Memoir: March 2007
3:43am...Can't sleep. My mind is racing at 100 miles an hour and my body is dragging far, far behind it. Why can't they keep an even pace together, I wonder.
"Firsts"...first day of school, first loves, 'first time', first baby, first horse, first divorce, first published story, first spell, first period, first car, first time the light dawns-- ah, I'm in love, first miscarriage, first promise, first friend, first dog, first cat.
First day of school-- early 1960s, a brick one-room country schoolhouse out in the middle of nowhere on the South Dakota prairie. Wooden floors and two walls of black boards and a very young teacher who looked like she just stepped out of a Sears/Roebuck catalogue. The "library"-- a wooden bookcase with a glass front door (which I own now). Rows of wooden desks, polished and shiny and with "ink wells" on their tops! The teacher makes a robin's egg blue play-doh and watches over me as she does a history lesson with a girl who has flaxen hair and incredibly soft green eyes and a bewitching lisp.
At recess the girls go into the shelter belt behind the school and use large tumble weeds to make a "fort" in the trees. Everyone crouching down behind the schoolhouse on the north side in the wind to listen at the air duct while the teacher is having a "good talk" with one of the bad boys. A hairless, fragile, tiny baby mouse found in the school yard, pink and vulnerable and blind, it will die.
That "bad boy" with the red crew cut and the eyes so brown they're black, his anger worn like a large chip on his shoulder. The "older girls", mothering me, taking me in their lap, leading me around by the hand, reading me stories. I'm the only one in my grade until this little boy comes-- blond and cute and sweet and shy, and I don't like him because he has infringed on my territory and he curls the pages of his reading book and he smells like sweet rolls.
The teacher sprinkles this strange yellow powder over the shiny wooden floor and then uses a dust mop to sweep it all up, and the floor is even shinier. Fat crayons-- Ha!-- color inside the lines with fat crayons! Who can do that?