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Location: Midwest, United States

I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Had a Dad, Part I

Here begins my posting of bits of an unfinished memoir, begun as a NaNoWriMo project. I have an impulse to introduce, but I think that's best resisted. Let's just jump in, in no particular order:

It’s a dark, cool, late summer night, and we’re sliding through the streets of the north side in my dad’s gold Buick LeSabre. He’s just picked me up from Grandma and Grandpa’s house, where I go after my day at Busy Beaver Nursery School when my dad has to work late, where I’ve eaten dinner and my grandma has forced me to finish the cold chop suey I hate and that makes me gag when I swallow it. We pull up in front of the synagogue on Pratt and Greenview. Holding hands, we go inside and enter a big hall with high ceilings that have bright tapestries and huge, colorful paintings hanging from the rafters. The room is crowded with grown-ups, little packs of kids threading their way around the clumps of tall people, who talk animatedly and hold pale drinks in short plastic cups. I’m not sure exactly what this even is or why we’re here, but I know it has something to do with a school, a new school that I might go to for kindergarten. Whatever this is, it’s exciting. There are rich colors and strange, beautiful things to look at, and all the grown-ups seem glamorous and confident and the kids remind me of the smart, creative kids with striped shirts and hair in their eyes on Zoom. My dad tells me that the kids from the school – the Gestalt Free School – painted the long, banner-like paintings hanging above us. I know this will be the perfect school for me. My dad found out about it, and now we’re here so he can talk to the teachers and some of the parents.

We go upstairs and look at the classrooms, and they are full of impressive and interesting things. Lots of overgrown plants, macramé wall hangings, life-sized hand sewn dolls dressed in real kid clothes, a little kitchen in one corner with big orange pottery containers on the counter, a rug area bordered by couches and a stereo with tall speakers. It reminds me more of the cozy apartments of my dad’s hippie friends than Busy Beaver Nursery School, which smells like sour milk and disinfectant, and is full of scuffed toys, and where there is no stereo, just a little faded red record player with Donald Duck painted on the lift-up cover. The teachers there don’t talk animatedly or let us paint giant banners in bold colors. They feed us PB&J on white bread and tell us not to scribble when we crayon and show us film strips on gun safety that give me nightmares.

Busy Beaver Nursery School is my grandparents – old, reliable, kind but stern, full of rules. The Gestalt Free School is my dad – vivid, hip, idealistic but unpredictable, making it up as he goes along.


Blogger Feral Mom said...

May I be the first to comment on the first installment! I'm very glad you're posting excepts and can't wait to read more.

Also...Busy Beaver Nursery School? The Gestalt Free School? You can't make this shit up.

My word verification is "sobedie" which suggests sobriety and obedience. Hmmmm.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Lucky Star said...

Ooooo, keep it coming! I was right: it's going to be GREAT!
To quote myself, from an email to you 4 minutes ago, "You have such a strong voice and such a clear and textured way of sharing stories about your life."

6:48 AM  

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