring because my cousin Catie wasn’t there to play with.
I wasn’t allowed to go far because the men and boys were in the fields and the women were in the house. I played with cards by myself in the living room. There was no TV. When I did play outside I had to stay near the house. I so wanted to play with the cats at the barn. The weekend was finally over. I was excited to be going home to my toys and my friends. We loaded into the station wagon to leave. Mom and dad sat in the front seats, and as usual, my three brothers were in the middle seat and I was sent to the back to the big, open trunk with the luggage. My dad turned on the radio as we were leaving the farm. Rolling down the county road, I was singing along to the music enjoying the ride home. The song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” came on. This song was so much fun! It’s so fast paced and has so much attitude. My brothers and I were enjoying singing it and I, for sure, was trying to keep up the tongue twisting pace. “The devil went down to Georgia. He was looking for a soul to steal…devil’s in the house of the rising sun…I done told you once you son of bitch I’m the best—eeerch!" (went the screaming sound of our tires) as I was thrown with the luggage into the seat back in front of me. The car came to a quick and painful stop. In an instant, questions and fear ran through my mind. I thought, "Is there an animal? Are we wrecking?" My dad turned in his seat, his face red with anger and his eyes piercing me. He yells, “Excuse me young lady! Shut your mouth! I never want to hear you talk like that!” I sat there in confusion and pain from my shoulder and arm, "What had I said? What did I do?". My eyes welled up with tears. I felt ashamed and embarrassed that dad was so angry at me for saying bad words. I didn’t mean to say bad words. I didn’t mean to make dad mad. I thought we were having fun. Dad pulled back out on the road. Moments before, the car full of joy and fun was now silent. My face wet with tears and flushed with embarrassment. My body sore with pain from hitting the back of my brothers' seats. I laid down and sunk into my confusion and guilt, replaying the song in my head, trying to figure out what I had said. Conversation and music soon resumed, but I was silent the rest of the ride home.
Through Story Exploration:
I have explored a few other stories, but this is one that I haven't been able let go and I haven't been able to figure out why. Bringing it to my group, it was clearly more significant than I thought. This was a day of a broken heart and confusion. There were several lies that were planted or strengthened. These are a few of them:
Girls go in the back
Women work in the house and men work outside
Me having fun can ruin things
I must be very careful with my words
The Truth: My place with the luggage seemed fun at times. But in the 'back seat' was the place I was assigned most of my life. We got a new station wagon three years later and then my seat faced backward, away from everyone else. I was a girl stuck in a boys world. Down deep, I've always been vibrant, fun loving, full of life and longing for adventure but many others along the way forced me to change. I am stepping boldly in to the girl/woman I was created to be.