The tiny glass animals that decorated my mama’s shelf, the ones my sister loved so much.
Looking into the duck pond for the first time and seeing my own reflection, next to it, something caught my eye – my baby brother in his diaper riding a goose while the birds nipped at his already loosened diaper.
When we drank Kool-Aid from our spoons, we said is was our “medicine.” And I remember gardening, smelling the cool earth in my hands for the first time, the second time, and all the times there after.
Watching the second graders stand tall above me in front of the cement wall while I though “someday I’ll be a big kid maybe even a grown-up.”
Moving from town to town and house to house, state to state, getting so tired and missing my home and Granny’s ranch. I just found out the big ole ranch was just a trailer, but to me it was a home better than a chateau.
I remember feeling the wind blow a special way and an unknown but familiar smell making me think about my family and my home, wondering if I would see them again while knowing if I did nothing would be the same. Looking at my face, clean and still dripping with water, and just staring; trying to recognize myself.
Learning the words stoic and surreal and living them day to day but fighting those words, determined to change what I could. We learned sarcasm and our world changed; the rusted irony- the world has always been sarcastic, we were just untainted to it.
I remember thinking, “I’m so young, but I still try to follow the rules but when I do I feel lost.”
Working my first real job and the smell of the grease as it ate away at my shoes and the hours I spent thanking God that I could just work. Achieving, pushing through the door of goals and accomplishing dreams and how good I felt knowing a girl like me could learn and act through watching. The consequences of this still send me to the hospital from time to time.
Grampa dying made another hash mark on my prison wall, but I did ask him and all the others:
Did you knock, knock on Heaven’s door? Does that really happen?
I remember the taste of sugar cane and boiled peanuts and the family who kept shipping them too me. I’ll never forget when they got cancer either. I remember working hard to make the money to travel and reconnect with family I met once or twice. Flying through the air and my brother in his mass confusion; not knowing if he had a great sister or the craziest for taking him skydiving. The way my sister used to be the oldest, dating boys and swallowing their kisses. Her manic depression and me taking over her place as the big sister- being “well-rounded” and working, working, working.
All the praise I got for being the smart girl, the good girl; while I knew that my sister, my brother, my mother had all worked just as hard as I had-I remember that.
Fighting for praise and losing to someone more manipulative, then lying to those who did not care for my honesty; how can a blunt honest person keep doing that? They can’t. I want to remember everything in my life-some things I can, some things I can’t.
I remember waiting until I was strong and healthy enough to have that first kiss, first love.
Telling every detail of the truth and trying to relate to him, trying to communicate. Sharing the pain he felt over losing his soul mate and “thinking if he can only have one soul mate and lost him I can never be that for him.” I remember hearing him say he couldn’t handle my pain-I remember a lot of people saying that. My heart breaking but still having hope, always have hope focus on the light.
Hitting rock bottom, realizing from there that some how rock bottom got softer and higher and falling wouldn’t be so bad anymore. I remember knowing I would be a part of the Olympics then the pride I felt carrying the “eternal flame.” I remember loving food then getting bored with it, being poor and being ok, wanting to just blend in and be normal, fighting to be healthy and strong. I wrote like an amateur and became addicted to reading. Simple things and complex things, these memories are not necessarily significant, but I remember and that’s important, but I can’t think why.
Trying to learn patience.
Music in my mom’s college and the plants down South and cold of a house in Maine with no heat during winter and this and that… Grampa’s bell collection and holding my new little brother. Never wanting to let go of my mother and loving her no matter what. I remember military uniforms and boots.
Can I recall these things because they don’t hurt?
When I lost my family, I lost the sound of John Denver. When he died I lost them all over again. Now I hear his music and I remember them the way they were. It’s all too painful.
Upon revising this, 8 years have passed and corporate jobs and my father’s death have created what I think of as scar tissue in my brain. Trauma after recurring trauma, the scar tissue inhibits certain moves, only my moves are memories.
What was once my strength: What I noticed and remembered- Everything.
What is now my weakness: I remember nothing.
This is the saddest of it all.