I am four, standing in the doorway of a pawn broker’s shop at the corner of E.152nd and St. Clair Avenue. My brother is kicking the door frame while my mother throws words over her shoulder. There’s a younger sister in the stroller next to my mother, and another in her belly. My mother is young, younger than I will ever remember.
She’s pawning her wedding ring – again – because we are out of milk and bread – again – .
I am giddy. Standing in front of my refrigerator. Grateful for a life in which my children will never go hungry.
Memories are said to play favorites. The more you think of one thing, the better you’ll remember it. The less you think of another thing, you’re likely to forget.
I rarely visit the past. Maybe I’m trying to forget. But there’s enough snippets left to keep me basking in gratitude for the life I have.
Someone posted this and a flood of memories came rushing back.
Some years ago. I remember a boy in class erased his grades, his parents signed it, and he returned it with grades changed back to the original. The teacher thought embarrassing people in front of class was part of proper punishment. I felt bad for him. He obviously had problems and it seemed she picked on him all the time. His name was Danny, a small, skinny boy with dark hair. In today’s schools, he’d be heavily labeled and receive the help he needed. However, then, it seemed his parents were at a loss as to what to do and the teacher didn’t help the situation by her repeated calls home and repeated screaming at him in the classroom. (The students in class actually did not make fun of Danny. As I recall, most tried to befriend him.)
Many of the people I grew up with didn’t make it to adulthood, others ended up in prison. Gunshots, bombs, and even threats of poisoned darts surrounded us.
I think I recall Danny’s family moving away. I hope Danny survived and went on to do great things.
Memory is rich in writing fodder, all you have to do is mine it, add a few twists, and you have a story people can relate to.
It doesn’t have to be your story. You can finish someone else’s story: Perhaps Danny grew up, got married, had three daughters and is CEO of his own company. He might be one of the original advocates for children with special needs. He’s helped thousands, remembering his own pain and problems in a classroom where the students showed more compassion than the teacher.
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