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I am mundane and magical, Silly and serious. I am an underachiever who suspects that someday in the eternities I may yet blossom and even fruit. I am a collector of spirits and essences, a studier of mood and nuance.I have many many faults and yet I've always been loved. I am a good friend, but I will let you go if you so desire. I believe in Somewhen. I laugh easily and cannot often cry, which I know is a Flaw. Like You, I am a work in progess.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

In my creative nonfiction writing class we were assigned to write a memory of childhood or teen years on a post-it note. Ten of these. Just a little exercise. These are mine.

1. Apple Valley
Undulating heat shimmering up from the asphalt of The Roy Rogers Museum where we’d just seen taxidermied Trigger and heard the old cowboy croon on crackly vinyl. Mom was looking choice-tan, young and sassy in a sleeveless turquoise dress with inch wide white polka dots she’d made. It embraced her slender torso intimately then billowed out to a full skirt. Her image, parody of Marilyn Monroe, as a six inch lizard came out of nowhere and ran up her bare leg into the shade of that skirt is seared into my brain by desert heat and lacquered with laughter.
2. Pool I
We’d been a winter week at the cabin in Crestline. My brother David fell asleep on the long ride home from the mountains. When we arrived home my father uncharacteristically carried him tenderly from the car. Why were we in the backyard? I can’t remember. Seeing the water sparkling in the pool my father followed some wild impulse and tossed David high. He burst out of the water screaming and crying. The pool wasn’t heated in our absence. The water was very cold. My first memory of thinking “Asshole!”
3. Pool II
Usual summer day. BBQ smoke scenting the air and a passel of kids playing in the pool. I can remember the rough texture of the springboard beneath my feet. We were playing Follow the Leader and I, attempting glory, made some wrong move and went off the side, smashing my head on the pool deck. Before I even knew what had happened I felt my father’s arms around me lifting my chest out of the water. “Are you ok?” I thought I was, despite the blood dripping red into the water.
4. Bell Jar
Mr. Pence was lecturing as he inflated a balloon in a bell jar. He didn’t seem to be paying attention whereas I felt the stretch of rubber as the balloon strained past what I thought was its point of popping. Rocking a little, scrunching and squinting to brace for the bang I hoped I didn’t scream. To my dismay Mr. Pence noticed this, his eyes glinting victory and amusement. He announced, continuing to pump, “There is no sound in a vacuum.”
5. Dance
I posed on the periphery of Natalie’s dance class, in the stance she had assigned me: one arm parallel to my undeveloped bosom, the other bent up at the elbow, maracas in each hand and legs arranged to spring into action at a certain measure of the music. When the samba filled the room I did not wait for the counted beats, but began to sway. Natalie stopped the class. Her eyes assessed me with artistic criticism and she changed the dance to have us each swaying as the music started. I wondered if I had been beautiful in dance for a moment.
6. Small Miracle
Sliding into the driver’s seat of my Datsun B210 after a trip to the store with my brother I heard him yell, “Stop!” I had a habit of pulling out of the space then letting him into the car. He bent behind the car a moment then bounced into the seat beside me holding out his hand. It contained a tiny, jeweled hummingbird, barely moving. He said it was wedged tightly against the tire, if I had moved an inch…We took it home, made sugar water and were delighted when it licked the mix off our palms with its long, tubular, transparent tongue. We shared delight and a sense of divine when it flew away.
7. Gift
I slipped a fingernail into the corner of the envelope and opened the letter. Jim! He was studying in Bellingham for the summer. I smiled and tilted the envelope to pull out the precious letter. As I did, what looked like metal filings spilled out. I couldn’t imagine what they were, until I read the letter that said he was coming home. And I realized it was his goatee (which I hated). Creative and considerate in this gift, I felt he had really missed me.
8. Mirror Ball
It still hangs in what was my teenaged bedroom. The disco ball I made, sticking the pre-adhesived squares of mirror onto a styrofoam ball. Someone, probably my mom, mounted the motor on my ceiling and I was set! Raiding the utility drawer for flashlights and the Christmas wrapping paper for tubes I positioned several lights around the room. I’d turn off the lights, close the shutters and stack Yes and Genesis , Pink Floyd, Bread and Cream on my turntable and listen to music for hours in my own swirling galaxy of stars.
9. Tuna Sandwich
I didn’t feel I asked for much, though perhaps I did, but ONCE I asked you to make me a tuna sandwich and you resisted. I pressed and you sullenly slumped off to the kitchen. “Remember I like relish in it,” I called. You delivered an undrained, soupy sandwich with nearly as much relish as tuna. Resentment in the relish. Weird thing that I remember now and then, sadly.
10. Breaking In
At eighteen I hired on with AT&T. I expected it to be a summer job. Nervous and wearing a dress and nylons I reported for training. My supervisor introduced himself to the class, ran through a litany of expectations and then led us out for a tour of the office. The doors were marked, “In” and “Out.” Not meaning to be a rebel I went out through the “In” door. My supervisor, noting this, ordered me to go out, using the proper door and re-enter. It is one of my great regrets that I did not quit then and there.

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