First Attempts in memoir: Juggling themes

My Goal for this piece is to juggle fragments. Or, to weave threads that eventually come together in the end. I plunge in using “I remember” as the beginning of every sentence and then (hopefully) by use of syntax, try to delay as much detail as possible to leave the punch at the end of the line or paragraph. Not always done gracefully, but I hope I succeeded somewhat. The piece as a whole tries to reflect what the syntax is doing as well. I want to tell you what it is about just so you van be the judge of whether it fails or not. This is a juggling of memories related to Isolation, Abuse, Silence, Eating Disorders and Grace in little flashes. they are muddled together and appear often in random ways. I hope it gives that impression at first and then builds and connects back. I warn you, I wanted to be shameless. Quit reading whenever you want or feel uncomfortable. You won’t find anything less than raw in this piece. I’m not apologizing. Just warning you.

With all sincerity, do handstands until your heart breaks,

Paul

 

I remember things I don’t want to remember.

 

I remember thinking Alaska was an Island. On maps, they always had it offset in its own box just like Hawaii. I thought that until High School.

 

I remember Bazooka Joe. And Bubble Tape. And Slinky’s. Pogs and Yo-Yo’s and Slurpees and sneaking extra cans of soda every day.

 

I remember El Nino and watching the flooded gutters billow with debris. I wanted to be a leaf. Every rainy day. And float down the gutter like it was the Amazon and end up in the ocean where my Dad told me the drains spit up the waste.

 

I remember practicing my homerun swing in our front yard against a tree trunk until the bark stretched and opened and died and the tree looked marked with leprosy.

 

I remember reading in the closet. The coats phantom friends gathered around me while I whispered sentence after sentence illuminated by the narrow beam of a flashlight like it was my secret.

 

I remember boiling sausage wrapped in paper towels in the microwave.

 

I remember I played a lot of games by myself. Like card houses and forts and hide and go seek.

 

I remember my dad’s dad was a teacher and my mom’s dad, we called him Grampy, was a plastic surgeon.

 

I remember eating shredded cheese straight from the bag with my head titled back like I was taking a shot of aerosol whipped cream topping.

 

I remember being scared of dogs, spiders, and Aunt Jenny.

 

I remember watching Internet videos at my neighbor’s house. There was one where I said I thought the girl was licking her ice cream cone too fast and my neighbor laughed at me.

 

I remember cold days on the playground. I would curl up in my shirt, head below my collar and arms pulled through my sleeves and sit silent and limbless on the woodchips until the bell rang.

 

I remember my mom used to fry cuts of cheddar cheese.

 

I remember Christmas in Texas and seeing frost on the ground for the first time. I thought it was snow.

 

I remember being afraid to swim in the deep end.

 

I remember things I won’t tell. Things that make me a monster. And they’re true. Just like the rest is true.

 

I remember the Hot-Wheel tracks were more for spankings than they were for racing our cars on.

 

I remember at recess grinding woodchips on the concrete until they were warm with friction. Then I would rub them on my cheek.

 

I remember my mom telling me that when I was a baby I loved being held. If she put me down I would cry and wouldn’t stop until she held me again. She would rock me and vacuum at the same time.

 

I remember Carly Volmer. Her black hair. Straight bangs and bow-tied pigtails. She was my first kiss. We were five.

 

I remember Mr. Durbin. He taught Sunday school and I never made it through a lesson without having to talk to him about my behavior. His wagging finger would almost touch the tip of my nose while he stooped to yell at me and then he made me sit in the corner, which was fine because I was alone.

 

I remember craft paper Jesus with the felt back. And how long it takes to forget what he looks like.

 

I remember left field. The greener grass and that what I thought were delicate flowers growing out of the curled patches of coarse grass were actually weeds. And during night games you could catch a flash of bat wings crossing through the moonbeam. And Nobody could hear you talking to yourself and you couldn’t hear them yelling at you, you only had to listen for the bell of the bat striking the ball before you could go back to fiddling with the flowers with your cleats.

 

I remember my dad taught me how to make scrambles. He used a fork to spin the globby milk-egg mixture into yellow sideways whirlpools. I could never get the hang of it. Instead, I used the eggbeater because I thought it was fun to do it really fast. Until Junior High School. Then I just fried my eggs.

 

I remember the pictures I found on Grampy’s desk of all the naked girls. A few were of my cousin.

 

I remember the only pocketsize book I can remember. It showed pictures of the alphabet in sign language and I tried to teach myself.

 

I remember thinking if everything was “non-fat” I could as much of it as I wanted.

 

I remember getting made fun of because I was too scared to use curse words.

 

I remember being teased for being fat.

 

I remember a boy who was older than me punched me in the neck because I said “oh my word” instead of “oh my God.” I think I cried.

 

I remember the first time I bought a double extra large hoodie.

 

I remember when I finally understood what porn was. I started getting my Thrifty’s ice cream in a cup, even though waffle cones used to be my favorite.

 

I remember my punching bag. I liked the way dry blood dulled the shiny leather.

 

I remember football practice and coming home and not showering and stuffing three hot dog buns full of cheese and melting them in the microwave until the bread was dry. The hot dogs would scream and sweat and get fat and their skin would stretch and then rupture. I’d add a few knife pats of mayonnaise and in four hours eat dinner when my mom and dad came home.

 

I remember the clods of dirt I used pick apart with my nails, like they were the carcasses of baked chicken leftover from dinner. I’d rip them out of the dry holes that mangled the wasted space we called our backyard and sit in the brown corner and wait for hummingbirds.

 

I remember after several years of not seeing Grampy he walked through our front door and gave me a hug. I wouldn’t of minded if he tugged my cheeks and said, “my how you’ve grown.” But he grabbed big fistfuls of what mom called my love handles and told me I’d grown by saying I ought to lose weight.

 

I remember hating swimming because boys had to take their shirts off.

 

I remember thinking I invented the crawlspace, hiding behind my bed because I couldn’t fit underneath like the dog. I’d hold his paw and close my eyes and smell the carpet. I never wanted our dog to see me cry. But when he did he knew what not to say.

 

I remember that Sheryl only worked a half-graveyard shift on weekdays because she needed to drop her kids at school early before racing to another job. I hoped getting to know her would make her believe I was normal. We only had time to talk about her kids and work; Burger King is fast food, even if you order five cheeseburgers and a milkshake.

 

I remember how scared I got in the half hour it took for pizzas to arrive. I didn’t want my little sister to come home before I hid them in my room.

 

I remember wondering what people could actually hear on the other side of the bathroom walls, even though I turned the faucets and shower on and flushed the toilet all the time.

 

I remember forgetting what it was like to be hungry.

 

I remember Dr. Henslin.

 

I remember Dr. Cindy Deversa.

 

I remember Dr. Harvey.

 

I remember the office smells of the doctors whose names I don’t remember.

 

I remember there was a girl who would always squeeze my sides when I hugged her. I remembered being scared of hugging after that. And then not wanting to be touched.

 

I remember watching re-runs of Home Improvement when I never fell asleep.

 

I remember I weighed my food.

 

I remember I prayed before I ate.

 

I remember I meditated about getting better.

 

I remember I was too fat.

 

I remember I was too skinny.

 

I remember sitting in the brown corner of our backyard and breathing through my mouth because I hated the smell of buried vomit.

 

I remember I was skinny enough to kiss. And skinny enough to finally see a girl naked. But I was afraid to be naked back. So I got scared and said no.

 

I remember biking to school. And sprinting during snack. And lifting weights during lunch. And going to the gym before wrestling practice. And after practice too. Everyday. And the school gave me an award my senior year and I never put any of the patches on my Letterman’s jacket.

 

I remember people told me I inspired them to lose weight. That made me feel like shit. Like I was lying to honest people.

 

I remember food chunks don’t go down the shower drain and also they clog toilets.

 

I remember finally being naked with a girl. I think we were both about the same amount of scared. And I said yes.

 

I remember the seam of light from under the doorcrack stretching across the carpet.

 

I remember gardening with my grandpa and talking about books.

 

I remember walking and reading and teaching myself to avoid trash cans and cracks in the sidewalk.

 

I remember seeing Kung-Fu Panda in the theater’s and not smiling once.

 

I remember when the laughter came back.

 

I remember seeing Kung-Fu Panda in theater’s and ruining the movie for the little kids by laughing too loud.

 

I remember every midnight with Oreos and Peanut butter and sentences ending in “that’s what she said” even when my sister knew she wasn’t making any sense.

 

I remember every time I remembered having sex it made my stomach whimper. Like when I thought about those pictures. Or remembered those videos.

 

I remember the bird feeders that ornamented the branches at grandmas. The dull fire of dusk would throw green and blue and red hues, shiny like wet skin into my eyes for a moment quick as a pulse, screaming at my heart to steal the moment of a single flutter and flash of the hummingbirds wingbeat and to burn it forever like a scar into the geography of my veins.

 

I remember feeling the chasm between joy and happiness. Happiness can never smile at the dark or join in the laughter of sorrows tears. Joy can. Because it’s hope incarnate. It is only by living a life expectant that sorrow is even possible. Joy is always the spark.

 

I remember when I decided I loved the rain. It was after I first sat with her until she couldn’t cry anymore. She dabbed away the tears with her sweater and when I found her stare her eyes winked a myriad of unimaginable green flecks that danced through the thin residue of baptism still lingering on the surface of her irises. There is nothing comparable to the sparkle after the storm.

I welcome your criticism

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