Thursday, April 29, 2010


Screens of bamboos stood on guard on one side of the dirt road. Rice grasses swayed like sheets of green silk fluffed by a gentle and invisible hand on the other side of the road. I turned and looked at the other end of the road, only to find the same country scene. Panic, not serenity, hit me in an afternoon filled with pre-storm damp heat.

The seed of decades of nightmare had just been planted. It was the worst kind any kid could have--I was lost.

The singing rehearsal at the radio station had gone well, and we were told to come back the next day. A group of my classmates chosen by the teacher walked together toward the little village settlement while chatting, laughing and teasing. The head of the class was among us, and I was the target of his constant teasing. It must have been puppy love they so lovingly named it. I didn't feel much of the loving to be frank; but then, I was only in second grade.

I made the turn and walked away from the group. He yelled at me over and over: "No, Sarah. This is the way home! Not that one!" I refused to listen, thinking he was teasing me again, and I wasn't going to fall for that.

Now I desperately wanted to reverse that bad decision.

There was not a soul in sight. I had traversed the roads forever and no matter which way I turned, they all seemed familiar at first, and turned into another wrong direction shortly. I was both tired and anxious. My parents would think I was stupid not to follow the group. Worse yet, it was getting dark.

A small house sitting a few yards off the dirt road with a window that glowed warm amber light drew me closer to it. Either my pacing up and down or my sobbing, although I don't remember crying, caught the attention of a man and he walked out of the house. It wasn't difficult to see that I was miserably lost. He invited me into his house.

He had a wife and a little girl close to my age. We might have been going to the same school, but I didn't know her. I didn't refuse the dinner, but I couldn't eat much either. The reaction from my parents worried me the most. I asked them to take me home after dinner, but it started to pour and didn't want to stop. Finally they said I should spend the night there and they would take me home in the morning. There were no streetlights in country side, and nobody owned a car.

I was going to share the bed with their daughter. Just when I was getting ready for bed I heard the faint shouting of my name outside. I jumped up and said: "That's my dad!"

They opened the door and called out to him. There was my father, drenched with water but relieved to see me. He thanked the kind family after scolding me for getting lost, and then we were on our way home.

The dirt road outside had turned into an endless mud path. I was riding on his back, holding on to his neck with both of my arms. It was a surreal feeling forever etched in my memory, as my father seldom held me. I saw the water drops beading down his neck, not sure if they were rain or sweat. I felt guilty for causing so much trouble. I was ashamed for being dumb enough to get lost. However, beneath all those feelings I was also a little happy. It was one of the rare moments I felt loved by him.

My parents complained to the teacher and promptly ended my singing career next day. It made me feel like the biggest idiot in the world. It was many years later that I finally could relate to the anger my parents must have felt. I still blame the boy for my inability to sing karaoke today.

Perhaps I should thank the boy instead. Perhaps, just for a moment, panic also hit my father--thinking I was forever lost. Perhaps he held me a little closer to his heart because of it.

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  1. I really feel bad, because my comment is going to sound redundent, but I really REALLY liked that story. I loved the last few paragraphs where you expressed your love for this (tough?) man that didn't seem to show much of his emotions and how close you felt to your father that night.

  2. thanks sarah. no, it will never feel redundent, and i'm so glad you liked it. as for my father, well, it's they say.

  3. Must have been very traumatic!

  4. A turn down the wrong road creates a memory that, years later, transforms into a poignant story. Isn't life wonderful?

    (By the way, I hope you're not waiting for that 50k lottery to feel rich and happy. That could be a long wait.)

  5. hunter - yes, it was. i blocked it out of my memory for years.

    np - thanks. i've given up on lottery until we're having a mega jackpot this week. should i try?

  6. Sarah! Where did you get a picture of my dog! That's MY DOG, PRECIOUS! O.k. so I didn't name her--she was adopted. But she is still mine. She sleeps with me at night, and poops in the closet when she is sick.

    Great story, Sarah. MORE!! I WANT MORE!!

  7. judie - that's my dog coco. i took the picture myself. she sleeps with me as well, but she poops in the backyard. :) thanks for the comment!

  8. You are SOOOOO lucky she poops in the back yard! Precious used to, until the pack rats started collecting her poop and storing it in our pump house. She was furious! Now she is very protective of her poop. She needs to be more human in that regard.

  9. You always relay your stories so beautifully and humanly. It brought back a similar memory when I was madly lost, found by kind strangers and then my father (a very complicated relationship too). I would've felt that 'precious moment' you did had he carried me piggyback to get home. That is sweet and special.


  10. robyn - i hate to tell you that only because we had a difficult relationship i had to hang on to every rare moment of kindness to feel special. he'd probably order me to walk home had it not been raining and muddy. :) and don't forget he scolded me first when he found me. lol.

  11. Sara, I read you post again, and then I read some of your earlier posts. You are such a gifted writer, Sara. I could actually feel myself participating in your stories.

    Last night I remembered getting lost at the Southeastern Fair, in the fairgrounds just outside Atlanta. I was five. I was so enthralled with all the lights, and the smells, that I just wandered off into the crowd. A policeman found me and put me in his car until my father came to get me. He wasn't mad, and he sure looked relieved.

  12. I got lost just last night...with my husband...out hiking in a woods we've never been to. What was supposed to be a short stroll turned into a long and scary trek in uncharted territory. No water, no food, no map, no flashlight. We finally got back in the dark and now I have something else to blog about. Love your stuff.

  13. Shortly after my son and his wife followed us to Arizona, they went camping in Madera Canyon. They didn't tell us that they were going. They got lost hiking in the canyon, and my son's wife just knew they would die out there. Fortunately, they met up with another hiker who gave them some water and pointed them in the right direction. They made it safely back to their camp. They never went anywhere again without telling us.

    The desert can be a scary and dangerous place. Many people coming from Mexico die in the desert every year, trying to make better lives for themselves in the U.S.

  14. Lovely!

    Start the singing again...

  15. jukie - they have a device now for people to be located if they get lost. get one for his birthday?

    uber - thanks, but i think it's too late now. the best i can do is 'shower singer.'

  16. Sara, Joey learned his lesson. They never went anywhere again without giving us an itinerary. I think he bought himself a gps.

    I used to be terrified of getting lost in a city, but out here, I never worry. If I can see the Catalinas, I can always get home. The mountains are such a comfort to me.

  17. 'Rice grasses swayed like sheets of green silk fluffed by a gentle and invisible hand on the other side of the road'- what a beautiful description. I can totally picture it. I love it when you place me there, almost right next to you when i read your stories.

  18. Wonderful imagery here today, dear heart. Thanks!

  19. boomer - read your post and loved it.

    lou - i love it when people could see what i saw.

    melissa - thanks!

  20. That made me tear up Sarah - I'm sorry you got lost but I am glad you felt that momentary closeness to your father.

  21. I'm thinking about the past a lot and it stuns me to remember these formative experiences that I had somehow not thought of in years. Beautifully written Sarah. I've missed you.

  22. kitty - the rare moment made me tear up sometimes.

    tina - i've missed you too, and so glad you're back.

  23. I'm a new follower and I love your story, although I'm so mad at the family that took you in. How could they let you sleep there and not go out looking for your home? Didn't they think your parents might be missing you? I was so glad when your Dad showed up. Thanks for a little part of your past.
    BTW: I am lost at least once a day.
    My Wonderfully Dysfunctional Blog

  24. buffi - i'm so glad you found me. the family didn't take me home because it was dark, raining, and nobody had a car back then. they did what they could to make sure i was safe, and for that i'm always grateful.



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