You Left Me with a Memory
I put you in a picture frame
hung up on my wall
like I’m hung up on you.
I put you in a purple frame
because purple was our colour,
And as lame as it sounds
I still wear purple 24/7.
You are constantly on my mind,
And I don’t have the guts
To take you off my mind
To take you off my wall
And store you in my closet of forgotten things.
You are gone
I keep you here
I will never feel alone.
But with your picture
I feel even more lonely
The memory of you
Trapped in my cage,
Trapped in my frame,
Of shattered promises
And fractured fantasies.
The real you
is never coming back.
But I still have the old you
hung up on my wall
And I still pass by the purple frame
in my purple clothes
And I still cry
my silly fat tears
Because the reality is:
I’m not ready
to let you go,
Even though I know
You were fine shoving me in your closet of forgotten things.
a hot summer sun
he was an early morning rain:
the kind that makes you sleepy with life,
nostalgic with memories of being caught in the
downpour that crashed down our backs
as we rode our bikes to your mom’s house.
he was a late breakfast brunch:
the ones that make you full for hours
on french toast and strawberries
and settles a soft warmth into your heart
that makes you appreciate the simplicity.
he was a hot summer sun:
the type you hate until you dive into
that cold, leaf-covered pool at his friend’s house.
the type you protect yourself from with sunscreen
until one day you get sunburnt, and you don’t even care.
It is nap time in kindergarten and I am supposed to be asleep and so are all the other kids. We all lay on blankets brought from home, kid size; mine is blue and yellow plaid with tiny tassels that look like worms. One eye open, one eye half closed, all I want to do is lay there and relax while I pick pick pick at a pretend tassel worm I imagine has just sprouted up from the earth, but I can't because the boy next to me, David, keeps saying "psst, psst, psst" over and over, annoying me. I know it is me he is pssting because that is not the only thing he does to annoy me and if he could, I know he would be saying my name out loud and poking me on my shoulder instead of pssting, but he knows he would get in trouble for talking during nap time, so he doesn't.
When our teacher says, "Okay kids, nap time is over, put your blankets back in your cubby," I jump up fast, faster than David, and walk very fast across the room over to my cubby which is on the girls side, no boys allowed, and then right away teacher says, "Okay. Listen up kids. Line up for recess," and I make it to the front of the line first, next to Miss Rose where I know David will not bother me.
As soon as we are outside, all the girls and I run for the jump ropes, but before I get there, David stops me. Not with a grab, but with his whole body, blocking me, and I struggle to get around him when he says, "I really like you Bonnie. Why do you always run away from me? If I give you my lunch quarter will you like me back?" And I have no idea what to say because I don't think it's possible for someone so annoying to like me, so I am very glad to see Virginia right next to me and she speaks first instead of me.
"David," she says, "You don't like Bonnie, you like me! Only me!"
And he does not look at her, he is only looking at me, holding out his quarter, so I take it and Virginia starts crying real hard like a big fat baby and I don't laugh or call her a name, I just reach towards her holding out the quarter, and say, "David is just being silly. He really meant to give this to you," and I keep looking only at her while David stands beside us. Real quick, she stops crying, which I didn't know was possible, and she puts the quarter in her pocket and we go jump rope and then recess is over and we all line up to go back into class. In front of me on the line, I can see David poking Virginia on the shoulder and she smiles and I do too.
Memories before the age of five
I don't remember much before kindergarten. Sadly, that means I don't remember being Daddy's little girl. I don't remember Mommy having time to tuck me in and read me bedtime stories. I don't remember playing any of the games I see in pictures of my bedroom, or the friends in photos of birthday parties or the Christmas trees and abundant gifts immortalized in album after album.
I do, however, have three distinct unphotographed, never discussed, memories before the age of five.
I remember climbing out of my crib after my afternoon nap and finding Mommy painting my new big girl bed. The sun is shining brightly through the living room window on her face and I think she looks like a beautiful princess. I run, throwing myself into her arms, and sigh "Mommy!"
In the next memory, I wake up in the middle of the night. I lay there for a moment, listening to the sounds of the night. I can't fall back to sleep so I get up and go to climb in Mommy and Daddy's bed.
It is empty.
My heart begins to race. I whisper, "Mommy? Daddy?" No one answers. I tiptoe through the living room to the kitchen and bathroom, then back to the living room. I climb on the couch, eyes wide in the dark, and listen to the silence. I hear the distant rumble of the subway. Hurried footfalls echoing down the street. Eventually, I hear a car stop below. Then, I hear voices. I struggle to hear one I know. I hear a laugh. Daddy?
I jump up and run to the window. I climb on a chair. I listen again through the tiny sliver of open window. I hear his laugh again. I scream, "Daddy?"
"Daddy! What are you doing out there! You're supposed to be with me! Come home right now!!"
"I'm coming, baby."
In my last pre-kindergarten memory, I am five and sitting in my Auntie Alva's room where I would sleep with Mommy for six months while she looked for a new home for us. Mommy and Auntie Alva are in the kitchen whispering. I am playing music on my little Donald Duck record player. I am listening to Michael Jackson's song, Ben, and crying as I write Mommy a note (she still carries in her wallet the yellowed paper with my childish writing). I write, "Don't worry, Mommy. I will take care of you. I love you."
The lights were dim and the blinds were closed, casting a grey pallor on my already gray father, lying still under a graying white sheet with a faded “Holy Name Hospital” printed on it in pale green. An impossible number of wires and tubes ran from his nose, mouth, skull, abdomen. A machine wheezed, forcing air into his lungs, and then hissed marking an exhale. Another machine beeped, a green glow signaling a heart beat. The chrome handle on the drawer of the acetate cart had a smudge of rust on it. I studied the monitors, hoping for a clue, any reassurance that he was improving, but they held their secrets.
A shadow passed in front of the door, paused briefly, then moved on. I held Dad’s hand, gently rubbing the paper thin skin and the familiar freckles, and whispered encouraging mantras more for myself than for him. “You’re gonna be fine, Dad. Just squeeze my hand to let me know you can hear me, “ I begged. When I was a little girl, Dad had always squeezed my hand extra hard at the Sign of Peace in Church to try to make me giggle.
Today, he didn’t squeeze at all. In fact, the longest 11 days of my life passed before there was any response.
The House on Birchwood
It doesn't happen much these days but in my childhood, on breezy afternoons in the spring, my grandma would open all the doors and windows and let the Carolina air flow throughout the house. I was free to go in and out at my leisure, so long as I stayed in the yard.
Most of the time, I would stand outside picking crab apples off the tree in the front yard. Some days, I'd just watch bugs crawl in and out of the rotting fruit that'd fallen to the earth. On one particular day, I grew bored of this and walked inside seeking entertainment. As I stepped in, I heard a woman's voice floating down from one of the bedrooms. I walked by the staircase and saw my grandparents' bedroom door wide open, sunlight pouring into the hallway. Music swelled behind the woman's voice as she sang longingly in a language I did not understand. Her vibrato bounced off of the walls and rode the breeze down into my ears. The notes she held were endless, and I stood and listened before going on my way.
My grandparents' love for opera and classical was nothing new. They cared very little for the noise of contemporary artists, and took great joy in easy listening or antiquated musicals. The two were deceptively intellectual and artistically-minded, qualtities I did not fully appreciate until adulthood.
The reason this sticks out is because it is the only moment I can recall in which I took the time to just....be. It was not a concious effort, simply a point in time in which there was no more than an operatic cry, a breeze on my skin and the crsip smell of spring in the air. Sometimes, I go back to this memory and am small child looking up into the hallway. Other times, I am an adult watching myself experience bliss for the very first time.
When asked about a happy place, this is where I go. I came across a passage in a Hermann Hesse novel in which hearing a symphony is described as a transcendent experience that quickly gives way to a dream-like state. When I read this, my brain shifted to that old memory, and I was forced to set the book down and revisit my early glimmers of transcendence.
Papa died five years ago. Grandma is still here. She doesn't hear so well anymore, and so their old records are in the basement collecting dust. She chills easily, and so the windows stay closed, even on temperate days.
I moved back into the house a year ago, and brought a record player of my own. I plugged it up next to Grandma's favorite chair and every once in a while, I put on something I think she'll like. Luckily, she tends to hear the music just fine. And every time she listens, I secretly hope to catch her looking up the stairs into the hallway and catch sunlight pouring from her room.
Weathered wooden timbers
Cradle saints within stained glass
Illumined by Sun’s embers
Waking stories for a mass
“I do”, echoes love’s timbre
Sealing vows with a first kiss
Summer Sunday in September
Making Mrs. out of Miss
Are we there yet?
Sometimes I can’t remember many things
Some days I can’t remember songs to sing
Somethings I can’t remember any time
Some songs I can’t remember any rhymes.
But I remember sandy eyes
And tearful hurts and short goodbyes
Yes I remember losing time
And forgetting how to make things rhyme.
Sometimes I sit and smile at things
Some smiley days I feel like kings
Somethings I smile at never were
Some kings I wish were never there.
But I remember graveyard walks
And words of wisdom, random talks
And I remember giving thanks
And wishing no one needed banks.
Sometimes I can’t remember faces
Some faces I can’t place in places
Some things are always on my mind
Searching hard, but hard to find.
But I remember being young
And fastly furious, being strong
Yes I remember always knowing
Exactly where my life was going.
Are we there yet?
So many people, all there for you...
I always wanted to be like you, you know? Confident, unapologetically you, headstrong, talented, strong, and seen by everyone. People wanted to be around you, wanted to be you.
Nobody's perfect, and it's not like you were, but such a beautiful person outshines their flaws. I mean, there were times I hated you so much I wished you would go far, far, away; but most the times I was just grateful there was someone who stood by me.
I was always so far behind you and no matter how fast I ran I could never catch up. But you weren't trying to get away from me, you were paving the way through a harsh and lonely world.
And now so many people are here to celebrate it, to celebrate you. I don't even know most of them.
Beautiful soul, the one woman calls you. I've never heard someone call you that before, but it fits. A beautiful soul you are.
I follow you out the door, just out of my reach and yet an eternity away. All I want to do is touch you.
And all I want to do as they lower you into the cold, unforgiving ground is say good-bye. But maybe it's the tears or all the people around me, but I can't say it, even in my head because I shouldn't be saying those words, now or ever.
Wrong. This is all wrong. These things happen to other people. They don't happen to us.
We shouldn't be here, you and I. Your fiance shouldn't be dressed in the same outfit she wore last Valentine's with a white rose from the flowers that will watch over you through the night. How ironic that the people who love life so much get so little of it...
The sun shines so brightly that evening and the birds sing so loudly. The world goes on, as though nothing ever happened. And maybe, as time passes, I will finally be able to say good-bye.
But it is not today.
I thought spring break was going to be terrible. I was with my Grandmother and my cousin, I was fifteen and my cousin, Ella, was 14. We were taking a week-long trip down to Panama City Beach, Flordia for spring break.
When we got to the hotel after the long drive, it took a while to get in and to our room. When we got there we were on the top floor, the thirteenth. The hotel room was beautiful with a bar in the open kitchen. A comfy living room with the most amazing view of the ocean and pier I'd ever seen, but there was one problem. The rooms. There were two large rooms and a third smaller one. Ella and I got into a small fight over them but it was solved by us having to share the bigger bed. This bugged me a bit but I was fine with it later on.
The trip was stressful for me. I already have pretty bad anxiety but it was intensified when I felt like I had to be in charge. That I had to make plans, when I didn't. I also (don't come at me) don't like the beach. I don't like sand and the sun hurts me internally. Can you blame me though? I barely go out and now you're throwing me in the direct sunlight... I also have major anxiety with the ocean. So instead I stayed on the balcony happily reading one of my favorite books.
The third day we took a trip down to Destin to see some family that lived there. My great aunts and my cousin Chloe, who was 14. We ate at this cool restaurant and I got sweet tea chicken fingers and honey mustard. I specifically remember that as a joyful memory. We ended up taking Chloe back with us to the hotel and she stayed in that smaller room I mentioned earlier.
The most prominent memory I have of that trip was going on the Panama City Ferris wheel. I don't know if I can explain it completely but ill try. I have always felt empty. Like I couldn't feel happy for too long and I couldn't express it well. It might have to do with the environment I grew up in but at that moment, I knew I would never feel like that again. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, the sunset and the water, and the people below. The peacefulness... It was amazing. I began crying, but not of sadness, of joy. Everything faded out, my cousins and their conversation. Everything. I was only focused on how long I could feel like that...
To this day years later, I have never stopped seeking out things like that. Ferris wheels at fairs. Mountain views. Bridges and balconies. Anything. It changed me. I think about that moment anytime I'm angry or upset... That is the happiest moment I have ever had and probably ever will.