This is another installment of a rough draft of a memoir chapter that covers fourth grade.
Mom was going to counseling a lot, or some type of meetings. It was all hush-hush and grown-up talk but I had surmised that much. And that it had something to do with her parents. One day she took me with her.
The therapist was named Diana and she was really friendly. They always were. This was not my first therapy rodeo. I knew all the tricks, how to charm them the way I charmed Mom sometimes by pretending to agree with her, or maybe temporarily really agreeing with her on the way home from that visit to Mrs. Domaracki the day before school.
I knew how to pretend to be good. Talk about bad things other kids do, even if you’re really the one who does them more than anyone else. Use logic. Be interesting. Maybe mention quirky things like the flagrant love you had for the blood red octagons of stop signs as a three-year-old. If they can tell you’re smart, that you read a lot, that you think and feel deeply, they’re less likely to blame you. If you can infuse some Dad into your voice, speak with his bland cheerful optimism about topics like the weather, then maybe they’ll think you’re normal, let you draw pictures or play games. You have to not show all your smarts though, so then you can beat them in Battleship.
Somehow, we got to talking about my obsessive search for secret passages, how I was so convinced I could find one at our house. “Oh, I don’t really think that anymore,” I said, even though I hadn’t given up. I desperately wanted a big mystery to solve, a place to hide. “I think I just read too many Nancy Drew books, or Baby-Sitters Club Mysteries.”
This seemed to make everyone happy with me. “I thought so,” Mom said. Yeah, no shit Sherlock, I wanted to say, stealing a phrase from Erin C. who usually said a lot worse. I knew Mom thought that; that’s why I said it. “There really aren’t any secret passages in our house.”
“Do you understand that?” Diana asked me.
“Of course. It’s not really hard to understand. I think I just really wanted a mystery or something.”
I played my part and everyone agreed. We drove home, Mom and me both proclaiming as we always did, that this was good for me, a fresh start.
The next time I saw Maya, I told her I had a new mystery. “A few nights ago, I was laying in bed and these mysterious lights appeared on the wall above my dresser.” I tried to tell myself this wasn’t a complete lie. Sometimes the way my overhead light and light from my lamp criss-crossed did create weird patterns of intersecting light and shadow. We wrote it down in our notebook of mysteries. Maybe it was aliens, Maya suggested and I wrote that down, too, loving the outer space connection. Maybe it was aliens, I repeated to myself.
Next Segment in this Piece: The Birthday Cracker Wrapper
So this is an excerpt from a chapter from a project I’m working on called Eclipses of Jupiter. It’s in its infancy still, but it’s about growing up with albinism and being legally blind in my crazy family, and all the school and social implications. It’ll also focus on blind camp and related programs when I get into teenage years. This chapter, which will be broken up into installments and posted over the next few weeks, is all about fourth grade, which was a bit of an epic school year.
- The “Truth” About Me – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 1
- Instrument Analysis – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 2
- Mystery Worlds – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 3
- Bathroom Jungle Gym – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 4
- Caught in the Act – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 5
- Light as a Feather – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 6
- Dark Winter Chill – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 7
- Driving Blind Under a Desert Moon
- Dusky Waters, Orcas Island
- Music Takes Me Back – Camp Marcella 1993
- Writing as Time Travel