Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Editorial note:

I have gone to the very back reaches of my archives and labelled everything. I wasn't very organized, and I may redo it again sometime with more generic labels....but, it would be a good time for anyone who wanted to click on the little labels and see where they lead you.

Have fun!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I remember getting hit in the back of the head....

The lockers at our school came in two rows, and the locker for my junior high years was in the bottom row. One day I was crouching down to get the books for my next class in the near empty hallway. Two boys from my class came running by, and one of them swung his Adidas gym bag, full of gear, into the back of my head as they passed. I was pushed by the force of the blow right into my locker.

If this was a scene on a TV show, there would be a laugh-track. I'm sure it looked kind of funny. I did not laugh, but pushed myself out of my locker and sighed. Another meaningless violence against me. I grabbed my books and continued on to class. I think I was lectured for arriving late.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I remember not wanting to walk into class...

Junior High. An awkward age for many, but especially awkward for me, as I was one year younger than everyone in my class. I thought it was very cruel for puberty to leave me alone for so long; while all the girls in my class were developing breasts, I was still a little girl.

I would get off the bus, go to my locker and put my coat in, grab my books, then walk to the door of my classroom and hesitate. I'd steel myself, then walk in. Every day my classmate, Terry, would sneer at me from under his long bangs and say loudly, "Jesus F***in' Christ, Rempel, are you ever ugly."

Every day.

There is no response to this. You can't argue it, you can't agree, you can't ignore it. It's a losing situation no matter how you look at it. Somehow his statement always made everyone else laugh. You'd think they would have got tired of the same announcement day after day.

I was 11. I thought I was ugly.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I remember playing in the car....

Before you start clucking your tongue, this was something I was allowed to do. I wasn't a little kid, for goodness' sake. I was 11 or 12!

It was a sunny day and I was playing by myself. I was sitting in the driver's seat of the '68 Comet, pretending to be a grown-up, all cool and suave. I rested my right wrist on the steering wheel lazily, then rolled down the window and nodded nonchalantly at the people I was pretending to drive by. Oh, they were impressed with my driving skills! I glanced at the radio and pushed a few buttons, looking for imaginary rock and roll music.

At this point, I remember my eye landing on the cigarette lighter. All of a sudden I could look at nothing else. There it sat, woefully unused except for the few times Dad had showed me how it would pop out when it was hot. I found myself wondering how it worked. I pushed it in. I waited. It popped, and I pulled it out and looked at the glowing red circles. How could this light a cigarette? There wasn't even any flame. I did the next thing that popped into my mind. I touched it.

Wow! I burned myself a new set of fingerprints, and fast! First I dropped the lighter. Then I looked around quickly to see if anyone had noticed my stupidity. Nope, still alone. Then I stuck the lighter back in its place and sucked my finger.

This is how I have learned many of the important lessons in my life. There seems to be an inability to accept anybody else's word for anything. It means I have hurt myself many times, burned myself many new sets of fingerprints...but I know what I know, and nobody can tell me any different.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I remember begging my friend, Carolyn, to come rollerskating....

I was 16, and I loved rollerskating, and I loved rollerskating with Carolyn. She would laugh at all my jokes, and hers were even funnier than mine! Once a week all summer long, an outfit rolled into town and turned the unused hockey arena into a roller-skating rink, complete with music and skate rentals. We were there every week without fail.

The last week of skating approached. School had already started, and the next week they would begin turning the cement floor into ice again for the hockey season. I called Carolyn and asked if she was coming. "My parents aren't home and I'm babysitting my little brother and sister. I can't come."

"But, Carolyn! It's the last skate of the year!! You HAVE to come! Couldn't you drive in and bring your sister and brother?" I whined. This was a terrible thing for me to ask her to do. Her parents were very strict, and I was sure they hadn't given her any kind of permission to do something so brash...but I really wanted to enjoy the last evening of skating with her.

"I'll see what I can do."

That is the last time I ever spoke to her. I arrived at the skate, laced up, and began racing around the arena, keeping one eye on the entrance, but she never showed up. I figured common sense must have prevailed, but I was disappointed she hadn't found a way to come. I skated alone until the very last note of the very last song.

Later that night, I got a phone call. Carolyn had been driving into town for roller skating with her little brother and sister in the back seat. She lost control going around a gravel corner and crashed the car, killing herself and her sister and severely injuring her little brother.

You can see that I felt responsible for this. How could I not? I begged her to come, I put the idea of driving into her mind, I urged her to sneak out of the house while her parents were away with her siblings...

There was a huge memorial at school. I was asked to give a short talk of my memories of her. I visited her parents. They were Japanese, and I saw for the first time a shrine to the dead, pictures of Carolyn and her sister on a table with beads and little items of hers and symbols in red and gold that I was unfamiliar with. There was a candle burning, I think. It seemed very sad and beautiful. I attended her funeral in a big temple, with robed priests banging gongs as we sat silently.

I walked alone through this whole time as one walks through a dark fog. I told no one of how I had cajoled her that evening.