I canâ€™t remember happiness. Itâ€™s like thereâ€™s a filter in my mind. I can see it and hear it. But the memories are scattered like dappled sunlight on autumn leaves.Â Itâ€™s all so distant, locked behind gates of obligation, towers of expectation, walls of mistakes made and learned and the shame of those unlearned. Sometimes there are glimpses.
Piercing sunlight through cicada husks on the back fence. Â Riding a pink bike on the driveway with no training wheels. Falling off…wrinkled hands brushing me off. Sitting on Nonnoâ€™s knee and getting a beer moustache. Â Roaring laughter when I tell him I donâ€™t like it and that it looks like wee and trying to imagine why everyone likes drinking it all the time. For breakfast, cornflakes with milk heated on a gas stove and a smiley face of honey in the middle. The canteen lady telling me God loves me and that Iâ€™m a very good girl for returning the extra $2 left in my lunch order. The video shop lady telling me I have the prettiest smile, even though the kids at school always tease me about my buck teeth/glasses and then giving me a plushie because I remind her of her daughter. Pretending to be Little Foot from â€œThe Land Before Timeâ€ while playing with wet star leaves in the playground. Blocking the other soccer team from getting the goal but losing the game anyway. Sitting in soft light next to the antique table, Nanny Ellen sombrely handing me a book.Â A red train is on the cover, on the back a boy with a scar points a stick. My love affair with reading begins….
And then they were gone. People told me they were in ‘a better place’ called heaven and that they were always watching over me, looking down from ‘above’. Naturally I assumed this meant they were living in the clouds. So I started climbing. Mainly trees at first, then I got braver or maybe more reckless. I started climbing buildings… obsessively.
I never saw them though.