19 August 2014

Back Ground

We are each mysterious specimens. I am thinking about the complexity of the "background" of waking consciousness. The curious and unpredictable triggers -- and the similarly curious and unpredictable thought-and-feeling process they inspire.

In the car. Driving to Kroger's in Oxford. A flying insect inside the car lights on my hand and as I wave it away a memory springs forth, of my now-deceased maternal grandmother's hands, and a day half a century ago when offered me frozen grapes as a treat. Suddenly there's the smell of the house where she lived then, catty-corner to the church I attended as a child.

Which was not the church that Mother (that's what we called her) attended. She attended Galatian Baptist, where they sang with more fervor and passion and services were noisier. The church that S_______ attended, too. She and I attended the same junior high school. Everybody thought we looked alike and, in the absence of any actual communication between us, our fellow students pronounced us in competition with each other.

One spring day in eighth grade the rumor mill scheduled a fight between us after school. I grew more and more anxious as the day went on. I'd never been in a fight. I didn't want to fight. S_______ threw
me threatening looks each time I saw her in the corridors between classes that day. I was terrified. She lived in the housing project and everybody knew the kids in the housing project were formidable fighters. Several housing project girls in my class bore visible combat scars.

I avoided the fight--stayed later than usual after school in the choir room and then took the long way home. S__________ remained "enemies" through high school. I never understood why.

Nor do I understand why an insect on my hand triggered memories of Mother and S___________ that moved me to tears that day in the car.

I make my way, day to day, with latent volatile memories and emotions just beneath the surface.