School was not as tumultuous as my first day of K-4 might have suggested. Aside from a losing battle with my spelling manual in the first grade, my grades were good and my behavior acceptable. Mom could breathe easy.
Both of my parents worked, and at times we'd finish school before mom would finish work and we'd be left in the care of another; or come home to a tape recording of my mom's voice telling us she'd be home in half an hour, and to begin our homework or chores. During those days we lived in a high-rise apartment building where we'd play with as many kids as we could gather. Cops and robbers, Dukes of Hazard, superheroes, rollerskating, bike riding, and more. We'd play for hours and hours. All of course after our homework and chores...
Do you ever look back in your mind's eye to those years? The late 70's, my earliest memories, are locked in a grainy, hazy yellow film roll. The 80's, a bit different. Almost like a bluish tint hovers in all corners and each scene seems to be in vibrant widescreen. Then there's the 90's. Deliciously 90's, every memory. The foggy whiteness that makes each scene milky and blissful blankets the memory with a memory in and of itself. Like the whole world was opening up and the real techno age was about to break all boundaries.
And here we sit in the 21st century, now looking back at the 2010's decade passing and it all seems to have happened in HDTV. I wonder what film roll it will look like in my mind in about 20 more years. Or what the real techno age will look like then.
But these memories, those early 80's of blue edges and widescreens changed my memory's vision forever. The years were not easy. Dad worked full time, went to school, and somehow managed to put us in private school. He'd not always succeed in making enough money to lavish gifts upon us at Christmas, but there was love a-plenty. I look back at the days of togetherness we had and am astounded at the thought that I could ever focus on the turmoil! Because if there's one thing I see more clearly now through each frame of film, it's that there were two people who loved and adored us kids more than we could know.... until we become parents ourselves.
Our home was a strict one. Rules were not foreign to us, and we managed it fairly well until something finally broke. My brother and I, you see, had been left in the care of a friend of my parents, who then left us in the care of her child. Old enough to be responsible for a 60 minute absence, you would think, but not in reality. We were both badly mistreated. It was our secret. We feared we'd be hurt and punished, or who knows what else goes through a 6 and 7 year-old's mind. Fear can do crazy things to your mind at any age. I don't know how I dealt with it other than just blocking it out, but my brother just got angrier and angrier. I won't tell too much of his side, only as it pertains to me. His story is his to tell and he does a fine job of it. He's definitely the one who inherited my dad's writing talent for sure!
But that leads me to the breaking point. I was 9, my brother 10. He had had enough of the rules. It's almost funny to me now to think of what in the world the rules actually were back then. I mean, we weren't going out on our own yet, so it wasn't about the curfew. Boyfriends and girlfriends? Nope. It was probably just the whole, church, school, no TV but a few select programs, no secular music, no being friends with so-and-so, etc. But to this 10 year old who bottled up his secrets, fears, and frustration, it became too much.
He and dad came to a stand-still one evening.
Dad told him that if he lived in his home, he'd live by his rules.
Fine. That opened the door to options. Leaving.
I think they both thought the other was bluffing. My brother packed a duffel bag with his bb gun and a few supplies and headed toward the door. I remember crying, begging my dad not to let him go. Begging brother to reconsider.
Out the door he went.