Learning To Love You More




Assignment #14
Write your life story in less than a day.

Detroit, Michigan USA



1978: I'm in line at K-Mart with my mom, desperately wanting the only thing directly in my reach- a pack of pink Bubble Yum. Naturally, she doesn't think cramming 5 pieces of sugar-ridden anything into a 4 year-old's mouth is healthy. I take it anyway. We're standing in the parking lot when she sees me trying to blow bubbles, which only results in my first of many yet-to-come incidents with gum in the hair. I feel guilty when we go back to the store to pay the cashier, but not enough to keep me from awarding myself another free item or two throughout my teenage years.
1979: The family's complete- our newest edition, a baby boy. He looks irritated when I try to pinch his cheeks and he's always swaddled in a yellow blanket. My dolls are a lot easier to play with. There are six of us now- two girls, two boys, my mom and dad. I'm just starting Kindergarten and I sit at an orange table. There's a girl who drives me crazy! We bring 'show and tell' in paper bags so the class can guess what's in there. I like to peek in her bag before class starts and pretend I'm psychic. She loathes me too. She brings in her bag today, stapled and sealed with duct tape. She can't open it and starts crying. We become best friends.
1980: Hudson's downtown Detroit. It's a big day today. I get to carry the shopping bag (all by myself!) that carries my pride and joy- a blue polka-dot dress. "Glory" soon turns to "boredom" soon turns to "chore". My dress ends up somewhere on Level 2 and I wear my sister's hand-me-down for Easter.
1981: We wait in the gym for our teacher to walk us back to class. I'm impatient and nosy, and venture down the hall. I find her sitting in the janitor's room, sipping out of a silver flask. I sneak back to the gym and don't say anything when I catch a whiff of her breath. I don't want her to be mad at me because I've seen her tie a classmate to her chair with a jump rope to keep her quite.
1985: I've been taking ballet classes for years now- completely futile. My breasts are larger than the other girls and they make awkward bulges in my turquoise leotard. I'm lacking all sense of coordination and grace. The others are off practicing their bits before the recital, and I sneak away to read a book. It's about a girl's sexual 'coming of age.' I'll never forget the look on my mom's face when she peeks over my shoulders and sees the words "thrusting himself into her..."
1990: My best friend has left me to attend an art and music school. It's the right move- she's incredibly talented at the cello- but I'm selfish and want her to stay. I just float, trying not to piss off the popular kids, trying not to be too nerdy. I've connected with a few people, but sometimes I eat lunch in the locker room just so I don't have to suffer the humility of publicly eating alone.
1994-1996: I've been wandering recklessly, having a grand time experimenting with the succulent offerings of college life. I've met amazing friends who will forever carry a special place in my heart. There's an intriguing girl that lives across the hall from me- we share coffee in the morning before class. I have to admit that I'm a bit intimidated by her, but who knows? Maybe that feeling is being reciprocated every time she's blinded by the tin-foil that wallpapers my ceiling. Or maybe she just thinks I'm a freak...
She must have gotten over the tin foil- we become inseparable over the next few years.
1996: I'm at a coffee shop a few hours after my parents have left for Paris. There's a phone call for me. I take it and it's the police telling me I should come home- my brother's ill, but he's fine. When I get there, cop cars are everywhere. They ask me if I've heard the news yet and the only thing that runs through my mind is an episode of Seinfeld about a little boy who was abducted.
Have you heard what happened in New York?
There's been an accident...
In New York...
Involving a plane...
In New York...
Your parents were on that plane...
rescue team...there's still a chance they might...we don't know for sure...the list hasn't been released yet...
I watch my keys fall to the floor and half expect them to shatter like glass. My neighbors come by with groceries. I don't think I've eaten and it seems like years, but I'm not sure about anything. I go to my room and pull out my grandmother's icon of Mary and pray to anyone who will listen that they'll find them. There's nothing- just a cold that cuts through my bones like nothing I've felt before. I hop the neighbor's brick wall to escape the reporters that have camped out in front of the house. The police call it their right. I must be confused- I thought it was called loitering.
"I'll miss you so much!" Why is my dad saying that and looking at me like it's the last time he's going to see me? They're only leaving for a few weeks- it's not like it's a lifetime...
The phone rings and it's my mom from the NY airport. She forgot to ask what we wanted her to bring us from Paris. "The plane's leaving now- I have to go! Love you!"
The reporters won't leave. Some asshole from the FBI comes by the house asking if there was anything unusual- "did your parents have any enemies or bad relationships?" What am I supposed to do? Smile? Offer you something to drink and tell you "none that I know of"? Fuck off, you lying piece of shit!!! What about the 100 reports of something flashing towards the plane right before it exploded? Why don't you go ask those people if there was anything unusual going on?
Have I eaten anything yet? Have I slept or showered? Has it been one month, one year, one week?
The bitterness is gone, but I don't suppose it's much easier to tell my life story today than it was when I was two and happily chomping on gum, or than 8 years ago. I've learned that life has a strange way of taking you where you're supposed to be. It breaths on its own, gives what it wants and takes what it needs. Pain and beauty are inseparable. You can't feel one without having known the other. Maybe some day it will all make sense, but for now I'm just gonna keep doing what I do best...riding the waves and living each minute like it's my last.