Tag Archives: memories

memories of snow

The drifts were as tall as the garage roof, blocking access to the car, keeping us at home. The power line to our house sagged so low under its white blanket that my six year old fingers could touch it on tip-toes. The drifting snow pushed my mother’s favorite dogwood to the ground. It never fully recovered, living it’s life bent over like an old woman.

We busied ourselves digging tunnels and carving out caves in the massive drifts. Bundled in layers of wool, wrapped in scarves and mittens, only our rosied cheeks exposed, we didn’t feel the cold. The world had turned white and the landscape was new and strange and waiting for us to punch holes in its crust with our boots.

Everything is muffled when the world is wrapped in winter. It’s slower, brisker, denser, brighter. It’s made expressly for children to engineer, without interference from adults. Let them worry about work and power lines, this was our world now, and it was full of magic.

Eventually, a plow made it up our driveway, pushing the snow into a hard, white mountain against the woods at the bottom of the hill where the driveway turned sharply right, spilling out into the road. My uncle left a layer of packed snow on the straight portion of the drive for us. We pulled out our sleds, starting at the top of the hill and flew down, past our house, past the garage, banking right in hopes of turning with the bend of the drive to avoid crashing into the mountain of plowed snow.

Our creativity knew no bounds and the grown-ups were wise enough to leave us be. We tied ropes to the handles of the sleds and rode them standing up, using the rope to steer clear of the mountain. We even got the dogs on the sleds thinking they wanted a ride. They soon learned to stay away from us. Our snowmen were magnificent, taller than real men, with borrowed bits of clothing from our parents and found objects from our excavations. The tunnels we carved went all the way to the North Pole where we built igloos and became Eskimos.

I miss the snow.


drawing lessons

I used to be a watcher when I was little. I was very intent about it and almost never smiled. I earned the name, “the old woman” because of it. I could be very still, watching what the larger people in my life did, not really understanding, just taking it all in. When I was outside, I watched the animals and plants as well. Especially the birds. I tried to will them to come to me. I begged them without words, just yearning, but they stayed in the trees. I began climbing trees to get to them, but they took to the sky.

I had one tree I especially liked. It lived in our front yard, set down the hill a bit, away from the house. I knew this tree as well as I knew my own room. I could climb it and perch way up, where the branches swayed with what little weight I had to offer. It was peaceful up there and I was safe from the looks and questions and demands my parents and the others had for me. I was safely content to be up in a tree rather than down there, with the other children, where I always felt I had to defend myself from their prying eyes and loud mouths.

I wouldn’t call my internal world a happy one. No, it was more a feeling one full of sighs and wishes. Looking, watching, examining, figuring things out, longing to be part of the world of feathers, fur, branches and bark. The external world, the world of people pulling and pushing, harshly proclaiming their displeasure at my reluctance to talk to them was simply too loud for me to handle. There was no respect for the boundaries of my world. They just burst into my space anytime they felt like it, even when they could see that it caused a great deal of distress and pain.

All I wanted to do really, was draw everything I saw. So I peered at everything and recorded what I saw on paper. I had to, there was no choice in the matter. It was what I was. It was why I was. And they even used that against me as punishment for being quiet.

My father hated the way I did everything. He even hated the way I ate my food. “Don’t just eat all the peas at once. Take a bite of the peas…now take a bite of the potatoes…now eat some of the meat,” he would bully me as we sat at the table. Every meal was a misery. If I didn’t like the look of a thing, he made me taste it anyway. If I didn’t like what I tasted, I was a fool or a liar or some other name that would send him into a tirade, pushing away from the table with disgust to go sulk in the living room, or possibly out the door to the nearest bar.

So, when I had done some thing, a thing I can’t even remember, but a thing so absolutely awful that only a quiet child of 5 could do, he took away my pencils and my pads of paper. He told me I couldn’t draw for 2 weeks. I drew too much anyway, and I drew all the wrong things the wrong way. So he took the thing I truly needed to survive in the world away.

It hurt. Oh, how my hands hurt! There was nothing I could do to ease the pain — I still remember looking at my hands, holding them close to my belly, trying to ease the tension, the ache of not drawing. Crying in my room, begging my mother as she stood on the other side of the door, “Please, please, I have to draw. My hands hurt.” I think she understood because she smuggled a pad of paper and a pencil to me, through the crack of the door, telling me not to let Dad know. Later, I heard them yelling. Mom telling him how wrong he was, he telling her terrible things about all of us. The fighting went on, building in intensity and cruelty as it always did, until finally, Dad slammed out the door and Mom retreated to the kitchen to cry at the table.

I stayed in my room, listening and drawing, waiting for the sun to come up so I could climb into my tree.


potty emergency

I had to go to the bathroom. But that woman was there, sitting with my mother at the kitchen table. The powder room was just beyond the kitchen, off the laundry room by the back door. This was the room where my mother had installed a sink to wash womens’ hair. You know, the kind of sink where you sit down in front of it and leaning back, ease your neck into the molded support. The women would come to the back door, where my mother took care of them. She washed, cut and set their hair. She had a regular beauty parlor dryer and even a large contraption for them to sit in while she “permed” their hair so that the tight curls she shaped their hair into would last an entire week.

Oh, but I had to go so very bad and the woman was in the kitchen and another was in the laundry room under the dryer. I stood there hoping, squirming, dying for my mother’s attention to get me to the bathroom before I had an accident. Holding my three year old pussy, I tap-danced frantically in the entryway to the kitchen.

“What is the matter with you?” she asked. I couldn’t tell her without the woman hearing.

taptaptap

“Linda, what is wrong with you?”

Oh God, Mom, please…I can’t, I can’t
“Can I go to the bathroom?” I hissed as loud as I could without being heard.

“What? You have to tinkle?”

Oh God oh God yeeessssssss.

“Linda, you do not have to ask. If you have to go, JUST GO!”

And I ran. I ran as fast as I could while holding on as tight as I could. I ran past the woman sitting at the kitchen table and I ran past the woman under the dryer and I ran into the powder room and I sat on the toilet without taking my panties off because that would have been too much too late, and I peed through my panties into the toilet bowl.

And then I had to figure out what to do. My panties were wet, soaked through and I couldn’t leave them on. I pulled on the toilet paper roll, wadded a long length of it up and tried to wipe. Still wet, dripping wet. I had to get them off. I inched my way to the rim of the seat, tucked my thumbs under the elastic waist and tugged and wriggled. Slipping off the seat, I pulled the wet panties down my legs, over my socks and shoes and off, onto the floor. My legs, socks and shoes were now steaked with urine and the panties were puddled on the floor.

I took my shoes off, peeled the little white, ruffled socks off, and stood there, transfixed in the middle of my wet mess. Trapped. I couldn’t leave the powder room without my shoes and socks and panties. The women. My mother. I pulled down more toilet paper and wiped my legs as dry as my three year old hands could manage. I squatted down by my puddle and with the very tips of my fingers, pulled everything tight together, trying to think, trying to figure out how to wrap it all into a small package and hold it tight to my middle. If I could do that, I could possibly shrink myself down and around it all and tip toe as quiet as nothing and skirt through, unseen, past the women, past my mother, then dash up to my room and hide my mess in the darkest corner of my closet.

“Linda!” my mother banged at the door, “What are you doing in there?”

Oh no, please no.

“Open the door, Linda, now, or I’m coming in.”

Please, don’t. Oh please, not now.

The door swung in as I crouched around my wet things. And my mother, loud with concern, assessed the situation and said, “Why didn’t you just go to the bathroom when you had to tinkle?”

The women.


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