Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Asked to write about Kindergarten, my usual free-flowing memory fails me.

I spent just one year in that school. (We moved the summer after.)

And of that year? Nothing remains.

The memory box is empty.

Of the building that I entered daily? There is nothing, less than nothing, not even a shadowy pseudo-memory, mocking me with its vagueness. Just... a blank, a black hole.

Of the classroom where many hours were surely logged, I get... nothing. Almost nothing. A feeling that the walls might have been green. The smell of thick paste and finger paint.

I think my teacher's name began with an "F."  Mrs. F... nothing.  I have been told that I loved her, that I looked forward to school each day.

This is inconceivable.

I am someone who has memories of laying in her crib. I have sketched the layout of the city apartment my family inhabited from my birth to age three and a half, accurate to the utter astonishment of my parents.

I remember elevator rides from a two year old's perspective, buttons frustratingly, impossibly high, mockingly out of reach. The shock of a Central Park orange creamsicle to my toddler mouth on a summer day.

I remember. Everything.

But that whole year of my life?

Astonishingly. Nothing.

Except this: a person.

One girl.

A friend.

Brown pigtails. Blue dress. Brown eyes. Brown skin.

Big smile, just for me.

A friend.

A best friend.



Until we moved, that afterward summer, to the other side of town. Across the divide: Old Country Road.

A different school, a different, "better" school district. Decidedly paler.


Somehow, improbably, our friendship remained intact, though we became occasional friends, different than schoolmates.

Of Cheryl, much remains.

Games of hide and seek with her older brothers Darrell and Victor that always involved basements and crawl spaces, delicious in their slight danger.

The sulfur smell of cap guns mingling with burning leaves on crisp autumn days.

Watching "The Birds" on the little TV in her bedroom and scaring ourselves silly.

The smile that broke across her handsome, dignified, Doctor father's face in the presence of his children.

Her southern raised mother, calling me "Sugar" and melting my heart.

Her mother's home cooking attempting to put some meat on my then skinny bones.

A love pervading that house that was ceaselessly demanding yet unconditional. A rare combination. The sense, always, of high expectations for those children, including the brother with Cerebral Palsy. An example set, which I have never forgotten.


Late night whisperings, gigglings. Eventual sleep.

Riding home from a sleepover in her father's strange, wonderful car. The intoxicating smell of sun warmed leather rising up from the seats.

Our neighbors wondering who the hell we knew who drove a Rolls.

This post was inspired by a prompt at The Red Dress Club. This week's RemembeRED assignment was to write a memoir piece about kindergarten.

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