I started this as part of an exercise at the workshop I went to a couple of weeks ago (the one that resulted in the pineapple poem). I don’t know that it qualifies as a poem anymore, but here it is…
I remember the big store in Tucson where my parents bought me the pale blue Tonka truck; it was all very bright.
I remember zooming down Brighton Street, getting my bicycle up to 35 mph on the speedometer, then getting in trouble because I wasn’t supposed to ride my bike down to the end of the street when I had friends over.
I remember my friend Troy trying to ride my bicycle without using his hands, even though I told him not to. I don’t remember seeing him fall and break his collarbone. I know I didn’t go to his house again after that.
I remember when Stuart Meredith fell off the railing he was playing on, and how the school put up protective chain-link fencing a couple of weeks later, ruining it for the rest of us.
I remember when we played softball on the lower playground during PE, and the teacher didn’t want Todd to climb over the fence to retrieve the foul ball, even though it was his backyard on the other side.
I remember going to Amy Johnson’s neighbor’s backyard to retrieve the ball, then trying to kick it back over the fence— and missing, resulting in a huge bruise that left me limping for a few weeks, and prompting the school nurse to ask me if everything was all right at home.
I remember my seventh-birthday party at Amy Johnson’s house (we had the same birthday), when I suddenly decided that I should feel sad. I don’t know what prompted that, but I have yet to figure out how to get back to the way I was before.
I remember the other kids giving me crap about the music I liked all through school, from The Partridge Family to Elton John to Elvis Costello. One girl even wrote in my ninth-grade yearbook, “It was nice knowing you, even though you have the cruddiest taste in music I’ve ever heard!” Well, I know people who’ve seen Elton John in concert within the last ten years, and Elvis Costello is practically an institution now—so screw you guys.
I remember when I had a crush on this girl named Gretchen in junior high. It’s a good thing I never told her—when I looked her up on Facebook a few years ago, I found that she’d become an intolerant conservative Republican.
I remember the stupid excuses I used to come up with when my mom asked me why I smelled like cigarette smoke upon coming home in the afternoon. Did I really think that there was any Hungarian dish that smelled like menthol cigarettes?
I remember the ninth-grade kid who always seemed like some sort of bully—but all he wanted from me was to sign this girl’s yearbook for him because he thought I had good handwriting.
I remember when you could buy records at the drugstore or the 7-Eleven. Those were the places where I bought the 45 of Brownsville Station’s “Smoking in the Boy’s [sic] Room” and “The Who Sell Out”.
I remember when I used to save my lunch money so I could buy records instead.
I remember when Skipper’s opened in Columbia City. For about the first month they were open, we used to bike down there every Tuesday for the all-you-can-eat special.
I remember when it cost a quarter to take the bus.
I remember when I would get tired of waiting for the bus, and start walking. By the time the bus arrived, I was already halfway to where I was headed.
I remember when I would sometimes walk home from school instead of taking the bus downtown and back. It was three miles, and included two big hills, but I was home in 45 minutes.
I remember suddenly deciding I wanted a 35 mm camera. My parents paid for a lot of film processing over the next two or three years. And my dad used this as an excuse to buy himself a camera as well…
I remember taking calculus twice in college. The first time, I had no clue what I was doing, and dropped the class after the midterm. The second time, there was a girl in my class…
I remember having my tonsils out at age 22. Kids, don’t have your tonsils out at age 22…
(3 & 16 October 2017)