Probably 1985 in the Tri-Cities:

The house was always dead; everything was happening outside. But we had to eat so we would go to Scotty house where there was fresh chips and short soda cans. When we did go inside we could always find raw ramen noodles that sometimes had bugs. We really didn’t think it wasn't a huge issue ~ just the way it was.

Our babysitter was Celeste and I adored her. Celeste was probably 13 and had the the body that i’d already learned was the ideal female shape. Her heavy mother had burn marks over half her face and chest as far as I could see. Celeste explained that her father had thrown hot water on her mom in anger and these were the white scars, the rest was her natural brown. That’s all that was said and understood, I was 7.

I think at the time mom worked as a librarian because she did go somewhere during the day. Dad was living in his van teaching at a HS in a town too far away for him to come home during the week.

We had a bush in the backyard that the ladybugs flocked to and it was something amazing to observe ~ thousands of lady bugs. I loved how they colored the mostly tan everything, in the desert. Additionally, there were many ant hills and dead animals to check in on, daily. We would whip garter snakes against the house until they died and collapse the hills ~ not knowing any better.

Celeste spent most of her time in solidarity with me. We would ask neighbors if we could do chores for them to make money. The work was shitty (10 cents to fill a box with weeds) but we loved being together.

The next year we moved and never saw Scotty or Lexi or Celeste, again.

Ever since, I’ve ached to reconnect with Celeste. She was my side-kick. In my adulthood, I’ve thought that in our home, with the love me and my brothers had for her, we were probably a respite from trauma and something good to focus on in the madness of her own reality. We all loved her.

Sadly, there are no picture of us with Celeste.

Be human.