Tuesday, November 02, 2004


There are things that haunt me out of the depths of my memories -- those memories being a construct that is, itself, a highly convoluted thing that shifts and changes and resembles, mostly, the soft and imperfect gauze that exists just beyond the edge of reason. And lately I can't help but notice that I've been entrenched in an evocative onslaught of the past. Maybe because I don't have much else to do but wonder about the nature of things--all past, all present, all future. Who knows.

What is apparent is that lately I've been visited by visions from the past forms of myself as realistically as if they were lunch I'd just burped up and could, even now, identify all the mustard and mayonnaise and onion parts that constituted that meal because, folks, let me tell you, that's usually what I'm eating for lunch. That and some bread. And cheese. And maybe bacon.

But, this past. It's come to me in the smell of breakfast frying at my grandparents' house in North Carolina, and at that one time I exited the station wagon at middle school, tardy because of a doctor's appointment, and my mother cupped my head with her hand and said, "You're so pretty," and I believed her; I really did. It's come to me by the 5:30 a.m. ticking of the living room clock and by the cold, dark, Alabama bus stops -- a cold that you could smell, really smell, within the heavy grease and plastic atmosphere of the old busses, themselves, -- and by the awkwardness of the high school in the first light of morning, all of us quarantined within the barred gates just before the heavy glass doors opened for the school day, our groups not so much interest contained as I would have liked them to be.

It's come to me in small and vivid flashbacks -- playing with the neighbor boy before I realized that a certain sexual self-realization was going to make me feel too awkward to even look at him, my first ever date at fourteen with the boy whom I loved silently and furtively and unrequitedly for the next three years, that time period in college, between the second semester of my junior year and that magical summer, when I felt absolutely and utterly charmed and bold and beloved and confounded by the utter futility of it all -- how I knew it could not last. All of these memories, have been bubbling up from the consistent murkiness of my memory -- an onslaught of truth bent by nostalgia and the natural mutation the human brain will make of its past.

And, so there. I have been remembering things lately, things I would normally have kept unconsciously buried, unstirred. But there is one thing I remember that breaks my heart:

They were awkward and young, the two of them, and they were all wrong -- poor and with frizzy hair and dandruff and nothing smelling good about them or seeming normal at all. And I was in elementary school and completely uninterested in drawing attention to myself -- especially of the negative sort -- by doing anything more than noticing them and feeling sorry for them. They were picked up at the end of my bus route every morning, in a part of town that was a dirty washed white and crumbling at the edges and slowly being digested by the incessant onslaught of the kudzu, which was everywhere. You know what I mean.

And then one day their mother died, walking to her job at the mill. Walking because she didn't have a car to drive there, or maybe she had a car but it wasn't working or she was walking for some other reason like maybe an uncle had borrowed it or something. Nevertheless, she was walking to her job, and she was hit by a car and killed. She had a new baby, in addition to the other two. I never saw those boys again. I can't imagine that their lives have been good.

One time in kindergarten I befriended an awkward and unpopular boy who had curly red hair the color of Cheetos. All the girls in my class made fun of me, called him my retard boyfriend. I didn't play with him any more after that.

This election has left me heartbroken.


Blogger Audra said...

Memories from college keep coming back to me. But only the bad ones. Isn't it weird how you remember the most random things? Also I am very heartbroken by the election. That's all I have to say about that. Good writing!!

5:13 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

Isn't it weird how memories shapes our lives and who we are as people, but we always tend to ignore and disregard them to protect ourselves? It's so difficult to move on in life and become the adults we are supposed to be when we all have issues and baggage from our past. I know this mood that you are in Kate. It's definitely okay to think about things sometimes. Our lives move so fast that if we don't force ourselves to remember some things, they will be forever lost and lessons can't be learned. It's just difficult to look at the broad spectrum of life when we are used to living day-to-day.

11:10 AM  
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