Sunday, January 23, 2011

Very Short Stories: Keanan

Quincy and Keenan in Rotorua, New Zealand. Photo by Bethany Davidson-Widby
I went to boarding school with two brothers. Their names were Kyle and Keenan, and they were from Montana. They were intense boys, prone to helpless fits of moodiness, but they were kind and for the most part I got along with them very well. We all called Kyle 'Smiley.' We went to Europe together for our first semester, this was with Adventure Quest. It was an unusual group of teenagers to say the least. Kyle didn't make it through the first semester- he was caught drinking alcohol in France and throwing the bottles into a river from a footbridge. Two weeks later, after we traveled to Spain, he went home. It was too bad he missed the rest of Spain. We had a lot of freedom and spent our time traveling to and from Barcelona on the train. We were allowed to go to parties in the local town till late at night, and we stayed in a strange warehouse in the middle of a bunch of lime trees.

The next year was my final year of high school. Kyle had graduated, but Keenan was just a sophomore and was still enrolled in the school. We spent the first semester in the American Southwest living out of one van. We had other plans but they fell through because that was the year of 9/11. Alex and I were the only girls,  but during that trip, the whole group of us- nine or so in total- really enjoyed each other. We walked through canyons, climbed all day and hung out in a town inhabited by real life polygamists.

In January, the start of my last semester of  high school, we flew to New Zealand. I slept outside every night as I had since the start of the Southwest trip. My tent-mate Alex was an incredible snorer and I slept outside as means of refuge. But after a few nights under the stars, it became a habit and I never wanted to sleep inside again. One night in the first few weeks of the trip, I was woken up to someone shaking me. It was Keenan. He shook me just barely awake and said, "Melina, I'm leaving. Good bye." Then he hugged me. Confused, I rolled over and fell back to sleep. A few hours later I woke up again, this time I for real. Some of the other boys were knocking on the door of the staff's cabin. "He told us he was going to leave," they were saying, "but we didn't believe him."

Keenan had decided he didn't want to be where he was anymore,  so he had packed his things and left. He was fifteen year old. On his first escape attempt, he didn't get too far. The staff took the van and found him waiting at a bus stop in the sulfurous town of Roturua a few miles away. They took him home and confined to him to his cabin. They talked to his parents and agreed to let like Keenan stay if he never tried that again. He'd never been a bad kid or caused any problems before.

Things were alright for a week or two. We were paddling on the Kaituna river every day, going to class, walking to the store in the afternoon. A boy named Quincy nearly drowned, but he didn't. It was spring and warm and misty. Then we drove down to the South Island to a town called Wanaka, where they served iced coffee with vanilla ice cream and chocolate shavings. We pulled into the house where we'd be staying late at night. I found a nearby tree fort, climbed to the top, congratulated myself for finding such a nice spot (I never spent a night in the same place twice) and fell asleep.  During that night, Keenan ran away again. I've never understood why someone would run away from Adventure Quest. I lived for that place. I had begged my parents for six months to send me back there after I got lost, and they'd finally relented.

In the morning he was gone, and all his things. Again. Frustrated, the staff called his parents who said not to bother looking for him. He'd find his way home eventually.

I've never seen or heard from Keenan since. That was a decade ago. Last year around this time, I heard that Kyle was dead. From reading his obituary I saw that he had spent a lot of time after high school in Africa and that he'd been relatively happy and at home there. I also saw that he was survived by his brother, Keenan. So that means Keenan's still alive, he's out there somewhere.

At the base of La Meije: Andy, Tim, Me, Keanan

1 comment:

Bethany and Will said...

You just brought back some very vivid memories...being woken up by the boys after he left...driving the van with Jen in the middle of the night to find him and watching and praying that Nate could convince him to get back in the van...

Then hearing from Trevor one morning in Wanaka that he had left...whenever I think of Montana I think of him and wonder where he is. I've got some great pics of him on my blog :-)..and of you two my forever friend. Love you! ~B