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Archive for the tag “childhood”

Six Tacos

tacos png

Today, I ate six tacos from Del Taco, and watched a movie that I wished had been about my life.  Also, I considered day drinking, but there was company in the downstairs, and I didn’t want to have to explain to anyone why I was crafting a boilermaker at 2:54 in the afternoon.  The movie was about a child musical prodigy, and his college age summer nanny.

And before you think that thought out loud, no… not because I have a fantasy about that sort of thing… although, hot nanny… but because I wish I had a childhood memory I held dear that didn’t involve loneliness, or being an outcast. The way the boy felt in the movie.

The way I feel now.

Over the previous bunch of months, in both my poetry and my blog posts, I’ve been telling the folks who read me that I was changing my life.  Changing it for the good.  Cutting the ties that held me to the old life…the job and other questionable choices… and I did.  Except, I realize, that the one thing I brought with me in all the changes, that I have not yet changed, is me.

So now, after all the changes, it is time for me to change me.

Changes begin the moment the first one happens, like eating six tacos from Del Taco, or stumbling upon a movie you wished you’d lived, decades before.  There’s a part in the movie where the boy and his nanny talk about past choices… hers… and the possibilities for the future.  And since I’ve already lived my past, it all made me think what those possibilities will be.  And to be truthful, I don’t know what they are yet.  But I know now that they aren’t as far off as I once thought they were.  They are as close as a story I wished I’d lived.  They are as close as six tacos from Del Taco.

They are here. 

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Before the Scream

wall 3 scream

“Fuck”, I screamed into the night.  There are only so many times you can strike a pillow in the dark, without moving on to the headboard. Or the walls beside your bed. Kicking, outward, at the monsters that manifest, when they should have stayed deeply buried, with the voices, in your head.

Childhood is that place where outbursts are born, and hopefully they find their graves there, forever.  But sometimes, if the outbursts are not buried deep enough, they return.  Mine do.  Though not without just cause, and not because their cultivation was unforeseen.  These things can be felt, if you know what you’re feeling for, and I do.  It’s when the irrational overwhelms the rational.  When the past catches up to the present.  And when the angry little boy takes over the body of the man, trying to sleep through frustration he was never made fit to control.

I always wanted to please him, but he never showed me how.  There were no rules, only accidental connections with whatever it was he wanted out of me.  Smiles, as random as they were unexpected.  And severe rebuke when, in retrospect, a calm word would have caused all the tumblers in all the locks to all at once, miraculously, click into place.  He was harsh, not hurtful.  And when an apology was necessary, it came.  If not in a hurry, then just in time.  So it was, in those apologies, that I learned to give them when they were not asked for, and more so when they were.  And to anyone who required it, for the deeds that I had done.

Yet the last remaining anyone to whom I have to give those words of unconditional acquittal, is me.  Right before the scream.

© 2016 William S. Friday

The Next Time

van gough CUT one

My childhood is the nightlight
of my waning years.
My dad died,
on the front porch of my childhood home,
at the age of 68.
His dog at his side.
Only God could tell you what he,
and the dog,
went through in that moment,
together,
like they spent most days of his retirement.
My mom still worked,
so she was not there when it all went down.
His final heart attack,
with Harry,
their next door neighbor,
finding him long after it was too late.
And Jo-Jo,
his little girl,
the Sheltie who kept him company.

Things we learn so late.
The hug.
The smile and nod.
The dismissal of anger
when anger’s escalation feels so much more natural.
And the acceptance of the flaws of history,
in the things that can never change.
Because the past dies before we do,
yet we hold onto it tighter that we do our own departed loves.

Three days before his passing on the porch,
I had my last dismissal,
in a dinner and a game
with the man whose whole existence would shape my own.
Weakened by years and a failing heart,
he was now not the man of my youth,
but merely the container.
A shell of clear glass,
incapable of concealing anything,
especially the truth.
He was almost dead that night,
but in him I saw only life.
We said goodnight,
not in any sort of dramatic understanding of what was to come,
but in the knowing way two people
of the same DNA hug,
then smile and nod,
expecting nothing more than to do it all again,
the next time.

Except the next time never came.

© 2016 William S. Friday

20 Inch Black and White Portable TV

nano BLACK AND WHITE

 

I disappear.

It’s something I have always done, even from my earliest days.  In the late ’60s, when most kids didn’t have a TV, I had one, in my room.  20 inch, black and white, portable TV.  No remote.  I can’t remember the brand anymore, but that’s just one invisible detail in a story about becoming invisible.  With that TV, I watched Japanese monster movies, and re-runs of Gilligan’s Island.  With that TV, I watched local news with anchors nobody remembers.  With that TV, I watched the Dodgers and the Giants.

With that TV, I would disappear.

In the late ‘60s, both my parents worked, and they had plans in place to counteract leaving a child on his own before the age of ten.  My grandmother lived with us, but by the late ‘60s, she was in her early eighties couldn’t keep up, and there wasn’t much she could do to make interesting to a child the things she was interested in. Just like there wasn’t much that a woman born in the waning years of the nineteenth century could understand from a kid growing up in the mid-twentieth.  So, when all the afterschool sports and games were done; after all the neighborhood kids were called inside for the doing of things like homework and family dinners; before my parents would return from work, in the dark; I would retreat to my cluttered room, with the 20 inch, black and white, portable TV.

With that TV, I would disappear.

It became a habit almost impossible to break.  The retreat from loneliness into a different kind of loneliness.  One of my own choosing.  With my stunted social skills, learned well, but honed badly by the lack of brothers and sisters, or hands-on parenting, I was more at home in my room, in front of a 20 inch, black and white, portable TV, as I was in the company of other kids, or their families.  When I tell this story now, to people who think they know me… and I seldom tell it… they have a hard time believing that I’m not a lifelong extrovert.  Only decades of well-rehearsed dealings with folks… of knowing when, in conversation, to press in and look genuinely interested, or when to back off, so as to come across as informally cool… have gifted me with the ability to keep myself from disengaging, yet remaining in a soothing isolation from the crowd.  All of it reminding me of a childhood in which I felt more in control in the shadows of a room lit by a 20 inch, black and white, portable TV.

With that TV, I would always disappear.

And now, because this is a blog post and not a novella, I end with this.

Today I live in the second decade of the twenty-first century, almost fifty years removed from a time when a kid could disappear into the world of a 20 inch, black and white, portable TV.  The second decade of the twenty-first century, where listing the potential distractions for a child of this space and time would take longer to write than it took you to read this.  And it is no great surprise, except to most of my friends who think I could not possibly be anything other than an extrovert, that my retreat is still TV.

But they will always be wrong.  Because I will always have that need.  To fade into the shadows, and hear only the voices of those whose words I can turn on and off at will.  To close the door on the outside world, and let go of things beyond my control.  I miss that 20 inch, black and white, portable TV.

Because with that TV, I would disappear.

 

© Copyright 2015 Bill Friday

Planet Oklahoma

nano PLANET OKLAHOMA

 

I grew up on a moon

orbiting

the planet Oklahoma.

 

© Copyright 2015 Bill Friday

Older and Frailer

frail

 

I avoid thinking about my childhood

Unless someone asks me to tell them

Why I am the way I am

And then I’m forced to

Or I lie

 

And usually

When I talk about the distant past

I spend that time remembering my dad

Whose influence always finds

Its way to the surface

Of my thoughts

The quickest

 

He would yell when he got angry

Mutter when he knew he was wrong

And condemn

When warning me against things

That could lead to harm

 

But as he got older and frailer

With age and a failing heart

He also would

Own up to his yelling

Muttering

Condemning ways and speak

With genuine contrition

 

Until the last night I saw him alive

And I knew that he

Loved me more on that night

Than on any day

Which had preceded it

 

 

© Copyright 2014 Bill Friday

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