By Ana Maria Spagna
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Extra info for Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus: A Daughter's Civil Rights Journey
I’d have none of it. I planned to go to Oregon, to a green pastoral kind of netherworld, where less would be expected of me, almost nothing. If I wasn’t going to do much good for the world, at least I wouldn’t be doing much harm. Meanwhile, I carried a hefty burden of responsibility, babysitting Lisa and Joey while Mom went to work teaching seventh grade, a job she detested. I was in seventh grade, and, more than anything, I did not want to be the kind of seventh grader she hated. No, I would be a grown-up instead.
A. Times, waiting for her to wake up long enough to say: I’m here. I’m right here. In the evenings I drove twelve lanes of snarled trafﬁc back to the house where I grew up on Burnside Court. The photos on the walls have been in place since my childhood: me setting the needle on my ﬁrst record player, toddler Joey sipping beer, Lisa smiling up at Dad — beaming, actually, so clearly smitten — on a trip to Disneyland. Cheap paper mats frame snapshot memories of birthday parties, ﬁrst communions, graduations.
The Forgotten Coast I’d turned in an application for a learner’s permit with only one signature: my mother’s. “Because he’s dead,” I hollered back, all smart ass and bravado, as I stared straight ahead at the slow-moving city trafﬁc. “Good reason,” he said. Feeling sorry for my young father comes dangerously close, I realize, to feeling sorry for myself. Laurie and I pull over at a road junction where an old Ford pickup sports a plywood sign advertising Tupelo honey, a product I’ve never heard of outside of the Van Morrison song, but we can use a break from driving, and we’re suckers for roadside produce and for Van Morrison.