Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Tale of Years, 2: 1981

There's a feeling I still feel today in the Ohio River Valley. It is large and expansive, yet hidden. The hills dip down, the trees reach up. You can be hidden there. Taking in the world, but living unseen and unheard. Later, this feels frustrating. In formative times, it feels like patient safety.

"After the monsoon."

In 1981, I am 2 and my brother is 12.

My mom and dad are 31 and 31.

 Up the road at Ma & Pa's. Pa is a farmer, with a former life as a short-run trucker. He wears button-up plaid shirts with short sleeves, which show off his tattoos (a lady in a bikini; a lady not wearing anything; a heart that says Mother). He wears mesh-backed trucker caps that perch on the top of his head. His glasses are big, but he usually keeps them in a leather case in his shirt-front pocket. He breathes heavy. He smiles slow and talks mean. He calls Ma mother. He is my dad's step-dad.

He keeps trailers of junk and detritus and old mechanics around the farm. Right across the road from the farmhouse, where my brother will later build a house of his own, there are several rusted semi-truck trailers filled with parts. When Pa's tractors or cars or combines break down, he goes into these trailers and puts together a replacement.

Ma & Pa's kitchen table. The head of that table, where Pa always sat. Corn on the cob, held by corn-shaped stickers. Those thick wooden chairs, that thick wooden table, the wooden beams along the top of their living room ceiling. Me and Dave, staying the night at Ma & Pa's, on the floor looking up at those beams in the nighttime dark.

The wooden cabinets of our kitchen. The yellow and brown tile of the kitchen floor, fitting together like an alien mosaic pattern. I cannot hear you, there's a banana in my ear. My dad's red sweatshirt, splattered with paint. The sharp metal edges of the toy car I would drive. No shirts in the summertime.

Sitting on the front porch. Watching the real cars as they drove past, because who is that?

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