Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Taste You Hate

Exercise #5 from Old Friend From Far Away

I couldn't help it.  Car rides made me sick.  From the time I was first strapped in all wiggly and cooing, it wasn't long until the nausea set in. 

And since Mom didn't drive and there were so many older kids, I didn't go too many places except on the big trips, to grandparents', to aunts' and uncles'.  They were always long drives, scenic, up and down "tickle-belly" hills. 

Dad had a van, it was two-tone brown and tan with the extra tire on back and a ladder to the top.  The back windows were shaded with those nifty pictures you could see from the outside, but didn't hinder the driving--trees hinting at a forest, an orange sun, the tail end of a buck looking back, listening.

After enough trips Ma found a medicine to help with the motion sickness, a liquid, amaretto flavored, thick like cough syrup.  In the morning, after a big breakfast and right before we piled our masses in to the back of the van, she'd take me to the kitchen, have me tip back my head and choke it down.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Give me a memory of cold

Exercise #4

I remember what it was like to love winter, frozen toes inside thick snow boots, wet mittens, a red nose.  Suzy and I would spend days outside her yellow house just up the hill from the creek.  We'd slide down through the trees, land on hard, slick ice, and skate in our boots.  The ice never froze in the smooth, perfect way of skating rinks, but in jagged lumps punctuated with broken sticks and rocks.

The creek was our battle field and our home.  There were places beneath the trees where roots stuck up through the snow and we'd dig in, building a nest, proving you could stay warm before the melt.  We dared ourselves, taking off socks and gloves, feeling the cold prickle against our skin.  We'd redden, and swear it didn't hurt.  We'd lie down and try to sleep, then jump up, a new battle on the other side of the creek.

Don't touch the bottom, we'd warn, grabbing branches to keep ourselves aloft.  I was the clumsy one, never coordinated or graceful, always heavier inside my bones.  I'd skitter through the trees, scrambling to keep myself in Suzy's graces, following her until I finally lost her scent.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Give me a memory of the color red, but don't say the word "red"

Exercise #3

My mother's favorite color plasters the bathroom walls, the floors, the shower curtain, the towels--ripest cherry screaming out at you, warning you not to bother if you have a hang-over or get easily jettisoned by boldness.  Always, my mother's favorite color was a blindfold to me, a given to nature, but I never stopped to think of the "her" underneath the screaming scarlet.

As my age moves along an upward scale I feel a sort of gravitational pull to the poisoned apple grazing all my memories, so much so that my daughter has begun to think I belong there among the poppies.  I mix metaphors, speak in obscure phrases that mean little, do little to increase my station.  The thoughts that are so obviously mine bore me so much that I slouch, sniff the candle with the word "fire"on it's box, roll my eyes at the pictures on the wall.

There is nothing to see here.  Please step aside.  It's time to go home.