Dreams Drift Away

Recently I read a writing prompt asking to remember a moment that seemed like a mystery.  My mind drew a complete blank. I was certain that there must be a million mysterious moments through my eyes of a child but I could not recover one. Or maybe that question was too broad and my mind didn’t know what to choose. Well, I got one now.

The sand came in. I know how but I see it laying before me. Three mounds of it. Dad says in his stern, don’t disobey me voice that we are not to play in it.  We listen.  I sense something very special is going on here.

There’s been a lot of talk about us building a house. I’m excited to have a new home. I will be like my friends.

I hear dad has made something called blueprints. I guess we need blueprints. One evening I see dad hovering over a large sheet of paper on the table. He explains to us that this is the blueprints of the house. A bunch of faint lines. It takes a moment for my eyes to register a picture within all these lines. He shows us where the bedrooms would be. Us girls would have to bunk up but that is okay. I see a kitchen, laundry room, and an actual living room. A real one.

These are the actual blueprints.

We are going to have a new house! The sand is in for concrete dad says. He has blueprints made. This is going to happen!

I go to bed dreaming of my new room. I imagine what it will look like when it is done, smooth walls and shiny windows. Maybe we can even have our own dresser and I won’t have to share. Right now I only have a drawer. One single drawer and my friends have whole dressers.

The next day us girls surface with excitement. Mom on the other hand is tense. Angry maybe? She’s been wanting this I’m sure of it. It seems as though she starts the fight’s with my dad about it. I don’t understand.

Us girls decide to stay away from mom. She could snap any second and that means screaming. We go outside to play.

The sand mounds sit there. We don’t touch them. Us kids do nothing but nothing happens. The sand sits day after day untouched. Soon the wind takes away the lines that separated the sand mounds. Nothing is said and we don’t dare ask. We sense the tension. We know our new home is not coming. I told all my friends and now I don’t know what to tell them. I feel like I lied.

I’m not sure when we started playing in sandhill. The next year perhaps? It became our sand hill and quite frankly we had a lot of fun in it. I don’t know how we survived so long without it.

Years later my friends would ask what happened. They have faint memories of us going to build a house. My memory of it is vague, like an event that blew past me that I was unable to catch. I hum trying to remember for I know this memory of their’s is true.

“Hmm … All I can remember are the three mounds of sand for concrete and blueprints laying on the kitchen table. I don’t know what happened.”

If you can find one moment that left you baffled, please share. It may take some thinking. Thinking is the easy part. Being aware of your thoughts is tricky. The mind has a way of getting carried away and keeping you out. Remember it is your mind. You are boss.

Thank you Sunstone Creations for the photos!

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Running Away

I woke up this morning and realized that I had mentioned in a weekend post that I would post a bit of me switching between an adult point of view and my child’s voice and here it is, Friday, and I still have not done it.

I feel I really got to more out of my child’s voice, revisiting the memory as a child.  It isn’t always easy to do but I believe it is well worth it if you can.

Adult Perspective

Once I ran away. I don’t know why I was so angry. I do remember I was wearing a white shirt, rain boots and was marching down the road. I don’t think I had any pants on – only panties.  Something about me being in panties was part of what made me mad and leave.

I looked back once and saw my family laughing at me from the doorway. I was about five years old. I was heartbroken and very upset.  Seeing them still laughing at me as I was running away, not caring about me leaving at all, still wrapped up in their humour, only upset me more.

Oh, they knew I wouldn’t get far. And I didn’t. I only went to Mike’s. That was as far as we were permitted to go at that age. Which is just halfway down the block.

I sat on the sidewalk.  I sat there for a while wondering in my five-year-old mind what I was going to do. Probably worrying about my toys and other things I left behind more than food and shelter.

I eventually went back home. Probably after five minutes which felt longer in my youth. I went to the yard not the house.  The plan was to play until someone came out and stumble upon me, and start playing with me. Easing my way back into the family.

Child’s Perspective

I am mad. They won’t listen to me. They just laugh at me. I am leaving. I don’t have time to pack up anything. I just have to go now. I grab my rubber boots and head out the door. I yelled to them “I am running away!” They laugh more.

They don’t even care that I’m leaving. Once on the road I look back, I want to see their faces now that they see I am actually doing it. I am leaving.When I look back they are still laughing. They stand at the door and laugh hysterically at me.

I walk and walk and walk. I sit down on the sidewalk in front of Mike’s house. I don’t know what to do. So many thoughts come into my mind. I know I would miss my toys. Who would feed Trixie. They need me for things around the house. Who would sweep the floor? I better go back.

I can’t believe they laughed at me.

I walk over to the swings. I swing a time or two then walked behind the house and started digging in the garden starting a fairytale story. One with adventure.  Then I head down the path to the trailer using the clothesline as some line to help me rescue someone.

Melinda and Eleanor come out. I tell them what I am playing and we run off into the bushes to continue the game.

Heart of the Story

I step onto the trail. The snow has blown in and erased my path with drifts.  I know the path well.  Looking ahead of me I can tell which tree branch I usually duck under and which one always hits my arm.  I will recreate my trail.

As I leave the treed in area and head into the open prairie my foot steps hit resistance.  The snow is like creme brulee – a hard crusty surface with soft snow underneath.  I know this snow.  This is snow-fort snow.

It is a perfect day.  A warm wind, blue sky and the sun delights to see its reflection in the million glistening stars it creates in the snow around me. I plop down and begin cutting out blocks for a snow fort.

I am in a bit of a trance.  When I realize what I instinctively just did I feel a little silly. But hey, I cut some more blocks anyway remembering all the snow forts my friends and I use to make. I should include them in my story somewhere but wonder how to write about them.  Then I remember something else…

I turn the corner from the back alley to the street. I feel like I am gliding home.  Lynn is with me.  It is daylight and most likely afterschool.  As we turn the corner I see my house and then dad, with his snow scoop, shoveling snow.  He walks along the drive way filling his scoop with snow and then piles it up against the house.

I can remember the first time I asked dad why he piled snow up against the house.  I was small, maybe five years old.  He told me he did it to help insulate the house.  The snow piled up against the walls would keep us warmer.

“Like an igloo?” I asked.

“Yes, kind of like that.”  he said.

I remember thinking my dad was really smart for knowing that.  But now, in this second, as I turn the corner I don’t know if I feel proud or embarrassed about my uniqueness. None of my friends pile snow up along the outside walls of their houses.

I see Lynn’s expression and I wish we could be like everyone else. I don’t know what the small smile she wears means.  I don’t ask.  All I know is this is not the first time we have done something weird around her.  We are forever doing something my friends have never seen before.  She will still be my friend in the morning. Somehow this knowledge feels only half full, incomplete, not enough.

I stop cutting blocks of snow and just sit there.  My chest feels full.  Feelings of pride mixed in with shame surround me.  I gotta get back to the house and write this one down before I forget it or lose its passion.

In search for a meaning or plot to my story I wonder if my antagonist is my community, society in general, that tells me what I have isn’t enough.  I had no idea as a child that I was poor and without until society told me I was poor.  It was like I had no idea what that word even meant.

I may have found my theme:)

The Day Is Mine!

Here is something I wrote strictly from the point of view of me as a child.  It is funny how some memories come to me this way and others are so matter of fact as an adult’s perspective.

I’m the first one up. It is a sunny day. My sisters are laying so still. I crawl out of the double bed I share with Melinda gently and quietly.  Gladys doesn’t budge on the top bunk and Eleanor still lies on the cot by the window with her arm hanging out of bed.

I tiptoed to the kitchen where I hear dishes and pots moving and clanging. Mom is busy.

“Good morning”, I say. Dad has already gone to work. We don’t see him much during the summer. He’s gone before we ever get up and when he comes home we are often in bed.

Sometimes when we know he’s coming home for supper we hang out on the road watching and waiting to see his car. When we do see it turn the corner at the end of our crescent we run down the road as fast as we can and pretend we are hitchhikers for dad to pick us up.

Maybe we can do that tonight.  Right now I eat cornflakes and mom tells me my clothes are out on the line. I’ll be the first one outside!

As soon as I finish eating I head outside.  I open the door and then cower to protect my eyes.  Our house is so dark compared to the bright sun. Once adjusted I dash to towards the clothes line in my nightgown. The close line is at the back of the yard. I crossover the gravel driveway to get to the grassy path.

I am so tough that I can walk on these rocks and I am only six years old! They don’t hurt my feet at all.  I am going to be even tougher when I am bigger!

I think I am the first one up in the whole neighbourhood!  The first to breathe in this morning air.  I don’t hear a sound anywhere around me.

I dance, playing with the dew. It wants to make me as wet as possible so I try tiptoeing and jumping to get to my clothes. I’m giggling because the dew is winning.

It is tickling me with its cold wet fingers.  As I jump and dance not only are my feet wet so are my legs. I grab my sundress off the line careful not to break the clothes pins. Then I run back to the house. Hopefully the dew won’t catch me if I run fast.

I get inside and change in the kitchen so I won’t wake my sisters. I slip on my sundress ignoring my wet legs. Throwing my nightdress on a chair I dash outside barefoot. The newness of the day is mine.

What is the Point?

“Seeing yourself as the protagonist of your life, you look for your responsibility in the story your life makes, rather than seeing it as having “happened to you.”  For women, especially, this can be a radical shift in perception.”

Your Life as Story by Tristine Rainer

I can’t lie.  After writing full steam last week I thought I would have a glimpse of what my memoir’s deeper meaning would be.  I was hopeful and looking for a clue or two.  Nothing.  So far it is just writing.  Rambling writing.  Or free-writing.  That sounds more positive doesn’t it.

I remember something Anne Lamott wrote in her book Bird by Bird, something about hoping you don’t die before you get to re-write the draft.  That is where I am at.  It is awful.  Although we are always our own worst critic but it is suppose to be awful.  I know I want the finish product to have more meaning.  Like Sunlight, this book, is just a bunch of random memories and thoughts.  I didn’t know what Sunlight would be until two months after I had written it.  I guess I need to get in a little deeper to find out what treasure is here.  I am standing on the shore hoping to see Atlantis deep underwater.

This lack of seeing the end picture stunts my writing.  I wonder where it is all going.  I lay in bed and think about my past to see what sort of memory comes up or maybe I reflect on a writing prompt I read the night before to get me going.  I lay there and as soon as a memory pops up I write it.  About a half hour in my brain starts to wake up and be aware of what I am doing.  It starts to get critical, wondering what the point is to me remembering about childhood toys in the big scheme of things.  Then my writing slows down until I am just done.  My writing-self has been silently discouraged by my brain that it has walked off the stage.

I feel lost and the fact that I don’t just trust the process of remembering bugs the shit out of me.  “Just relax,” I tell myself.  “Things will work out.  They always do.”  My brain does not listen.  It says nasty things to me. Then I can feel that writer leaving.  This voice must be tamed.

That is my task this week.  To take control of that voice that discourages the writer.  The one that closes the door on my memories with nasty comments.  …..

Actually I don’t  like what I just said about taking control of that voice.  Both voices have benefits.  There is just a time and place for each.  They need to learn to mind their manners.  Sometimes the writer voice comes up when I just can’t deal with all its chattering too.  I need my logical mind at the moment and then it decides to start talking to me when we had our special time that morning.

Now, I must get writing.  I must not let the brain discourage the writer.  I will keep writing and see where the stories lead.  Like bread crumbs.  Write and then see if I can see the picture when I am done.  Or maybe I will see it along the way.  I don’t know.  I need to trust the process.  The point of the story will come.  It is in there.  My message will reveal itself.