I remember the awe I felt as I watched that pickup roll down the dirt road. Shawn was the only person I had ever seen stand up to Dad, the only one whose force of mind, whose sheer tonnage of conviction, could make Dad give way. I had seen Dad lose his temper and shout at every one of my brothers. Shawn was the only one I ever saw walk away.
There's a sense of sovereignty that comes from life on a mountain, a perception of privacy and isolation, even of dominion. In that vast space you can sail unaccompanied for hours, afloat on pine and brush and rock. It's a tranquillity born of sheer immensity; it calms with its very magnitude, which renders the merely human of no consequence. Gene was formed by this alpine hypnosis, this hushing of human drama.
A middle-aged woman handed out tests and strange pink sheets I'd never seen before.
“Excuse me," I said when she gave me mine. "What is this?” "It's a bubble sheet. To mark your answers." “How does it work?” I said.
“It's the same as any other bubble sheet." She began to move away from me, visibly irritated, as if I were playing a prank.
"I've never used one before."
She appraised me for a moment. “Fill in the bubble of the correct answer," she said. “Blacken it completely. Understand?”
The test began. I'd never sat at a desk for four hours in a room full of people. The noise was unbelievable, yet I seemed to be the only person who heard it, who couldn't divert her attention from the rustle of turning pages and the scratch of pencils on paper.
It’s incredible that the author grew up in the mountains of Idaho never receiving an education (her parents believed schools brainwashed people) yet taught herself the material needed to take the ACT and get into college. There were constant little things that she was never exposed to like how to fill in a bubble sheet for a test or even sitting in a classroom.