An Excerpt from SavvyPage 2 of 4
Monday through Wednesday, we called our thin stretch of land Kansaska. Thursday through Saturday, we called it Nebransas. On Sundays, since that was the Lord's Day, we called it nothing at all, out of respect for His creating our world without the lines already drawn on its face like all my grandpa's wrinkles.
If it weren't for old Grandpa Bomba, Kansaska Nebransas wouldn't even have existed for us to live there. When Grandpa wasn't a grandpa and was just instead a small-fry, hobbledehoy boy blowing out thirteen dripping candles on a lopsided cake, his savvy hit him hard and sudden-just like it did to Fish that day of the backyard birthday party and the hurricane-and the entire state of Idaho got made. At least, that's the way Grandpa Bomba always told the story.
"Before I turned thirteen," he'd say, "Montana bumped dead straight into Washington, and Wyoming and Oregon shared a cozy border." The tale of Grandpa's thirteenth birthday had grown over the years just like the land he could move and stretch, and Momma just shook her head and smiled every time he'd start talking tall. But in truth, that young boy who grew up and grew old like wine and dirt, had been making new places whenever and wherever he pleased. That was Grandpa's savvy.
My savvy hadn't come along yet. But I was only two days away from my very own thirteen dripping candles-though my momma's cakes never lopped to the side or to the middle. Momma's cakes were perfect, just like Momma, because that was her savvy. Momma was perfect. Anything she made was perfect. Everything she did was perfect. Even when she messed up, Momma messed up perfectly.
I often reckoned what it would be like for me. I pictured myself blowing out the candles on my cake and fires dying in chimneys across four counties. Or I imagined making my secret birthday wish-getting my cheeks full and round with air-then floating up toward the ceiling like my very own happy birthday balloon.
"My savvy is going to be a good one," I told my brother Rocket. "I just know it."
"Girls don't get the powerful jujubes," said Rocket, running one hand through his dark shock of unkempt hair with a crackle of static. "Girls only get quiet, polite savvies-sugar and spice and everything humdrum savvies. It's boys who get the earthshaking kinds of savvy."
I had scowled at my brother and stuck out my tongue. Rocket and I both knew that there were plenty of girls climbing round our family tree that had strong and sturdy savvies, like Great-aunt Jules, who could step back twenty minutes in time every time she sneezed; or our second cousin Olive, who could melt ice with a single red-hot stare.