Listen to Open Conversation episodes also every other Tuesday on KJZZ 91.5, NPR member station in Phoenix, Arizona, a bit after 9:30 am PST.
Note: this content is intended for listening. This transcript might not be accurate. We advise to listen to the story to get full range of emotional highlights and other story elements.
RR: “Remember that song about spreading your wings and learning how to fly? I thought of it while listening to Carrie.”
Carrie: “You know I’m still that sassy girl but I own who I am for good and bad where I think I used to try to hide the bad so people would like you. I’m like no, I own it, this is who I am, love me or hate me.”
RR: “Her life journey begins in a farming community surrounded by wheat, pea, and lentil fields.”
Carrie: “I was born in small town called Moscow, Idaho. My parents owned an automotive shop. So I grew up in a big house on a street that has two dead ends. Big yards, I think our yard was three quarter of an acre, a lot of grass, free area to play, gardens. The main street with all of the mom and pop owned shops. There’s no way you’d go anywhere without seeing somebody that you didn’t know. It’s just small town America.
“When I think about my childhood I think about walking to school every day and you take absolutely as much time as possible to get over to the school. You know, I remember walking home one day in the winter and as things would get cold enough and the ice would build thick enough is when you could start to walk on the pond. And one of my friends went out, and stood on the ice, and I was like: ‘Oh, jump! Jump! You have to jump!’ And of course she jumped and went right through the edge, soaked everything. I had that very kind of quintessential American traditional childhood.
“I think I was twelve when my parents got a divorce. So that was when I kind of started to see the not so amazing side of the town. I watched the town kind of start to divide. Half of them took mom’s side and half of them took dad’s side. Everybody knew everybody’s business. You had no privacy. You start to see some of those ugly pieces of a small town and that’s when I started to realize that I wanted out of that. And I just wanted to be that city girl, you know, I didn’t want to be that country girl anymore.”
RR: “And she got out. First to college to Eugene and later to LA. Finding friends and becoming a part of the new system wasn’t easy at all, she recollects.”
Carrie: “I remember calling my mom and saying: ‘I don’t have friends! I don’t have anything to do. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I don’t know why I made this decision. I think at the time I really regretted it. And she said: ‘Well, come home.’ I said: ‘Well, I can’t come home, I can’t quit.”
RR: “She pushed herself to try all sorts of new things. It makes you understand others better, Carrie says, and you gradually become a better person yourself.”
Carrie: “My dad was actually the one who helped me to move down and my dad, again, grew up in small town in Idaho. Was not a city person and here he is, driving this truck, towing the car down the freeways of LA, and you could tell he’s so uncomfortable. And I remember driving up one of the hills and the transmission goes out on his truck. The tow truck comes and they’re loading my dad’s truck on a tow truck and the accident happens on the street right in front of us. The car hits this intermedium and rolls and we literally had to run away from getting hit. And I just remember standing there, thinking, what the hell did I get myself into?
“There are all these run down studio apartments. No parking. I didn’t feel that you could stop somebody on the street and ask them where something was. And I just remember my dad looking at me and being like: ‘Well, it’s definitely a different standard of living.'”
RR: “She gradually carved a space in the new environment for herself and is glad she’d stepped out of her comfortable bubble into the unknown years ago. I asked her, do you go back often? How is it there now for you?”
Carrie: “I don’t visit very often. I visit on Christmas. It’s not this magical, majestic place it was to me when I was sixteen. I walked by all of my old houses. You know I looked at the yard my mom spent so much time in maintaining and now has beer bottles on the steps and overgrown shrubs, you know, and I’m just like, oh… It’s just kind of that visual representation that the life goes on without you.”
recorded, produced by Regina Revazova