Posts Tagged ‘Remembe(red)’
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, September 13th, 2011
It was snowing. And dark, the kind of dark you can only find on rural roads hugged by heavy woods.
I was on deadline. I’d covered a high school basketball game and hurriedly typed my story on my Radio Shack computer before the janitor locked the door behind me. I left the small gym and stepped out into the night.
My story was due and I needed to file, and to file, I needed a phone. A pay phone, because what other kind was there? So I drove through the drifting white flakes until I found one, at the end of a deserted parking lot of a 7-11.
I pulled my coat tighter around me as I balanced the small computer on top of the phone. Dialed the number. Shoved the receiver into the rubber couplers, and waited for the high-pitched whine followed by a hawwwwww sound to tell me the story was magically being transported through the wires and into the computer at my newspaper.
Meanwhile, I tried not to think about how I was standing in the snow in a dark, empty parking lot in the middle of nowhere. Alone. I willed the transmission to hurry up before my imagination got the best of me.
Finally, it was done. In ways I didn’t completely understand, that story got from the pay phone in a desolate parking lot on a freezing-cold snowy night and into the newspaper the next morning, for people to read in their cozy kitchens with their coffee and bagel.
Technology? It was amazing!
It was 1992.
This post was inspired by the prompt, “Memories of early days of the internet” from Write on Edge.
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
The assignment this week for RemembeRED, the memoir prompt at Write on Edge, asked us to explore our worst memory.
I thought about it. I have had some painful things happen in my past. We all have. But sometimes I feel like my memories are trivial in comparison to those who have had real tragedy and heartbreak.
My life, while far from charmed, has not – fortunately – had horrific life-changing trauma.
How can I write about mine, when I think about my friends:
They have lost parents, siblings, spouses, children to cancer, or have battled it themselves.
They have been horribly abused by those who were supposed to love and protect them.
They have been raped.
They have had miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. Stillbirth. Babies who breathed for only a short while. Debilitating post-partum depression.
They have gone through an unwanted divorce.
What can I possibly share?
But the truth is, though our experiences are not exactly the same, we all have sadness. We all have hurt, have moments in our lives that are tough to revisit. My history is no less valid because it didn’t contain a great tragedy. Heartache is universal. Our tears are the same.
It is the worst thing that has happened to me, followed by my son’s first peanut reaction which put him in the hospital.
But those aren’t the only things.
Here is one.
The summer after third grade, my mother signed us up for an arts-and-crafts program at our elementary school. I think about it now that I am a mother, about how she saw the camp in a brochure and thought it’d be fun for my brother and me. And it got us out of her hair for a couple hours.
I was happy to go, until I saw the boy who lived the big red house across the street from the school. He was a bit of a bully and it didn’t take long for him to start in on me. I just wanted to sit in the warm sun at the picnic tables and weave loom potholders and friendship bracelets. Instead, my stomach twisted.
I was afraid. But ready.
“Hey, Frozenbooger,” he said. Because when you have a last name like mine, it’s easy to be picked on.
I didn’t back down.
“Queeroquack!” I shouted, my best effort to distort Kerouac.
And so it went. I’d like to say a counselor stepped in. But that didn’t happen.
At some point, whether I was asked or if it was on an information sheet, it came out that my middle name was Felice. I’d always liked that name. Kids usually guessed my middle name was Anne, but Felice was different and special and I loved it. Until the counselor decided to call me, “Fleas” while the other kids laughed.
I was 8. Not too young to figure out I had to put those walls up around me as quickly as possible. Because words, they hurt. They really, really hurt.
This memory, and many others I have like it, is why I am so sensitive to bullying of my own kids. I wrote about bullying here and here. And it also inspired me to write my most meaningful piece of fiction, What was Broken.
Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
I am now the mother of kids who swim in the deep end.
There is no more perching on the chair by the stairs, no more having to get into the pool to act as a human floaty.
When it’s just my eldest two, that is.
Sage, upon completing swim lessons with the Swim Nazi, is now allowed to go anywhere she wants. Including where it’s eight-feet deep.
Sawyer has been water safe since he was younger than Sage is now. And just this week, he finally has a partner.
She dives. She jumps. She touches her foot on the bottom. She swims from the deep end to the shallow end and back.
She is confident.
She no longer flails around or calls for me in a panic.
It’s amazing to watch her realize her own power. Truly amazing.
It’s like when your child wakes up in the morning and you’re certain he or she has grown an inch overnight. Only I get to watch this growth unfold right in front of me as I watch.
Right in front of me, she is discovering how strong she really is, how fun it is to enjoy the water and not fight it.
I see her dive in. I keep my eye on the aqua water, still a little anxious, until I see the tips of her fingers grasp the concrete edge. And up pops her face, covered with her hair. She brushes it away and she looks at me and smiles. She waves before once again disappearing beneath the surface.
I am thankful for this summer of Sage. I am thankful for lessons learned.
This post was inspired by the prompt “End a story with the words ‘lesson learned’ ” for The Red Dress Club.
Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
This was a post I wrote over a year ago, but it’s what I thought of when I saw the RemembeRED prompt, “Tell about a memory of a school trip” for The Red Dress Club.
The brown paper bag is clutched in my hand until the top is wrinkled like the skin of an old lady.
Inside the bag, the prized can I carefully selected waits, wrapped in tin foil to keep in the cold. But always it explodes pink frothy warm.
A drawing in ballpoint pen decorates the front of the bag. Today it is of the replica historical village we visit, where we learn about survival before they had yellow school buses and black cherry soda.
I was the only one with such a drawing, as I was each time our class went on a field trip.
Love from Mom. Love. The word I didn’t hear. Maybe this was proof?
Special, for once. Me.
Only she does not remember now, this thing, so profound.
I prompt: Were you bored? Did you want me to know you were thinking of me?
She said she didn’t know. She’d ponder, get back to me.
So I wonder, will my kids call one quiet afternoon, grown up, and ask, Do you remember?
I want to. I want to.
What will stay with them? Not the manufactured memories of trips to SeaWorld and Princess birthday parties we try so hard to give them.
When they knew they were truly seen.
When they knew they were loved.
Ballpoint pen on a paper bag.