(From episode eight)
At my new school, Jr. High School, Oy, I still dream about those halls, the lockers, I was so lost, having last attended a stupid church school with MAYBE, maybe, a hundred kids…maybe.
My new Jr. High had twelve hundred.
The church school was held in a Baptist church in walking distance of our home, walking distance being a mile, two miles. Oh those were the days, serial killers afoot and four hapless children walking alone, together. Having three brothers generally meant any unsavoury business directed our way would have been met with an arsenal of rocks, many, many kung fu moves and quite probably a sling-shot.
Don't cry for me Argentina.
We left nothing behind when we left that school, I spent more days in the hallway for disruptive behaviour than in, where my learning problem or a reaction, I don't know what to call it, began. Able to spell and read voraciously, grammar and math were and are nebulous concepts, out of my grasp. Frustration combined with utter boredom, chapel services, preaching, praying, Jesus this, Jesus that, on a good day after my older brother had tormented me in some fashion, I floated between fantasy and the hope a favoured teacher would read another chapter of Johnny Tremain.
Nothing gained. Nothing lost.
Our old house in Ohio was big with a wide front porch, a decent back yard; the first floor held a small bathroom, sun room, a dining room, a "parlor", the sizeable kitchen with swinging doors (!) and a long entryway leading up two landings. My bedroom overlooked the porch and faced the street, my parents had the same view, the three boys shared a room that overlooked a sunporch and an apple tree that served as a potential escape route and a source of annoyance to our neighbour, when apples regularly appeared strewn in their yard. There was also a big bathroom on that floor and a weird enclosed balcony attached. On the third floor was an enormous fan built into a wall that pushed, or as needed, pulled hot air through the house, and four closets built into the diagonal corners. Eventually I think the 'boys' might have moved to the attic, it being so spacious. Up in that dark panelled room smelling of old wood and heat I recall learning "flying round house", a Kung fu move. And finally, a big stone basement with cool cement floors and an actual root cellar, low ceilinged, lined with shelves for canned goods and fresh produce. We never used it but found its existence amusing. For anything except tornado weather, I hated going to the basement.
The day we viewed our new house in Tennessee, the effusive agent asked me, "what do you think?" It's SOOOO small, I said. The adults sort of laughed, "It's a ranch house, basically".
First floor kitchen, living room, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The basement, built on a hill overlooked the woods, it had one bedroom, a bathroom, an outdoor porch; the whole of it ultimately inhabited by my brothers, also had a door that led to an unfinished portion of untamed earth and darkness, a perfect spot for ghosts and murderers.
To be continued.
*Pema Chödrön, an American nun!
Oh that's the name of the next book I'll be reading, "The Wisdom of No Escape".
And in case you didn't know, if you use an iPhone and the Books app, there are MANY free, FREE, "classics" AND audio books. Free!
Get down on it!
You heard it here first. You are welcome.