Jan 112017

Mom used to tell of how Gran’ma laughed and laughed the first time I made cupcakes with her. I was two. This might have been the time. Gran’ma really loved that I thought I had to lick the cake decorations to make them stick on the cupcakes.

This is the kitchen in the house where I grew up. I don’t have many photos of its interior. I’m so thankful for the ones I do have. Most of the time that I lived here, my parents were married. Between that fact and what I believe is the human tendency for past unpleasantries to fall much more readily from memory than their opposites, I’ve made my childhood home quite an idyll. My mom hung that towel on that drawer. My mom picked that wallpaper.

I was barely ten years old, and Jenny was seven, when Mom and Dad told us they were divorcing (at that very table). It surprised me as much as anything possibly could have. At such an age I certainly had no great insight into human relations, and can I really say anything reliable about the fidelity of my recollections?

But it didn’t seem to me we lived in a household of particular strain. And, though I certainly noted idiosyncrasies in my mother and father as I grew and matured, neither seemed incapable of relationship maintenance and mechanics. Our home fractured and split in early 1982 anyway.

I remember one night gazing at mine and Lea’s children when they were just about the same ages and considering that’s where Jenny and I were when it happened. Even now I tend to measure the timelines occasionally: my 15 years old vs. Nathan’s 15 years old; my two years into having a stepmother vs. Nathan’s…not.

I think we—the four of us—are doing all right. I think Lea and I are providing responsibly for the human beings we chose to make exist—physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. But, as I’ve said before, relativity can be quite seductive.

“Better than my parents” isn’t necessarily good enough.

 Posted by at 1:57 am
Jan 032017

I was born in Decatur, but my family moved to Anniston before I was a year old. So it’s the first home I can remember. I took some time last month to drive around and look. Here are a few through-the-windshield shots of some innocuous-looking locations that are full of memories for me. (Click image for larger.)

This is the first shopping center I can remember. The grocery store used to be Windsor’s, where a personable young man named Roger put up the produce. (Jenny wanted to be Roger for Halloween one year.) It was Golden Springs Pharmacy on the south end. I can’t pull the pharmacist’s name in, but he was a very nice man with a big wave of hair right over his forehead. (Think Donald Trump but with a normal person’s sense of restraint.)

Driving north on Sand Rock Road. There were numerous bike trails straight ahead and to the right when I was young. This is also just about exactly where Brian and I nearly caught the woods on fire one night. We finally got it stomped out, and I had to throw the jeans I was wearing away because they had char marks on them. I was scared for months that my mom would ask me what happened to them.

This is driving up Pecanwood Drive on the way to my house (the white one on the left). This seemed like the longest, steepest hill in the world when I was a kid—like, maybe one time in five I’d walk my bicycle up it instead of ride. In reality, it’s barely 300 yards top to bottom, and the slope is gentle until just past my house. I didn’t park and walk around the neighborhood on this trip, but it feels so small. It’s like traipsing around in a model train layout.

This curve on Coleman Road is the site of the only serious traffic accident I was ever in. I was one of four kids ejected from the bed of a Ford Courier pickup when it spun and overturned in the ditch (where that distant guard rail is now). From skid marks and the pickup’s final position, police estimated the pickup speed at 60 mph when the driver lost control. It could have been so much worse. Of the six kids in the pickup (two in the cab, four in the bed), only one was even admitted to the hospital. (She had to be extricated because the wreckage had trapped her right leg.) Four of us were treated and released in the ER, and my stepbrother, who was the lightest and had been thrown the farthest (into underbrush instead of pavement), didn’t even go to the hospital. To this day I can remember the sights and sounds of flying through the air after leaving the vehicle but before I hit the road. If I could unload a single memory, it might be that one.

This was a barren field of clay for the first 12 years of my life. It sprouted a Winn Dixie when the one on 78 that was destroyed in the 1983 tornado didn’t return. There was a Harco Drugs on the east end of this shopping center, and I spent a fair bit of time in there. Among the employees was a 35ish brunette who wore too much makeup and smelled really good. She cranked my tractor (not that it takes much for a 13-year-old boy). I can remember buying Heart’s Private Audition on vinyl in there, as well as some cassette storage boxes that I’m still using.

It’s surreal that these locations are only 100 miles or so from me. Supercharged with my excellent memory for detail, they’re really powerful experiences. They seem so much more distant and exotic than something to which a two-hour car ride permits exposure.

 Posted by at 11:13 pm
Dec 232016

Y’all better hope I’m not prophetic. I’ve dreamt of the zombie apocalypse just about every night for a week or so now. There’s not ever much plot. I don’t ever get any information on how it got to be this way, and the setting is usually unfamiliar. It’s just typical zombie tropes. This morning about 3 I dreamed […]

 Posted by at 7:49 am

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