My Hometown

A place I can now say I’ve lived longer *away* from than in.

Long, long ago, and far away, in a galaxy the natives refer to as Scranton. No wait, that’s not my story. That’s a mix of Star Wars and my father-in-law. I was born a poor black sharecropper’s son. No wait, that’s a Steve Martin movie. Damn it, lemme try again.

I was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. I had a deep accent that still comes out whenever I talk to relatives there, and almost all of my relatives are still there. My Grandpa Magill retired there, and despite the fact that most of them had moved around quite a bit, or maybe because of it, they’ve almost all remained there. There are a couple who got out, but of course we all still have ties there. It is no longer a place that I call “home”.

I lived there until I was ten. Mostly my childhood memories are of homemade Halloween costumes, chasing after the mosquito fogging trucks (and yet it’s my sister who got cancer, not me…go figure), never quite fitting in, not having many friends, and always getting picked last for anything. Birthday parties to which no one showed up. Trick-or-treating alone. Moving…a lot.

The next time I lived there, I was in my late 20’s. I moved in with my sister.

I’d spent way too many years living in Northeast Louisiana. As a woman, my degree was worthless there. My sister was moving back to Shreveport to continue going to college. She was going to live with a roommate, but the roommate backed out at the last second, and she was freaking out a little about it. I suggested that since she needed a roommate, and I could be under-employed in Shreveport as well as I could anywhere else, we should try rooming together. We were both a little leary (and we weren’t the only ones), since our childhood relationship hadn’t been the best. So we decided on a test first. We took my grandmother’s dually truck with a cab-over and went to New Orleans to fetch the stuff she had in storage there. That was a hilarious time, and a totally different story, but we decided that it hadn’t gone half bad, so we decided to give rooming together a try.

We agreed that the bedrooms would have to be at opposite ends of the apartment, and we’d have to have our own bathrooms. So we went looking for a 2/2 apartment we could afford. Hilarity ensued. Cabinet fronts falling off in our hands, cockroaches scattering upon entry, ad infinitum. But finally we found it. A 2 bed, 2 bath apartment that we could afford, and didn’t seem to have any problems.

I don’t recall any problems with her, the apartment, or with the city, but it never really felt like home. I recall problems with relatives though, one in particular, but that, again, is another story. But like I said, the town never felt like home. I’m sure there were places to go dancing, but I only found two, and neither one clicked. I’m sure there were nice restaurants, but I don’t recall any that I could point to.

I do recall hanging at the house, playing with our cats. We both had one. Her cat, Ozzy, loved chasing the cat fishing pole, and would leap all out with abandon, determined to catch it. My cat, Psycho, fell out of the 2nd story balcony, and looked up at us, as if to say, “How the hell did that happen?” He also hated it when you laughed at him, and would retaliate, as our brother well remembers from when he lived with us that summer. I remember driving to Little Rock with her, to see her fiance. However, I don’t recall making any friends, or even acquaintances that I spoke to outside of work.

That fall, my Mom got another GS job, in Denver. We visited her over Christmas. She was in a studio apartment at the time, so it was tight with all 5 of us there, but it was fun. I’ve always claimed that she started calling me on Sunday, with the want-ads. She was having a house built, with 3 bedrooms, and kept trying to get me to move.

Like I said before, I could be under-employed just about anywhere. My sister was starting to plan her wedding, and I was soon going to be a 3rd wheel. So I decided to move to Denver. My Dad was retiring from the Air Force, and would coming in through Dallas, so we decided the move would happen when he came in. My sister couldn’t afford the two bedroom apartment on her own, and didn’t want to wait til the last moment to find a one bedroom apartment, so we ended up moving most of my stuff into storage, and the rest of all our stuff, both of us, and both cats, into a one bedroom apartment with a very understanding landlord. Within a month, I was gone.

I’ve been back once for my sister’s wedding, once to introduce my fiance to my crazy relatives and give him a chance to back out early, and once for my Granny’s funeral. There is one more event I will attend. Other than that, as I told my fiance on the way back to the airport, “I am so not from around here any more.”

Hi! I'm Crickett.

My name is Crickett Jacks Hutchinson. The name I was born with is not really important. I only answered to it for part of the first 12 years of my life. My parents and other family, and therefore most of the people I knew, called me Crickett.  It was fine at first, but when I started school, people started teasing me about it. When we moved to Nebraska when I was about 10, I tried to insist on using that other name, but of course my family slipped up and called me Crickett…in public…and I spent about a year being alternately angry and humiliated about it. When we moved to Germany in 1976, I decided that since I couldn’t get rid of it, I would damn well own it! And I did. The name I was born with was used only for official purposes.

I’ve been Crickett for 40 years now. When I got married in 1998, I made it official, in a roundabout fashion. I know you’re supposed to go through the courts, and take months and shit. But the DMV allows you to change the last name on your license with just your marriage certificate. So when I went into the DMV, I casually asked the clerk if, while we were at it, if we could change the first name, too. He looked at me skeptically, but I showed him my checkbook, and my business cards, all in the name Crickett, and told him I wasn’t trying to skip out of any debts or anything. I just wanted it to be more official. On new jobs, I was tired of having to explain why official documents didn’t match my name. I thought it wasn’t going to fly, that the DMV wouldn’t allow it. But he was young, and impressed by the boobs, I think. He finally shrugged and was all, whatever, and I got my driver’s license in my completely different name. So after I had a driver’s license, I went to the Social Security Office. Since I had one piece of “official” identification, they issued my new SSN card without a blink. So now it IS official.

So why Crickett? Apparently, when I was born, I was late, and a little over 2 lbs. What hair I had was snow white. Combined with big, blue eyes. Someone – nurse, aunt, doctor, depends on who you ask – said I looked like Jiminy Cricket. The Cricket part stuck.

Why Jacks? The man who married my mom, adopted me. He and his brother were, themselves, adopted, by a family relative. It was one of those family adoptions that genealogy trees have so much trouble with. I kept it as a middle name to maintain the connection. That and if I messed up in signing a check, I could always just add the new last name, and make it look like I meant to do that.

Hutchinson? Well I finally married a man whose last name I was willing to take.

So don’t ask me about that other name. That person doesn’t exist. Now the only one to call me that is my college alumni association, looking for donations. They use some weird combination of names, looking for someone who has never existed. They don’t care enough to find out my real name, so I don’t care enough to donate.

What’s your name? How did you come by it?