My Easiest Decision

Photo Credit: Mama Holz (Bennett Holz)

My parents were kind enough to include me in most major life decisions, even at a young age. Or they kept me informed, at the very least. I was always warned before a big move, which happened most every year back then, and only towards the end of a given school semester, so I could say goodbye to all my friends. They talked to me about the political choices they made, decisions to put down family pets, and asked where we should vacation each summer. I can’t remember if I was truly involved in these decisions. I don’t know if what I said really made a difference in their choices, or if their plans for the family were set in stone. But I was always asked, and I was usually happy with the results. Whether I had a say or not, I was given the illusion of choice.

One year, when I was nine, my parents presented me with a big choice. Would I like to go on vacations, or would I rather have a little sister? My parents had asked me to make either/or decisions before: karate classes or book-orders, pancakes or waffles, roller-skates or roller-blades? Those were trivial choices, but this was the easiest one I had ever made.

F*ck yeah, I want a baby sister.

Turns out, adoption is a big pain and takes a long time, especially when you’re trying to navigate the corrupt adoption systems of pre-reform Guatemala. Kidnappings and child trafficking were very real occurrences, and many foster shelters didn’t provide proper care for the children they housed. The process took nearly a year, with my parents working hard to know the agency, my sister’s birth mother, and the foster mother who was raising her at the time. All to ensure that we were adopting from a safe and honest agency. There were video calls and pictures. Piles of documents and forms to fill out. We each had blood draws: my father, mother, little brother, and me. And I remember a phone call that drove my mother to tears. I still don’t know if those tears were happy or sad.

But everything came through eventually. My parents were able to schedule a trip to Guatemala, to finally meet my sister in person, and to finally bring her home. My grandmother came to to stay with my brother and I for that week, cooking us meals and making sure I got to school on time. I rode my bike to and from school every day while living there, and I could barely contain myself in class for that entire week. I was already an overactive kid, and I was excited to meet the little sister that I had only seen through a computer screen. Friday came around, and my parents brought her to meet me at school. I got out of class that final day and met them waiting for me just outside the building. I smiled, and she smiled back because she recognized me from pictures. She’s never been anything but my baby sister ever since.

I love my siblings. They’re the two most important people in the world to me, and they’re what I miss most about home. I’m in a bizarre period of my life right now. My family moved from my hometown two years ago, and I don’t spend enough time at the new house to consider it a home. I’ve left all my friends behind in Arizona and Montana, and I don’t know where my life will lead from here. But my brother and sister are constant anchors in my life. They are the people that I will always have and who I will always be there for. Because even when everything else in life passes, I have them and they have me.

By: Parker Holz

Journey to Montana

Image Credit: Darcy Christofferson

Image Credit: Darcy Christoffersen

My journey to Montana started with an airplane. More accurately, with two airplanes. It was just my dad and I on yet another one of our wonderful college visits. Almost every high school senior knows what that’s like. The packing, planning, and stress that accompanies the visits that take you one step closer to the inevitable choosing.

This trip was to Carroll College in Montana. A small liberal arts school, it was one of many that I applied to, that I thought suited me perfectly. But all I really knew was that I wanted a small school in another state, to see what it was like to live outside of California.

I am still not much of a flier. Starting as I watched the enormous green agricultural fields and the towering skyline of buildings of Sacramento grow smaller as the plane climbed into the clouds, the knots in my stomach persisted through Salt Lake City, Utah and Butte, Montana. I held onto my dad’s hand for dear life, as if that would somehow protect me. My hands clenched onto his, tightening with each bump and bounce that the plane hit.

With the final descent, I squeezed still tighter and braced for the impact that I felt was inevitable. We did not die. In fact, we landed completely safe at the tiny airport in Butte. As we stepped off the plane, we were greeted by a brisk wind and the darkening of the Montana sky, an imminent sign that the cold was welcoming us with more cold.

Butte was the complete opposite of home. Sacramento was hot and dry and didn’t get much colder than 40. I lived in the same house in the same city from the age of two. All my family and friends were in Sacramento. It was a large city in a large state with millions of people, and while I knew where everything important to me was, there were always new things to discover. I loved it and I didn’t know anything else.

The Butte airport itself was no larger than a Target and resembled a warehouse that would one day be converted into a Costco. It was February, snow was everywhere, and it was freezing cold. All things I had never really experienced in Sacramento. My dad planned the timing of our trip specifically so I could get an idea of what it would be like to live there.

We left the airport to walk to the rental car and we were immediately surrounded by a blanket of fluffy white snow. It was as if someone placed an enormous down blanket over the town of Butte. But more than that, there was a peaceful feeling in the air. There were no cars out, no traffic noise, no people talking around me. Everything was silent. It was as if my dad and I were the only two people in the whole town. It was eerie being so far away from the hustle and bustle that you experience everywhere in California. Montana was so far removed from everything that I knew. No family. No familiar weather. No loud noise. How was I supposed to find a new home when I recognized nothing?

The car ride from Butte to Helena enabled me to take in the beauty of Montana. As I looked out my window, everything was flat. The land looked as if it went on for miles, buried under a thick layer of freshly fallen snow. Gazing out at the scenery was indescribable. There was a tranquil atmosphere surrounding the landscape that lulled you into a sedate state of being. The feelings of contentment, peace and serenity overwhelmed you. Your thoughts drifted out of you, like a sailor to sea. It was unnerving, but also exciting.

This was not the world that I knew. Montana was quiet and scenic. California was overpopulated, loud and industrial. But it was my home. How could I move so far away from it? I was proud to be from California and I loved being a part of such a diverse and interesting state. Montana was beautiful, but so silent. How could I live in the silence?

As I sat staring out of the car window, watching the snow begin to fall, I turned my head to look at my dad. In that moment, I was so confused and unsure about my future, but I felt at peace. I didn’t know where I was going to be next year or in the next ten years, but I knew that wherever I was I would find my way. My dad always said that “life has a way of working itself out,” and I believe him. This is what I tell myself as I watch the falling snow cover my window and obscure my view of the scenic plains that stretch out into forever.

By: Darcy Christoffersen