|Me and my family in Papago Park in 1969, I'm guessing.|
I started reading "The Glass Castle" at my daughter's behest. She thought it would remind me of my own upbringing, and while my childhood up until I was 10 was very unconventional, it wasn't nearly as crazy or as dangerous as Jeannette Walls'. In honor of reading that book, and the fact that I'm still celebrating my 10th year of blogging, I am reposting something I wrote about 8 years ago.
Okay, I'm just going to post this fiction-y-er-ish thing. Most of the events happened, but I was too young to remember them, so I made myself and my brother older in this and sometimes used accounts of what other people told me, and sometimes remembered bits and then just made shit up. Hopefully, you won't find it too long to read during lunch and your breaks at work. Here it is:
Tonight is a big deal. My dad keeps telling us, “Kids, remember this. This is a very big deal.” My brother rolls his eyes and walks into his room. I stay in the living room so I can be where everyone else is. I’m afraid to miss it. It is a very big deal.
My mom has set up the card table so she can put all the food she made on it. My grandma and my Uncle Jack and my Aunt Lynn are coming over. My Aunt Lynn is divorced and everyone says it in a whisper like it’s secret and we can’t say it around her because it might make her feel bad. Her daughter is a year older than my brother. She will never play with me. After they get here, my cousin goes off with my brother and they shoot things with their slingshots. I don’t even try to tag along because I know they will start shooting at me.
My mom touches or winks at me every time she comes out of the kitchen with potato salad, or Jell-o or bread or devilled eggs. My dad likes very dark bread and brown mustard, so we always have to have it, but my mom doesn’t make me eat it or I’ll throw up. He also eats peanuts in the shell and all of our ashtrays are full of empty shells. There’s almost no room for cigarettes or ashes.
Once the whole family arrives, my dad and my Uncle Jack talk about politics and everyone tries to get them to change the subject because they don’t agree. There is so much cigarette smoke everywhere that my eyes burn.
Nobody is walking on the moon yet. They are all just watching the news, which I’m not allowed to watch because when they have the war on the news, I get scared. I once heard a ticking clock and thought it was a bomb and ran out of my parent’s room screaming. So, I’m not allowed to watch the news.
I finally get so bored, that I go into my bedroom and play with my wedding paper dolls. There is a bride and a groom and you can change their outfits for the wedding and later for the honeymoon. I hear a thunk. I know that my brother and my cousin have hit my window with a rock. I think I might tell on them, but the grown-ups are loud and drinking beer and I don’t like the way they act.
My mother comes in my room to wake me up. I fell asleep and now the groom’s tuxedo wedding outfit is stuck to my face. She picks me up and carries me into the living room. I sit on her lap to watch the man walk on the moon. Everyone is quiet and serious, but I watch my dad instead of the guy on the screen because I’ve never seen him like that before. He is staring like he usually does, but this time he seems happy – like he’s far away from our cramped and smoky living room.