Thursday, July 03, 2008

The First 15 Years

The longing to tell one’s story and the process of telling is symbolically a gesture of longing to recover the past in such a way that one experiences both a sense of reunion and a sense of release.

-Bell Hooks

I’ve never been truthful. But now, as honestly as I can, I will tell you about a time so long ago that it’s cloaked in myths of my own making. Those days were dense and compact like the clumps of earth left behind by the road scraper that smoothed the clay on the nameless road that led to our house on Pungo Creek. The road has a name now. I found it on Google Earth. It’s named after my grandfather – Grover Cleveland Forman.

If there’d been cameras on Sputnik they might have recorded an awkward, barefooted girl with blonde hair and crooked teeth walking down that road, stomping on those clump of clay. Her neatly trimmed bangs barely touch her eyebrows covering a forehead already creased with worry.

I was only nine. I would have been walking alone. The orbiting camera couldn’t record the questions that marched behind my clear blue eyes. Questions about the plastic case in Mama’s dresser drawer or the gun in the pantry.

I’d only seen the gun fired twice. Once when Daddy got drunk and shot holes in the bottom of Uncle Roswell’s skiff and once when Mama threatened to kill my dog Waggles if he didn’t “stop that damned infernal barking.”



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