Till Gabriel Blows His Horn

She had to choose Texas, didn’t she?

Mary Jane LaRue was the mother of four and then some on a ranch in Billings. I don’t know if I’ve ever been told (I’ve certainly never asked) the name of the ranch. (Burger Ranch? No – different childhood memory, stick to your main idea, MacLean, like you learned in your writing classes).

The ranch was in Billings, Montana. But she was a Texas girl.

She may have worn a “designer gown” similar to the one I wore on Saturday night, sitting beneath a tower exploding with fireworks to celebrate my completing the requirements to be a Bachelor of Arts in English. She just had to bring me to Texas, and to Austin, and to her Alma Mater. And if that wasn’t enough, she had to usher me into Parlin and Calhoun Halls, where I might have sat in one of her old seats, where she worked towards her own degrees in French, Spanish and English (I dared not attempt to compete with that – one academic focus was good enough for me, thank you). I hadn’t the faintest idea when I applied to UT (to major in film?) that I would glide through those same halls like her ghost incarnate. (Sounds like an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? doesn’t it?)

Oblivia – such an appropriate superhero alter-ego name for a clueless grand daughter like me.

She just had to pick Texas. And I just had to go. One does not argue with one’s own dead grandmother’s spirit.

Well, it is nearly finished. I’m on the home stretch, huffing and puffing to actually finish the requirements I was affirmed as having already completed on Saturday (thank you UT for letting me experience the ceremonial glory before actually earning my triumph). I’m about to leave “the island” and see where my next flight will take me. England. Australia (that’s not a LOST joke, I’m really going there). I’ll become Jane, sit with Bill on The Globe’s planks, and then…come back for an air-conditionless road trip to California just before heading across the world again for Vegemite, eucalyptus leaves and koalas (not bears – people…they are not bears).

My experience as a university student has been one of the most invaluable treasures – priceless – without words – mere cliches – SHUT UP AMANDA there just ARE no WORDS why are you even WRITING about this?? I came to change the world, and my whole being was deconstructed. I came to be equipped to become what I was going to be when I grew up. Instead I lost all sense of time and age and being grown up and of usefulness and readiness and those words hardly mean anything to me anymore. I’m just here. I’m just alive. More than I ever hoped to be.

Childhood was shortened by loss, abuse, and my own anxiousness to be anything but a child. Grandma, thanks for taking 2 years out of eternity to make sure one of your girls got some TLC and a few kicks in the pants to realize that the world is big, that life is lovely, and all of our fears are completely overrated.

Till Oxford, I’ll spend my days swimming in the pool, doing my math homework, sitting on the computer and not knowing who’s going to call me on my phone and offer me another new surprise trip across the world. I’ll be gardening in my bare feet learning that I can’t argue with the ground if it refuses to germinate my carefully watered seeds. I’ll be chopping tomatoes. Making my breakfast tacos. Listening to the resonant droning and drumming of Interstate 35. Yelling at the neighbors for their loud drunken partying. Eating dirt ice cream. And remembering the past.

I’ll just be a kid with a camera and an eye full of wonder again.

“Till Gabriel blows his horn…”


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