I remember as a kid my mom got us all these story books. They came with audio cassettes of the story as well so you could read along while the cassette played. I don’t know why she got them, I don’t know where she got them, but I remember spending a lot of time with them. I would set up all my little toy cars and play drive-in. Turn the page. Listen to the audio. Turn the page.
They were older stories that, for the most part, I either had never heard before or were very different from versions that I had. There was the girl who’s brothers were turned into birds and she had to make shirts out of flax to turn them back. I think Rumpelstiltskin was there as well. As was the guy who made soup from a stone. Snow White, Rose Red, Briar Rose, Rapunzel. They were often quite dark, much closer to the original source material I’ve come to understand. Still, I liked them, and I would sit and listen to them for hours. They were warm to me. Comforting.
And then we left everything.
It’s hard learning from a young age never to trust anything or anyone because you never know when it will all just go away for no apparent reason. You never let yourself get close or attached. It’ll hurt just that much more when…
Jesus Christ! I never really had a childhood, did I. All the moving, running, hiding, homelessness. But you learn to bury it. Compartmentalize. Some of it even felt fun to me. Like when we were living in that abandoned duplex. It was almost like camping, at least I told myself. You had to slog through the garbage in the kitchen to get to the back bedroom where we had a mattress on the floor. The neighbor ran an extension cord to us so that we could have a lamp. There was a broken television in the back yard and me and my younger brother would throw rocks at it trying to break the tube. It was so cold that morning. There was frost on the grass.
Strange how certain memories stick with you when others completely fade away. It’s like your brain is literally trying to hide things from you. It tries to lock onto things that gave you even the tiniest bit of happiness and then amplifies them. I know a lot of terrible things happened to me as a kid. I remember quite a few of them. But I also know that there are a lot that I don’t remember for whatever reason.
When my mother’s boyfriend slashed our bike tires because they were fighting. I remember that one because it was so odd to me. The violence in my mother’s relationships was usually confined to her and whoever. She kept the right to be violent towards us all to herself. That was a strange incident though because it spilled out on us. Not in the usual way either like being sent to call the police in the middle of the night at the payphone around the corner after whoever it was got a little too drunk. Not that any of them were ever sober to begin with. I don’t even remember why he did it. All I remember is yelling and then he pulled out his switchblade, went into our bedroom, and literally cut the tires on all our bikes.
I don’t think it really mattered much anyway as shortly after that we ended up having to leave most everything again. It’s hard to keep the order straight though when you moved so often. That was when we were living in the building with the two trees out front. When my mother and whoever had decided, one Friday, to simply run off to Reno for the weekend and get married. Without telling anyone. Let alone her own children who were in school at the time. I think it was the tire slasher she married.
I’m just rambling at this point.