Posts tagged "childhood/family"

All the Forces at Work Here

First thing in the morning Willie Murnion turns his welding rig onto our road and comes raising a rooster tail of dust fast down the gravel and bangs on the screen door with his ham of a fist and announces to my mother that he’ll go ahead and fix the basketball hoop. My mother, in...

Go

We’re sitting on our bikes and staring down the small alleyway made by fenced-in yards backed up to one another, and one of the kids in our groups says, “Go,” and like a pack of dogs we charge the space, pedaling hard and gnashing our teeth. Ahead the path narrows, and what started out as...

Paducah, Kentucky

It’s one of those places weathermen love saying, like Kalamazoo or Tuscaloosa. The name comes from Chief Paduke, a Chickasaw who welcomed the whites when they began arriving in the early nineteenth century. My hometown is situated near the end of the Ohio River’s thousand-mile drift into the Mississippi, and during the steamboat age this...

Call Me Fritz

This is 1986, and I am seven in Seattle, and Miss Erika is French from Canada with a black leotard and a tight bun twisted like a seashell.  Miss Erika is French, and Edgars Kleppers is the only boy in ballet class, but I am still required to play Fritz, the only boy in the...

The Upholsterer’s Wife

I only met her once.  It was summertime, and I was riding with my dad out to the airport. As an amateur pilot, he was required to log a certain number of hours of flight time per year in order to keep his pilot’s license, and we would often take little trips to neighboring Wisconsin...

Story Boy

This is sixth grade.  We’re in that dim little hallway outside the closet-sized room where they sell popsicles during recess.  The big boys are teasing me, but it’s friendly bullying that I don’t mind.  They’re asking me leading questions.  They just want to get me started. Okay, I’m eleven years old, very hormonal, both smart...

Diagnosable

It comes at me through the back of the head, down by where my neck splits off, comes slicing through the skin and bone and ligaments and mixing up all the different colors of matter in my brain so it’s finally all grey stuff that hits the inside part of my face like John Henry’s...

A Stranger at Dusk

Looking out the window of our front room at dusk that chilly day in the spring of my twelfth year, I saw a tall man weaving toward our front door. I was intrigued not only by his peculiar gait but also by the fact I did not recognize the man.  Strangers were rare in the...

White Lies

Arpi, a Lebanese girl who pronounced ask as ax no matter how many times the teacher corrected her, must have been delighted by the arrival of Connie, the new girl in our fifth grade class. Connie was albino, exceptionally white even by the ultra-Caucasian standards of our southern suburb. Only her eyelids had color: mouse-nose...

The Moment

No sound from the kids, not for fifteen minutes. I trust they’re asleep. I get my tiger-striped chenille robe off the back of the bathroom door and put it on over my jeans and flannel shirt. I am that cold. Lately I stand sometimes for a whole half-hour over the floor furnace. Other times I...

The Watch

It dangled like a bracelet from my aunt’s wrist. Shiny gold links clinked softly as she arranged her hair in the mornings, curls teased and then tamed. The watch clanked against an aerosol can of hairspray, dinged against a crystal bottle of perfume that she raised momentarily to her neck. I must have been the...

Spoiled Love

My hands clenching my abdomen, I emerge from the bathroom and drop to my knees at the crossroads. To the right is my husband; to the left, my mother. Some instinct I thought had left me when I married kicks in and I crawl toward my mother, asleep on the spare twin in my son’s...

Devotion

Where I grew up in Queens, New York City, there was a boy living in the house across the street. His name was Sherman. Somewhere, there is a photo of the two of us from the day I turned seven: I am in a yellow dress and a yellow birthday hat, running down the driveway...

Julio At Large

I hadn’t known the girl very well, and rarely gave her much thought before she disappeared the summer between ninth and tenth grade, when my family lived in Buckhannon, West Virginia.  We both had last names that started with the letter “B,” so we frequently had to sit next to each other in classes where...

The Pillory

A replica of a pillory in a replica of a Colonial town.  My right arm into the right hole, my left arm into the left.  My neck went right through the center.  I laughed, not because there was anything remotely funny about being hung up in a cross, but just because it felt good to...

Aftermath

After the skies broke open with a stunning crack about two o’clock in the morning, brilliant flashes of blue flooding the Winnebago like strobe lights; after the rain cut rivulets through the sand, long scratches of some malevolent creature obviously displeased with the earth; after Kennie and his dad had been out on the beach...

Knock, Knock

London Bridge is falling down, Falling down, falling down, London bridge is falling down, My fair lady. He’s been falling asleep a lot lately, I tell my mother over the phone, the receiver cupped under my chin; she is the one who still holds me. He keeps falling asleep on the toilet, I say as...

Crosswords

My mother loved crossword puzzles, spending hours, sometimes, until she managed to work out the answers to clues like “bright colored aquarium fish” and “English composer, Frederick.”  “Danio,” she’d finally fill in, and “Delius,” and for a day or two she’d leave the large Sunday newspaper puzzle face up on the end table by the...