Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hobbs, Part I

Moving from the rental house on Birch St. in Lovington to the brick parsonage in Hobbs was a step up for my family. The house even had a fourth bedroom. A fourth bedroom! The only other family I knew that had a fourth bedroom was the Brady Bunch. I figured that if my family ever got an Alice, she could stay in that extra bedroom. Until then, my mom moved her sewing machine in there.

Hobbs was only 18 miles down the highway from Lovington, but it was a much happier place to live. The sun seemed to shine more brightly there. Most days were so clear that my mother could look out the back window to the bank sign several blocks away and tell me the time and temperature when I asked.

As any minister’s family, we plunged into the life of the church where my dad worked. This is where I met Christi, my first best friend. Christi was a brown-eyed tomboy with a clump of blond curls on her head. We made an enthusiastic pair of 3-year-olds. I spent many nights at her house and I became intrigued with her life. She had an Italian last name, she shared a bedroom with a teenage sister, she had a Chihuahua named Pebbles and her house included a formal living room that was strictly for grown-ups—no children allowed. These details added up to the fact that Christi’s life was much more interesting than mine.

My mother and Christi’s mother were also good friends, which put us together even more often. The four of us took shopping excursions to the J.C. Penney in Hobbs. This was before Penney’s became a staple anchor of the sprawling malls that had not yet reached our part of the country. The Hobbs store was on Main St., in an old row of buildings with holes from hitching posts still in the ground out front. Penney’s had a main floor and a long, straight staircase up one side of the building, which led to the children’s department. One day when the store was crowded, Christi and I sat down on the top step of the staircase. Sitting very cautiously still, I told Christi to stop bouncing around so much because she might fall.

“I’m not going to fall,” she said.

In the next moment, Christi fell. I watched in horror as Christi bounced and rolled down the entire length of that staircase. She came to a sickeningly still stop on the landing, limp and eyes closed. That’s what people did in the movies when they died. They closed their eyes. I knew my sweet friend was dead.

To be continued...


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