A Story Without An Ending

What a day.

After writing the post into the early morning, I got up at 5 a.m. to take Elsa, Elida, and Emily to the airport. I kissed my eldest on the top of her head and hugged her tight against me. I prayed for her safety and wished her to have the loveliest of times. I hugged Elida and Emily too and sent them all off with good wishes and blessings and blown kisses and waves of the hand.

Then, I got into the car and cried. It was a deja vu experience. Almost 14 years ago, I left Elsa when she was 9 months old to go to Chile with my grandparents. It was their 50th wedding anniversary. For it, they chose to fly all the children, spouses, grandchildren and spouses to Santiago and Concepcion. You see, valuing experiences resides deep in my family. My grandparents wanted to reminisce with their children where they had spent ten years of their lives as missionaries. And they wished to share with the rest of their children’s family the place that had made up an important portion of their lives.

I was a new mother. Elsa was still nursing. So, of course I was going to bring her. But she started crawling. There were the motels and the busses and the airplaine ride and the taxis and the walking and sitting and dust and dirt … everyone told me it would be horrific.

I left her with her Grandma Debi and cried the whole way home. It was one of the hardest times I’ve ever had. On the trip, there were several times I was thankful she was crawling, unhindered, at home. But the pain never left. I never felt easy until we were together again.

I guess I won’t feel easy until we’re all back together again. These are the general feelings I’m experiencing: vulnerability, uncertainty, uneasiness. I came home and fell back asleep, tossing and turning with wild dreams. I dreamed someone shot me in the belly. Then, the shooters told Paul that he had to get something they needed within a certain amount of time or they wouldn’t allow me to go to the hospital. I was dying, watching the blood leak from the bullet wound. The shooter was a handsome, proud, white-collar man with a Napoleonic face. He had a high, marble forehead and a widow’s peak that somehow resembles what I’ve imagined Satan to look like — handsome in the old-fashioned way and crazy with mutterings about building an empire of dreams.

I feel …

hijacked. But the hijackers aren’t there and I’m all alone with the gag in my mouth.

I awoke and got my nephews off to school. Then, I spent the day with my dad. He helped me arrange to get my brakes fixed on my car. He finds the strangest places. This particular garage had two baby dolls, nooses around their necks, hanging in the corner, with their dimpled wrists tied behind their backs.


But they fixed my brakes in a jiffy and for not too much money either.

Can I just say that sometimes my dad’s obliviousness is a gift? He doesn’t notice the things that generally would cause people to make judgments about them. He doesn’t see the details that make you frightened or worried or skeptical. He just deals with a man or a woman standing before him. People blossom before him. All day long they have people treating them as second class or feeling sorry for them and trying to help them or interfering or intervening. But Dad just does business with them, respectfully.

Later, we went to lunch for Father’s Day since I won’t be able to stay until Sunday. We discussed his job. He retired early from a steady Hewlett Packard job to pursue his dream of developing a chunk of land in Kelso. A landslide ocurred nearby soon after, causing all kinds of fallout for my dad’s development project. Extra engineering costs. Higher standards, stiffer laws, scared buyers. It was the beginning of a long end. His goal was to retire early. Instead, he’s starting over at 62. But to look at him, you wouldn’t know all this. Always cheerful, helpful, hopeful, Dad got a sales job and he’s outselling his full-time colleagues working just part-time. Like I said, he has a gift.

When we were finished, I asked him, “Daddy, would you be ashamed of me if I turned down a perfectly good job?”

He didn’t answer right away. Then, he said, “I think it comes down to whether you want to stay in Prineville. If you don’t want to move, you better take it.” Paul said pretty much the same thing.

I heard that Elida and the girls made it to Washington D.C. Their plane got delayed on the runway. But they were soon off to Munich. And then, Florence.

I haven’t heard from Paul today. He’s called a few times to inform me that he is in one of the wildest places on earth. The boatyard is full of rusted-out vehicles that barely run and fancy boats and huge storage bins and the craziest of men: sailors. The sun never sets so they all work around the clock getting drunk in between and shouting and cussing and hollering and gathering nets and listening to the rumors and the waves and the reports and the whispers. There is nothing there but bins and nets and boats and men and maybe two women who hide beneath piles of sweats and hats and just the peek of a ponytail. The place is a roiling, boiling place of hot tempers and wicked glints of greed in shiny eyes. A report of five thousand pounds of fish empties the place.

Paul has no time to help me decide what to do about this job offer. Or, if he has the time, he’s too new at commercial fishing to be able to think on it. Everything requires concentration. The place is wrought with distractions.

Speaking of distractions, while I’m writing this, I’m watching Casablanca.

Rick says to Ilse:

It’s still a story without an ending. What about now?

That’s what I feel I’ve asked Paul about us and the direction of our family. And Ilse says:

You’ll have to think for both of us … for all of us.

Paul actually said that to me. I think the owner of the boatyard had taken a bucketloader, picked up thousands of dollars of nets and equipment with it from an extremely rowdy crew, and dumped it into the bay in retaliation for hours of elk calls in the wee hours of the morning.

Rick says:

All right. I will. Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.

I didn’t actually say that. I just felt disappointed that the responsibility had fallen to me. But I did say, “All right, honey. I’ll figure it out. Go slay some fish.” Then, I added the Spartan goodbye: “Bring back your shield or come back on it.”

In the next scene, Rick and Victor are having a drink together.

Rick says:

Do you ever question is it worth all this?

How many times have I asked myself this question when trying to hold onto my dreams? Victor says:

Each of us has a destiny, for good or for evil.

What is my destiny? And what good and what evil will come of my decisions? Rick says:

It seems that destiny has taken a hand.

Destiny seems to push everything and everybody into making a choice — a very difficult choice. Sometimes destiny makes the choices for us. But the best stories are when the main characters must choose — and the choice must be difficult with a great many feelings and hopes and dreams in the balance.

So tonight, I’ll rest in romanticising the dilemma. I’ll allow the difficulties to swill about in the glass. I’ll smell the cigar smoke and listen to Sam sing As Time Goes By and wonder what my story will look like if I choose either way.



  1. Dannielle,
    You are delightfully refreshing in your honesty. I have been lost in your posts since you “asked to be my friend” on facebook. (How second-grade is this facebook/friend thing?) And I am so thankful you did. I feel honored to be allowed into your lives this way and marvel at how similar yet how different two lives can look. Elsa has now been added to my prayer list. And you too now because of her absense. I actually had a panic attac the first time someone else held our firstborn for a large chunk of time (and she was only on the other side of the room) I would love to share some time over a cup of coffee. Enjoy your day, new friend:)


  2. Just a little correction in your details, that may not be important to you, but it is to me….you left Elsa with me when you went to Chili…Love Debi-Mom


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