Snapshot I: Polly
The mother of my two best friends was perfect, flabby woman body wearing Hanes white t-shirts and straight leg jeans like a strong man with too much estrogen. I watched her go into labor, shunted into a room with Addie and Ruthie, and we jumped on the futon with bright smiles. I wondered what her baby would be, boy or girl, strong or weak. Would it follow in her short-legged footsteps, raising a slew of dirty mouthed, long brown haired children who ate too many lucky charms? She could put a diaper on a running child, my mother claimed, and I wondered how it came to be that she tended the sick and the dying if her passion was children. Maybe it was her passion to live that gave her children, naked and tanned and screaming of joy. She didn't wipe our Popsicle stained mouths or tell us to take off our shoes in the house. She let us watch Oprah with fistfuls of greasy Potato Stix. She let us live.
Snapshot II: Bunkbeds
The bunkbeds were shiny patent leather red, hard metal. My brother slept on top; throwing Calvin & Hobbes comics down to the floor while I slept with the lights on, moon beaming through the window. The beds were rickety and I always wondered if I would have the top fall as my brother jumped to save me and my heart was crushed, still beating, in a trap of ribs.
I pushed him once and he fell, face crumpling as he fell, round face crumpling to shocked tears as blood began to spill from his hairline to his striped pajamas and I would have sworn at the stupid metal frame if I had known any swears.
FUCK, SHIT, GOD DAMN. I could have scrawled on the cardboard that laid across the slats underneath the beds, I could have smashed the light bulb and scattered thin pieces of glass under the sheets so no one could sleep there again.
Instead, we drove to the hospital, he got 12 stitches, and we slept there again.
Snapshot III: Religion
I'm Jewish but I wanted the Christianity more. My favorite church was in East Gloucester, old and built of stone with brand new wooden doors. I walked in wearing something pretty, hummed when the songs said Jesus, whispered amen with what I thought was seven year old guile and I watched as Addie and Ruthie paraded down the aisle, shiny white dresses made like a Cinderella Barbie doll and they ate the wafer like an anorexic girl going on a binge.
The roof stretched far overhead, medieval arches and cold stained glass windows with saints I had never heard of. My father, wearing a button down shirt for the first time in a while, my mother, reluctant to support anything not-Jewish. I inhaled and smelled what I thought was beauty, would later search and search for in my temple, that rusty ancient smell like an old fireplace, or a child's favorite blanket. I held the hymnbook with reverent fingers, staring at the "thee"s and "thou"s with desperate longing, wiggling my toes and imagining what the soft carpet would feel like, the airbrushed twirl of a diamond studded communion dress, the sweet taste of the cardboard wafer.
Why wasn't temple old and beautiful with dusty books and flower words that seemed to scream TRUTH louder than the chiming organ that warmed me with it's cleverly put together music. I smiled prettily and tried not to let my jealousy show. After all, it's a sin, and no one ever taught me how to say a Hail Mary or twirl a rosary around my fingers, they only demonstrated how to say funny letters with even funnier sounds.
Snapshot IV: Love
Danny Aloisio was in love with me and that was all. I was smart and pretty and a tomboy but Danny Aloisio was in love with me. Some girls would say I wasn't good enough, didn't dress like a teenager or wear a bra, but later Brianna Giovanni would admit that she wished she could be me, because Danny Aloisio was in love with me. The other boys saw me as an interruptance, because I had clumsy hands and no baseball hat tan, but Danny Aloisio was in love with me, and that was all.