Every time I moved, cardboard boxes and milk crates, I shed memories on the porous sidewalks. Metal roller skates and skinned knees.
My name is…
In third grade mid-year, all the other kids knew their times tables. The teacher put on a record and they sang along. I knew the inch worm song. Danny Kaye. A fog of icky-sweet that some of us know well. An infant, precognitive version of the deep ambivalence. Pleasure and shame.
Danny Kaye still reminds me of something. Sticky furniture, metal tables. A dog who bled behind the ears when he got excited.
Not everything comes together. Not everything finds a center.
I still count on my fingers in a dark closet off a crowed room.
As an adult it’s difficult to sit on the other side of a closed door and listen to the muffled laughter. Adults are conspicuous.
I remember ringlets, yarn ribbons, and seersucker dresses. I don’t remember shoes. There is a school photo somewhere, in which I am missing a tooth. There is nothing charming about it. I might be sneering. Or about to cry.
I have just the memory of this photo. If you saw it, your story would be as good as mine.
I don’t remember sneering. Not until my high school math teacher called me a slut under her breath. And I thought: All the things you do not know, woman.
When my step-father died, my aunt called me in the middle of the night to tell me. She slurred her words slightly, for whatever reason. And she took it upon herself to tell me the details of the accident, for whatever reason. It’d been 30 – 32 years?
“Yeah, no, fine. Thanks for calling.”
She wanted to send me photographs. “Please don’t.”
She asked me three times, “Are you sure you don’t want me to send them to you?” It was the only question she asked me. I had no questions for her.
But now, I wonder if she ever made sense of things. If all her photographs and the redacted stories told and negotiated around dinner tables once every couple of years found a true arc. Of some sort.
“Yeah, no, fine.”
Some hours of Monday slipped from my mind. Again. I am finding that, since I can’t pick up and move, I need to document things so I don’t dwell with the same story twice unnecessarily. Digging ruts in the most uninteresting of places just so we all have our stories straight.
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Ouch. Recognition for some of these kinda memories. High points, low points, what difference now. Now it’s like this… couple doctors say, “pretty good, considering”, but why then do I feel like I do. More now I feel both sides of judgments at the same time, not taking turns. Wisdom is an ellusiveness if anything. Everything all at once, yea, getting to be that way. I try to lean into good faith with life. Is that wisdom? I try. Not all, but many people are more kind than me. (pay me no mind)
you are more than worth giving mind!
This is an astounding piece of writing. Painful. Honest. Brave. Thank you. R
Some stories are so hard to dwell on, you don’t need to listen to someone else’s version.
Anyway, Danny Kaye and the inchworm song. I do remember that one. “Seems to me you’d stop and see how beautiful they are.” That’s the part that stuck with me.