Don’t you know that it is human nature to be able to list the worst memories in your life more easily than it is to remember the best ones? Why is that? Why do we all remember, more clearly, things that we don’t like at all instead of all the things we do? Maybe because sad things leave us scarred emotionally, we remember them because they wound us like a deep cut into raw flesh. Your skin is deeply cut, blood seeps out, you’ll probably have that scar for the rest of your life and it will remind you, forever, of what happened to cause that pain.
When I am feeling lonely or blue I try to think of peaceful things, the things that make me happiest, my favorite things: the ocean, dogs, collecting seashells while walking on the beach, the mass of yellow daffodils that come up once a year in the same place in my neighborhood. This year I only saw the start of the meadow of yellow flowers, when they barely started to bloom. It rained every day for a week after that, it wasn’t an auspicious start to summer.
It is harder for me to remember the happiest days than the worst days. There have been moments of magnificence in my life, with my husband, certainly the birth of my two children, but other than that, my head is cloudy. I can’t blame everything on Fibromyalgia,or Fibro-Fog as we call it. I don’t think I could have come up with this before anyway.
Perhaps tonight I’m steeped in self-pity, oh yes, now I know why. I just figured it out. The great unconscious, the biggest moment, months, years of grief: the death of my father. Father’s day is two weeks away. It gets to me every year around this time and every year I forget. How on earth could I forget that my father is dead? I know he is dead. What is wrong with me? Every year since his death, eleven years ago, I still go to the Father’s Day section for cards, or this year I picked up a new pen that I knew he would love, forgetting that there was no physical him anymore. I guess I will never stop doing that.
I will make a concerted effort to continue to think of past, happy, moments and will jot them down. The word “magnificent” sounds like an over-rated French movie. I’ll stick to happy but the point is, my memory can remember the pain first, the pleasure, second.
For all those women* who do not have a Father on Father’s Day, this is for you. I know how you feel, from my broken heart to yours. Do whatever you can to make your own life a little easier, a little happier, whatever it takes. Or honor your dad with a special memory or flowers, a drink, anything to help ease YOUR pain. Buy yourself some chocolate or ice cream or both. I feel for all of us, I really do.
*should say women and men
i’m julie and i’m 14, my world is turning around and i feel like im slipping into crazy like a snap of my fingers. im a spinning top, out of control, like all my colors mixed together: the colors green, yellow, red, orange, so fast yet i can see the the colors like the threads in my brain have gotten twisted and i can’t untwist them. i stopped speaking a few weeks ago, mom and dad been beating me, they were drinking all the time and throwing glasses across the room that shattered like angry chimes, i’ve been pretty much taking care are of myself for a long time now.
i ran away a few days ago and im not sure they even know i’m missing. i brought only my secret box that i’ve had since i was a child. i keep my favorite top, a letter from my brother, brian, a seashell, red fish candy, and my flashlight that makes me feel safe.
mom and dad once let me play with their bright colored pills like they were marbles on the old, scratched wooden dining room table. i got smacked real bad when they saw i scratched my name and brian’s and a heart on the table. i had big red welts all over my body. cops came and brian and i were sent away for a few days but then we had to go home. i miss my older brother brian but he went to college a long time ago, wherever that neighborhood is. i still write him a lot but he doesn’t answer me.i thought he loved me for real like i loved him.
nobody knows this secret room, except brian. we found it many years ago but we didn’t tell anyone. my stomach makes noise and i eat a graham cracker and suck on it slowly and i have a bottle of water. daddy hits both mama and me a lot, he hits me with a belt and i’m never sure why. it hurts too much.
i fell asleep, cuz my head was hurting so bad, i thought i heard voices coming towards me so i hid extra special deep. ever since mama burned my hand on purpose on the stove the nice lady visited, she said she was finding me a new home but not if she couldn’t find me. i was shaking so hard i couldn’t stop. she left but some hours later i heard footsteps again but not hers, unless she changed her clickety -clack shoes.
it was late and someone walked right next to my exact hiding place. i got ice cold with fear. i heard breathing, right down low where the secret lock was and i heard someone say my name, i was terrified, what if it was daddy again? “Julie, honey, it’s Brian, your brother, no one else is here, just me. I promise. Please come out.” i wasn’t sure if it was a trick so i stayed. He softened his voice, barely a whisper and said “Julie, it’s Brian, I swear. Please come out Julie I came here as soon as I found out, I’ve been looking for you for years. I’m so sorry sweet Julie, I just got your letters because I moved a few times, but the second I got them, I flew down here and called the police on mom and dad. I swear Juls, I have never lied to you before, have I?
“Julie, he whispered, I’m going to prove it to you with a letter, ok? Read it, tell me what you think”he slipped the letter by the one opening that was very narrow. i looked at the letter and it was some legal paper that said i was going to stay with brian and his wife deborah. brian had gotten married? and he was my legal guardian now. is it true? i asked brian. “Yes, it’s true, you goofball, now get out of there, come with me and give me a big hug.” So I crawled out and Brian picked me up and we hugged for a long time. We were both crying too and he said he had to fatten me up. He told me to pack my things, we were never going to come back here. our old mom and dad were in jail. Tonight we were staying in a hotel (a real hotel) and i asked him if I could jump on the bed. Tomorrow we were flying to my new home, Deborah would be my new mom but I could call her Debbie if i wanted to and the best news yet, I was going to be a big sister!
i thought i should tell brian that i was feeling crazy before, real crazy and he laughed, he said he felt the same way when he was with mom and dad, they were bad people and did bad things. he promised if i still felt crazy he would take me to a doctor but as soon as he said it, i looked up at him and grinned. the next thing he said was, “Darn, I’m hungry, let’s go somewhere to eat, sis.” and wasn’t that the nicest thing in the world to hear.
Hey, it’s me, Jeff, in my dorm room and I’m in a weird ass mood. Don’t know what’s going on with me but I feel sad and strange. Like yesterday I was sitting in the student lounge with my friend, Ericka, and like everyone else was being so damn pretentious. I hate that. It’s like they were kinda showing off to each other but not in an overt way, more subtle. The girls with their short skirts pretending not to care how they looked, the guys in their fancy striped shirts, mostly unbuttoned, they all think they are so cool. Cool? Dude, they were smoking cigarettes and blowing smoke into each others faces and second-hand smoke into mine. Am I supposed to like that? Hell, no. I can’t help it, not everyone is happy.
I had my guitar and I was playing songs and Ericka was singing along and they looked at us like we were the uncool kids. So not right. I mean I kinda like college, I think, but I just don’t like those stupid cliques, that is way too high school for me. I know it’s just my freshman year but I thought college would be so much better, more grown up but it’s the same old shit, just different place. My mom and dad say to “give it a chance” and you know, I am trying, but it’s not helping. Plus, gotta say I really miss my dog, Denver. That stupid dog followed me everywhere and he knew what I was feeling better than most people. What if he forgets me while I am up here? I don’t think I could take that, I really don’t. Am I like the only person that misses their dog and stuff?
All the kids talk about is how much beer they drank and how many times they threw up. Like it’s an accomplishment or something. I don’t fit in, least not yet. I tell my parents that I am mostly happy which is kinda a lie. I don’t tell them about the really bad grades I’ve gotten. The teachers here they take themselves so damn seriously, Dr. this and Dr. that. Big deal, they have a Ph.d it’s not like they found the cure to cancer or anything.
In my English Lit. class the professor starts quoting “All the world’s a stage” like I haven’t heard that one a million times before; dude, like I am living it. Hell, I pretend to be happy and well-adjusted but I just don’t feel right here, maybe I’m not ready. Maybe I should have taken a gap year and worked, I kinda think my mom was right but I can’t tell her that. Ericka feels the same way that I do, she misses home a lot too. Hey, maybe we can leave on the same day if we both go home, but I gotta say, I would miss Ericka, and her house is like four hours away from mine.
People assume that once high school is over everyone will go to college with their new shit from Target and be happy. Okay, for real? Not gonna lie, I don’t like it here. Jeez, I wish I did. I’m gonna try to get my grades up, cuz I can’t bear to think of the shit I will get from my parents when I get home and fail like most everything except for Philosophy which I just aced. Yeah, like that. I will “give it a chance” which my parents tell me on every text or phone call. I know what I feel. I just kinda miss the way things used to be, my old pals, my town, yeah, even my stupid younger sister. Here, I just hang around alone or with Ericka because everyone else is just partying and doing dumb shit. I’m giving it a chance, I really am, but I swear, if I’m not totally happy here in like two to four weeks, I am so going home.
Come fly with me and let me clutch your hand so that even if I feel the tiniest bit afraid in the beginning, I know you are here for support. We will travel over mountain tops and swoop over canyons as if we were birds soaring easily for food and flight. We have no responsibilities, except to have fun and for adventure to find us and for us to drink it in like wine, the shade of crimson roses. This is the adventure we have waited for, for so many years and we deserve this window of light looking straight out on to the world. Wherever we go, we have each other, our own constant, for as long as it lasts. The images out of this small window are delightful. Now, we are flying above puffy, springy white clouds, I almost want to leap out through the window to jump on them, with you, my love, still holding on, to my hand.