After 15 years, I can finally
By Marty Archibald
September 19, 2006 | Driving just to drive happens
to me a lot. The drives are never planned, they just
happen. Nothing ever comes out of the drives, except
once. That one drive changed my life.
I missed my turn. I'd missed it before. I would just
have to drive a little farther and take the next available
turn. They both got me home.
I missed my turn again. I was left with two options:
turn around or head into the canyon toward Bear Lake.
I don't know why, but I took the Bear Lake option.
I hated going to Bear Lake. It always made me think
of my dad. Thinking of my dad always led to crying.
This time was no different. My crying did not cease
for the rest of the night.
I wanted to turn around, but I didn't. I wound my
way along the canyon road with tears streaming down
my face, with what I call my sleepy playlist playing
in the background. I disguise it as my sleepy playlist,
depressed would be a better name for it.
I was still unsure as to why I was going to Bear Lake.
I was looking for something. I just didn't know what
it was yet. I got to the end of the canyon road and
I all I knew is that I wanted to go left. It was somewhere
on the northwest side of Bear Lake, along the main road.
How am I going to know when I find it? That
was the only thought in my head. It had been 15 years
since I had been near the spot. Surely I wouldn't recognize
I didn't recognize it. I passed it. I knew I had gone
too far, but I couldn't convince myself of that. I kept
driving. I finally listened to myself when I reached
Montpelier, Idaho. I had gone 30 miles past the point
where I knew I had gone too far. I wasn't even on the
northwest end of Bear Lake anymore, and that is all
I knew about where I wanted to be. I was over on the
I turned around headed back the way I came. I was
going home. I had wasted an entire night and I don't
even know what it was I was intending to do. I drove
along, tears still flowing, questions going through
my head. Why did I want to go back there? What was
I going to do when I got there, stand there?
I'd been standing there for 15 years.
Standing there, watching the open gate so no animals
Standing there, as my dad started the tractor and
began to pull the heavy load of the cabin.
Standing there, watching the front end rise slightly
from the heavy load as the tractor attempted to make
it up the small slope to the road.
Standing there, as my mom and oldest brother got on
the front to help counterbalance the load.
Standing there, as my brother jumped off as the front
end started to rise again, this time uncontrollably
with my mom still on.
Standing there, the front end sticking straight up,
my mom still atop. The front end jerking, throwing my
mom off and trying to return to the ground twice as
fast as it went up. Only to find a tractor in its way,
and my dad, still in the driver's seat.
Standing in the house across the street, staring at
the numerous flashing lights.
Standing as one with my brothers, as my mom lay in
her hospital bed trying to find the words to tell us
what had happened.
Standing there, 6 years old, too young to comprehend
what had just happened.
I can only imagine what it was like for my two older
brothers who weren't too young. I was glad I hadn't
found the spot. I needed to move on, stop standing there.
It had been 15 years.
Then I saw it.
It looked completely different, but something about
it was still the same. I knew it was the place I had
been looking for; it was differently the same.
I slowed down, said goodbye and continued on my way
Goodbye. One word. My tears became those of relief
It had been three hours since I missed my turn. Nothing
had really changed except that it was a little darker,
but for me my path had never before been so well lit.