The "Tumbleweed" was born sometime between midnight and four a.m. on (technically) March 26, 1992, though most of us were still thinking of it as the night of the 25th. The whole thing was probably caused by Karl H. breaking up with Sara M. earlier that evening. Sara was in a weird mood. She was sitting on the floor in the hall of the bottom story of our dorm Lambda Hall, around the corner from Karl's room. Crystal B., Brian G. and myself, Suzanne Saunders, watched her as she charred the end of a pencil with Brian's lighter. Matt T., whose door we were sitting outside, came back from talking to Karl and sat down with us. We were all trying to talk lightheartedly, to keep Sara's spirits up. Dylan N. eventually joined us; his comments were interesting because he was a little drunk. Jordan C. bustled in and out of the kitchen; she was making a banner for Kris I.'s birthday the next day. (This is the only reason anybody remembers the date.)
About the Tumbleweed
Crystal mentioned that when she had let Sara drive her car, they had been making jokes about Sara and Jon Y., the front seat's passenger, being the parents of Crystal who was sitting in the back seat. We started to expand on that family diagram. I said, "Somebody write this down!" and pushed my purse notebook at Matt. Seeing the diagram, Brian made the comment, "It's not just a family tree, it's a tumbleweed!" and so forever named this work.
A lot of the reasons for the events come from real life. Karl, for example, became a transvestite because Matt was trying to make Sara smile by making fun of her ex-boyfriend. Matt and I had Lisa for a child because the three of us were the only serious heavy metal fans in Lambda that year; apparently Matt decided it was a genetic trait when he drew up that part of the tree. [But just so the people from the dorm don't hunt me down and kill me, I must emphasize that no one whose name is used in the stories ever actually did any of this stuff, nor would they.]
I drew up a legible copy of the chart the next day in class, and showed it to everyone at lunch. I wanted to write a story about this screwed-up family. Matt gave me most of the plot for his first four kids. Later, other people, notably Chris L., Jon, and Brian, gave me more ideas. The thing got a life of its own.
This intro is being written after the second volume was completed, and a lot of people have asked me if I have any plans to write the next volume. I'm sure I will once I catch up with all the new people who came in this year. Just my luck that this is probably what all my college friends will remember me for. I suppose I asked for it by deciding to write the story instead of letting the family tree die a quick, painless death.