Finally Somehow Home - Chapter 2.1

Updated: Apr 10


I ended up back in Sulawesi at my old boarding school for little while. It was near the city of Palu and it was called Wera Falls. It is still the most beautiful place that I have ever seen. It was up in the mountains, so the air was crisp and cool and the rain was sweet and a river clear and rocky flowed through it and it would flood sometimes. But it was always there, bubbling clear and gently or thundering dark and furious, it was always there like music. Butterflies were everywhere. So many that most kinds we couldn’t find the names for. A little brook that shot out from the river was home to most of them where it formed in pools. We would carve our initials in the tree there if we were so bold as to “Like” someone. It was the source of considerable gossip and consternation in the 6th grade. One Saturday, me and two buddies decided to hike up the mountain to the big waterfall. I think it took us a couple of hours through the jungle. Zig zagging the river and crossing where we could back and forth to find the best route up. We climbed up the falls and explored the cavernous hollow in the rock just below its crest over which the torrent thundered filling the space with cold mist and a constant deafening roar and we put our hands out into the plunging water’s ominous weight. When we got too cold we left out on the other side of the falls into the sunlight and laid there on the sun-warmed rocks till we stopped shivering. We went back a different way. Down the other side of the falls to which we had emerged. It was steeper. One of my buddies was using a vine to slide down the side of a rock face and it broke. He fell a good 12 or 15 feet and landed on his back on the point of a rock. The point missed his spine by an inch and left a big bloody gash. He was ok. We washed it the best we could in the river. He still has a scar.


I had a couple of spear guns that I had swapped for from one of the kids from the Lauje’ tribe. The Lauje’ made good parangs and weapons and spear guns and such, so the missionary kids that lived among them used to make a killing in trades. I have to admit though, that I still have a parang from the Wanna tribe and it has served me well… And I think Wanna made better blow guns. Anyway, we used the spear guns for spear fishing the river and the ocean as well. We’d camp and we’d hunt and we’d ride our bicycles all over that place checking the fruit trees for jambu biji (guava), and other varieties of jambus (water apple). Papaya trees were everywhere. A ripe papaya with the right amount of massaging becomes a perfect papaya grenade. Accurately hurled, or with the big ones, lobbed down a cliff onto the unwary passerby below, would explode in a magnificent splatter of orange goop and black slimy seeds. We thus spent a lot of time at wars. Sneaking around ambushing each other. It was hard being away from my parents. My brothers were there with me, so we all made the best of it and developed very strong friendships with the other kids who were likewise away from their families for four to five months at a time.


We spent a lot of time in that river. When it would rain up higher in the mountains you could see the water get restless and murky. A flash flood was coming. A wall of water five to seven feet high would come hurtling violently down carrying boulders and trees and dirt and whatever else it could find. Then the river would roar like a lion. It was fierce. After a few days the flood would subside a bit, though it was still fast and dark and loud. It was then that one of our favorite pastimes ensued: Butt-busting. Tubing the river didn’t work. The rocks would literally bust your butt sticking out of the bottom of the hole in the inner tube, so the best way to do it was just lay down, keep your ass out of the way of the rocks, keep your feet pointed down river and try not to die. None of us ever did. Although there were cases of people being caught in the river at the onset of a flash flood only to be found later, miles down-river once the water receded, if ever at all.


I attended Wera for two years, after which, I returned to Wajok Hulu where my parents worked at what had become the 8th – 12th grade high school. There were thirty-some-odd kids there in total. Mostly American kids, but a handful of Aussies and Kiwis as well. My class was the biggest, with eight of us. I was a small kid for my age and always the youngest in my class. But when we took a six-month trip back to the good ole US of A, I had to try out for football in spite of it. I was the smallest kid on the team and my pre-pubescent voice shrieked instead of grunted like the other guys. I had to sit on a pillow in driver’s ed. That’s how small I was in the 9th grade. When I’d wear my football jersey to school on game days it came down to past my knees. It sucked but all the upper classmen on the football team liked me and took care of me. They called me Pee-Wee. One time a sophomore poured a cup full of everyone’s piss on me in the locker room shower. The upper classmen got him with some Icy Hot to the bollocks. Anyway, I was a little guy. I don’t take much shine to bullies and meanness in general now because of it.


These trips to “The States” happened about every 3 to 4 years that we were on the mission field. We loved it. Apples. Real milk, not the powdered stuff. Cereal. Meat that wasn’t full of gristle. It was always wonderful coming back to North Idaho and seeing our family. North Idaho is a beautiful place to come back to. It’s like a postcard everywhere you look. The worst part as a kid was that mom and dad had to go visit all the churches that supported them. And we had to go too. Especially when we were younger, it was rough. Going to a different Sunday school every Sunday. All those weird kids oogling at you and asking dumb questions. I spun some wild yarns in some of those Sunday school rooms as a little guy. I eventually quit when one of the Sunday school teachers asked my dad about one of my stories to confirm its veracity. Dammit! Busted. And singing songs in Indonesian in front of a different church every Sunday, then the dinner at the pastor’s house… A kid’s worst nightmare, but we were stalwart little guys and took it on the chin. It was important to my parents that we were with them. My dad always said that we were all part of the team. So we traveled the United States, a lot of it anyway, in an old LTD Ford. With my little brother asleep up on the car’s back window ledge, my older brother asleep on the back seat, and me sleeping on the damned hump on the floor, but those were good days. By the end of six months though, we were always ready to go back. Teachers would look sad and full of pity at me as I handed in my paperwork to get pulled out of school for the flight back. “I’m sorry that you have to go back there.” I could only look back at them with incredulity.


NOTE: Finally Somehow Home is a separate book from The Perfect Fucking Life, and is not yet in publication at the time of this post.

All this shit is written and created by Jason Lee Morrison © 2022

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