So I was thinking that I wanted to start posting excerpts of my new book “Gracias A Dios”. I thought I would post one every couple of weeks to get an idea of your reaction to my writing. It would be great if you guys could comment on FB to let me know where you see the title of this blog, in the writing/chapter. I have also put the chapters in audio for those of you who would rather listen to the chapters on your way to work, or while at the gym.
An OK memory
I do not have much recollection of what it was like when I was a kid. I feel that I tend to only remember the bad things that have happened to me. Call me a negative person, but the “good” times seemed to be few and far between.
Let’s go back about 25 years. I think I can remember an event that far back. I was about 10 years old and my mother was throwing my 10th birthday. We had this huge backyard with a couple swings, a twisty rope and a tree house. I remember never being able to go into the tree house because I was always too tall, or too fat. My biggest fear was that I would step on a piece of unhooked wood and go tumbling down. The treehouse was also constantly riddled with bees and I had a horrible bee allergy. So I avoided the tree house at all cost.
My “friends” were all there. I say friends because they were people who came to visit ever-so-often. But as for real friend, no. I didn’t have many. My sister on the other hand were super popular at school and around the town. She was blonde, with beautiful green eyes. She was the person all the middle school boys looked at. To top it off, she was also smart. Not like overly intelligent smart, but she never studied for tests. That was what we called smart back in those days. If you don’t study, and you just know the answers, people think you are a genius. I just always thought she was a good guesser.
The yard had many trees all around it. The trees’ branches seemed to stretch for miles on end. If you were not careful, and you decided to go running around in the yard, it was very likely you would trip on one of the overgrown roots that appeared to hold the ground I walked on together.
My 5th grade party. Wow! What a great event. At least it should have been. I was really around twelve years of age but my parents did not really know how old I was because when I was adopted, the paper work was all screwed up.
Oh yes, and did I mention that I was not only celebrating my 10th birthday, but also the birthday of all the rest of my siblings? My parents were cheap in that sense. There were five of us and instead of giving a party to each kid, you know, to make them feel special, they threw it all together. At least that is the way I remembered it. So here’s to mine, and my four other siblings birthday bash.
We had a piñata. We almost always had one of those. My mother would hand make it with papier-mâché. I remember being super young and watching her dip the newspaper into the glue goo. I can remember also helping her pop the balloons once the papier-mâché had dried up. There was never any noise, except for a low hissing sound-the sound of the balloon losing air.
The piñata hung above the tree that held our tree house together. It dangled on the very end of that strongest branch possible. It was always painted, colored and decorated to its fullest extent. This would really be the only party anyone would have all year so they had to deck it out real good.
The broomstick sat at the base of the tree house, just waiting for us to take it by its neck and use it as some weapon of mass destruction. Right before the party was over, and after we had eaten the cake made from scratch, we would mossy on down to the big tree area and obtain the broomstick. All the kids would get into one single file line. There were about 25 of us; five friends per child celebrating their birthday. It was always a grand and glorious occasion.
I batted last. Always last because I was the “biggest” one there. My mother never ceased to remind me that I was the bigger and fatter one in the family. “Are you sure you need to eat that Lynn? Are you positive your body needs one more piece of chicken?” I couldn’t explain to her how often I was hungry. My body never seemed to get enough food. I was growing, and she didn’t understand that my body was not done growing like hers was.
She was 5’6, weighing about 110 pounds. A beautiful woman really. Dark, brown hair waving in the wind as we drove past one of her many jewelry stores she had set up in a tiny town of Sosna. Her eyes were a dark blue shade. Her lips, I was always mesmerized by the shape of her lips and her high cheekbones. The way she walked exemplified authority, power, and strength. A true feminist with many flaws.
When she spoke, everyone stopped, turned, and listened to what she had to say. The problem was she was always speaking, she couldn’t shut up. But she was my idol. I looked up to her with respect and pure hatred at the same time. I wanted to be like her in physicality, but nothing like her in spirit. Her beauty was that of a fresh model coming out of a vogue magazine.
“Line up kids” she would say in a very condescending manner. “Lynn, Lynn, help me line these kids up. We won’t hit the piñata until everyone is properly in a single file line.” It was always my job to take care of the kids. I was always in charge. Mom would always tell parents “oh, yeah, Lynn will watch your kids, she is soooo good with kids.” She never asked me if I would like to help out, or if I had time to help out. She assumed I could do it and more often than not, she was right. I had nothing else to do.
As soon as everyone was lined up, she would make us be super quiet. She handed the smallest person the broomstick and would beckon me to go to the back of the line. I always felt pushed to the side. Being black, during that time period was no good. Just like in the United States between the 20s’ and 60s, the town I lived in had their own bouts of racism. The darker you were, the less use you were to the whites.
After everyone had gone, and the piñata was practically on the ground, she would hand me the stick to “finish” the job. The bandana would get tied around my eyes and my father would twirl me around about five time. I was afraid that I would trip on a root and fall on my face.
He was tall. About 6’3 with reddish brown hair and blue eyes. He weighed around 210 pounds and was our “Santa clause” at all Christmas occasions. He was intelligent, a college graduate with two different doctorate degrees and he loved his job. He loved his job so much that he lived there.
“Ok, you ready Lynn,” I could hear him say as he twirled me. I was so dizzy that I would never respond. As the stick came down and met the piñata at the head, the candy came pouring out. That was all it took, one good smack and down it would go. I wanted to experience the process, not the completion. But alas, that was my life.
Everyone would run to pick up candy before I was even done putting the broomstick down. By the time I was finished, the candy was practically gone.
Parents came to pick up their kids, thank my parents for creating such an awesome party, and pull out of the driveway. After the party was well over, I would head back to the piñata area, just hoping that there would be a bit of candy around the roots.
My mother was always watching to make sure I was not eating more than I “should.”
“Lynn, come in here and help us clean up the house. Your friends left such a mess here. Forget the candy, you don’t need it anyway” she would shout from the window. She insisted on making my weight issue a PSA.
I would cock my head to one side, sad that I didn’t get any candy from my own birthday party, shuffle the grass a bit in hopes that I would find a couple of left-behind pieces and then head back upstairs to clean.
Everyone gathered for dinner at around 7:00. We would talk about the day and how much we enjoyed it. I never expressed how I really felt about that day because I was afraid my mother would get mad at me. She always seemed mad at me and I never understood why. Gracias a Dios I did not turn out like her!