I was brought to consciousness by Pip yipping in a playful way, or so I thought. I also smelled the most vicious smokey fire I never want to smell, ever. As usual I wake at insulin o’clock and administer the medications and morning meal to my four-legged family and once that’s done, I’m back to bed. Today was very cool and I opened the bedroom window as wide as possible, hoping a nice noise of an American Robin would wake me from the tree not too early but not too late. Instead I choked on the smell of a fire and contemplated calling the police or whomever to file a compliant against these dumb neighbors ruining my life. Anyway Pip was fine and I got up to make sure she didn’t have to poop again as this was the case on June 12th and I ignored her plea for me to get up.
I put the carafe below the coffee drip nozzle and ground a bunch of coffee. I knew before that I wanted to go into the attic and bring down The Box. It was time. I wanted to let go and burn all the things from my teen years. I didn’t want to leave this to my significant other and have her go through and read the things that have formulated my life. The attic door is located in our hallway to the bedrooms. I have to get the wooden ladder that was Papa’s and set it up. I’m three hundred and forty pounds. I still had my pajamas on, but I had to get that box and empty it. The coffee was brewing; the Stella was mewing. I was on a ladder, my fingertips submerged into insulation holding on for dear life while I hoisted and balanced on the top rung of the ladder. I could barely reach The Box. Before I stepped foot onto the ladder in my flip flops I put my smart telephone into my pocket and opened the phone application. Ready for the worst if it happened.
I closed up the attic door and was slightly, even more than ready, to enter into the past. I gave myself a firm pep talk. You’re not going to rage. You’re not going to make that face you always make when you realize you’ve said something so beyond ridiculous, you nearly black out. You’re not going to get depressed over the past. It’s done. Do what you want to do which is go through each scrap of paper and light a match and burn it.
Instead I cried. I didn’t expect to have tears accumulate enough to flow down my face. With The Box opened, it started where I knew it would start. The scraps of dated, handwritten feelings, experiences, longings, in green, pink, purple pen ink. The really bad penciled drawings, accentuating the hand veins. The grainy black and white photocopied photos of her face that were copies of more black and white photos. The face that plagued me from 1992 to occasionally now.
There were the other cards and memorabilia from the junior high teacher I never really had for a teacher. A card from her I received on my 8th grade graduation was one of the first things to make the tears start. I can’t seem to understand why it made me sad. Her words to me were special. They made me feel like I mattered.
At the same time, I felt special back then. I had a new nephew and my sister visited often with him from the East coast. During that time I had my mom, sister, aunt and oldest cousin in my life a good amount of time. They made me feel worthy, slightly. I know I loved to be with all of them and I remember my sister’s visits with my nephew as a very special and exciting time along with all my some-what strong women family members all together smoking cigarettes, laughing and eating chips and dip. My 8th grade graduation was a big party containing all these people and my father and step-mom. It was bittersweet since I wouldn’t see my most favorite person in the whole word, Mrs. You know. And after graduation I cried because I was so sad my time with her was over.
I had never felt such strong feelings ever before. There was a growth of those specific obsession feelings with another teacher right before Mrs. Those were given up after I left my home in the darkness of night, walking in the freezing November wind two point five miles away to that teacher’s condo and I looked in the windows. She wasn’t home. I knew she wouldn’t be. I stood outside thinking and wondering what I was doing. I could see a soft glow of light and photos on the wall next to stairs going to the bedroom. I gave up those feelings after I realized, she was never going to give me the attention I craved. I was interested in her because she constantly spoke about her children and how she had had them “boom, boom, boom” and not planned. I was intrigued. This slightly attractive curly haired woman with the long veiny arms had had a lot of sex. I was interested in her sex life, what her husband looked like, what her kids were like, where she lived, when she went on her first date, what she danced to at her wedding, when and where she had sex, how she conceived all those kids and more more more, tell me all about your sex life! Even though I didn’t know much about sex or that there was a life after the word sex. I did a lot of embarrassing things during this period. Sucking up to her. Wanting her to want me to be around. I had no idea what I was doing and obviously never made any sense or really figured out that I had a crush on a woman. I went so far as to somehow convince my sister to bring my toddling nephew to my junior high school after school so I could show her my nephew and sister? No idea. I thrived in my classes with her. I wanted to do everything right. Wasn’t that the way to get attention and be an important person to her? Anyway, it was over between us when she chose a blonde tall classmate we called Birdshit to BABYSIT repeatedly. I think that was the night I became a window peeper. See, these things are not pleasant to think about and this is why I needed a pep-talk before I began rummaging through The Box.
Then something sparked my interest of Mrs. I couldn’t get enough. My best friend at the time had classes with her. Maybe it was because of all the interesting facts about her personal life she had shared and I wanted to know more more more. Mrs. was petite, short, small, not so thin, with very short buzzed hair and amazing some-what large hands for her body. I loved her hands. I looked at them from afar and they made me feel drunk, woozy, goofy. She had a soft, tiny, quiet voice. I became interested. I had my best friend record the classes with Mrs. My other friends knew but please, don’t tell! There were many things I did that were stupid including breaking into the school repeatedly to stand in her classroom. Open the closet where she kept her knit sweater and of course, smell it and cradle it around my sweaty adolescent corn syrup body. She divulged who her favorite celebs were. I bought everything I could to give her in relation to this. I even found an old magazine with a photo of two celebrities she loved hugging an actress and I cut out her face and pasted Mrs.’s in. Don’t forget the elaborate Valentine’s Day where she gave my best friend, her student, and me, her non-student Valentine socks. This is insane as I remember this right now. But I kept that red bow tied box where my Valentine socks were wrapped in white tissue paper. I think they were from Boston Store, or maybe even Marshall Field’s! It was a gift from her! A woman who I wanted as my… what? My employer? I used to want to do things for her. In my first diary which was also in The Box, I had used the word slave to describe what I wanted to be to her. I think I also wanted her as a mother. To be my mom.
At the end of 7th grade she wrote:
Have a wonderful summer – maybe you’ll be unlucky enough to get me next year!
In the graduation card I received from her, she wrote:
Thank you so much for always thinking of me. You and Best Friend helped me smile and get through a year that was very difficult, at times, in more ways than you’d ever know.
I hope now you’ll take time and be good to yourself Sarah. Take time to enjoy and have fun with your friends. Live each day of high school to the fullest- study hard, yet have fun. It goes by quickly. You’re a special person with much to share – don’t keep it inside! I know you’ll stay in touch. Take care – Congratulations!!!
Love, Mrs. 🙂
So I guess that was too touching for me not to cry about while I went through The Box and burn this stuff up. There were many other cards including thanks you’s for when she had another child and I had sent a bunch of baby clothes to her. My oldest niece and her daughter once played against each other in a soccer game. She was there. I was beyond shocked that I knew she was there but I was in disbelief. I only could side-eye my glances at her. I couldn’t bring myself to say anything. But what I could do was take a phone call from my grandmother where I complained loudly about how we were freezing our asses off at eldest niece’s soccer game. I must have been speaking quite loudly. I don’t remember what exactly I said, but it must have been vulgar to the point Mrs. and husband turned and gave me a disgusted look. All I ever wanted back then was to casually see her while I was at the mall, for example and she was out with her family. Then it happened, fifteen years later and I made a complete ass out of myself.
One of the first things out of the box was this
Shit, that was deep. I laughed with glee. I contemplated showing SO. But…
I was so ashamed of what I had written. I guarded those words so closely. This piece of paper was folded tightly and very worn. I think it had gotten wet or maybe even went through the wash. The words were real. I was so embarrassed I had thoughts like that about a girl. It was awful and horrifying but I kept it. I didn’t know what to do with all those feelings that were right there. I was consumed with them. Going crazy knowing how backwards, upside down and completely against the law of nature. How could I ever have these terrible thoughts? Everything was so raw and sickening inside of me. I was bursting. I had to do something. So I did the worst thing anyone could ever do in this time of insanity. I wrote my thoughts out and submitted them to this person, anonymously.
I had forgotten but getting through the piles I found a bunch of notes from a friend I had confided in, who signed her notes as Jo. I knew I had told one person but I didn’t remember the notes at all. I wish I could remember or see those notes I’d written to her. I wasn’t even friends with her on the social media platform that I have recently given up. Today after reading those notes, I had a moment where I aggressively needed to get in touch with her. I had to let her know how sorry I was about putting her into that situation. Holy cow! She knew I was writing the letters! I didn’t even remember confiding in her about them! Her notes to me, passed in the hallways between classes were so smartly written that I said aloud “Was Jo an adult while I was a baby teen?” I couldn’t believe I had forgotten. I couldn’t believe I ended our friendship over a chainletter-email that was sent shortly after everyone went away to college. I have this urgent need to contact her and tell her I’m sorry.
It was exhausting. When three o’clock came and went, I checked my smart phone and found my SO headed home. I quickly grabbed a heap of papers and stuffed them into the fireplace where I realized the flu wasn’t opened. It was tough to get open and then I started the process of ending my early teen life. It was a lot today. I didn’t realize how draining it would be.