On Oct. 11, 2001, more than 5,000 Kansans took part in a project called "A Day in My Community." Residents kept a diary for a single day, to leave a historical record of their lives at the beginning of the millennium. In the second part of the Prairie Diaries series, high school student Amber Peterman reflects on growing up in the small town of Perry and dreams about her future, perhaps as a writer.
Peterman and her friends wonder what it will be like when they go off to college. "I really don't know where I want to live, but I know what I want to see — everything..." Peterman says. "I don't know if it will happen or not, but it would be really cool."
Following is an excerpt of Peterman's "Prairie Diary" recollecting her day in Kansas, Oct. 11, 2001:
My name is Amber, and I'm a twelve-year-old girl who lives in Perry, Kansas. My family is pretty normal, but it has its odd qualities. We have five dogs and a guinea pig. We have a dachshund, whose name is Mitzi; a chow, who goes by Tebo; a rat terrier named Maggie; an akita, Zeus's Miss Samaria (Sam for short); and a mix named Ozie.
We live in the country, which is pretty cool. It's in a good place, because we're not in the town, but we're not in the middle of nowhere. It's only about ten minutes from Perry, and about the same from Oskaloosa. I like it because of a few reasons. There's a creek close to my house, which is fun to go down to most of the time, but you must be careful for snakes. We have very few neighbors, which is probably a good thing, because three of our dogs just wander outside, and they can't dig up people's gardens and things. Also, when I'm angry, or I want to listen to my music loud or anything like that, I can go outside and scream and yell and make lots of noise without getting yelled at. Plus, living in the country I can wander outside in the morning looking like a train wreck, and I don't have to worry about running into a friend, or someone I want to impress.
Living in the country isn't all cool, though. It annoys me, because while most of my friends who live in town can just decide to go hang out at anytime and walk out the door, I must ask and find a ride, which sometimes results in arguments with the parents. Also, we have a bunch of creatures wandering around outside AND in our house, some of which I'm pretty sure have never even been identified before. It's really creepy sometimes to wake up with something crawling on you, or to step on something that crunches when you walk outside. Spiders are what creep me out the most, and we have plenty of them, trust me. Some of them are huge. I found one in my sink one morning, and let me tell you, a spider the size of the drainpipe really wakes you up. We also have snakes, and Copperheads are really not very pleasant reptiles. There are some friendly snakes around my house, too, I guess, if you can call snakes friendly, but Copperheads are definitely not one of them.
I am a big sports player, but I am not a tomboy. All my friends are that way, too. It sounds kind of cheesy, but we like to think of ourselves as athletes. I just got finished playing volleyball, which is a school sport, and it was fun, although being our first year, we did not do amazing. Our last game was just yesterday... I have a feeling our basketball team will do pretty well. I will be playing track in the spring, and I play soccer, although I used to play it a lot more than I do now. (I was on a premiere all-year team last year.) They don't have a soccer team at school, and I didn't get around to signing up this year in Lawrence. Swimming is fun, but I've never done it as a competitive thing.
I play sports because they are really fun, they keep me active, and they're a nice way to get your mind off of something. Let's say there's this really big assignment you've been stressing out about that's due in two days, and you don't have it finished. Then you go and play soccer, or basketball or something, you can't go out there and worry about the assignment, you've got to get your head in the game. It's a nice way to relax.
I do a lot of things in my spare time (other than sports) and most of them are with my friends. Bowling is something older that's coming back, and it's become a fun way and good excuse to go hang out with all your friends. The mall is a really fun place to go, with your friends (which most of the time involves goofing off, window shopping, or looking for cute guys) or going with a "special" friend, like a guy, just to get away from it all.
Hanging out also includes walking around and goofing off in Perry, but there's not a whole lot to do there. Pretty much, our hangouts are Gambino's, the local pizza place, and "The School," a park where we just sit around and talk, or play basketball. If we get bored with that, there's not really much to do except wander aimlessly in the tiny town. But don't get me wrong, I like where I live just fine. It's actually pretty cool.
So now you know about how I live, at least for now. My life could change at any moment — you can never be too sure. I mean, I wouldn't count on it, but you never know... I could make a decision that changes my life, or someone else could make one for me. After all, this is a world full of surprises...