“Where’d ya dri-ive up frum?,” he drawled adjusting his baseball hat, dirt stained forearms winking in the sun.

“Me? Oh, I just drove up from Dallas”, I replied, quickly capping the gas.

“Daal—ass...,” he repeated, slowly readjusting his hat, the cool mountain breeze dancing, playfully hiding any remnant of intelligence just beyond his reach. “Is that thare Dallas in Tex-ASS?”

I begin my story in Arkansas, a place to which I said I would always return, knowing, even then that never was an absolute, a word that clings and hovers, a word that trips you, catching you just before you fall.

Looking back, I see gallons of blackberries, tons of weeds, and acres of mowing, seed ticks and deer ticks; king snakes and moccasins; dogs and cats, ducks and geese, goats and sheep.

I see my family lined up on the couch, bobbing our heads to watch ‘The Porter Wagner Show’ and ‘Lawrence Welk’ timing the bobs to synchronize with the rolling static.

Meanwhile, out of the corner of my eye, I kept a close eye on my older sister, whose primary goal was to be the CIA’s youngest recruit, by means of the covert assassination of her sister. She sits quietly: thinking, planning and scheming.

On Saturdays, we would grab whatever books we could find, since looking bored was to volunteer for ‘private’ duty under our dad’s watchful eye. On Sundays, we would lament to our German mother, “Maaaa, if you’re not going to shave, at least put a jacket on – over your tank top.”

I remember coming to Houston for the first time in the passenger seat of a 1970 Camaro, and every ten minutes seeing: Cross-Over, ¼ mile. I can still feel the nausea rising when I cannot find Cross-Over anywhere on the Texas map.

The year was 1985, and, still I am here. Looking back, I am astounded. It appears that never keeps always just out of reach.