Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I remember my first shoplifting experience.

I was about 8 or 9 years old, and we lived in a very small town with a very conservative Bible School. This very conservative Bible School had a book store full of books, Bibles, cards, and every other thing that you can think of that can have a Bible verse stamped on it. This particular day I was drawn to the rotating display of Chick tracts. I loved comics, and these little gospel tracts were all in comic book form, and just exactly the right size to slip into my pocket. Mom was busy talking to the saleslady, and I knew I didn't have 7 I put it in my pocket. It was easy.

As I followed Mom out of the store, the cash register at the door loomed over me like a judge pointing an accusing finger...but I made it by, cool as a cucumber. I kept the tract in my bedroom under my pillow for awhile, but I felt so darn guilty every time I read it that I couldn't enjoy it! I thought if maybe I gave it to an unsaved friend that the good would even out the guilt and I could go back to normal. (Thankfully, I resisted that urge...Have you read Chick tracts? Yikes!!)

In the end, I saved my pennies and went to the book store and quietly left the change on the counter, no explanation, no apology...just a quiet righting of the wrong.

Friday, November 18, 2005

I remember a bus driver treating me like a human.

This is a tough one for me, because the memory itself is in patches, as if it were a picture sewn on a quilt, but parts of the fabric have frayed, and I don't remember my motivation or how I got into the mental state I was in.....but I digress. I'll try and start the story from the beginning. No, not the beginning...but as close to the beginning as I can.

I'm in Vancouver. I am on the sidewalk outside the Channel 1 Klub, not on the Denman entrance, but around the corner on the side street. I am feeling very angry and frustrated, desparate. I think I may have gone into the Channel 1 to ask my friend for some money, and been told to piss off...and I needed the money, I'm sure. But whatever the reason, I am feeling so hopeless that I begin to bang my forehead against the wall of the building. Bang it, over and over, as hard as I can. I think I am trying to knock myself unconscious so I won't have to feel like such a loser.

"Stop that! What are you doing?" I look up, and it's a city bus driver who I'm on "Hi, how are ya" basis with. He must have been on his break, looked over and seen my scene. He proceeds to talk to me for about five minutes, not a lot of time. Hardly any time at all. But in those few minutes I begin to feel like a human again, like someone with enough dignity to not mutilate their forehead in public.

I can see why, as I look back into my brain for this memory, I have remembered the parts I have. The reason for my despair was unimportant. The almost anonymous man who was perhaps an angel....I will never forget.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I remember husking corn on sunny September afternoons.

My mother grew a huge garden, really truly huge...the canning and freezing of produce kept our family of six in vegetables all winter long. This meant a lot of work for us kids, a lot of weeding all summer long, a lot of picking of peas and carrots and raspberries and tomatoes and beans and......well, you get the picture. The day we husked corn, though...that was maybe my favourite day.

Dad and my older sisters would be picking corn all morning, and my little sister and I would cart it in our little red wagon to a sunny spot beside the house and dump it in a mountainous pile, then head back to the garden for another load. Once all the corn was picked, then we started husking.

Can you smell the warm sun heating the pile of corn so it smells like golden bread? Can you see the pale green and yellow as we strip ear after unashamed ear naked of their husks? To me the whole memory is infused with slanted September sunlight, gilding every kernel of corn, every strand of silk, every bug hiding in the husks with harvest gold. We would make wigs of the silk, we would make dolls of the husks, it seemed the whole of the day was filled with play...yet somehow we always made it to the bottom of the pile.

I think I needed this memory to prod me to approach work now as I did do I make it fun for myself? How do I remove the drudgery and replace it with joy?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I remember punching a biker in the face.

I was at the Commodore Ballroom, watching some band or other. At one point I was heading from the amazing, spring-loaded (I'm not kidding, the floor actually kind of bounces when everyone is dancing!) dance floor up one of the short flights of stairs to the second level. In front of me was a very large biker trying to come down the stairs. He was VERY drunk; in fact, he could hardly stand, and his gang of "brothers" were trying to maneuver him down the five or six steps. The large, drunk biker and I were all of a sudden blocking each other's path.

I wish you could see his face. It's like his eyes were open, but he was actually somewhere far away...and then he resurfaced for a moment, and there, right in front of his bleary eyes, was my chest. He looked like a little boy who just opened a present on Christmas morning, and he reached out his hand and grabbed my left breast. I didn't even think. I just popped him one as hard as I could, right in the face. His expression changed, still a little boy, but this time caught with his hand in the cookie was almost funny. He mumbled something about "sorry"...and then I became aware of all his biker buddies who were holding him up.

I realized at that moment that maybe punching someone so big and with so many big friends wasn't the most intelligent thing to do. Thankfully, after the brief pause of silence, that moment where the situation could turn in any way it pleased--they all started laughing and congratulating me. "Way to go, sister!" "That'll teach him to keep his hands to himself!! Harr har harr!!" "Did you see her?" etc. as they began again to move the big hulk unsteadily towards the dance floor, and probably the exit.

And I fully understood, perhaps for the first time, how that old cliche "sigh of relief" actually feels.