Not From That Place

I don’t have the advantage of being from there, from that region, of that race. But my responsibility is to tell stories, to tell the story I want to tell in the way I want to tell it. And if there are repercussions from that, I’ll just have to face it.

~Bill Cheng | author of Southern Cross the Dog


Locard’s Exchange Principle: The theory that anyone, or anything, entering a crime scene both takes something of the scene with them, and leaves something of themselves behind when they leave.

~Brent Turvey | Criminal Profiling, Academic Press 1999


I met Doug at a karate studio in Boulder.

I applied to CU because it was 2000 miles from Brooklyn. But the moment the plane landed, I was over my head. The dry wind, blazing sky and strapping kids playing frisbee on a campus backed by mountain peaks felt unreal, like a technicolor movie. I wandered into a karate studio and watched my future husband, Doug, throwing one perfect kick after another. With his crisp white gi and sun-streaked hair, he embodied everything foreign and exotic about Colorado. We moved in together that summer. And that fall he brought me home to meet his parents.

Home was a tract house in a suburb south of Denver. Doug’s father, Duane, was an engineer whose kids called him Mr. Work the Problem. His mother, Betty, was a stylish blonde straight out of Vogue or Better Homes and Gardens. Doug told her I was a vegetarian majoring in Italian, so she served melon and provolone. Duane was Field & Stream. Over dinner he railed against Texans snatching up prime mountain land and the East Coast cabal controlling the news media. I was too intimidated and intent on being liked to put up a fight. The following June, on the morning Betty was murdered, Duane would show up at the karate studio unannounced, with a bruise on his forehead and a warm six-pack of beer.

Doug’s family was foreign but enticingly normal—the way I fantasized a normal family would be. But it’s impossible to know any family’s truth. And being an outsider makes that truth even harder to see. In telling that story the way I wanted to tell it, Quiet Time initiated a cold case but barely scratched the truth.

Families are also like crime scenes. Entering one, you bring something with you. Leaving, you bear its mark. The very act changes the family’s story and makes you of that place. The story continues to be reshaped by the marks you leave on each other every time you collide.

What marks have you left? Was it a fair exchange?


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