Posts Tagged ‘memoir’
Tuesday, October 18th, 2011
The smoke curled into my lungs, stinging them, singeing them, filling them.
I breathed out, slowly, and watched it tangle with the cool air.
I sat on the weathered wooden steps of my sister’s house. Damp leaves more brown than orange squished under my shoes as I waited. My wool coat itched a little around my neck.
The sunlight was golden where it slanted between the houses, not quite reaching me.
Another draw of the cigarette. I was not a smoker, and yet, for this time, I craved the crackle of the first inhale, the acrid smell.
It was perfect. Then.
I was away from Southern California, where the angle of the late October light and the deadening leaves try to trick you, but I knew better.
I knew better.
I needed this.
I needed home.
Fall is not at all about endings for me. It brings me to life.
I stubbed out the cigarette when the taxi pulled up to take me to Fenway Park, to playoff baseball in Boston.
I wanted time to stop.
Tuesday, May 17th, 2011
The police cars blocked the bottom of my street.
“There’s a fire,” an officer told me. “You can’t go up.”
“But I live there,” I said, and we were allowed through. On foot.
There were no cell phones back then, in the mid-80′s. No way to know whose house it was. And I lived a mile from the bottom of a road that twisted and turned through the woods and up over 800 feet of elevation. I wasn’t worried it was my house, though. I figured someone would’ve been waiting to tell me.
We started the walk, my friends and I. We’d had the best night. This particular group of girls wasn’t in the popular crowd. So that meant no pressure to be at a certain place at a certain time because, you know, that’s what you had to do. Instead, we went miniature golfing and laughed until our faces ached and after, we stopped to buy not beer, but a big bag of Doritos.
And so it was with these girls I trudged up and up. Until we saw the leaping orange flames, like claws scratching open the night sky, and we were filled with the acrid smell of smoke tainting the air.
Of a life burning.
Not a person, not a parent or a child. Thankfully. And not our house. A door down and across the street. The uber-modern home that sat back up a tilted driveway, all glass and wood and two little girls with exotic names I’d babysat a few times.
The neighbors stood in the eerie red glow of the fire engine lights and watched.
I didn’t understand at the time. I couldn’t. What a house – a home means to a family. The memories each room holds. The magic in the night that brings new life. The rocking and rocking of babies. The floor on which first steps are taken. The notches in the wood of the closet door measuring little growing bodies. Dinners cooked. Tantrums thrown. Laundry piled and re-piled. Slamming doors. Belly laughs. Scribbles and drawings and notes tacked to the walls next to chocolate handprints. Pictures. The ordinary. The extraordinary.
Life. All within the walls.
Then it was gone.
This post is memoir and is based on a picture of a burning cigarette in an ashtray. I don’t know how the fire started, but that’s what I thought of when I saw the prompt for The Red Dress Club.
Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
There is a pool in the middle of the room.
The queen-size bed has been shoved against the wall with the windows that stretch its length. The pool is the large inflatable kind, with cheerful, Crayola-colored fish printed on it. It is now full of warm water, delivered via the hose attached to the shower faucet in our bathroom, and takes up almost all available floorspace.
The lamp is dim, but the lamp is always dim. For some reason, a house built in 1992 did not come with overhead lighting and the bedside lamp, with its pineapple stone base, provides just the right glow for late-night nursing or visits from sick children. (more…)
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
I pressed my nose against the fine mesh of the window screen.
It was too high to jump, it being three stories up, and I wasn’t that brave anyway. The tree closest to the window wasn’t near enough for me to leap to.
I was trapped.
And she knew it. (more…)
Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
“See the finish line? By those tents? Do you see it?”
I didn’t. Not yet.
I wondered if I ever would.
I had come so far, but the road hadn’t been what I’d expected. (more…)