Puppy love

A first love at the age of nine.

Bronson.

He was Fonzie in a world of Potsies. I was his Pinky Tuscadero with a recurring role.

We really liked Happy Days.

He was sweet, funny and proud of his Italian roots; raised by a loving and gentle single father. He appreciated me for who I was. He was the only one who didn’t make fun of my impossible to pronounce name when I arrived in Virginia.

We were simply in love.

He took me on my first date, at the age of ten. Valentine’s Day dinner at Uno’s with his father and girlfriend. He arrived early in the day to give me my gift.

A ruby ring, my birthstone. Set in gold and way to big for my fingers. I don’t know if it was real or not, but it doesn’t matter. Never has, never will. It came in a velvet ring box and the gem shined like crystallized blood in the light; deep and dark. I remember my heart catching in my throat as we sat on my bed while I gingerly took the wrapping off, our parents watching with smiling faces from the door way. My face flushed with embarrassment at what I would have liked to have been a private moment. It was a bittersweet moment, we knew his time in our little world was running out. By the summer, he’d be gone. But we sat on the bed as I whispered words of gratitude to him.

After several moments that, in my memory, stretch out longer than a lifetime, his father collected him up to get ready for our date. When he returned to pick me up later that night, the ring was secured around my finger with sizers to insure it wouldn’t fall off. 13 years later, however, I’ve no idea what happened to it, lost in one move or another. I still will look through drawers from time to time when I go to my parents house, positive I would know it when I see it.

A reminder of the boy who taught  me what love is.Prompt: A memory of the color red without using the word “red”

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I remember

I couldn’t tell you the the day, the month or even the year; in a place where the fourth of July closely resembles Christmas Day, time begins to blur into a mass of endless sun. I don’t remember how old I was or if it was a school season or summer break.

I do remember the hot Hawaiian sun beating down, fiercely, on my neck and legs.

I remember the sound of the palm trees swaying in the breeze.

I remember a pink bathing suit.

I remember the chill of the water dancing from the sprinkler as I ran through it.

I remember being taller than I actually was, a vision of myself I once longed for. Tall and thin for my age, but I know that’s a false memory. I was, in every which way, tiny.

I remember a palm tree to my right when facing the house. I remember the outline of mountains behind it. I remember being afraid the dogs would get out of the fence, and run down the hill and get attacked by  a mongoose.

I remember laughing and jumping and screaming…

I remember pain. Sudden, severe pain shooting throughout my head.

I remember crying and running into the house.

I remember my mom looking at my ear…

I remember her saying it was time to change out of the suit and no more swimming or playing for a few days as she turned the hose off.

I remember an ear infection.

Prompt: Inspired by a hose

Waiting

Waiting for your…
Call I’m sick, call I’m angry
Call I’m desperate for your voice…

The car stereo sings softly as I wait in the emptying parking lot of the Best Buy where I work. The glow of the dashboard illuminate my face as I sit patiently, watching my friends and co-workers filter out in their blue, yellow and white shirts. They smile and wave to me as they pass by, sometimes stopping by the window to invite me to join a small group of them for drinks and burgers at someone’s house.

Nah, it’s late and I’m going home soon, I was just enjoying some last minute peace.

They don’t argue. They smile and say “maybe next time.”

Maybe indeed, but probably not. Social settings give me anxiety and sweaty palms, so I wave goodbye to them and promise to consider it next time.

The parking lot empties until there is only a scattering of cars. Two or three in the vast space, I’m beginning to look increasingly oddly placed. Finally, the last two employees walk out as I begin to grow weary of waiting any longer and debate leaving.

He spots me and walks up to my car before I can change gears to get away. Immediately, I regret waiting so long.

There is nothing spectacular about him. He’s 30 to my 19, shorter than me by an inch and kind of mean to me. To this day, I don’t know why I waited. But I did.

“Wanna go get coffee?” he asks. He tries twice to get me to enjoy it, but I don’t. I never drink coffee again. He takes me to see movies I’ve mentioned I wanted to see, we go to Border’s on our days off and sit in the cafe reading. In the afternoons, we head out to eat something before saying goodbye. He 30 to my 19. He’s also married.

This passes without incident for two months. I get tired of hearing his complaints about his wife. I get tired of feeling like a little child when we’re together. He gets fired for sexual harassment, but we continue these meetings for another 2 months.

Chris starts working while my life is consumed by men I can’t stand. A boy I just broke up with won’t leave me alone; my ex who I gave a second chance after he joined the Marines, which turned out to be another mistake; and him. After he is fired, Chris and I begin to talk more. More flirting. More laughing. Just more.

I turn 20 and he insists on seeing me. I go, knowing I’m wasting my time, it’ll be the same thing it always is. I get frustrated. I leave. A week later he calls me, expecting me to want to see him. I have plans, I tell him, and it’s true. I don’t talk to him again. He calls and texts me for days afterwords, proclaiming love and desire to be with me. They go unanswered.

December of 2008, a year and a half later, I’m noticeably pregnant while Christmas shopping with my husband when I see him, walking behind us into a store. Our eyes connect for a brief moment before his dart down to my expanding stomach. He walks away without a word.

Stripped and polished
I am new, I am fresh
I am feeling so ambitious
You and me, flesh to flesh

Two more years pass, the car stereo sings softly as I sit in a crowded parking lot waiting. Two babes too impatient to wait any longer scream in the back seat as the Spring sun begins it’s descent into the horizon. I watch as people filter out of the store and make their way to their cars. I debate gathering up the kids and taking them inside to stop the crying, but he sees me before I can turn off the ignition. He loads the bags into the back before joining me in the front. We start to discuss meal plans for the week as he puts the car in drive and we head home.

He is nothing spectacular. He’s 4 months younger than me, several inches taller, and can sometimes have a mean streak. But he is mine and I’ll always wait for him.

Prompt: A sound or smell that takes us back
Mine is the song “Your call” by Secondhand Serenade

The stronger one

You forgive too easily…

His words, dripping with absolute bitterness and anger, cut me deep. Sixteen-years-old, blossoming from a girl into a young woman, I was unaware that this was a bad thing. Is it?

Yes, you’re naive. You’ll believe any promise thrown at you.

He didn’t mean to sound so mean. He was hurt, we were both betrayed by the same person. My boyfriend. His best friend. We sat under the midnight moon, exchanging words of resentment and hurt, and I forgave his cruelty with the knowledge that this wasn’t truly my dear friend. It was a man who finally found someone he cared about, only to have her hurt him.

We were in it together, the outsiders, the forsaken. Laughing stocks of our little fish pond where news of the cheating bastards spread like a wild fire.

He thought I left him in a lurch when I forgave my boyfriend and came to him that night with the intention on urging him to move forward.

This was my role in life. The one who forgives. The one who extends the hand of friendship over and over again, only to have it spit in. The one who finds it easier to hold a grudge, so I push myself to forgive. Everyone deserves a second chance, and so I give those who need one that chance. Sometimes that gets abused into three or four chances. In the case with this boyfriend, it was a total of two and a half years worth of chances.

There are few people in  my life that I don’t have the strength to forgive. People who have a pack-like mentality and picked me as their target. Those people I keep at arms length, privy to how they play these games in life, expectant of the changing tide when it’s convenient to them. Perhaps I’ll forgive some of them one day, but truthfully, I’m happier since I haven’t. It makes it easier to keep them out of my life as much as possible, and when encounters are unavoidable, easier to keep my guard up.

On this particular night, seven long years ago, I pressured my friend to forgive the trespasses taken against him. If not so it makes Monday easier, but because it’s something they didn’t deserve, therefor making him the better person.

He listened, he forgave his friend, but not the girl. They became closer, he and I drifted apart when the friend and I broke up. It’s been five years since then, and he’s cut me out of his life. Attempts made to connect again have gone ignored; his actions slice through me like knives.

But it’s okay, I forgive him. And let it go.

Dessert

I grew up on them; the memory of my first taste pushed into the far reaches of childhood memory, long forgotten.

I watch my mom as she inspects each red berry, dripping with water from being rinsed, for bruises and soft spots. Her hands work with an ease I’ll never have grasped as she quickly slices off the leafy green tops, followed by halving and quartering them.

The sweet smell of the juice fills my nostrils as she dumps the slices into a bowl of sugar. I’d much rather just eat them without the sugar ruining the slight tangy flavor the freshness of the fruit produces, but I don’t complain as she picks up another berry to inspect and prepare.

My small hands find their way into the bowl as I pick up a piece and pop it into my mouth before she can see me. But she does, she always does.

“Wait until I’m finished, otherwise we won’t have enough,” she tells me without looking up from her chore.

My fingers reach in one more time before running to the dining room to rejoin the rest of my family. My mom comes in shortly after with the bowl and piles of individual shortcakes to pile the strawberries on top. I opt for just of a bowl full, too many distractions of flavor already taking away from their true taste.

I can eat them until I get sick, and often am the one to finish off the remaining stragglers. I grow up enjoying buckets of the fruit at every chance.

***

Next week I’ll prepare a cake. Chocolate with strawberry icing on top. Then I’ll pick up each red berry, inspect it, half it and quarter it to place on top. My daughter will be two and it’s one of her favorite treats. Maybe this will be her first memory of one of her favorite fruits. Maybe she will tell it to her daughter.

Prompt: Favorite fruit or veggie

The purple room

Fresh paint.

Fresh purple paint.

Fresh purple paint with dinosaur decals decorating the border of the wall.

We’ve just moved to Virginia and are in a temporary house until we get properly placed according to my father’s rank.

It’s the first room I’ve ever had that’s just mine. My sister is back in Hawaii, my oldest brother joined the Marine Corps, the other two share a room down the hall.

As I walk towards it, I inhale the fresh purple paint; my favorite childhood color, the smell that defines my childhood memories.

It’s a small-ish room, compared to what would become my bedroom later on, but to my small nine-year-old self, it is glorious.

A black bunk bed hoovering over top a little space for studying and playing. A white desk with a lap and a dictionary, on the other side bookshelves with a stereo and several books. A small desk chair that was bought just for me. The cold metal burns my hand as I climb the ladder to my bed.

A little TV in-between two windows set on top a little box. A bean bag chair is placed in front of it for comfort purposes. The TV would stay on at night, for comfort. The late night cartoons playing on and on, I grew to know the classic characters my parents grew up on.

Across from the bed is the closet that would scare me on one of the first nights there. A moth would fly out of it at me as I stared at the purple paint.

We get to that house by July, and by August we’re gone, into a new house on the other side of base. A month in my purple room, but a month that would never leave me. A space created for me to learn and grow in my purple room.

That house, like the house that we went to from there, and the house where I spent my teenage years is gone. Brought down to rubble to create new houses for new families. I have nothing left of that house except for memories of a month in my purple room.
Brought to you by the Red Dress Club’s memoir prompt: A room from your past.

Moments

The room is covered in darkness, save for the passing headlights peeking in through the curtains. The only noise to be heard is the sound of the ceiling fan swirling the air around us. Awake in bed, wondering what woke me so suddenly and early. I close my eyes to concentrate and listen.

It doesn’t take long for the morning squeals to begin again. High-pitched babble ring out into the early morning hours, as Kinley pulls the blankets around him as he wiggles around to wake me up.

Soft, little hands touch my face in the darkness and I can hear the smile on his face as he giggles at me. I can smell the sweetness of my milk on his breath as he brings his face close to mine and covers my cheeks and nose in warm, wet kisses.

He is saying good morning while I am still saying a few more minutes.

A moment of complete peace interrupted by my son.

A moment of complete peace interpreted differently by my son.

Moments of once quiet, now filled with the beginnings of language.

Moments of stillness, now filled with the eager tossing and turning of a restless child.

The sun still sits, awake in another part of the world, but quiet in ours as I make my way out of bed, careful not to wake Chris.

I reach out to take Kinley with me and he buries himself into my hold.

A moment of complete peace created for my son.

A moment of complete peace created by my son.

 

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