My curls were separate and soft when I was younger. I remember my childhood as if all I ever wore were blue overalls. I traveled in strollers, a cushy blue and white polka-dot stroller some days and ordinary cotton sack strollers on more casual days. Asleep in a stroller holding one of those shiny plastic balls sold in steel bins at the supermarket. An apple juice box nestled in the crack of space between the side of my leg and the stroller. Right there, in that moment, that was my childhood. That’s how I remember it, asleep, calm, just peace. Now, men look at me on the street. Yell things like “Hey Red, boy would I like a piece of that.” And I cannot find the kind of peace I used to have when people paid no attention to me, or rather, I was able to pay no attention to them.
On warm summer evenings, I remember lying upstairs, with a sheet for a blanket, the window open, listening to the crickets, the muffled television from down the hall, and Mother’s company laughing downstairs. When the air-conditioner was in the shop for servicing, we had to soak our white cotton sheets in a basin of water, wring them out, and stretch them across our mattresses; they would help us keep cool. Lemon water, dining beneath awnings, dog runs, jam jars filled with wild flowers, fireflies, scribbles of cloud, light sweaters, kites, capri pants with paten leather J.P. Todds, Jersey tomatoes, sunflowers, freckles and sticky Solarcain skin, blond highlights, cherries, sprinklers, lemonade stands. At least there are winter coats, and boots, gloves, muffs. Something to hide me. Stop looking.
Sat in the bathroom stall at work today and cried. I didn’t go to the bathroom to cry; I went to pee. But as I relaxed, tears just came flooding out, bleeding into the gray cracks of the tiles at my feet. I was not meant to do this with my life. I should be following my dreams. I saw a woman who was settling for less, and I didn’t like what I saw. My dream is to write, and I’m going to do it.