What Paradise – Prologue

July 2011


I couldn’t wait to get away from those immature bitches. I don’t know what possessed me, a sophisticated woman of 28 years, to bunk up with two girls that weren’t even 21 yet. Save money on rent and bills, ha! I hate having roommates. I like to live alone so that I can be creative, loud, run around in my underwear, use the air fresheners that I like, and, God forbid, use my dishes without cleaning up after someone else first.


Fucking. Bitches.


What made matters worse was that as a non-traditional student, I didn’t make the best candidate for employment in university-friendly jobs. Suffice it to say that I struggled to make ends meet while working minimum wage fast food jobs while my barely legal roommates made more than $10 an hour to sit on the ass in a lab watching bacteria grow, or resetting passwords. Begging them to reimburse me for their share of the utilities that were in my name so that I could buy groceries inspired an internal loathing that was only trumped when they set the oven on fire, or put their dead car battery on the carpet, or leaving a huge party mess in the living room before leaving for a 3-week debate tournament spree over Christmas break.


Fucking. Bitches.


But I was finally free. I had had to sell my car to pay the last month’s rent, so my father had to come across the state to gather me and my belongings. The plan was to move home over the summer while I waited to hear about a job at a new location the company I had interned at throughout college was opening in Hawaii. I would to odd labor-intensive jobs at home on the family farm to earn the moving money. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, and my parents were by no stretch even middle class, but in our small town it didn’t take much to survive financially. Ideally my new job would pay the moving cost anyway, but it wasn’t a certainty.


I grew up in a tiny town in northwest Kansas. By tiny I mean just over 100 people – no, I’m not forgetting any zeroes – and everyone has their hand in farming of some kind. When I was little we had pigs, cattle, and grew wheat, cane, and alfalfa. Eventually disease ruined the hog industry in my area, so we focused on the Angus cattle and wheat. The cane and alfalfa were grown to feed the cattle. It’s very hard to impress me with beef, especially steak, but I digress. My family owns two lots just across the railroad tracks from our farmland. The old farmhouse that I grew up in as a child is so dilapidated now (it was built in the early 1900s) that it is unlivable. The house just north of the tracks also fell into ruin with age and has been torn down. My parents still live in the house in the middle which now has an enormous yard. All of this may sound incredibly wealthy to you, but because the area is so sparsely populated there is nothing to do, not many jobs besides farming, and farming often requires so much input that the profit is shit no matter what you do. In fact, my hometown will GIVE you a lot of land if you agree to build a house on it to put down some sort of roots.


I was really looking forward to spending time with my baby brother. He was going to be a senior that year. Time flies. I remember the night he was born like it was yesterday. My mom went into labor in the middle of the night, and since I was only 11 at the time I piled into the car with my parents to go the hospital 20 miles away. My mom was the only patient that needed attendance. The rest of the hospital was empty except for the 2 or 3 elderly patients that were sound asleep in their rooms. I wandered the halls of the dark hospital alone waiting for my brother to arrive. A few hours passed, and he was born. Dad and I left to go back home to get some sleep. We went back the next day, and I got to hold this relatively enormous (22 inches long, somewhere around 10 pounds) baby with extremely long fingernails, and scratches all over his nose. My bro.


He’s still relatively enormous. 6’3” tall, and built like the linebacker he was for the high school football team. My entire family is large, but very athletic. I had lost a lot of weight at that time – down to about 210 pounds from 310 pounds a few years earlier, and very fit.


One of my jobs on the farm were to walk down to the south pasture to start the well for the cattle, which was a trek of about 3 miles round trip across fields and up and down hills and valleys through the pasture. I loved it; I had done the walk daily since I was in high school myself when I was home. My father and I had moved and re-built the barbed wire fence around the fields when I was home from college the summer of my junior year the first time around in 2004. This summer happened to be particularly hot, and there were days that approached 120 degrees. I like to make the hike in the afternoon sun. I would strip my clothes off once I was past the creek, and walk the rest of the way in a bikini or naked to get a good tan. I drank so much water I could impress a camel.


My second job was scraping the paint off of the old toolshed. This proved to be no easy task as the paint was incredibly old, and the elements had done a number on the construction of the building. I found myself taking the heads off rusty nails with the paint scraper, and had to be very careful. The paint was baked on so tight in some spots you would swear the wood had been dyed instead. It was rough, but I was able to accomplish the job well enough to repaint the building without it falling apart in the process.


In the evenings my brother and I holed up upstairs in his room and entertained ourselves with television, video games, board games, billiards, and horsing around. He was much bigger than me, but I could put up a hell of a fight. Our wrestling terrified the beagle, who would howl and whine. This would alert the dachshund, who would get nervous and howl along from downstairs. He had a pool table that took up half of his room. Since it’s upstairs the roof is slanted, and you had to squat or bend over on one side of the table to be able to shoot the cue. It was awkward, but fun nonetheless. We found an old Parcheesi board game and got heavy into that for a while. We also played Monopoly or Risk while watching Burn Notice. We got so into the show that we split buying the first 4 season on iTunes so that we could watch the beginning, and downloaded a free streaming application to watch the first half of season 5. I had no idea how important this would be to me in the future.


I eventually tracked down a phone number to contact my potential employer about the positions that I had applied for at their new resort in Hawaii. I was told that, unfortunately, the first round of hiring was complete and that any positions that I was still waiting to hear about would not be filled until October or November. I was further informed that it would be beneficial to be in Hawaii physically already in order to be considered. I started looking for farm jobs in Hawaii, hoping to find something that was a live-in work position. I found one almost immediately – a goat dairy on Kaua’i. I sent my application, heard from them within days, and was offered the position. I bought my ticket and packed my bags.




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