the sacred: yesterday it was a bird in the late afternoon heat, on the side of the road, wings flapping, raging, raging against the dying of the light. i passed it in my car and turned around, but in those few seconds, it was gone. this morning, magnolia blossoms on the street, crushed and scattered.
i think it was the sound of music. i was a kid and it was the movie to see, but we were poor and it was too expensive, and i guess i felt left out from the seeing. i don't remember - i just remember my guilt, even though it wasn't on purpose, not really. (see? even still, i try to excuse my childself.) i'd found an ad in the paper - the movie was showing at a drive in theater, a dollar per person and look! i said to my father - the sound of music! one dollar! and he said well, a dollar, we can do that - and i remember the light of the room, the newspaper on the floor next to me, and i remember knowing he thought i'd meant a dollar per car, not per person, and i remember my guilt beginning, but i kept silent and selfish - and he piled the whole family, 3 kids, 2 parents, into the car and off we went. i guess i really wanted to see the movie, but all i remember is pulling up to the ticket booth, and my father's embarrassment when he discovered it was too much money. the look he and my mother exchanged. i remember staring away from them, my face against the window, knowing we didn't have the money to spare. i remember the bright light surrounding the booth, the dark night beyond.
i don't know if we saw the film or not. i remember my father turning the car around, driving past the ticket booth, making a turn and heading home, but i also remember seeing him shell out money he couldn't afford, money which meant a bill didn't get paid or someone went without a few lunches. maybe he did turn the car around, maybe he changed his mind and we went back, maybe we cried and whined and he decided 5 bucks was worth less grief. maybe i have memories mixed together - maybe we went another night. i don't remember the movie at all.
i wear my father's embarrassment to this day.
i could have asked him - after i was grown, i could've apologized, said i'm sorry, but i never did, and now both my parents are gone, and i have no one to make me feel better. it brings me to tears every time i think about it. i am crying while typing these words. i want absolution from my sin, and it is too late. i want him to know i knew and i did it anyway, i want him to know that i hated being poor, but i want him to know that i understand he hated it more. i want him to tell me it's okay. it wasn't okay, but i want that anyway. i am still a child in all those feelings, but a child grown up who knows how much it cost him.
i dreamed i should tell you this. i dreamed i should let it out of its box, this small piece of my childhood. i dreamed it must be written.
"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
~ Ernest Hemingway
maybe this is why we write. to give our small stories somewhere else to live.