What do I remember?
Geez, what a heavy question to throw at someone. I can hardly remember what I had today for breakfast, let alone attempt to grasp at wisps of memories from years prior. But even as I’m typing this paper, I’m contradicting myself, as the memories, both good and bad, come flooding right back in, almost as if I had just experienced them yesterday. It’s quite funny how memories work; they can be triggered and activated in ways you would never expect. All it takes is one look at my pencil, and I immediately begin to delve into my mind, back to my days in elementary school, when I didn’t have a care in the world…
All of a sudden, I’m back in Buzz Aldrin Elementary, stuck in my awkward, ham-fisted, and quite porky first-grader body. I’m playing Cowboys and Indians with my equally awkward friend Tristan, his lanky arms and misshapen head swinging wildly as he attempts to belch out his best war cry. I, being the cowboy, grab my worn-out Paper-Mate pencil and hold it as a gun, pretending to take pot shots at the dastardly and savage Indian I now saw in place of Tristan. At this point, I was no longer a pathetic and weak first-grader, but a brave and stoic hero ready to lay down frontier justice on anyone audacious enough to dare cross my cattle or me. For a few fleeting seconds, I felt like a real badass a la the Man with no Name (Clint Eastwood, just how do you manage to embody so much manliness and testosterone?). Unfortunately, my lofty daydreams came crashing down when Ms. M.—lovingly called “The Witch” by our class—came to ruin our fun. She came in, furious; snatching the pencil from my hand and giving the meanest stink-eye I had ever seen. She began to then give me her most long-winded speech on “responsibility” and “proper attitude”, but at this point, my puny first-grader brain was no longer paying attention. Instead, my attention was focused elsewhere, on the almost routinely daily fight occurring at the dusty and unkempt kickball field over who gets first pick. At this point, a white light blinds my vision.
CRASH! As I regain my sight and get a bearing of my surroundings, this is the first sound I hear. I’m no longer an elementary student, but instead a 7th grader, wiser and smarter, but not by much. I am welcomed by a sensuous visual of flying books and thrown pillows, the books lying dead and limp on their spines after being tossed and the pillows scattering feathers and month-old dust into the air after being thrown.
“Go to hell!” my sister angrily screams.
“If I do, I’m going to drag you with me!” my mother retorts. At this point, this kind of sight is quite the norm, whether it was due to my sister’s added stress of being a junior, my mom’s frustration over her incompetent and arguably nepotistic boss, or a combination of both. Either way, at this point, the fight about to reach its climax that I was going to witness, whether I wanted to or not.
“Back Reed!” my mother screams. Here we go, when my mom starts to get me involved, you know things are about to get ugly.
“Yes mother?” I reply, trying to mask my indifference.
“Is what Jenny’s done right or wrong?”
“Wrong,” I reply almost immediately. When my mother gets into this kind of mood, she wants and expects only one answer from me. Just guess which one.
“Exactly! She is wrong! So why don’t you go to her and tell her that, because I can’t seem to knock any sense into her.”
“Stop bringing him into this!” my sister shouts. “You always do this every single time!”
“I only do this because you seem incapable of actually listening to me!” my mother shouts louder.
While all of this is going on, I’m meekly staring at the carpet, feeling just as useless and weak as my first-grader self. Nothing I do seems to please my sister or my mother, because when I try to appease both sides, it only gets them angrier. Ambivalence, you will be the downfall of me yet. I thumb around the iPod in my pocket, wishing to be transported back to better times, before all this senseless fighting started and when peace and quiet was actually achievable. The scene fades to black.
When I come to, I’m no longer a 7th grader, but now a 10th grader. I’ve got on my generic Apple-brand headphones on, listening to the calmest and most soothing music I can find. I scroll down to my personal favorite, Modest Mouse, listening to the off-kilter yowls of Isaac Brock and the lo-fi goodness of the unconventionally tuned guitars. I’m currently listening to the purposefully slow and drawn-out song “Dramamine”, whose title and music theme really seems to fit my current state of mind, spaced out and barely conscious. It might be due to the fear and constant fidgeting that disturbed my already anguished sleep, but I think its because I’m trying to keep myself from realizing that I’m actually going to take the AP World exam in about five minutes. As the clock runs down and my fellow grim-faced sophomores enter the examination room, my self-denial no longer works, as I enter into the aux gym with them. Although feeling quite small and insignificant, I think to myself, “What the hell, think about this way, Back Reed” rationalizing to myself, “at least this is the first step towards college. Maybe this isn’t going to be so bad after all. In fact, this is definitely going to go well. This is going to be the first good step towards a long and eventual journey.” I close my eyes, hoping my self-delusions will somehow instill me with confidence.
When I open my eyes, I’m now back to the laptop, once again typing away late into the night (almost 2 A.M.? Gosh, what am I, nocturnal?). As I look back to everything I’ve typed so far, it seems almost unbelievable just how much I could recall from just a few random stimuli both out of and in the memories. I quietly tell myself, “I guess this question wasn’t so hard to answer after all!” Hopefully, it’ll stay that way.